How to handle the question of where else you’re looking

March 3, 2010 at 2:38 am Leave a comment

An email correspondent poses an interesting query: Why do potential employers sometimes ask in interviews if you are looking elsewhere? And what should you say? I have found — and other recruiters agree — that there is often interest expressed by hiring managers about where job candidates are in their hunt. This is often justified; they want to know how serious a candidate you are about their organization and also want to gauge whether they should expend energy on your candidacy, or whether you may have another offer on the table soon.

How to answer such a query can be tricky. While you don’t want to be dishonest with a potential employer, you also don’t want to provide information that could cause them to become cool to your candidacy. Yet in some instances it can be useful for hiring managers to know that others are interested in you — especially if they have been dragging out the process and you want them to get serious. Here are some tips on how to respond to this line of questioning and try to turn it to your advantage:

*Never knowingly lie or even overstate the truth to a prospective employer. Especially in a close-knit field like journalism, it’s easy enough for them to check out your statements. If they catch you in a lie, not only is your candidacy finished with that organization, but they could spread the word among other recruiters and hiring managers. Washington, especially in journalism circles, is in many ways still a small town, and you don’t want to run the risk of being known as a journalist who couldn’t keep their facts straight about their own career. So if asked a direct question like this, don’t lie. If you don’t want to answer, politely obfuscate. A polite non-answer to this question could be: “I’m talking to a lot of organizations, and those talks are in various stages. I’m really interested in your publication and that’s why I’m here. I’d like to focus on how I think I’d be a good fit with your company.” If pressed, then say you don’t feel comfortable talking about your other talks, and again try to move the conversation along.

*If the hiring process has seriously progressed with another organization, but you are honestly interested in this one, use this question to your advantage. Give only as much detail as you think appropriate, but you can certainly say that talks have progressed with another company yet not to the point of having an offer on the table. Make sure to clearly state that you’re quite interested in THIS job — and give reasons why — so they don’t think you’re just fishing for an offer to bid up the other company’s offer. This may cause them to consider your candidacy — yea or nay — more quickly, if they think that soon may lose the opportunity to hire you. Though be careful with this; many organizations in this tight hiring environment have set salaries they’re willing to pay for most positions, and they may turn to another candidate if they think you could turn out to be higher-priced because of another potential offer.

*Be careful about acknowledging that you haven’t had a lot of luck yet getting other interviews and haven’t been close to any offers. Recruiters, like everyone else, like winners. If they feel that others are interested in you, that validates their choice of you as a serious candidate. They also don’t want to feel like this is an opening “practice” round.  Often recruiters like the competitive aspect of fighting it out with another organization for a top candidate. Again, while you shouldn’t lie and say you’re in play if you’re not, you also don’t need to be quick to acknowledge that you haven’t had much luck. Answer somewhat generally, saying again that you’re “in touch” with a number of other organizations and are “casting a wide net” to find the right position.

*Let your references know that you have been asked this question. Also, specifically tell them how you answered the question, so that they can back up your answer if the hiring manager asks them about it. Depending on your situation — especially if you are close to getting another offer — you may want them to conversationally disclose that you’re in play and that while you would be open to their offer, time is of the essence. A reference may be in a better position to help pass along this information than you would but you need to let them know the details of this part of the interview.

*The following link to an AP article (via Margaret F. Dikel’s terrific The Riley Guide) might be interesting to job hunters who have found a credit check is often part of the application process. Apparently, lawmakers in 16 states have proposed outlawing most credit checks, saying these can be an unfair way to rule out applicants who have had problems with debt. Food for thought:

States may ban credit checks on job applicants

*And here are some job leads to check out, with an emphasis today on industry newsletters as well as publications and communications jobs with trade groups:

*McGraw-Hill is looking for an associate editor to cover energy policy in Washington for its Inside Energy newsletters:

Associate Editor – Inside Energy
The McGraw-Hill Companies – Washington, DC
accept direction from editors. • At least three years… at responding to the needs of real-time and daily editors, often under deadline pressure; • Able to turn…
From The McGraw-Hill Companies

*With a hat tip (on the next several listings) to, the Construction Management Association of America in McLean, Va., has an opening for a communications associate:

Company: Construction Management Association of
Seeking Communications Associate
McLean, Virginia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
April 2, 2010
Job ID: 1152552


SUMMARY OF JOB This individual should be a good writer and a skilled project coordinator who can keep multiple projects on track simultaneously. He or she will be responsible for production of association newsletters and other publications, content maintenance of website, distribution of email communications, news releases, and other announcements, staff support of several member committees, and interaction with staff departments responsible for educational programming and other functions.

A significant portion of this position involves routine updating and maintenance of the CMAA website; this function in turn requires regular communication with all CMAA departments to keep their web content current. Training will be provided in the use of CMAA’s dedicated Content Management System (CMS).

Writing is a key function of this position, including news releases, newsletter content, letters and the like. In addition, applicants should possess sufficient familiarity with basic HTML and website management to handle routine updates, posting of new documents, and other day-to-day requirements. Research and interviewing skills, and a level of comfort in conducting interviews, are also desirable.

The position supports the communication, outreach and public relations for the association. Position reports to the Vice President.

EDUCATION Bachelor’s degree required, with major in Journalism, Communications, Public Relations or related field.

EXPERIENCE Two to three years experience in communications and administrative functions for trade or professional association, including writing responsibilities.

SPECIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS • Well organized, detail-oriented and able to drive projects through completion. • Basic HTML skills • Ability to work on multiple projects simultaneously. • Proficiency in Microsoft Office applications. • Good writing skills. • Mature, professional attitude and appearance. • Openness to continued learning and upgrading of skills.

PRINCIPAL RESPONSIBILITIES: • Write partial content for bi-monthly online association magazine; gather photos and other content, edit, proofread and coordinate final production. Handle invoicing to advertisers. • Plan, write and execute bi-monthly association e-newsletter, including development content lists, gathering content, and formatting newsletter in an HTML template. Coordinate with all departments to compile news; and gather industry content from related industry organizations. • Maintain home page and updates of all sub-pages and website features other than the Professional Development program content. Support PD department staff as needed in management of PD website content. • Write and distribute releases and other materials, including research and interviews of sources, obtaining necessary approvals from sources and in-house. Other communications functions: • Maintain and coordinate schedule of all member and public communications activities across all departments. • Support marketing of annual association national conference and trade show: o Help execute email campaigns to promote attendance, recruit exhibitors and respond to exhibitor requests for support services; o Support exhibit and sponsorship sales; o Assist in preparation of scripts and AV materials; o Assist in development of on-site program; o Provide input into selection of speakers; o and other participation as needed. • Provide promotional support as needed to the Chapter Relations Manager. • Primary responsibility for execution of all member correspondence going out VIA email (marketing, events, partnerships, etc.) • Interact with outside graphic design, print and other vendors to establish production schedules for specific projects. o Monitor adherence to these schedules or modifications as needed. o Edit and proofread print jobs. • Coordinate the process of obtaining pre-production cost estimates and approvals, and provide vendors with association information suitable to help them understand the context and content of individual projects. • Maintain the association’s advertising schedule and assure that appropriate ad materials are provided to publications in a timely manner. Coordinate with graphic design vendor to supply publication production specifications, photos, and other content required for design of new ads. • Organize and maintain an association library of photographs, logos and other materials. Assure that appropriate permission has been obtained for re-use of images. • Perform other tasks as needed to ensure great services to our customers, particularly members, assigned by Vice President.

Coordination with other departments: • Work with the Meetings and Conferences department to support advance promotion of the Forum and the National Conference & Trade Show. Gather content for and create email blasts to market conferences to membership using HTML template. • Work with the Professional Development department to identify promotional opportunities arising from PD programs, to help increase member participation in programs, and support the launch of new programs. • Interact with the Construction Manager Certification Institute (CMCI) to identify publicity and promotional needs and help the Communications Department respond to these needs. Compile and format quarterly CMCI Contact using HTML template. • Work with Membership on annual member renewal/retention campaign, as well as year-round efforts to identify and recruit new members. • Provide communications support for the CMAA Foundation, including website maintenance and promotion efforts. • Help to expand and maintain association communications with college and university programs in specified AEC fields. o Publicize scholarship opportunities and internship programs. o Support a career information and promotion program.

Please submit resume via e-mail to

*The National Association of Community Health Care Centers in Bethesda is looking for a writer:

Company: NACHC
Bethesda, Maryland
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Negotiable
Ad Expires:
April 6, 2010
Job ID: 1153498

The National Association of Community Health Centers ( a mid-sized, non-profit is seeking a Writer, New Media Manager in our Communications Dept. Candidates seeking a mission-driven, energetic environment, eager to make a difference in the lives of those in need are encouraged to apply. In this position, you will provide a broad range of communications support, including writing and editing; overseeing development of occasional publications; and the management of NACHC’s website, blogs and social media feeds, including Facebook and Twitter.

Candidates should have a Bachelor’s degree (preferably in journalism or other related field). Excellent writing and editing skills, with attention to detail essential. Demonstrated editing and copywriting experience. Must be able to synthesize information/facts into clear, concise copy and able to vary writing style to meet needs. Must be able to meet strict deadlines. Strong time-management and organizational skills. Proficient in using Microsoft Office software. Familiarity with Facebook and Twitter; experience with website Content Management Systems preferred. To apply, forward your cover letter, resume, writing samples and salary req. to EOE

*The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America in D.C. has an opening for a marketing and communications professional:

Company: Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America,
Seeking Marketing and Communications
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Negotiable
Ad Expires:
April 5, 2010
Job ID: 1153175


The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, Inc. (WSWA) is the national trade organization representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry. It is dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesale distributors and/or brokers of wine and/or spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has nearly 330 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Our members distribute more than 70% of all wines and spirits sold at wholesale in the United States.

Job Summary

WSWA is seeking a full-time Director, Interactive Communications and Marketing to join the Communications and Public Affairs team. This is a cross-functional, interdisciplinary position that involves three critical aspects of organizational communications: 1) marketing, 2) social media and 3) communications/public relations.

This position works with all departments on the clarity and effectiveness of their messaging and marketing. In addition, the incumbent manages WSWA’s social networking efforts and serves as one of the association’s public relations writer/editors. This position will also assist the Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs on implementing the organization’s communication strategy.

Job Functions:


•Develop and implement WSWA’s strategic marketing plan. •Oversee design and development of association marketing materials (for all departments, particularly the Conventions and Meetings department). •Serve as liaison to marketing agencies/consultants as needed. •Edit and proofread marketing materials to ensure proper grammar, message and consistency. •Ensure internal and external consistency in WSWA’s brand. •Anticipate and identify new business opportunities.

Social Media

•Develop creative new approaches to online and offline WSWA convention marketing campaigns. •Create, provide content and monitor social media accounts (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, etc.). •Ensure alignment of messaging and content of WSWA social networks with industry-wide social networks. •Develop and maintain relationships with bloggers, political organizations and progressive-issue groups. •Manage online media to promote WSWA in message and search engine optimization. •Manage WSWA’s web site. •Monitor media coverage and web traffic. •Edit and disseminate WSWA’s e-newsletter. •Assist Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs with developing and implementing strategy to monetize web site and e-newsletter.

Public Relations

•As directed by the Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs, provide communications support for WSWA President and CEO, including but not limited to: drafting speeches and talking points; pitching earned-media opportunities; and drafting communiqués to board, membership and industry partners. •Manage and monitor public affairs/association profile and communication outreach; assist in responding to media requests and inquiries; and pitch stories when needed. •Write company press releases when needed. •Serve as key liaison with public relations agency and branding consultants. Represent WSWA at meetings, forums, panels and conventions relevant to organization’s public affairs goals •Assist Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs with designing and implementing strategic communications plan. •Assist in aspects of projects related to WSWA’s social responsibility program. •Assist Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs to produce PowerPoint presentations for annual meeting.

Job Qualifications

•Bachelor’s degree in marketing, journalism or public relations. •Six to eight years experience in marketing, social media and/or public affairs, preferably in association work or in the private sector. Previous experience in public relations agency and with social networking ideal. •Must have outstanding writing, editing and communication skills. Accuracy and attention to detail are imperative. •Need broad understanding of Internet-based communication and work tools, including a strong knowledge of the many new social media applications. •Must be able to demonstrate initiative and critical thinking. Ability to meet deadlines and self-starter critical. Strong interpersonal skills and ability to interface with all levels of management, the media and industry representatives also critical. •Strategic thinker with a proven ability to execute. Must be able to prioritize effectively and efficiently. Has to be able to operate independently and within company culture as well.

Additional Information

This position is required to work effectively cross-functionally and with virtually every other member of the organization.

Please send resume and cover letter to No calls please.

*And last but not least, the International Center for Journalists in D.C. is looking for a part-time Web producer:

Company: The International Center for Journalists
ICFJ Seeks Part-Time Web Producer
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Part-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
April 6, 2010
Job ID: 1153396

Part-Time Web Producer

The International Center for Journalists ( seeks an experienced Web producer with excellent writing and editing skills to tell the story of how ICFJ’s Knight International Journalism Fellows are improving media and societies around the world. The part-time producer will edit blogs written by the Fellows, and conceptualize and execute multimedia stories highlighting their work for the Fellowship’s Web site,

The ideal candidate will have:

– Experience reporting and writing for the Web

– An ability to mine written reports and conduct interviews with Fellows, their partners and their trainees to find compelling stories

– Minimum of five years of journalism experience

Proficiency in a foreign language is a plus.

Please send a cover letter and resume to

Good luck on the hunt!



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