Being early – a secret way to access the hidden jobs market

By Neil Patrick

Fortune favours the punctual. Here’s why.

I post a lot of information here about techniques for getting hired in this hyper-difficult jobs market.

And they all involve some amount of effort. But here’s one which doesn’t. It just requires an adjustment of your schedule.

I was talking yesterday with a friend who’s a job search coach and he told me an interesting story.

He had a client who had applied for a job and got asked to attend an interview. She actually arrived almost an hour early and after signing in at the desk began her wait.

At this point, most people will sit down quietly in a corner waiting to be called to their interview. They’ll browse the magazines and newsletters, or read their resume and the job description over again.

This lady didn’t though. It was a busy open plan office and people were coming and going through the reception area constantly. Instead of quietly sitting down, she chatted with a few people. She told them she was there for an interview. And a little about what her background was.

Because she had prepared properly and knew a good deal about the business, she could talk about some of the things she knew the company was doing. She had also perfected her elevator pitch and used this as an opportunity to practise it. One person even asked her for her contact details.

She actually discovered a few more things about the firm that were useful snippets of information for her interview.

She had the interview. And a few days later she was called back to be informed she’d not been chosen.

She wasn’t in the least bit disappointed though. Because before she got this call, one of the people she’d talked to in the reception area had called her already to ask if she’d be interested in taking on a role they needed filling.

The job hadn’t been advertised. It was more senior and better paid than the one she’d interviewed for and she didn’t have to compete with any other candidates. Needless to say, she took the job.

Now this story isn’t statistically proven. It an anecdote. No more no less.

And will it happen to everyone who arrives early for an interview? Of course not.

But neither does it cost you anything. There’s no downside and a lot of possible upsides.

But what I like most about this story is that it shows how thinking outside of the box can make a big difference to outcomes. If this lady had just done the normal thing and quietly sat down waiting for her interview, speaking to no-one, she’d not have been hired. But she didn’t. She didn’t even plan this as a strategy; she just thought she’d make the best possible use of her time while waiting.

It just goes to show – fortune favours the brave…and the early!


  1. I love this story and the care and professionalism that this person exhibited. She created and seized the moment! Nicely done!

    1. I agree Marcia. We maybe cannot ever control everything we 'd like to, but we sure can adjust the odds!

  2. The doors are always open but we must look outside the box at times.
    Its truly a way of thinking changing yours makes them all happen.

    Get tips from you Neil P.

    Joylove 2120 :-)

    1. Thanks for posting here Joy. And I agree that thinking outside the box is really powerful...but often we need some inspiration and to discover fresh ideas...hence this post :-)