Episode #72 – How Making the Wrong Assumptions Can Derail Your Career

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive search consultant and veterinary recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary organizations acquire top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the dangers of assumptions and how making the wrong assumptions can derail your career. Stacy, thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here.

Sharita: Stacy, I remember an old saying about making assumptions. Does that old saying apply to what we’ll be discussing today?

Stacy: It absolutely does! I’m sure that most people in the audience today are familiar with that saying about making assumptions, but if they’re not, they should Google it to find out. I’m not going to say it because I don’t want to be crass.

Sharita: Well, I’m not sure that would be crass, but it seems to be common knowledge about making assumptions.

Stacy: It is. Making assumptions can be dangerous. That applies to not just your personal life, but your professional life, as well. To go one step further, it also applies to both your career and a job search.

Sharita: Stacy, I’m going to go out on a limb here, but this sounds like the kind of topic that has some case studies associated with it. Did I guess right?

Stacy: You certainly did! I have two case studies, in fact, and I’d like to share them today to illustrate the dangers of making assumptions.

Sharita: That sounds great. What’s the first one about?

Stacy: Well, I reached out to someone to let her know about an employment opportunity for advancement in her career. This opportunity was a higher-level role than the one she currently had. We’ve talked about this before. When I reach out to a candidate about an employment opportunity, it is often better than the job they have right now. That’s why I’m reaching out to them in the first place.

Sharita: Right, that makes sense. What did this candidate say?

Stacy: She said, “Sure, I’ll talk with you, but I doubt that I’m someone who can help you.”

Sharita: So right off the bat, she made a decision about how the call was going to unfold?

Stacy: That’s right. She’s already making assumptions, and the phone call has barely started. But there are two things that really stood out to me about what she said.

Sharita: What were those things?

Stacy: First, I was calling to help her by offering an opportunity. I wasn’t calling to ask her to help me. However, before she knew why I was calling, she assumed she couldn’t help me.

Sharita: Shouldn’t she have been flattered to be receiving a call from a recruiter?

Stacy: Yes. In fact, many people are. It’s an indication that they’re considered a top candidate in the marketplace. How many people would like to hear about a job opportunity that could be better than the one they have? How many people do you know who love their job SO much that they would never entertain the possibility of going somewhere else? I have to say that I have not met too many people like that during my career.

Sharita: I have not, either. What was the second thing that struck you about what this candidate said?

Stacy: The second thing was how did she know that she could not help me if she didn’t know exactly why I was even calling? First, as we just discussed, I was calling to offer to help her. Second, I’ve never met a truly psychic person before, so once again, she was making an assumption.

This is similar to people who say “No” to an opportunity without knowing what the opportunity is. This person didn’t outright say “No,” but she had a negative attitude before I could explain that I was calling to speak with her about an opportunity to help advance her career.

Sharita: That doesn’t make much sense.

Stacy: No, it doesn’t. There’s really no decision to make about a situation until you have all of the details associated with that situation. Which also means there is no assumption to make.

Sharita: Stacy, what’s the second case study that you have for us today?

Stacy: I called a candidate to help her prepare for an upcoming job interview that I had scheduled for her. Unfortunately, she did not seem interested in my preparation suggestions. It was almost as if I couldn’t tell her anything and that she knew everything.

Instead of being humble and thanking me for my time in helping her get ready for her interview, she acted as though she didn’t want to hear my advice. It appeared as though she thought she knew it all already.

Now, I have to say that this has not been an isolated incident. This has happened other times, where candidates think that they “know it all” heading into a face-to-face interview.

Sharita: How many times has a candidate actually “known it all”?

Stacy: Zero. No candidate has “known it all” heading into an interview. But it still happens sometimes.

Keep in mind that even if the candidate knows a lot about the interview process, there is a limit to how much they know about the organization and the people who are going to interview them. The recruiter, on the other hand, has more knowledge about a lot of things.

Sharita: What are those things?

Stacy: Well, there’s the position itself, the organization, the hiring officials, who might be the candidate’s supervisor if the candidate is eventually hired, the company culture, and a bunch of other information related to the position and the organization.

All of this information is important to a candidate’s ability to interview well. It’s also important in terms of the decision that the candidate will make if they receive an offer.

In my experience, candidates who listen to advice before the interview are the ones who come out of the interview with a job offer. The ones who don’t listen usually don’t get a job offer. It’s a pattern I’ve noticed over the years. I’ve even had my clients tell me that they can tell during the interview who has paid attention to the advice I give them and who has not.

Sharita: I’m inclined to believe that those aren’t the only assumptions that Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals have, especially about their career.

Stacy: You’re right, Sharita. There are many more, and one of the biggest ones is about the future. Candidates make certain assumptions about the future.

The reality of the situation is that you can NOT assume that you know what’s going to happen in the future. Anyone who has ever been laid off can tell you that based solely on their first-hand experience. I have a list of things that people should not assume in regards to their career:

#1—How long you will work at your current employer

#2—How long you will work in a particular field

#3—How quickly you will climb the ladder at your current employer

#4—Whether or not a new employment opportunity is the right fit for you before you check it out

#5—Your knowledge regarding the employment marketplace

#6—Your knowledge about your own job search

#7—How much a recruiter can help you to find a new job

Sharita: Stacy, why do you believe people make these assumptions in the first place?

Stacy: There are a couple of reasons. First, because they only want to believe good things about their career and their future. Losing your job is not a good thing to even think about or contemplate, so some people would rather not think about it at all and just assume they’ll have their current job as long as they want. Second, people make assumptions because it’s easier and it takes less work and thought. Some people prefer the perceived comfort of the status quo, even if that comfort is just an illusion.

There is, however, a difference between making an assumption and relying upon first-hand experience.

Sharita: How’s that?

Stacy: Experience is far more valuable, especially experience collected over a longer period of time. When a person has seen a certain situation play out over and over again, they can make a pretty good guess about what to do and what not to do.

As an Animal Health and Veterinary recruiter, can I predict the future? No, I can’t predict the future any more than the candidates in our two case studies today could predict it.

However, I’ve seen thousands of scenarios during my time as an executive recruiter and search consultant for more than 20 years. I’ve seen candidates and job seekers do the right things to land a great job, and I’ve seen them do the wrong things to sabotage their candidacy. And making assumptions is one way to sabotage your candidacy for what could be a great new employment opportunity and also sabotage your career.

Sharita: As we wrap up today’s podcast, what’s your advice for our listeners?

Stacy: My advice is to NOT make assumptions regarding your career and your job search. Rely on the experience of others to help guide you through the process. They may not have a crystal ball, but they do have the experience, knowledge, and expertise needed to increase your chances for success.

Sharita: Stacy, I don’t have a crystal ball, either, but I don’t need one to know that we’ve run out of time in our episode today. Once again, thanks so much for all of this great information.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!