Typically the Career Zone articles focus on a topic of interest and detail job search strategies, tools and processes you can follow to help with your own career success. The next few articles will take a different twist. I found out two weeks ago that I will be losing my job and I thought that sharing the struggles and successes of my own job search journey might be a good way to start a dialogue with the Drexel alumni community.
Although my background in recruiting might provide me with a slight advantage over others who are in a similar situation, let’s be honest, it’s a tough job market out there no matter who you are. According to the latest job statistics, job seekers have been out of work an average of 30 weeks. Anyone looking for work today will need to be resourceful.
I am going to be unemployed. No matter how many times I say those words to myself, it stings. After five and a half years of proving my worth at my current employer, I was notified that my employment will end in April. While I am not a casualty a mass layoffs, I have a new boss who wants to make her mark on the organization and is restructuring the team. A few of us are not part of her vision.
I realize it could have been very easy to go home and polish off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and wallow in the fact that I have rent to pay, need money to survive and unemployment won’t even cover half of it. Instead, I went to the gym, took a hot shower, called a good friend (who is a recruiter) and started to create my game plan.
What do I want to be when I grow up?
I find it important to look at this opportunity in a positive light. I have a unique opportunity to re-invent myself, and in order to do so, I need to reflect on where I have been, what my skills are, and where I want to go. Drexel offers career counseling and assessment services through the Steinbright Career Development Center (SCDC). I called and set up an appointment with one of the career counselors and will be taking three career assessments next week. I know that because of my education and career in recruiting, I have a strong sense of self and career direction, yet, it is still very important for me to speak to a career counselor to ensure that I am still on the right path. The career assessment process will take a few weeks but my job search cannot stand still. I need to take advantage of every opportunity to move forward in my job search.
One of the most important tools to get me in the door at a new company is my résumé. In December, I encouraged all of you to update your résumé. During that time, I had done some résumé renovation myself. I looked at my accomplishments from 2009 and decided which would be best to add to my résumé in order to keep it up to date. Now, as I am going into the marketplace, I needed to look at my résumé in a new light.
I took some time to think about my personal brand and what I would be saying in the marketplace. One thing I realized is that I need to focus on my core skill set, talent acquisition and recruiting. I spent a few days restructuring my résumé so that it speaks clearly to employers looking for someone to develop their talent strategy. Now that I feel my résumé is in a good place, I need to focus on my online presence on LinkedIn and Facebook. Next week, I plan to work on those profiles so that they reflect my personal brand in the best way possible. Feel free to look at my LinkedIn profile today, and check back again as time goes on to see how it morphs into something even better.
Use all the resources at your disposal.
Last week I had a meeting with a recruiter I had spoken to for years, but never met face to face. As I was leaving the appointment, in front of me I saw a branch of the New York Public Library. I wanted to see what job search tools the public library had to offer. I was pleasantly surprised to walk into Job Search Central, a resource center for job seekers in New York City that offers free services such as: workshops, career coaching, databases and tools to aid in the job search process. As I walked around Job Search Central, I found a number of books to check out that will aid me in my job search. I checked out three of interest. Two books about personal branding and one by Tory Johnson, who is a well known writer and TV personality, about careers for women. Tory is also connection to a close friend of mine. I am working on getting an introduction and want to make sure I am prepared when we finally meet.
- Career Distinction by William Arruda and Kristen Dixson
- Fired to Hired by Tory Johnson
- Managing Brand You by Jerry Wilson and Ira Blumenthal
I plan to attend some of the free workshops offered at Job Search Central and will look into some of their online tools. I also asked about their career coaching services and have a meeting scheduled this week to see if I can volunteer a few hours each week as a coach and help other job seekers be successful.
Finding a job can feel like you are running a sprint, but really it’s a marathon. Being organized is an important part of the job search process. I decided to try and be methodical in my search. I have not posted my résumé on any of the job boards, and I am not applying to a thousand open positions. For now, I am using sites like Indeed and Simply Hired and when I see a job of interest, I look on LinkedIn to see how I am connected to that company. From there I send a personal note with my résumé and ask to be referred into the company. Keeping track of what job I apply to, and who I am asking for help is critical. I am in the process of creating an Excel spreadsheet for just that. It contains basic contact information of who I have reached out to, how they can help me, who they introduce me to and when I need to follow up with them next. I also created a job search folder on my computer which contains a folder on every job I apply to with a copy of the job description and version of the résumé I submit. While my spreadsheet and job search folder are very simple in format, they will help me stay organized as my job search progresses.
Network! Network! Network!
The moment I found out I was losing my job, I started telling the world. I walked around the office and told all my co-workers about my situation and asked them to think about how they could help me find my next amazing opportunity. I started picking up the phone to reach out to my extended network. I called good friends and old bosses. I even posted a status update on Facebook. “I’m on the market… job market. Who wants me?” I got many e-mails and phone calls from friends and family offering their assistance.
I know it is important to spread the word and have all my friends become ambassadors on my behalf. So that is where each of you come in, send me an invitation on LinkedIn. Let’s connect and see how we can help each other. Maybe you know a VP of HR at a large company who I should speak with, or maybe I can help introduce you to a great recruiter.
My job search is just beginning. I know I have a lot of self evaluation and hard work ahead of me in order to land my next dream job. It’s scary, yet exciting that while one door is closing, a new one will open. I would love to hear from any alumni who have been in similar situations.
Next month, I will continue to update you on my journey, but I feel it’s important to hear from each of you and share your experiences with the alumni community as well. Please e-mail me the piece of advice that helped you most during your own job search or career advancement.