Spotted the Perfect Job? So Did Your Friend …

by Shayna Monnens, Head Editor, INALJ South Dakota

Spotted the Perfect Job? So Did Your Friend – The SAME Perfect Job

shaynamonnensThis is it. You are at the stage where you are looking at open positions. Your head is 100% in the game. You have scoured the job market. The market is plumb for the picking (ok, this is the Library world in which this is NEVER the case), and you have just spotted the perfect job. From the job description, this position is tailor made for YOU! It is the right area of specialty, you possess the desired qualifications and experience, and you are determined to make this position yours.

However, your friend found the job as well. They feel the same way.

This is a situation that many of us can attest to. We have all experienced this in one form or another. You are acquainted with an individual who is going after the same prize you are. However, there can only be one winner. What happens if one of you is offered the position? What if it isn’t you? How do you react to this? Can this be handled in a mature manner? Or are you destined to walk away from this experience minus a friend?

After graduation, this is frequently the case. Many new qualified individuals are entering the field in which they have studied for. Depending on the location, job market, demand, etc., this can be tricky ground to tread. With so many new candidates, you WILL find yourself applying for jobs that a friend will also be applying for. There are ways to navigate this scenario with both friendship and self-respect intact.

I can see two possible ways in which you can approach this specific situation. Let’s try both on for size.

  1. You openly discuss the issue. You are both aware that the other has applied, and because we are all adults, the two of you remain open about the job application experience. You assist each other on the resume and application. You discuss the techniques and share tips on the interview process.
  2. You keep your secrets. You spy a position, you don’t talk about it. If you apply, you don’t mention it. If you get an interview, no one needs to know about it. If you get offered the job, don’t brag about it. Hold your cards close to your chest and no one is the wiser to your plans.

Personally, I am a fan of option number 2. When I say that you don’t say a word about it, I am referring to the idea of not telling anyone who could potentially be interested in the position about it. Don’t worry, this is not being selfish. This is being smart. More than likely if they are actively searching for a position, they will come across the same opening as well. If you are feeling stressed about the application process or an upcoming interview, don’t hesitate to talk to someone else, completely unrelated to the situation, about your trepidations. You have other family or friends that can provide the support you need.

However, maybe option number 1 will work for you. Depending on your relationship with the other individual applying, maybe it is better to have it all out in the open. It would really suck to lose a friend (or perhaps a significant other) over a position.  Hopefully, you both would be mature enough to understand that the job market is slim, and that this job may not be offered to either of you. One would hope that if it was indeed offered to you, your friend would be supportive and congratulatory in your professional success, and that you would be the same if the situation were reversed.

If you do find that a friend is interested in the same position that you are, you should evaluate your relationship with the other person before you approach one of the above possibilities. Take into account that while you don’t want to lose a friend, you have to come first. It is not selfish to place your professional priorities in front of those of others. Why should you? No one is likely to do that for you.

However, don’t be discouraged if you discover that you are in this situation. You can walk away unscathed with the same number of friends. If you do find yourself in this position, just remember that only you can control your reaction. If you are offered the position, be gracious in your success. If your friend is offered the position, be courteous and congratulatory. Jealousy? Understandable. It sucks, but you will get over it. Is the loss of a position equal in worth to the loss of a friend?  If neither of you is offered the position, keep on chugging. Your day will come. And so will your friend’s.

You will meet so many people throughout school and early on in your career, and chances are you will most likely be sharing a profession with these other individuals in the future. You want to present yourself in the most professional and mature view as possible. Be courteous, be gracious, and be professional.

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