Campaigning for a job?

Subject: Campaigning for a job?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 09:26:15 -0400

Rachel Tsrouya reports: <<I am curently beginning a three month process of
preparing myself to heavily campaign for my job. I will be leaving on
maternity leave soon, and I understand that when I return in October, I will
have until December to convince my current employer that he needs me.>>

If they're willing to send you on maternity leave (paid?), your manager
probably still wants you and is only trying to document your worth to a
higher-up; after all, why not just tell you not to return in October? Find
out what's really going on behind the scenes. Knowing the real reason why
they want you to justify your position (cost savings, someone doesn't like
you, there's a power struggle going in in management) is invaluable when you
try to figure out strategies to save your job.

<<Currently I am: Writing a style guide for the department - the engineers
are responsible for a large portion of documentation and are expected to
write in good English style, therefore I believe that the style guide can
show my initiative and concern for good documentation>>

Good thought, but it might backfire: "Hey, now we have this great style
guide for the engineers to follow. Why do we need a writer or editor?" I'd
seriously consider leaving this unfinished and concentrating on other
things. For example, what documentation will need to be produced while
you're away? How can you arrange things so that nobody else will be able to
do the docs in your absence? (For example, if you have any friends in the
development group, perhaps they can be so busy working on development that
they won't have time to write. Sneaky, but ethically defensible: they were
hired as developers, not writers, after all.)

<<Creating a portfolio -- to show what I've done here, and also just in case

Good defensive strategy. Can you assemble a "hall of shame" portfolio of
documentation produced before you arrived that will show how much of an
improvement you've made? Any statistics on reduced calls to technical
support or reduced complaint letters since you took over documentation?
Those speak quite eloquently in a portfolio.

<<Collecting emails of "thank-yous" and "good jobs" to show that the
engineers need and appreciate me.>>

A good start, but testimonials alone may not persuade the average
pointy-haired manager. Can you ask everyone who thanked you to come up with
a rough estimate of how much time you saved them? If you can, you can then
assign a standard cost to their time, multiply it by the time savings, and
demonstrate how much money your employment saved the company. Other tips and
tricks in a similar vein can be found in my article: Hart, G.J. 2001. Prove
your worth. Intercom July/August 2001:16-19.

The key to persuasion lies in one simple trick: identifying your opponent's
fears and desires, plus any obstacles to agreement, so you can address each
one in a compelling manner. Ease those fears, satisfy those desires, and
remove the obstables and you quickly make your case. But if you don't know
what these are, you can't address them. So do a bit of digging, find out why
they're considering getting rid of you, and prove to them how letting you go
would be a big mistake.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
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noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience,
which is the bitterest.”--Confucius, philosopher and teacher (c. 551-478

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