What happens if you don’t get the job

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November 8, 2021

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’Tis the season … for job searches, interviews and career development. Many of you will be looking to advance your careers during this offseason. One question: Are you willing to put in the work necessary to land a new position?

There could be lots of reasons you want a change of position: a new board, new ownership or a new management company; general career advancement; a call from a recruiter; an intriguing lead seen on a national or regional job board. Or it could just be time.

Applying for a new job is exciting, and you’ll no doubt have dreams of better pay, more notoriety, more responsibility. But you need to be prepared for not getting the job. And you need to consider rejection in many forms, not just someone else getting it but more demeaning outcomes such as applying and never hearing back.

How you react to rejection is reflective of you as a person. What happens next is the true test of your character.

When you don’t get the job, the first thing to do is assess your efforts. Did you give it your all?

Let’s agree that your résumé, references and portfolio were up to date and complete. Did you really fit what they were looking for? Was it specified that a “head” superintendent (versus an assistant) was desired? Is your current job and experience well out of the club’s geographic zone? Did you have the knowledge and experience specified, particularly when it came to type of turf?

Maybe you got an interview but didn’t get the job. Why not? There are countless variables or triggers that can impact a selection committee, from how you walked into the interview room to eye contact, personal grooming (sweating, hair, dress) and body language. Yes, every little thing counts.

And let’s be honest. It’s often a numbers game: There are many more qualified assistants and head superintendents than there are open positions.

As soon as you learn of the club’s decision, make sure to thank everyone involved you met in the process. Club officials, management, board members, the consultant if there was one. Anyone with whom you came in contact. And not a text, either; write a real thank you note.

If you’re sure you excelled, don’t hesitate to reach out to the general manager or to the headhunter (give it a couple of weeks) and ask, for future reference, what you might do to improve. It’s not what you did wrong, it’s learning how you can excel in the future.

Legally, they may not be able to give you specifics, but it’s worth asking. Just bear in mind that once the process is done, many club managers are as spent as you are and won’t feel like rehashing or critiquing. Don’t press them. Ask nicely once and move on.

It’s perfectly natural for you to experience a letdown: Think of it as post-interview stress syndrome. Especially if this isn’t the first time you’ve lost out. Focus on the positives. While it will be disappointing that change isn’t in your immediate future, turn the experience into incentive to bring your current club renewed energy and hard work. Be ready for the next opportunity that comes your way. And remember, while it might not be your dream job, you still have your present position.

Whether you’re applying for a job or you’ve been contacted, there are some important steps to take:

  • Update your résumé so it’s current
  • Call your personal references and make sure they are still willing to provide a glowing assessment of your abilities
  • Study up on the new club, read its history, check the website, conduct due diligence
  • Polish your portfolio, update course photos
  • Think about how you’ll look to the interviews. Consider shaving the beard, losing weight and taking the suit out of the closet to make sure it still fits.

If you are applying for a job (versus being personally contacted), what happens after you send in your credentials? Likely, you’ll sit and wait. And it is very possible that you’ll never hear back.

Nothing is worse than no response. It’s a pet peeve of mine not hearing anything — and waiting. All you really want is acknowledgement that your material has been received.

Well, you might not get it. But you won’t be alone. It’s not unusual for some jobs (and you can figure out which ones they are when you apply) to generate hundreds of résumés. Assume the club is likely to only interview five or six candidates.

When you still haven’t heard — but after some deep thinking on your part about whether you’re really a good candidate for the position — feel free to follow up. Ask for the status of the search or the schedule for candidate interviews. Just because you’re in a rush don’t assume they are. Maybe the current superintendent is retiring and a long goodbye is planned. Hard as it is, be patient.

How long should you wait before inquiring? If you sent in a blind submission, I think three to four weeks. If they reached out to you, two weeks is a fair timeframe. Don’t be afraid to ask if the recipient of your background packet needs additional information. If you still get no response, you’re probably not in the running.

One final thing to consider: Your current club. Where you’re working now can’t help but matter in the interview and selection process. What you have to weigh is if it matters so much that it’s overshadowing your attributes and positive characteristics. Yes, it does happen.

If you think your current club is holding you back, consider a step down to take a job at a more prominent club. Put in a few years there and try again. Name clubs are eye candy to recruiters, and “stealing someone” from a fancy course appeals to the ego and vanity of certain private club members.

Also, start to market yourself and increase your visibility: Become a panelist at an industry conference, get involved with a local (or regional or national) organization, enhance your social presence (appropriately), start a blog, practice your presentation skills in front of a mirror. And network.

Right now, the supply of qualified candidates is much larger than the number of open positions. This should change in the next few years as many superintendents at top clubs around the country look to ride off into the sunset.

Will you be ready — and able — to take their place?

Tim Moraghan, principal, ASPIRE Golf (tmoraghan@aspire-golf.com). Follow Tim’s blog, Golf Course Confidential at www.aspire-golf.com/buzz.html or on Twitter @TimMoraghan