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Every Contact Leaves a Trace

The earth is hiring and the pay is your legacy.” — Channon L. Alder


The first law of forensics is that every contact leaves a trace. Every contact, leaves a trace. Think about that for a moment. Every time you talk to someone, interact with someone, or touch someone’s life, you leave a trace. What does that mean to you as a business professional who finds themselves in a job transition? It means that you leave a trace on everyone you come in contact with.


So, the question is this. What kind of a trace or mark do you want to leave? You have control of the trace you leave, not only in your interview(s), but for their expectations for if/when you get hired.


How many touch points do you have during the interview process? Who do you come in contact with and in what capacity? And when you do, do you leave a positive or negative trace? And do you care?


Let’s take the first part. How many contacts do you have throughout the interview process? For the process alone, you will most likely have a phone screen or two, a video or face-to-face with the hiring manager, members of the team, and maybe potential subordinates. Now, what about people you come in contact with who are outside the process. People that work at the company your interviewing with, while waiting for the interview, in the elevator, in the hallway, in the reception area, and on the way to the interview? Not to mention family, friends, and a host of networking contacts who may be involved with the process. That’s a lot of contacts!


Think about your last interview. Are you happy with the trace you have left on all of those contacts?


Not many of us can honestly say that we are satisfied that we have left the best possible trace on all of our contacts. Some we regret. Some we blow off believing we will never see these people again so it doesn’t really matter. Well, think about this. Contacts don’t necessarily occur only with people we interact with. Contacts happen when others view our interactions. That too leaves a trace.


Makes you think doesn’t it? Every contact leaves a trace.


Now, if you’re happy with all your interactions with your contacts and satisfied with the trace you leave on them, then you can stop reading. Congratulations, you are a much better person than I am. But, if you think that perhaps you could use some insight on how to leave a better trace, then please read on.


Here are five ways to help you get the most out of your contacts and to help you leave a better, more positive trace:


Look at the big picture – A single contact by itself may not seem to be a big deal, but if we look at the larger picture, it comes more into focus. One bad contact can ruin your entire day and the trace you leave can very easily ruin someone else’s day. One bad interaction during the interview process can cause you not to be the candidate of choice. So, the next time you are having a interaction, try to keep in mind the impact and overall potential outcome of the interaction.


Look at the contact from the other’s perspective – There are always two perspectives to every contact. Remember this, one’s perception is their reality. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not, someone’s perception is their truth at the time. It is not easy to see someone else’s perspective. But if you’re the one who tries and you’re the one who is willing, you can turn a potentially negative trace into a positive one. Ask clarifying questions. Think before you speak.


Don’t let your ego get in the way – We all have egos. Egos can help us in business because a certain amount of ego is necessary for any business to succeed. Egos aren’t bad, unless they get in the way of leaving a positive trace. Egos hurt us when they get in the way and hinder the communication process. Egos are displayed in what we say, how we say it and how we act. Egos can cause us to see ourselves bigger and better than we actually are. They cause us to believe our own press and if left unchecked can cause us to leave a negative trace with the people we interact with.


Be aware; you never know who is watching – As stated earlier, contacts happen not only when we interact, but also when others view our interactions. Unless you’re in a soundproof room with no windows, someone may be watching. What would your reaction be if someone saw you interviewing and he/she heard or saw something that they found offensive? Be aware that other employees and even customers, suppliers, potential customers, potential employees, potential partners, just may be watching your interactions. Bad traces have consequences.


None of us is as smart as we think we are – We are all smart about some things, but we are not all smart about everything. Never dismiss input from anyone during the interview process. Be careful when someone asks for your opinion on something because that means that they already have their opinion. Positive traces are left when we solicit, actively listen to, and respect pearls of wisdom brought to us from others.


Every contact leaves a trace. What kind of a trace are you going to leave in your next interview?


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