The Whoas of Job Searching

I have been laid off a total of 3 times in my career. Looking for a new job can be tricky. It’s all about who you know. In all of my years in the corporate world, I’ve never gotten a job by applying to a position without already knowing someone at the company. For each job I’ve had over the years, I got in by knowing someone ahead of the interview. I think the exception would be the first job I had out of college. I found that one by attending a job fair at school and chatting with my soon-to-be first employer prior to getting an interview.

It’s been almost two months since I exited the doors of my last employer. I was there for a year. After about 6 months I decided that I did not like it there. When you start a new job, it’s disheartening to realize that you may have made the wrong choice. I liked the work and my team, but the company did not align with my values. I tried to do what I could to advance the team, but the senior leaders were not what I would call leaders at all. They appeared to be more concerned with unhealthy political competition among one other than building up each other and their teams. One day, my manager, the COO of the company, resigned. The next week I was being called me down to visit HR. I had a sigh of relief as I shut the trunk on my boxed up office junk and drove out of the parking lot. I was upset, yes, but not because I loved it there. I was going to miss the paycheck and a few friends that I had made and that was it. It was now clear that I had working for the “wrong team” and that the office politics weren’t in my favor from the start. I probably could have tried harder by compromising my values, but I wasn’t willing to take that route and so it may appeared that my heart wasn’t in it. Another career chapter done. Lesson learned: Do a better job of scoping out the company culture before being hired.

The first time I was laid off I was 23 years old and so very naïve. I didn’t even see it coming. I was a technical writer at a software company that was apparently doing badly. I was too self-absorbed and unaware of the need to pay attention to office politics. My biggest dilemma each day was what to choose for lunch and what should I plan to do with my friends for the upcoming weekend. I did my work, and in between, I discovered this thing called “blogs” online and would catch up on my favorite ones in between my work and emailing with my friend. Needless to say, I was shocked and heartbroken when I showed up in a conference room full of long faces to hear the news that it was my last day. When I had entered the room, I was the young cheery chic that was noisily chatting until the HR Director shut the door and started handing out packets. Soon enough I found out the contents of those packets and was being escorted to my car with my first ever “box”. Lesson learned: Don’t get comfortable, change can unexpectedly arise at any time.

The second time I was laid off was part of a bigger layoff experience. I was working at a regional bank in the home equity department. It was made up of about 400+ employees. I had been there for a little less than 5 years. I was an instructional designer in the training department. I was engaged to be married and my biggest concern each day was probably what my fiancé and I were going to have for dinner each night and whether or not we should take the dog for a walk. We had just bought a house earlier that year. I was 28 and the future was bright. Unlike the last time I was laid off, this time I started noticing some clues a few weeks ahead of time. When the time came, I was the first one to enter the office of the HR contractor that was hired to relay the news. A nice lady pushed a box of tissue my way as she delivered the news. I did not flinch and said okay with a smile. I just got 6 months of severance and had a green light to not work as I planned my wedding and honeymoon in the fall. This was a golden ticket to free time and a new start. Since it was a bigger layoff, there was no “layoff box” but a folder and the whole department got to work cleaning out their cubes and we all had time to mentally process the change. Lesson learned: A seemingly negative experience can be very positive.

My first two layoff experiences led to bigger and better opportunities. I’m hoping that this 3rd time is a charm that guides me toward something great, but things have changed a bit.

  • The rules for selling yourself on a resume and in an interview have changed. The Millennials are in charge, which isn’t necessarily a negative thing. LinkedIn and other online sites are job searching staples along with staying connected to your network. Recruiters can do quite a bit of research on you before they contact you. Sometimes you can get picked off before you can even land a phone interview. Other times you can snag an interview before a job description hits the job boards.
  • My attitude and outlook have changed. I am older (and, eh um, wiser) and not as eager to please this time. I used to dread the end of an interview where they ask if you have any questions. Now I can’t wait until that part – I feel that I am also interviewing them. If I have skills that can add value to a company, I must also interview them to see if they are a fit for me – it’s a two-way street.

I know I will find the best place for me to dedicate my time and energy 40+ hours a week. I don’t give up easily. I’d like for my next job to be my home away from home. Is that too cheesy and optimistic? Until then, I’m trying to re energize, spend time with my family, and soak in the sunshine of the spring.

Stifle Me Not

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