If you would like to hear directly from people with first-hand experience of job loss or of working with job seekers, keep your eye on this page. Here is the first post; Linda Froehlich shares her story of persistence and success.
Back in February 2011, I lost my job. At that time, unemployment was at its highest and the economy was at its worst. Randomly and at breakneck speed, people were losing jobs as fast as homes were going into foreclosure. Given I was always financially independent and never had to look for a job, my world of order turned into a seismic quake. Word on the street was that there were no jobs, especially for people over fifty. I fell into a panic and sunk deep. Yet, I knew in order to reclaim myself, there was no other option but to find work.
Overwhelmed by the nuance of a job search and the ‘ageism’ issue, I decided to seek out a career coach, one of the best investments I ever made. Getting the perspective and guidance in a playing field where the rules have changed was a real eye-opener. Years ago, one applied for a job, waited for a response, got the interview and hopefully, landed the job. Not so today. As a result of technology and globalization, one job posting is open to the masses.
Immediately after the first session with my career coach, my angst alleviated as we mapped out a deliberate job-seeking agenda. Like a full-time job, I was to clock in at least 30 hours a week; however, unlike a full-time job, there was no pay. From the ground up, I rolled out my game plan, starting with revamping the resume. Then, came the aggressive applications; building a target list of all the potential employers, cold-calling the respective contacts, updating my profile on LinkedIn, knocking on doors and networking. Intent on building a pipeline and getting insight on the market, I invited everyone I met out for coffee. On my desk sits a box, filled with hundreds of business cards of every contact made through my time of unemployment. Whether it was a business lead, professional advice or just words of encouragement, each exchange was pivotal to where I am today. Networking is by far the most effective strategy in a job search. Getting in front of people and establishing relationships will accelerate any job search much more effectively than shooting out a resume. With all the resume traffic flooding inboxes, applying for a job online is like buying a lottery ticket and hoping to win.
As summer was winding down, a few calls came in but still no bites. A bit discouraged by the lack of responses, I kept pressing forward, knowing that something had to give. It was Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, when the phone started ringing. At first, there were approximately two interviews a week. Eventually, the interviews were escalating up to two a day; some being second and third rounds. The many seeds sown were starting to reap a harvest. In October, an offer was made to work at a digital firm on a contract basis. After the first two months at the firm, I realized the role was not for me so while still working, I kept interviewing. It would be two more contract positions before I landed the ideal opportunity.
This past June an offer to work at McKinsey & Co. came through. Needless to say, I was relieved to secure permanent employment especially with such a reputable organization. Of all the potential opportunities, this was the one that was perfectly aligned with my lifestyle. Looking back at the effort and the time invested to land on my feet continues to humble me. Central to my experience was the wisdom I gleaned: knowing that persistence and hard work will open doors regardless of what the world tells you.
Linda Froehlich lives and works in New York City.