by Richard Bolles,
In the job interview
I had been in this field (Career Change and Job-hunting) for about twenty-five years before I first came across this study. I don’t recall, now, who did the study, or where; but I do remember its findings very clearly. And they were: There is a simple thing any job-hunter can do at the end of a hiring interview that will greatly increase your chances of being offered the job.
And that simple thing is “at the end of the interview, ask for the job. It doesn’t seem to matter how you ask for the job. That is to say, the actual words don’t seem to matter. It can be something simple, like: “Can you offer me this job?”
Or something a little more elaborate, like, “I believe that I have both the skills and the experience to do the work we have been discussing, in a way that would benefit your organization a lot. Can you offer me this job? Why asking this question should make such a difference, in terms of whether or not you are offered the job, I have no idea. My guess would be that employers, generally speaking, want to postpone making a decision about you just as long as they possibly can, but when put on the spot – – as, by your question – – they realize they can already feel in their bones, intuitively, whether the answer is “Yes” or “No.”
Now, this is not the standard advice that job-counselors and books give to job-hunters about how to end the job-interview. The standard advice is that you should end the interview by simply inquiring “What is the next step?” Personally, I do not believe this works anywhere nearly as well. It leaves all the control in the hands of that employer, who may or may not be very good at this sort of thing.
Anyway, it is now part of my standard advice to job-hunters, when I am coaching them about some impending job-interview: “Be sure, before you leave the job-interview, that you ask for the job.” They always doubt that this could possibly do any good, but after that job-interview, they almost always come back to report, “I couldn’t believe it! I thought the interview hadn’t gone very well, but when I asked them if they could offer me the job, they said, ‘Yes.’
In the world at large
Many years after I first encountered this study, I was browsing in Barnes & Noble one day, when I happened to notice a little book, with a white cover, whose title was simply “ASK!” It did have a sub-title, which was, “You’ll be amazed at what you can get simply by ASKING…” It’s author was a woman named Barbara Rollin, and it had been published in the year 2001 by St. Martin’s Press (175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010). The price was $12.95. I got the last copy in that Barnes and Noble store, but I have since special-ordered countless additional copies, to give to my friends and family.
Of course, I was interested in the book because it sounded like a rhapsody on the same theme of asking. Barbara introduces her book by saying, “the real lesson of this book is that no matter what problem you have as a consumer, the chances are you can and will improve your lot if you only ASK.”
It is a book of stories, about what happens in situations where all your experience and training tells you nothing can be done, but then you Ask! anyway. Her first story concerns banks. She had bought five-year certificates at several banks, at the then standard interest rate of 5%. A little over one year later, the rate had climbed to 6.35%. She was irritated with herself that she had locked herself in at the lower rate (and there were hefty penalties for early withdrawal). Finally, she decided she would call the bank where she had the most money and simply ask, “Can you help me? The rates have gone up since I purchased my CDs there (Certificates of Deposit). Could you raise my rate?”
The woman said she’d have to consult her supervisor, but after a few minutes came back on line, and said, “We’d be glad to do that.” As Barbara observed, “Just like that. I didn’t have to tell them a hard luck story, or plead, or threaten, or beg. I just asked.”
Two months later, the rates went up again, this time to 7.08%. She asked again, and again got the raise. And thus it was, that over the next five years she gained $10,000 more than she would have, had it been left at the lower rate – – simply because she asked.
She concludes this story by observing, “The lesson I learned was – – if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”
Barbara’s little book has 236 pages. And those pages are filled with story after story of how simply asking for what you want, can get tremendous results.
I told a friend of mine the lesson of this book; he was about to fly from San Francisco to England, his native land, on a coach ticket. He told me that after we parted, he decided to give the experiment a try; so, he went up to the podium and said, “I have a coach ticket. Is there any chance I could be upgraded to either business or first class without any additional charge?” They said, “Wait here.” Finally, when the plane was all-boarded, they put him on – – in first class. At no additional charge. Just because he asked.
In the universe
Apparently, what we have stumbled across, here, is some basic principle on which indeed the universe runs. Every Christian knows the mantra: “Ask, and ye shall receive.” Other faiths know it too. Apparently it applies to more than just heavenly things. And to more than just commercial things. It applies to all our relationships in life. To God, to our spouse, to our children, to our co-workers, to our clients, to our friends. The command is: Ask!
I think that command is right up there, with Love! And Forgive! And Give Thanks!
Anyway, I shudder to think of how much grief people put up with, just because they are afraid to ask for what they really want.
I shudder to think of how many opportunities for a fuller life people miss, just because they are afraid to ask for what they need to live a fuller life.
And I shudder to think how many jobs we are not offered, just because we are afraid to ask. Can You Offer Me This Job?
Richard N. Bolles is the author of the #1 best-seller among business-paperbacks, as reported in Business Week ( January, 2005). The book’s title is: What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. It has over 8,000,000 copies in print, in twelve languages, and 20,000 new copies are purchased each month, has long been the best-selling career-planning and job-hunting books in the world. The book has been on the N.Y. Times best-seller list 288 weeks thus far in its lifetime, and was selected by the Library of Congress as one of twenty-five books that have shaped readers’ lives. “Parachute” is revised and updated annually.