I was talking to a friend of mine recently and he mentioned how upset he was at himself because he had squandered a golden opportunity to land his dream job.  He is employed by a good company, in a good job that pays him well and that he likes.  Nevertheless, my friend had come across his potential “dream job.  It was the type of job he had told me he had long been looking for.  The lead came from a former colleague of his who told him to contact the VP at the  company on a specific day and within a certain time frame. He had planned to be off that day just so he could give his full attention to the call with the VP.  Here is where the opportunity was lost– he decided to play golf that day at a course which was outside the city limits.  Unfortunately he had no cell coverage and by the time he was able to call, the VP had left and was out of the office for a week.  By the time the VP returned to town, the job was filled and not by my friend.

I had an “opportunity loss”  situation occur when a business contact of mine gave me an opportunity to compete for a placement at his company.  I came up with a great candidate, but proceeded to procrastinate my way out of a possible placement and sizable placement fee.  I had the candidate all set to submit on a Thursday afternoon, but got sidetracked and put it off until Friday afternoon.  The hiring manager did not review the resume until the following Monday and at that point I was informed that they had already scheduled other candidate interviews.  I didn’t get the placement.

The last example concerns an extremely talented consultant I’ve known for a long time.  We had a potential consulting opportunity for him that he was clearly the best fit for based on his experience.  However, the client hiring manager had a simple philosophy, “If it’s not on the resume, it must not be an area of expertise for the individual”.  My candidate had great experience and was able to speak to it in every interview he ever had and it usually resulted in getting every job he interviewed for, but his resume did not reflect what the hiring manager requested.  As you can guess, we didn’t get an updated, complete resume from the candidate, so we were forced to submit the previous version.  Yes,  I’m sure you guessed it, he did not get the interview.

Great opportunities don’t always come at the most convenient times.  However, successful people must often make sacrifices to maximize their career opportunities. In each of the three examples, a greater sense of urgency could have resulted in a much different outcome.

1) If my friend had not played golf, he would have reached the VP and might have gotten his dream job;  2) Had I been more on top of things I would have submitted the candidate when the resume and write-up were ready that day, not the following day when it was more convenient for me; 3) If you are a candidate, you must do everything necessary to vie for the positions you apply for.  If this means you need to rewrite your resume to make it more appealing and tailored to every position, then do it.

As hard as it is to admit, our failures in many cases are a result of our own doing. So the next time you fall short of the desired result with a potential opportunity, be honest and ask yourself whether you could have done anything differently to affect the outcome.  And learn from your past mistakes.