Widgitronics Global Resources is about to staff its marketing director position. You are the leading contender for the job. In fact, you are the proverbial shoo-in. You have eight years’ experience with Widgitronics in consumer affairs. To broaden your exposure to the overall working of the firm, you have just spent eight successful additional years on assignment in new product development and sales.

Everyone is convinced the marketing directorship is yours to lose. A loosely organized token search is conducted just to verify that no outside contender could be anywhere near as qualified as you are. Your colleagues have drafted their congratulatory messages and are just waiting to plug in the dates. Soon the victory balloons will be heaving in a net over your office desk waiting to cascade down when the announcement is made.

After a few weeks of deliberation, management announces its decision.
The verdict: You lose.
Stunned, you are determined to analyze your loss:

  • Because there was such certainty you would win, your supporters never organized a cohesive campaign to back you.
  • Your biggest advocate was the retiring marketing director, who-larger than life-chimed in with impromptu endorsements and gratuitously diminished the competition.
  • You failed to brush up on the details of your own achievements in consumer affairs several years ago and slipped up in responses to questions in your own interviews.
  • A whole new group of entry-level marketing staff members had staged a relentless campaign with management saying that a grassroots change was needed in marketing management, one that was highly responsive to the Internet age.

Unlikely scenario? Consider how Hilary Clinton lost the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

  • Her campaign was never properly organized and managed.
  • Her husband, the popular former president, Bill Clinton, was viewed at times as a meddlesome surrogate.
  • Muddled recollections about a Bosnia visit in 1996 tarnished the credibility of her first lady experience.
  • She cultivated the old guard of the party, at the expense of a powerfully organized and digitally able younger generation.

Mackay’s Moral: In the staffing game, overconfidence and a flawed plan can pull defeat from the jaws of victory.
I have much more career advice and job hunting tips in my book “Use Your Head To Get Your Foot In The Door”

About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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