Welcome to Ford Motor Company

Welcome to Ford Motor Company

Welcome to Ford Motor Company

I quit my first post-college job feeling that there was more for me to do in the business world than sell calculators.

I prepared a resume and sent out 300+ letters, one to the Ford Motor Company. Among only a handful of encouraging replies, their reply stood out. A Ford recruiter would be in the area in two weeks. Would I be available for a job interview?

Would I?! In preparation, this being long before the Internet, I got a hold of Ford’s annual report and other corporate literature and studied it all intently. Ford was seeking a Business Analyst. With my MBA, I was more than willing to put my analytical skills to the test.

The Big Day

On interview day, I was prepared. I was shown into the office that the interviewer was using for the day to conduct the interviews. She introduced herself as Kendra, about 32, somewhat resembling the actress Amy Adams, and smartly dressed. She described Ford’s challenges: intense competition from imports, consumers less inclined to buy domestic cars, and the need for a more definitive analysis of who the target customer was and why. She asked if I had any thoughts on the situation and I delivered with cannons blazing.

I described at length how I would have been looking at foreign manufacturers years before their assault on U.S. markets. I would have studied longitudinal trends in style and design, gas mileage, handling and performance, and consumer preferences. I would have read “Road and Track” among other magazines, learning about the latest innovations that eventually become part of the standard consumer package.

I discussed consumer buying patterns, the nuances of calculating discretionary incomes, and where particular consumer groups might lie on the consumer-buyer cycle. I explained how I would transmit such information to the Ford divisions throughout the region. I emphasized the urgency of arming the dealerships with information that would enable them to become proactive sales advocates versus passive order-takers.

When I finished, Kendra spoke to me in glowing terms about a career at Ford. The entire interview lasted only about 25 minutes, but it seemed that much more had happened.

A Promising Future

Kendra gave me a warm business handshake, advising me that another Ford representative would be in touch with me in a few weeks. I kept a lid on my giddiness and thanked her. I drove home, called my parents, and gave them the good news.

Kendra had given me a couple of packets to look over. As I read them, I became even more interested in the position. After two weeks passed, I started watching the mail and checking my answering machine more closely. By the third week, I was certain that a letter or a call would be forthcoming. Another week came with no word, but my father told me that these big companies can take time and not to be overly concerned. 

After six weeks, it seemed as if they had forgotten me. I knew I could get in touch with Kendra if I so chose, but I resisted the urge.

After two months, I felt disheartened. Why would Kendra have said those things? How many people, objectively speaking, could have answered in the manner that I did? The delay must have been due to bureaucracy. Passing things along the chain. All that corporate stuff. Maybe they were just about to call. What if they misplaced the “Davidson, Jeff” file folder?

Searching for Answers

I decided to call. Rather than ask for Kendra, I sought Ford’s recruitment office and explained the situation, the results of my interview, and my desire to take the next step. A concerned voice said to me that all applicants such as myself who had been told “We’ll be back in touch,” were routed to the office of “Mr. Marcus.” Unfortunately, Mr. Marcus was traveling and had gotten behind.

A warm wave swept through me. So, Mr. Marcus was behind in his work, but his call was forthcoming. My confidence that the business world would discover the likes of me had been teetering, but Mr. Marcus was going to call. What else does an eager job candidate need to know?

Running out of money, two more weeks passed, now ten weeks since my interview. Whether or not Ford was interested in me, I’d need to find a job fast. I had expanded my radius and made many strategically placed calls.

In the 14th week since Kendra, a small consulting firm near me expressed interest. Days now were hanging like weeks. I had a great interview with this firm. Ten days later, I came back for a second interview. That went well too, but another 10 days after that, I still hadn’t heard from the consulting firm. Meanwhile, no word from Ford.

Wise Words

One rainy Friday afternoon, I was contemplating my career and whether or not I’d ever have one. I called my father about my situation with Ford and with the consulting firm. He asked me about the firm. I told him it was a good opportunity with, potentially, a competitive salary. He said that sometimes the only way to succeed is to get up, get dressed, and make your case. He was encouraging.

When the call ended, I knew that my father was right. I jumped in the shower, got ready like it was the start of a new business day, and put on my best suit. At 4:45, unannounced, I walked in and asked the receptionist to see the boss – the company president. He was surprised and, clearly, happy to see me. He said he was going to make an offer to me on Monday!

The offer was fair and, after taking one final day off – to have a single day I could truly enjoy since my last job – I reported to work. After two weeks on the job, it was apparent that it was a good match and I was there to stay.

Still Searching for Answers

I noticed that Ford still hadn’t responded, now five+ months and counting. Five months! So, I wrote a letter to Mr. Marcus told him how excited I was to be hired by Ford as a Business Analyst. Three days later, I got a phone call from Mr. Marcus.

He had a kind voice and he seemed to be confused: “Mr. Davidson, we’re concerned. We received a letter expressing thanks for your starting date with us, but we have no such record.”

I confessed immediately. I told him how well the interview had gone, and about the months I waited, and about the disheartening experience of never hearing back. He explained that yes, I had received the highest marks and I was a leading candidate for the position, but the issue was still on the “agenda.” I told him that I had latched on with another company and, fortunately, things were humming along.

He wished me well, promising to be more forthright with future job applicants. I thanked him for his candor and had a newfound respect for Ford, with whom I never worked a day but which might have presented me with a totally different career and life. Maybe it’s subconscious but, ever since, I’ve owned only Fords. 

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Jeff Davidson

Work-Life Balance Expert

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" and the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com or call 919-932-1996 for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars.

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