Just had another successful job hunter kindly send along some insights, thoughts, and wisdom about his “journey” to share with all of you, via my blog. Here are the sentiments he passed along:
“Matt, as you may recall, I had worked for a single newspaper company in various financial roles ever since college (21 years). I was successful and well-liked in the organization, but early in 2010, after many years of increased responsibilities, I basically was told I had the choice to move across the country (away from Seattle) for higher responsibility — or be laid off. I took this as a sign to get out of the industry and decided to stay here in the Northwest. From the time I received the news, I had three months before my job would end at the 1st of August.
I am thankful for those three months as they allowed me to process the huge change after 20 years with one company. It was not easy, however, and I basically started that day reaching out to various contacts. Here is a breakdown of what I did:
First, I began meeting with an HR friend who had experience in career counseling. She was amazing. She gave me great advice and really helped coach me though the tough times. I would recommend that people not try to do this part alone. I went through times when I seriously doubted my own talents and abilities — totally discounting the great experience I did have. For me at least, having a professional (who was a friend) help me through this was invaluable.
As mentioned before, I also began networking pretty much immediately once I knew my job was coming to an end. Ironically, the great job I ended up taking actually tied back to the very first professional contact I made back in late April. That was a person I knew through the Club where I swim. He happened to have his own business (financial planning) and he introduced me to someone who introduced me to someone else and so on and so forth until about the 6th person down the line, when I met an individual who had been affiliated with XYZ Company (where I’ve now landed) for the past 20 years . Networking is key, key, key. In the end, I was only out of work for about 10 weeks, but because I started the networking right away, I actually networked for nearly six months. I can’t emphasize this enough — if you’re in job transition, start networking now!
I would also recommend meeting with people in person, whenever possible. I met with everyone in person in the ‘thread’ above. In total, I met with about 100 people in those 5.5 months. I also increased my LinkedIn base from about 10 to well over 200 in that time. But I made sure I only added people in LinkedIn I had met in person, talked to on the phone, or had meaningful conversation with over e-mail. A number of them came from the groups you led, Matt, but I only added folks that I connected with while at the events. I have also been able to recommend others for jobs and connect certain people to employers that I knew were looking. Always great to pay back.
Other tidbits. My career counselor was not about being fancy or having multiple resumes, etc. She did however implore me to use CAR (circumstances, action I took, and result) for each of the points in my resume. This is key for making what I did come alive. I received many comments about my resume being impressive. Part of that was wide range of experience, but I also know it was way more powerful once I used the CAR framework. I used the same strategy for my LinkedIn profile. I made a simple spreadsheet to keep track of the contact information for people in my network, but also kept track of when I contacted them, how I knew them, and how they might be connected with other connections.
Lastly, I did seek out several headhunters and placement folks, but again made sure I knew them through other contacts. I didn’t pick them blindly. I believe other things that helped are that I had good grades (yes I still list my ‘cum laude’ distinction at UW) and excellent references. In the case of the position I took, they were hesitating a little bit before the recruiter began checking my references, but the powerful testimonials my friends and contacts passed along convinced my employer to make me an offer sooner, rather than later.
In addition to all this, while I did ‘stress’ about finding a job too much, I did take time to play (did a lot of water skiing) and took long bike rides (something I love to do, but don’t always get to do as I have grade school aged kids). I was swimming about 4 miles a week and riding my bike around 100 mi a week. It was wonderful!
In retrospect, things happened much more easily than I would have anticipated. I’d therefore give other job seekers this final advice: ‘Work hard, but enjoy your time between assignments, too. It’s not about doing everything possible. It’s about being consistent, focused, and meeting people. The great thing for me was that I actually enjoyed all the networking. I love getting to know people.’
In closing, Matt, I appreciate your help in my journey and the many other people who played a part in my success. It really does take a village!”