Monday, June 18, 2012

How I Got a Job During the Great Recession

A lot of you are going to read this and say “That is anecdotal.” And it may be. I’m one person and this is one incident. More about why I think it’s not later. I’m not claiming this is the one true way, the golden path, or a sure thing. All I know is it worked. You may me doing the very same thing. Don’t give up.

I know it’s hard to believe, but I don’t make a living off the sales of my book. I need a job to support my writing habit. Five months ago, I was laid off. It was traumatic. This is how it went down.

Everyone, about a hundred employees, got an email from HR about mandatory attendance at a 9:30 meeting in a large room on the 3rd floor. Our company was on 15. At the meeting the head of the parent company; a large, international company; announced the closure of my smaller company. He held up a paper.

“On this paper is a list of the names of the first twenty to be let go. Pick one of these up on the way out.”

There were several HR people handing out the lists. I was on it. I read it while I was proceeding to the elevator lobby where the whole company gathered to wait on the one elevator at a time to take us back up to 15.

People wouldn’t look at me. They didn't say anything. 
Some of them I had known for twenty years. Perhaps they were in shock. It was as if I had a contagious disease or a “Liberal” sign around my neck. All of the people on the list stood as if in spotlights with plenty of personal space left between them and others. As discreetly as possible I went to the stairwell and took the stairs to 15 from 3 rather than take that elevator ride.

I got a month’s salary for 20 years service.

For 5 months I’ve been doing the ‘proper’ thing - networking, getting my resume on all the big job search engines, tweaking my Linkedin profile, redoing my resume, doing a search for less well-known job search sites.

I was desperate. I was getting recycled posts from the same job search engines. The agency my state hired to assist in job searches gave up months ago giving me new leads. But I’m still required to make a certain number of contacts per week to receive my unemployment, so this is what I did.

I generated search lists off of google for local companies in my line of work. Then I would go to their web sites, go to the contact page, and fax or email my resume with a short introduction. The trick is to find a name. Most of the contact pages are anonymous. Do some research. Find that department head or hiring manager and send email to their attention. After five months of nothing, two weeks of doing this; and I got three interviews and; finally, a job.

Why might this work? Why might it not be anecdotal? No competition. You’re approaching companies still debating about hiring someone, but they haven’t posted to the search engines. Your resume tips the scales, and they decide to get their feet wet. Obviously, the larger and denser the population area you live in, the better this is going to work. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. The very best of luck to you.

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