I’d like to ask you a few questions about myself

Holy unexpected email response, Batman!

I’ve written quite a bit here about how the advice for job-seekers these days is to pick a company they’d like to work for and send someone there an email. Sure you want a job, but setting up an informational interview can be just as helpful in many ways. All the cool MBA schools are doing it.

Well, yesterday I did it. There is a company I’ve wanted to work for — for years. I’ve interviewed its top executives and spoken with staffers at much lower levels and I like them all. A lot. I like the company and everything that I know it stands for. I like the way it treats its employees and I like the face it shows to the world. If you asked me — outside of media companies — where I’d like to work, that would be it. Hands down. So  yesterday, I sent an email to the HR department (with a CC to the local executive) reminding them that I’ve done work with the company and then telling them why I’d like to work there, while acknowledging that there are currently no jobs for someone with my skill set. I suggested a meeting to discuss this further.

Today, the president of the company emailed me back. He and I have spoken before (and I think in that interview I jokingly asked if he could give me a job… I tell you, this has been on my mind). He offered to set me up with another executive to discuss the kind of work journalists could find in the company and in the field in general. Remarkably generous. I took him up on the offer.

Not only did I not expect a response that quickly, I didn’t expect it to be so positive. And that’s because I have, apparently, no idea of the impact I have had with my articles or of the esteem in which my work is held. Newsrooms are absolute crap for learning whether you’re any good at something, unless you’re a star and then you can never trust anything anyone says to you anyway. If you just quietly go about your job and don’t seek attention, it’s pretty much guaranteed that no one will give it to you.

It’s not the first time since my layoff that someone who has nothing to gain from the exercise has put himself out that way. I can’t begin to describe how it makes me feel — it’s not an ego thing, though there is a little of that and I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t get a bit of a boost from it. It’s just nice to be recognized, acknowledged — noticed! — as good at what you do by people you admire. How much more self-confident would we all be if we could know that without asking. Or without having to be laid off for people to bring their compliments out of the closet, give them some air.