Sunday, February 9, 2014

Days of Our Work Lives: An unvarnished look at work today: Part I: David's Saga. Episode 8: The Job Hunt

Part I: David's Saga

Episode 8
The Job Hunt

In the previous episode, even though David wished he could consider a career change, he felt forced to look for a job doing what he had always done: marketing. He and especially his wife felt he needed to go for what would most likely bring in a good paycheck fast.

Much as he disliked going back to marketing, he even more hated having to look for a job. So he was at least going to get it done as fast as possible, using the modern tools:

  • He created a LinkedIn profile. While he thinks social media marketing is overhyped, it's what employers want, so he titled himself, "marketing researcher with special expertise in social media." He had Susan take 100 mugshots of him until he found just the right one: that made him look upbeat without looking silly, smart without looking too nerdy. He thought, "People place so much importance on looks. Idiotic! We can't be racist or sexist but we sure can be lookist. It's the last ism." 
  • He used CareerSonar to get notified of any on-target jobs offered by a LinkedIn connection or Facebook "friend" or their connections, or a job on one of the big employment sites: Monster, CareerBuilder, and the aggregators: Indeed and Simply Hired. One-stop shop, identifying the most viable of 10+ million advertised jobs. Very cool. 
  • He used to get insider reviews on prospective employers.
In addition to answering ads, he sent an email to his LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends, and a half-dozen recruiters who specialized in marketing. He was careful to avoid sounding desperate or like a braggart and didn't mention his heart attack nor his month break of trying to figure out what the hell he really wanted to do. He realized that most people aren't keeping track of him and his chronology. Some might not even remember that he had a heart attack. His email just said, "After a great three years at UnderSports--they actually considered me kind of a rock star--they had a group layoff. So now I'm looking for another great marketing job--market research is fine, social media marketing is okay. Main thing is that it's a good company. Anyone I should talk with?"

In interviews, when asked about his employment gap, he was crisp and ended with a question to deflect attention from the gap: "After 19 years of non-stop working, after UnderSports' group layoff, I decided to take a little break to get into my photography hobby and so on but am refreshed and eager to get back in the game. Tell me, if I turned out to be a rock star in this position, what would I have accomplished in the first couple months?"

Most of his inquiries yielded no response, the modern-day rejection. Yes, everyone's busy but it seems just a bit of human decency to send a brief  "no" rather than leaving the person, who had put a lot of work into the inquiry, hanging.

Finding a job took David longer than he thought it would. "They really are looking mainly for 20-somethings willing to work 12-hour days for cheap. No wonder corporations want to expand H1-B Visas."

Six months later, David's standards for a job dropped. He had to take a job at a start-up. He had always avoided those: inexperienced management, no support system, worse pay and benefits, and too great a risk that the company soon won't being able to make payroll.

And this start-up felt particularly shaky. He signed on with a five-person company, all from the same foreign country except him, with a CEO who talked too fast. He was now "vice president for marketing" (He was the only marketing person) at UnderGoodies, a startup creating underwear using stain- and odor-resistant fabrics.

The next episode is HERE.

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