“On May 18, I got a call from my boss saying they were going in a different direction and he was letting me go. He told me that he had secured one of the longest severance packages that company had given and sent me on my way to HR. Region of the Year the past two years in a row, and 4 of the last 6; in April I went overseas for a week to train part of the international sales team; and, in May I had organized a 3-day National Training meeting, yet it was not enough.
On one hand it was a surprise, but on another it was not. As of this writing, I have 3 very solid prospects, and am cautiously optimistic that I will be back to work before New Year’s. Better yet, I will be in a job and with a company that I really like one that I would have accepted even if I were still employed….
Job hunting feels a lot like growing a garden. Here is what I have learned over the past 6 months that might help you harvest:
- Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster. I have encountered many job seekers and one common emotion we have expressed is the highs and lows of being on a rollercoaster. Someone just yesterday said to me, “Looking for a job is much harder than keeping a job.” As I have relaxed, tried not to force it, and focused on “fit” my interviews have gone better, my post-interview mental gymnastics has not been as severe, and I bounce back from rejection much quicker.
- If you are unsure, the answer is no. People are very clear about their intentions. People spend their time and energy on those things and those people that are important to them. If someone is interested in moving you to the next step, they will make it abundantly clear and they will do it quickly. If they commit to a date to let you know, and they miss the date without a short communication to you, then do you really want to work for them? People are putting on the best face during the match-making process known as interviewing. Deadlines are always being pushed back, but how hard is it to send an email, “Hope you are well. Still very interested, but encountering delays. Be in touch next Monday. Please call if you have questions.” (That took less than 30 seconds.)
- Networking is paramount. People buy from people they like and trust. You are selling a product—YOU! This is a game of match-making and you are going on a bunch of blind dates. Is it better to be set-up by someone you know in common, or meet someone in a bar? My best opportunities have come from my personal network. LinkedIn (LI) is a great tool for networking and research. I hardly used LI before, but will always remain somewhat active from here on out. If you don’t know how to use LI ask 10-15 people who seem like they know what they are doing and find little tidbits. I could write a 1000 word blog just on what I have learned about how to use LI. One of your educational goals during your search is to learn something new about LI each week.
- Rather than chase jobs, chase companies. I was advised to develop an ideal company profile similar to the ideal customer profile we use in our sales process. It helps determine the “sweet spot.” With that profile, I began to find companies that would fit me well. I used LI to find people in those companies that I might know, as well as other companies that are similar. I narrowed the list to about 30 and started to work that list. When you buy a car, you have a list of criteria that the car must meet. Your job search should be conducted in the same manner.
- There are 3 channels for job seeking that I have used: job boards, recruiters, companies I am chasing on my own. The internet can be both a help and a hindrance to job seekers. The internet requires low personal investment on each side of the job seeking equation which leads to high volume and low quality. Job seekers vanish inside The Matrix. The internet is great for research and learning information. It is hard to differentiate yourself on the internet. Recruiters can be very helpful. I have spent hours on the phone with recruiters, learning from them and trying to be helpful to them as they look for people. Zig Ziglar, “Help others get what they want and you will get what you want.” Finally, I spend most of my time networking on my own.
- Key take-away: Over the past 6 months my job search allowed me to grow a vegetable garden that produces food from where there was a barren piece of land on my property. From a strong track record of performance and job stability, I quickly had to develop that strategies, tactics, skills, tools, and relationships required to search for a new job during a tough economic period. I will never let that “job search garden” go to ruins. I will be much more proactive from a strategic and tactical perspective in managing all aspects of my career: my skills, my position, the company I work for, the industry the company is in, the people I work with, etc. People are typically lose their job for significantly poor performance, or behavior that is immoral, illegal or unethical. I did none of those yet still lost my job in what has turned out to be a reorganization of the field sales force. I was only focused on performance and the others parts of my “career garden” were not developed. As I coach my direct reports, an overly used strength can easily become a weakness. It is important to be well-rounded.
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it turned into a butterfly. – Anonymous
There have been more than my fair share of dark moments, anxiety filled sleepless nights over the past 6 months, knowing I have a wife, kids (16 & 12), and no job. I am fortunate that I have received tremendous support from family and friends. In late July while on a family vacation, on the back of business card for a free appetizer was a nugget of wisdom. It has replayed in my mind time and time again as I have embarked on a job search after being let go after 19 years.”
On the author:
Mike Blitz lives in Southern California with his wife of 20 years and their two children. Mike has worked in the medical diagnostics industry his entire career, in addition to a leadership role in community based non-profit. Mike loves to ride his beach cruiser, attend all of his kids sporting events, and play Words With Friends (mdblitz51)