I had the interview in Claridges in London. The job was for a Middle East publishing company, and I really wanted the job. The interview had gone well, but not great. Frankly, it had been hard to get a word past the interviewer. He was too busy telling his story to listen to mine.
But that didn't matter. The prize was the job of editor, on a magazine that I had always admired, in Dubai - a city I could imagine myself living in, with a salary that was certainly respectable. But what could I do now - the horse had bolted, and with it the interviewer. My time was up.
There was only one thing to do - and that was send a follow up email to the interviewer, and to the existing editor in the UAE who had short listed the applicants, to thank them for seeing me and somehow convince them I was the one - without sounding desperate. I wrote, I added detail, I explained I remained very interested, and would be committed to the move.
Gentle polite emails were exchanged - "thank you", "no thank you", "NO thank you" - etc. but the trail seemed to go cold. I was, I discovered, not first choice, not second choice, but unlucky number three. It didn't make me happy, but it was the magazine's loss I decided.
I wrote again: "Naturally I am disappointed not to have been chosen, but I want to thank you again for seeing me. Please let me know in the future if there is any way I may help. I would like to be involved one day - kindly keep me in your thoughts going forward..."
And that was that. Or so I thought.
Three weeks later I got an email - "Come to Dubai, we want you for the job...
Why the change? Well, at the time I didn't ask - obviously the company had come to its senses and realized, rightly, that I was brilliant.
What I discovered later on was not that the company had realised the error of its ways, but that number one and number two had failed to show up at Dubai airport. Because of my follow up emails, however, I had remained top of their backup list, and when their chips fell, my star rose.
By the time I discovered this, I was well into the job, and had done well. My pride took a small hit, but it was already history (and obviously my employer had a moment of idiocy). More to the point I was in. And I was loving it.
The message of this story is that the follow up letter can do it for you. It isn't guaranteed to get you a job, but it can and often does help - often in ways you would never imagine. Add detail, show you remain committed, be polite and stars will collide, magic spark, applicants not turn up, and the job of your dreams land on your lap. Well... it could - and that should make it enough for you to do it...