In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.
Question: I am currently job searching. My wife, who is in another field, constantly asks me how she can help me with my job search, and I don’t know what to tell her. I consider a job search to be a solitary activity, or an activity where the only help I get is from people in my same field. What should I tell my wife when she asks how she can help me?
Nick Corcodilos: It’s happened rarely, but I’ve had spouses show up uninvited and unannounced at job interviews. Sometimes spouses will field calls I make to job candidates, and they will make calls to employers during a job search. It’s all totally inappropriate. While a supportive spouse is a wonderful thing, this is an early signal that a spouse is likely to interfere with an employee’s job. It usually marks the end of an employer’s or headhunter’s interest in the candidate.
You should handle all person-to-person contact during your job search, including email. If a spouse (or anyone else) does it for you, there will be inevitable lapses, and it will not look good when you are exposed as using a proxy. Employers don’t appreciate encountering the job hunter’s secretary or assistant.
If you need to do research, your spouse could help you with that. However, the risk is that while exploring an opportunity or a source of information, she (or he) may miss information that you would recognize as useful.
No matter how close your spouse is to you, I think you’ll find that job hunting and career change are indeed solitary activities. This is a time when we learn about ourselves and often find that we’re not who we thought we were. Another person can’t help you have this experience, except in passing. I agree that the best help you’ll get is from others in your field.
One of my favorite quotes is from author Vladimir Nabokov, whose words might inspire epistemological terror in even the most self-confident person: “You are not I, and therein lies the irreparable calamity.” However, I don’t suggest saying that to your spouse!
Nonetheless, no one — not even a spouse — can substitute their experience and judgement for your own during your job search.
One good way for a spouse to help is to listen and to be a sounding board, without actually getting involved.
Dear Readers: Should a spouse be involved in your job search? How could a spouse be helpful, or cause problems?
Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”
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