Monday, May 10, 2010

Here I Go Again

I found out recently that I am the victim of the recently announced layoffs at my current (as of the time of this writing) employer. More specifically, management was shuffled around and I went from being the protege of the person that hired me to last week's news since my new manager set goals for the group that do not match my background and experience. Last week I mentioned this with the promise of discussing how I am approaching my job search this time differently than last year, so here I am talking about this topic again.

Last year, the employment market was in much worse shape. In spite of this, I'm not allowing the relatively positive outlook to cause me to be lazy. Specifically, I am taking the following approach to my job search.

Do not wait. My wife calls me the King of Layoffs since I was also a victim of a massive reduction in force in 2008. (Yes, that's three layoffs in three years.) Fortunately, I found a new position rather quickly within BMC and averted any financial impact as a result. Last year, I had the attitude that it would be easy again and did not hustle like I should have. As a result, precious time was wasted when I could have and should have been using my connections within the company to attempt to land me a new position elsewhere.

This year, I immediately started canvasing the people with whom I have worked and had a positive impact to ask for their endorsements and recommendations. Introductions have been made internally and progress is occurring.

Make the call. It's embarrassing to say you're being laid off. It's even more embarrassing to say you're being laid off after having started only four months ago. It's the most embarrassing to say that you're being laid off for the third time in three years. Still, there is no shame in reaching out to people that you have connected with to tell them of your situation. I have done nothing wrong (in my opinion and in the eyes of those with whom I have worked directly) so while it is embarrassing, the prospect of being out of work again is more aggravating than enduring a little embarrassment.

Therefore, I have reached out to the movers and shakers that I know. I have spoken with a few C-level executives in my network and have had (and continue to have) meetings with them. Last year, when I was interviewing, I made it a point to break the relationship with hiring managers at other companies on good terms so I am hoping that the attempt to reestablish contact with them will yield positive results.

Sell yourself. I never know when I'll get introduced to someone with influence or the ability to hire me (internally or externally). Since I'm actively seeking out these meetings, it behooves me to ensure that I am prepared when they occur. I have rehearsed my own "value proposition" until I can pitch my worth in my sleep.

Remember: amateurs practice until they get it right, but professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong.

It is worth noting that none of those things would be possible if I had not done the following already:

Bust your ass. I apologize for using such a crude euphemism, but I have guaranteed that I have "positive equity" with my coworkers because of the degree of effort I have put forth in the short time I've been here. Part of this is due to the realization that my skills - as required by the person who hired me - are a bit specialized so I have a lot of catching up to do, but the bigger part is simply that I wanted people to see that I can hustle.

Keep in touch. I've stated before the importance of keeping your network refreshed, i.e. stay in contact with people that you have relationships with. I had coffee with the CIO of a Fortune 100 company last week after telling him of my current situation. I worked for him several years ago at a different company, and always remembered to email him once every couple of months. He may not have answered all of the time (frequently didn't, in fact) but he did not forget who I was. And since I busted my ass when I did work for him, he thinks highly enough of me to grant me 30 minutes of his time on a moment's notice.

All in all, I am cautiously optimistic that this year will be much different than last year. Still, I am not taking anything for granted so stay tuned to find out what fruits my labors yield in the coming weeks.

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