Til' Death Do We Part – How Spousal Interference Can Kill Your Job Search

If you are in a relationship, or know someone who is, you’ve quite likely experienced first or second hand the “We” Syndrome. We love that restaurant. We always listen to Jazz. We are trying to get pregnant. There’s a time and a place for every pronoun – But when it comes to your spouse’s job search, save the “we” for your favorite kind of pizza.
Last week I got an interesting call. I had been working with a candidate, we’ll call him James. James was a passive candidate I had connected with, and although I didn’t have a position for him currently, and he wasn’t urgently looking to make a move, we had decided to keep in touch for potential future openings. One morning, as I was preparing for a day of offsite meetings, the phone rang. It was James’ wife. She wanted to know if I’d found any potential positions for James. Though taken aback, I explained to her that though I didn’t have anything currently, he was on my radar for future prospects and that I’d probably be checking in with him in the next few days. “Well, she said, I’d really prefer if you could call him sooner. We would really like your help.”

Once I had lifted my jaw off of my desk, I responded that I looked forward to connecting with him at my earliest convenience and that hopefully our schedules would allow for us to talk soon. What was even more interesting was that James didn’t seem all that interested in finding a new job, and after further conversation, I discovered it was his wife that was really driving the process.

To be honest – the whole chain of events was a turn-off. I was interested in building a quality relationship with James, but could have done without the threesome. Once his wife was brought into the relationship, anything James and I could have had was cheapened. I thought about what she said on the phone – “We want to know if you have found any positions - We would really like your help.” But here's the thing: I am not working with the two of you, I am working with your husband. I am not interviewing both of you, I am interviewing your husband. It’s one thing to be supportive, but a company is not hiring the two of you, and when a spouse interferes, it reflects poorly on the candidate. Maybe it’s telling of his character, maybe it shows a weakness, or maybe it paints a picture that if his spouse runs interference with his job hunt, she will only evolve into more of a problem once he is hired. In any case, it’s not good, not professional, and will most likely do nothing but assure that the only thing “We” ultimately get in the end, is a notification that “We” are not selected for the job.

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Comment by Brian Meeks on November 18, 2009 at 5:18pm
Great Blog post!!! I loved the story. I feel badly for James, as I imagine she had drive off his friends, replaced them with her own, and forbade him from enjoying football on Sundays. But I could be wrong.

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