Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Will My Past Come Back to Haunt Me?

Published:Tuesday | December 30, 2014 | 11:29 PM

QUESTION: I am an avid reader of your Gleaner Careers column. I'm seeking your opinion on a matter.

I was offered a position a couple of years ago at a company and turned it down, mainly because the remuneration being offered was below the national rate for the position and the company was a bit sketchy, with respect to my job description. They have now advertised a post I would be interested in filling. Would it be advisable to apply for the post given my past experience with the company?


ANSWER: Thanks for reading the Careers column regularly. To answer your query: By all means, go for it. Apply for the job.

It may be that this time both you and the company can reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Even if this ultimately proves not to be the case, you've got nothing to lose and much to gain.

You'll need to clear your mind of the belief that your earlier rejection of the company's offer will necessarily put you at a disadvantage. Let's assume for now though that this will be the case, initially. That's quite possible, after all.

The English playwright and poet William Congreve may have been somewhat melodramatic in his famous assertion that 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'. Experience has taught us, however, that he was on to something. Nobody - including company execs - takes kindly to being spurned.

However, even if that's the case, it's quite possible that the persons administering this job application are not the same people who dealt with you some years ago. Even if they are, it's highly likely they've forgotten about you, and might not make any connection.

Let's take the worst case scenario, nonetheless. Let's say they remember you and are instinctively tempted to hold your earlier rejection of their offer against you. If this happens, don't take it as an insurmountable challenge. Take the approach of any master salesman: Expect objections and resistance to your offer, and prepare effectively to answer them.

The question you might be asking is how. The foundation of your job-application strategy has to be an open, positive and optimistic mindset.

anticipate and prepare

Don't get mentally bogged down with thoughts about the possible adverse consequences arising from past encounters. Simply anticipate and prepare for them. Then focus exclusively on how you'll persuade them you're the best candidate for the post.

Research the specific challenges being faced by the company. Prepare how best to demonstrate that you can help to solve this. If any question about your declining their previous offer comes up at any point in the application process, then address it calmly and confidently.

Emphasise how honoured you were with the offer and how pleased you were with how they had managed the process. That's why you are excited about this new opportunity to work with such a company. Then immediately reiterate your ideal candidacy. If you do that well, your past may actually help, rather than come back to haunt you.

n Glenford Smith is author of the new book 'Profile of Excellence: Strategies for Extraordinary Achievement from 25 Years of Interviewing Remarkable People', based on the TV programme hosted by Ian Boyne. Email glenford