A Story From The Job-Search Trenches

The current economic situation we find ourselves in has been rough on many sectors, especially recruitment and those that earn a living searching out talent. A good friend (and former competitor in the IT search space) Kyle Cravens found himself on the wrong side of an acquisition recently and was kind enough to share a little bit about his journey so far.

In the short time since he unexpectedly found out his position was no more he has relied almost exclusively on networking to find a new opportunity and has found much success in an economy where no opportunities are supposed to exist.

Seeking to find a new career role on short-notice can be challenging in this economy – however I am of the belief that it is not impossible!

If you’ll allow me to share a bit of my story with you then perhaps I can illustrate that the power of networking has a lot to do with the matter! I will say however there is still a time table that often times doesn’t feel nearly as fast as you may want (or in some cases – truly need). In this short segment I’ll share what hopefully will be a few helpful thoughts but first let me share my story.

Recently I was downsized from a growing contingency-staffing firm that focused on the Informational Technology & Clinical Informatics sectors. During my two years of employment there I had helped the company double their revenues & had hit my quarterly goals seven of eight quarters. However in the end – it wasn’t forever!

The company was bought by an out of town firm that already had their recruiting team in place. My role was therefore eliminated. It was a surprise to say the least! One day I am doing my job and all of the sudden I’m signing paperwork saying I basically have one month severance and I’m out on my own. It’s challenging to be in that spot when you just had a baby nine weeks prior and you were not fully prepared financially!! It takes faith (for me, in God/Christ) and confidence (in my abilities & in the others goodness inside or willingness to help).  

My first piece of advice to anyone in a similar situation is to control your attitude and response from the very first moment. It is your safeguard against a flood of emotions and visualizations of what ‘the worst’ may look like. It is the fastest thing you can impact. It is more powerful than your current circumstances and more adaptable than your past experience. It is your key to setting yourself and those around you (such as family) at ease. This is particularly important as you need to be conducting a job search in confidence as it portrays the successful person you are rather than a lesser image. Taking walks, reading positive materials and meeting with other professionals is a great way to maintain your sense of energy, progress and enthusiasm. After all those are contagious!

With that said I would recommend taking a day off to relax with your family and spending a little reflective time considering all the things which make you thankful. In that process if you are a person of faith I’d recommend prayer and meeting with those who been spiritual mentors or elders in your life for encouragement.

My next move would be to take a fresh look at your résumé. Make it a document you can be excited to share with confidence. You need that before you begin to distribute it. Once it is ready for distribution take time to create a document such as a spreadsheet to track all your contacts. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to measure your progress. I would suggest a document for ‘Companies in Pipeline of Opportunity’ and ‘Companies I’ve Contacted’. The first is to help you manage your real live opportunities and make sure no steps have been missed. The second is to help you see your level of activity.

Every phone conversation you hold, meeting you have, etc is one step closer to your next offer. You want to be someone that is about building connection with others and trying to find shared value. A VERY important key is to not be afraid to ask others for referrals. I would begin your search there. If everyone else is looking at job openings posted online, be the person who instead is calling key contacts directly and is becoming networked.

My suggestion would be to meet with anyone who seems like a relevant employer or referral source. I cannot tell you how many opportunities I have found out about already just through something a contact said casually while already 30 minutes into our talk! It was not in the agenda but they remembered ‘a person who needs a person’. Next week I’m meeting with the President of a GREAT consulting firm due to just that situation.

Also I would suggest making sure you treat each meeting the same. A coffee meeting with a possible referral source still merits your best quality résumé materials (24-32lb paper, watermarked, a nice folder/envelope/etc) and your professional attire & attitude. Treating each person like they are the most important thing happening in your life while you are meeting with them is also a great way to find relationship prosperity always!

My suggestion would be to set up 10 calls daily, 1 meeting daily (keeping Friday’s open if no one suggests it) and as many as emails/linked in as seem beneficial. See yourself as your own manager booking out your business appointments. Doing that you’ll cover the following in a 4 week period (200 calls, 20 meetings, 400+ LinkedIn messages/emails). Out of that volume you can’t help but get hired! Notice one statistic I didn’t list was job applications. You want to be considered the ‘hot market’ candidate who was referred over as opposed to just another ‘applicant’. Big key! Also get recommended on LinkedIn.

Well I am about 2.5 weeks in to my search. I’ve had around 12 meetings so far (not all were interviews but majority of them were) and yet still no offers. Am I bummed? No way! I can tell you where I am at in process with them all. That is also a major key.

Be sure to follow up the same day with a thank you note. It can be hand-written if you like. Personally, I have terrible hand-writing so that could be a deterring factor! Email really suffices if you write it properly. Know what their time frame looks like from the interview and try to respect that. If there is obstacle try to work within the context of it (Such as we need to hire xyz team member first before hiring you). If it is an obstacle (e.g. You have no degree) thank the person and move-on – but don’t forget to ask for a referral! You would be surprised how many hiring managers will give you referrals if you sense that two things are present: a) You have awesome rapport with them and b) They can’t hire you now even though they would and they have told you that at least implicitly.

In summary – Believe the best in yourself. Believe the best in others (a MAJOR Key that is overlooked by those who erroneously believe everyone is out to make things difficult). Networking is key. Referrals grease the wheels of networking. Persistence pays off. In closing … Stand tall and don’t be afraid to ‘Go for the No’! You are one step closer!

In part two of this article I will update you on where it is I land! Currently I am seeking a recruiting and/or business development position in a technology (or finance) oriented staffing (or consulting company) within the Greater Metro Nashville Statistical Area. 

Hope you enjoyed Kyle’s thoughts on his search as much as I did – he is definitely doing things the right way and should land something soon. To contact Kyle for more information on his search email him at kpcravens@comcast.net.

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6 responses to “A Story From The Job-Search Trenches

  1. You’re right that warm introductions to the right people will get you noticed much more effectively than submitting a resume blindly. LinkedIn is a great way to find people who can make introductions for you. I’ve written some advice on how to generate job leads that you might find interesting.

    The Email Introductions Most Likely to Open Doors – http://www.gottamentor.com/viewMyAdvice.aspx?a=340
    Resuscitating Old Contacts to Help Your Job Search – http://www.gottamentor.com/viewMyAdvice.aspx?a=321
    9 Tips to Use LinkedIn to Help You Get Your Ideal Job – http://www.gottamentor.com/viewMyAdvice.aspx?a=379

  2. Kristine Thornton

    This has been a true inspiration, as I just last week found myself in the same boat. I am trying not to get discouraged and have made it my mission to each day, contact at least 3 people in my network list.

    I am looking forward to next week.

  3. Matt, nice post! Congratulations on gettin’ after it! Continuing to add to your sphere of influence, making a strong first as well as lasting impression is solid! You never know what opportunities will present themselves when you put yourself in those situations. Over 80% of all employment opportunities are not advertised and you are doing what is necessary to find those hidden jobs. I look forward to reading about your progress.

    If you need any tips or advice on resume writing, interviewing, etc., I recommend http://www.seanmccaffrey.com.

  4. Matt, your article is an excellent endorsement regarding the psychological portion of seeking a new job. There are so many job-seekers who have a “victim” attitude. They are in trouble in this tough job market.

    The other part of the equation is the physical part. In my industry, medical device sales, I recommend that every serious job seeker pull out all of the stops and work an 8-10-hour day on finding a job. join our discussion on how medical sales res can optimize their job-search efforts at http://www.gorillamedicalsales.com

  5. Matt, this is a great story to share, and Kyle, thank you for being brave enough to share your story with the community. People need to hear this information – yes, times are tough, but there are people getting jobs, getting on a path to the next step in their career and networking every day. So much of it has to with attitude. You truly set yourself apart from the rest of the candidate pool with a positive outlook – most job seekers are feeling desperate and use the economy as an excuse and that always comes through in an interview or networking meeting. It is key to be in control of your own destiny and job search and I am sure you will find something soon. Good luck!

  6. Harold Michlink

    I am a candidate for any restaurant management position…..my problem lately is CREDIT BACKGROUND CHECKS are keeping me from being hired. A few recruiters have told me to file for bankruptcy and I should be hired. I don’t have the funds to do this and there is no guarantee this is true.

    Any comments to help me ???

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