Just Ask The Question!

Asking strategic questions should be a key part of a job seeker’s search strategy. A few months ago I blogged about the quality of the questions job seekers’ pose in the post “Dumb Questions Do Exist.” You can read that post here.

Today the focus is on the commentary often leading up to a question, commentary that’s usually not needed or even appropriate. I’ll make up some examples of the types of situations I experience where my inner voice is shouting, “Just ask the question!”

  1. I grew up on a small farm in rural Michigan and spent the formative years of my life in an agricultural setting. From there I went to college and took an interest in the sciences, specifically biochemistry. Surprisingly I found myself working in a medical setting when I’d planned as a child to remain in agriculture. Unfortunately, I found the healthcare industry less than satisfying. I was too isolated in the lab and, through a series of interesting events, made the move to recruitment. As a result, I’ve spent most of my professional career working in job placement and helping job seekers connect with opportunity. My question is, having just moved to this area, what are good ways to connect with job seekers and business owners in this town?
  2. Paraphrasing… I have a very unique situation that is likely irrelevant to everyone else in this room. The extensive details of the situation are 15 minutes of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. How do you recommend I handle this complex situation that no one else likely cares about or is experiencing?
  3. Companies are clueless these days. They post tons of positions over and over again. I apply for them and never even get a call back. I’m qualified, but they still repost the positions as if I’ve never applied. I don’t understand what’s up. They are probably ignoring me because of my age or something. Why would a company not respond to my application when I’m a fit for the job?

The first situation involves the unnecessary preface, if you can even call it that in this instance. The information leading up to the question isn’t needed for the person on the receiving end to answer. Lead-ins like this result in the person asking the question coming off as being so focused on himself he sees value in sharing his autobiography with everyone he meets.

The second situation involves picking a question that is so random and detached from what others present would immediately understand or identify with that it takes a detailed walk through of complicated minutia for the person on the receiving end to even be able to take a stab at an answer. If your question requires a rambling preface for it to make sense to the person on the receiving end or the audience sharing that person’s time, it’s probably the wrong question to begin with.

The third situation involves the insertion of negative commentary. Perhaps the person asking the question is right that companies are clueless or discriminating. What if the job seekers is wrong though? What if the company didn’t get the application? What if the application had an error on it and wasn’t considered complete? What if the resume didn’t contain keywords? What if the cover letter had a typo and it disqualified the job seeker from consideration? What if the experience the job seeker feels makes him/her a fit wasn’t presented effectively on the resume? Because the question was laced with commentary that’s hardly flattering, this person is going to lose not matter what the answer ends up being. The habit of framing questions with the presumption someone else is an idiot is far from rare. It’s icky in any situation, and horribly embarrassing when the individual turns out to be the one who missed the boat on something.



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