I have hit my 6 month anniversary of being back at work. I feel like the last year and half is a distant memory. I look back on my time out of work as a time of inner reflection about who I am and what I want from my career and life. While I don’t have all the answers I know a little more about myself – as corny as that may sound.
The good news is some of my friends that have been out of work have landed. The bad news is others are still in the search. Some have even recently lost their jobs. The economy is still not back to normal – whatever normal means today. Firms are still cautious about recruiting especially senior executives.
My advice to those still searching–keep a positive attitude. Don’t lose hope! Use your time to indulge in the things you wanted to try but never could. Most of all enjoy the time with your family.
To those that have recently lost your job -the road will be difficult. There will be times when you will feel depressed. You will be rejected over and over again in your search. Understand it is not you but the job market. Talk to family and peers about how you are feeling. Have a routine in your job search but do not let it consume your entire day. Stay positive and keep networking.
Here is a great article by Meridith Levinson regarding unemployment and IT professionals.
“If you lose your job, get ready for a wild ride on the emotional rollercoaster. Your daily routines, lifestyle, relationships and identity will be upended, say IT execs who survived long job searches and unemployment to tell the tale.” By Meridith Levinson
Like most execs I spent very little time worrying about my network. Who really has the time especially when you put in 12 hour days. And those in my network worked in the same industry as myself. Well that was a mistake on both counts. When the financial crisis occurred my network crumbled like a house of cards. So I had to rebuild my network from the ground up.
I learned from my failure. I wanted my network to be broad and general. No more will I just have people in one particular industry. One-way I am rebuilding my network is by golfing. I am at the driving range 2 to 3 times per week and play a round at least once per week.
Golfing is about more than golf. It is a chance to get to know someone outside of an office setting. There is a certain comfort level to be said on a golf course, which you do not find elsewhere. I am not a good golfer. But so what? Most people that do play are not good either. That is what makes it fun. You are playing a round with someone which can last anywhere from 2 to 5 hours. That is a lot time to talk about business, family, socialize, and network with strangers.
This week alone I played with an owner of a construction company that gave me three names of people to network with. All because I played a round of golf with him for the first time and he like our conversation. Can you ask for any better way of networking? No elevator pitches, no formal interviews. Just two guys bulls##ting on a nice day shanking balls around a course and having fun doing it.
For those of you not playing golf and that want to broaden your network, take a few lessons with a pro and get out there. Those of you out-of-work, get out from behind your computer and go and enjoy some fresh air. Who knows, you might meet your next boss on the links. The worst that could happen is your Rolodex will be full with names. And in a world where networking is king, there is nothing wrong with that. Right?
There was an interesting article in the WSJ, Only the Employed Need Apply, by Dana Mattioli. In this article Dana writes that some companies are bypassing unemployed workers and trying to hire only employed workers. “If they’re employed in today’s economy, they have to be first string” says Ryan Ross, a partner with Kaye/Bassman International Corp., an executive recruiting firm in Dallas
These are unusual times. The unemployment rate is at 9.4% and ticking up every month. Firms are still cutting staff. It is unfair for firms to think that just because a person is unemployed, they are not as good as those who are employed. The fact of the matter is there are good and bad people who are unemployed. In today’s economy there are probably a higher percentage of good out-of-work people who got laid off. I know several people (me being one) who got laid off through no fault of our own. These people were former traders, salespeople, recruiters, COOs, and IT executives who were good in their jobs. Their departments or divisions were eliminated. Being unemployed does not make them or me bad people. It just makes us available to take on new challenges and bring our experience and expertise to a company that understands our value.
For those of you that read my blog regularly know that I have been out of work since September. I have been looking but there have been very few opportunities since the October financial meltdown. In fact, it has been dead. I liken it to being in sailboat with no wind-aimlessly drifting in a void.
That is until this week. There have been at least a dozen job postings for senior level IT people in the New York area. What has happened in the last few weeks? Is the economy turning a corner? Are firms beginning to hire? Who knows?
I got two interesting phone calls this week. One was from a recruiter, “Hello. I have a client that is looking to expand IT operations into the northeast. What do they need to accomplish this task?” Now you must be chuckling to yourself. Is this recruiter serious? Before I could even begin to answer this question, I had to ask for more details. Any good executive would. Of course, the recruiter could not provide much in the way of any useful details. In fact, I gave her a list of questions to ask her client. I said before you begin calling executives you should have a clearer understanding of what exactly the client is trying to accomplish. The talent pool in the NYC arena is large but you have to know what to ask. If not you would embarrass yourself and your client.
The second phone call was from a HR person. We all know HR people are more clueless than anyone on the face of the planet. So any HR person that calls me I am always weary. This was no exception. “We have a small IT shop and we had to let some people go, which caused service levels to deteriorate and now business is suffering and we need to bring service levels back up to acceptable standards. Where should we focus our efforts?”
I asked both the recruiter and HR person that if their client/company wants help to answer these questions and help guide them I am more than willing to come in even on a consultant basis to help. Of course I got the “We are just in an exploration phase and not ready to bring people in at this time” answer.
Am I disappointed? No. I am actually happy to see that the job market is starting to have a pulse. Even though it seems to be a very slight pulse it is a pulse none-the-less. Things are not totally dead and maybe things will continue to improve for everyone. So I am still keeping my fingers crossed….