What Does “When, Not If” Really Mean?

Dear Cassie,

I’ve been in talks with one of my former employers about returning to their organization in an executive leadership capacity. These discussions progressed well last year, but have slowed tremendously in 2014. At this juncture the owner of the company has said we’d follow up in “summer” and “it’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s a matter of ‘when’ depending upon business generation.” What does that even mean?



Dear Jeremy,

Congratulations on being considered for an executive leadership opportunity. Clearly you and your former employer departed on favorable terms and they continue to value you highly. What a fabulous compliment you’re receiving here.

Onto your question though. Summer is now so you should be hearing from the owner of that company and if that person is on top of their game, you will. Technically, summer in all its glory began two weeks ago, therefore if you are feeling antsy and want to follow up, it would be reasonable to do so.

Here is the straight answer to the latter part of your question. That person means that if the company’s sales do not increase, you won’t get this role. There’s really no other way I see this going and unfortunately in consulting I see this a lot. Small to medium sized consulting firms usually will not hire to their bench; meaning unless there is an immediately billable client opportunity a firm can slide a new hire into on day one, they won’t make the hire.

Finally, here is what I would suggest. Set a firm follow up date with the owner of the company such as August 15, 2014. If nothing happens on or before that date, be ready to consider other opportunities and be communicative about that. You don’t have to remove yourself from your former employer’s consideration, but I recommend taking some of the power back. Be specific and give the owner some motivation to make something happen. Remember, there is only one person responsible for your career: you!


About the author


Cassie Sturdevant

Cassie Sturdevant is a Senior Recruiter for Impact Advisors, a healthcare IT strategic and implementation services consulting firm just named 2013 Best in KLAS for Overall Services. She specializes in humor and follow up.