Last year I assessed many opportunities to work for different companies in the technology sector. Many of them looked marvelous with their ping pong tables, free lunches, beers on a Friday and stunning startup style offices.
When I got to the end of the process, each company would make the case about why they’d be a great company to work for, and it was my job to decide if I agreed.
The process became fairly standard and I got used to having to make a decision.
Good decision-making involves a few key components:
- Adequate time to think through the opportunity and assess the positives and the negatives
- Value for both parties to move forward
- Trust between everyone that’s built through rapport
One company that I dealt with during this process took a different approach. Their tactics were disguised as what many of us may perceive to be nothing more than seasoned sales skills. The opportunity was presented, the benefits were highlighted and then one line was inserted, which is the point of contention in this article. Here’s what they said:
“You need to make a decision in the next few days otherwise even if we have a vacancy in the future, you will not be considered ever again. That’s just how it works with us. So can you decide by the end of the week?”
Now the decision to dedicate part of your career to a company is a huge commitment and should never be taken lightly.
The fear that if I didn’t decide quickly made me feel uneasy. It was a beautifully presented closing line (as we say in sales) with a clear call to action, but it made a few huge mistakes: it caused a fear of missing out, feelings of regret and unnecessary stress.
There was one other massive problem and I’ll explain it to you. During the hiring process, they explained to me how they only build long-term relationships and even if there isn’t an opportunity right now, it doesn’t matter because they know if they play the long game, and help people, a chance to earn money from a situation will arise.
This presentation of the ‘long game’ and building relationships is a common story in the business world. I’ve seen it many times, but very few people/companies act in this way.
On the one hand I was being told that it was about the long-game, and then with the other hand I was being forced into making a decision that if it were anything other than a profound “Hell Yes, sir!” was going to have me banished for life. That’s not the long game and you can’t rush people by using Twitters favorite new acronym FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
So what happened? Well, I loved the opportunity and wanted to go ahead, but the pressure to make a decision put me off. There was also a personal matter happening at the same time that I wanted to focus on before going any further. The ideal situation was to postpone the conversations by a month and then revisit. They had three vacancies at the time and there was a very low chance all three would be filled in that month.
When I communicated my decision to postpone by a month, that ended any future relationship or conversations. I was ghosted.
Life is not a series of used car sales pitches
The high-pressure approach to having people make life-changing decisions in a short period of time is a similar tactic that Used Car Dealerships used to use before their tactics caused them to disappear, and be replaced with online used car ads between the buyer and seller.
It’s a tactic that forces one side to win and the other side to have regrets.
Lines such as “Buy this car today if you want 20% off” just don’t work anymore. Career decisions, such as the one I faced last year, can’t be made without a lot of thought — after all, it’s peoples dreams and legacy you are talking about.
The quickest way to put people off is to give them a deadline and then pretend that you can never interact with one another after that deadline. That’s the short game.
The long-game entails never burning a bridge and always being happy to revisit a decision in the future or at least have a conversation.
It ends up being wrong for both parties
Rushing decisions ends up in the opposite result to the one desired by the FOMO approach.
By rushing a huge decision, the following can happen:
- We don’t properly get to know each other
- We forget to do our due diligence
- We let our excitement take over
- We have regrets
My career decision last year had a period of seven days between when I heard the pitch and when I had to make a decision. That’s not a lot of time to go through the above four steps.
When you need to make a big decision, you’ve got to sit with it for a bit and recite it to your friends, mentors, partner and people in your trusted inner circle.
When this natural process is allowed to occur, the chance of making the right decision — that doesn’t come with a prison sentence of regrets — is more likely to occur.
Something is amiss
What are they hiding? That’s the question to ask yourself when you are being rushed to make a decision. When everything is open and transparent, there’s no need to rush and…….
….. There is always another opportunity
Fear of missing out is a lie. The truth is that there is always another opportunity and you have never burned through every option. The sales characters telling you to rush, hate this fact.
When you know there is always another opportunity, you make the right choice.
When you know there is another opportunity, you decline the current one if you feel rushed, without giving a damn or feeling bad for doing so.
If it’s not this job, it will be the next. If it’s not the person you met on this date, then it will be the next. If it’s not this audition or draft of your screenplay, it will be the next.
The world is full of opportunities just right for you and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. There is no one size fits all. In fact, the opportunity that feels at the beginning like it doesn’t fit at all, with enough time and reflection, can often turn out to be the best decision you’ve ever made.
You need time to size up the opportunity and make the decision that is right for you.