In the book, the daughters have to get married before their father dies, since they will lose their estate since there is no male heir. If they can't get good husbands then their future will be bleak as their career options were limited at that time. There is an urgency in finding good husbands as the opening sentence sets the stage with this famous opening: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
Isn't this what we all deal with today trying to find good jobs?
If we don't find good jobs, then we also have to settle for average to bad jobs that will limit our ability to move up the career ladder and earn good wages. So good husbands are what the Bennet sisters were looking for, and good jobs are what we are looking for. There is a lot to learn from this classic novel written more than 200 years ago. Let's take a look at the advice Elizabeth thought was good in finding a husband that she would adopt.
Here is the advice Elizabeth Bennet gets from her friend Charlotte Lucas as they are talking about Elizabeth's sister Jane who is interested in Mr. Bingley who has moved into a house nearby in Netherfield Park.
"...it is sometimes a disadvantage to be so very guarded. If a woman conceals her affection with the same skill from the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him; and it will then be but poor consolation to believe the world equally in the dark. There is so much of gratitude or vanity in almost every attachment, that it is not safe to leave any to itself. We can all begin freely— a slight preference is natural enough; but there are very few of us who have heart enough to be really in love without encouragement. In nine cases out of ten a women had better show more affection than she feels. Bingley likes your sister undoubtedly; but he may never do more than like her, if she does not help him on."
Then she adds how Jane can help Mr. Bingley fall in love with her:
"Perhaps he must, if he sees enough of her. But, though Bingley and Jane meet tolerably often, it is never for many hours together; and, as they always see each other in large mixed parties, it is impossible that every moment should be employed in conversing together. Jane should therefore make the most of every half-hour in which she can command his attention. When she is secure of him, there will be more leisure for falling in love as much as she chooses."
Elizabeth Bennet likes what Charlotte has suggested as she says to her:
"Your plan is a good one...where nothing is in question but the desire of being well married, and if I were determined to get a rich husband , or any husband, I dare say I should adopt it..."
Now if you change marriage to job, the idea that Elizabeth Bennet says she is going to adopt would work for a job too. Who am I to disagree with Jane Austen whose suggestions for marriage and courtship applies to other fields such as getting a job, sales, making a good first impression, etc.
How to apply the lessons from Jane Austen?
When you are looking for a job, the first interaction with an employer is extremely important. The way you handle the first interaction will set the stage for the entire interview process which will either increase or decrease your chances of getting a job. If you don't handle the first interaction well, you will end up playing defense and may not be able to go on offense to score a job.
Many companies get so many resumes that some companies like Infosys even brag that it is harder to get a job there then to get into Harvard. So right away, you have to qualify hard at each phase and sub-phases whether you are closer to a job offer or not. Also, this means this companies have no problem dragging the interview process for months. It is a long game now unlike in the past where you rarely had go through more than two rounds of interviews.
Below is an approach I recommend you adopt right from the first call with a potential employer.
The first call is just an introductory call where you want to inform the interviewer that you would like to set up three thirty-minute calls so both you and the interviewer can determine whether there is a mutual fit. As you go through each phase you have to qualify whether you are likely to get an offer or not likely to get an offer. You do have control to end the process if you don't think you are winning.
This call is all about the company since they are the one who has the offer to give. They have a problem that needs to be solved. They have to explain to you the job, the work that needs to be done, and the person they are looking for who can get the job done. In this call, you should not be talking much.
Once you understand the job, problem an employer is facing and the solution they have in mind, it's your turn to answer the questions. You want the interviewer to get to know you more than what's on your resume or LinkedIn profile or even the body of work that is accessible on the Internet.
This call is more about the future on determining a mutual fit that meets both your objective and the company's objective. At this point you both have to make it clear that there is interest in moving to the next phase.
I call this the first phase of an interview process. The second phase is to get more information from others within the company to gauge whether you want to move to a third phase: face-to-face interview. The fourth phase is to get the job offer, and the fifth phase is to negotiate the job offer you can live with.
The key lesson is whether it is marriage or a job, it happens slowly so you want to have more short interactions rather than one long interaction with a prospective employer to get to know the person better. The more you are talking to an employer, the more you are remaining in their mind. If they break it off, then you know that they are not interested in pursuing the opportunity with you.
Note, you do have to let the employer know that you are very deliberative in your process of looking for a job. You want to be the first one to say it, so the employer knows that you are not needy and also getting the job offer is not under your control. According to Dan Schawbel on the Art of Charm podcast titled "Promote Yourself," says that companies like Google make a candidate go through at least five rounds of interviews. In one case, Eric Schmidt, said that one person went through eleven rounds of interviews and they didn't end up hiring the person. You may have to go through several months or even as long as one year to land a job at some elite companies.
Is this ridiculous? Yes, but this is what you have to go through today to get a good job. Hence, you want to be proactive and let the employer know that you are very deliberative in looking for a job. This is the process today so put the employer on defense and gain an advantage.
The only time you ever seize control is when a written offer is sent to you. Until that happens, you have to win incrementally and be ready to enjoy the game and not get frustrated and start making mistakes. Remember until they employer sees you doing the job, the interview process is a drawn out your showing the employer how you would do the job.
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