18 Months, Tons of Networking, 3000 Resumes, and Some Good Fortune!

27 12 2010

Tom worked with his employer for 18 years, from 1990 to 2008, when he was laid off from his position as the Director of National Meetings, Trade Shows and Community Events.  Tom has worked in the Events Planning and Management business for more than 25 years.

When Tom was laid off, he immediately contacted everyone he knew in Southern California, and set up breakfasts, lunches, dinners and coffees, all at his expense.  He drove miles and miles to meet with others, and spent thousands of dollars.  He believes in networking, so he put his heart and soul into the process.

Tom has worked as a W2 employee his entire career, but he secured project consulting work within two weeks of being laid off.  He continued to obtain consulting projects throughout the 18 months of unemployment, although some of the jobs did not net much income.

Tom also started and led a job support/networking group.  He recruited participants and speakers.  Tom gave each speaker a gift card which he bought with his own money.  He also shared his own knowledge, providing much positive encouragement.  Feedback from group members credit Tom’s inspiration for their positive attitudes and ultimate job search success, as he encouraged them to remain professional in their dress and demeanor as well as maintain a positive persona throughout.  He often met with other unemployed individuals for coffee or a meal, in an effort to help them, to share leads and to keep them going.  He was selfless in his efforts to help support his fellow unemployed.

In the meantime, Tom remained unemployed for 18 months, during which time he submitted about 3000 resumes online for a wide variety of positions.  He posted his resume on all of the major job search sites, and kept it refreshed on a regular basis.  Tom had quite a number of first and second telephone interviews, but only about 10-12 third, fourth and fifth round interviews where he got to dress in his suit and tie.  He often came in “second”, and was told that the number one candidate had one more thing than he did.  He said he felt like the “runner-up to Miss America”.  He continued to get excited and hopeful each time a new opportunity presented itself, but it was, of course, frustrating to come so close without a bonafide offer for so long.

Fortunately, he did receive a generous severance package, and he had saved well over the years.  Still, as a single father in his early 50s and with three teenagers, he was concerned about dipping into his savings as he did not know how long he might be out of work.  So, he cut back wherever possible – reducing the use of a housekeeper, cutting back on cable services, buying a lawnmower in place of the gardener, washing the car in the driveway instead of the car wash, and using coupons.  Given that he was not in a dire financial situation (yet), he did feel that his expenses attributed to networking and job search were worthwhile and necessary investments.

Tom continued to network heavily, he built up his LinkedIn network, which he still actively maintains today.  He is a member of MPI (Meeting Professionals International), and utilizing the membership directory, Tom was proactive in arranging a number of “informational interviews” at target companies.

In September 2009, Tom received a call from a headhunter who found his resume on Monster.com; the headhunter was working with a large and well-known company that was searching for a Project Manager – Medical Events, on a contract basis.  Tom endured about 16 hours of interviews including telephone, face-to-face and panel group interviews.  He felt that the company was focused on finding the right personality fit, someone who could interact well with a lot of different kinds of people in the organization.  He ultimately was selected, and started working as a “contractor” in December 2009 as a Project Manager – Medical Events.

The original contract period was anticipated to be about 6 months; he has now passed the one year mark, and he is hopeful that his position will be converted to “perm” in the near future.  Although he feels like an “employee”, he wants a permanent position with benefits, so he continues to pursue his goal of securing a permanent job with his current or another employer sometime in the coming year.

Disclaimer:   Tom was very willing to share his job search success story, and asked me to use his first name only to protect his privacy.

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