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My Year in Job Search November 8, 2014

Posted by Tim Rodgers in job search.
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I was laid off a little over a year ago, and I’ve spent part of every day since then looking for a job. In the last year I’ve had 1-on-1 meetings with over 150 people at coffee shops all over northern Colorado. Some of these folks I knew already, but most of them were people I found on LinkedIn or through referrals. Some people I’ve met just by walking up and saying hello. I’ve attended almost 100 networking events, including local chapter meetings of national professional organizations and job search workgroups. I’ve applied to at least five jobs every week. I’ve had 23 phone screenings, 6 on-site interviews, and zero job offers.

I think I’ve done everything that the job search experts say you’re supposed to do, although I’m always open to new suggestions. I’ve got a list of over 20 target companies in the area, and I’ve got good connections at all of them. I received outplacement services, and at this point I’m sure I could teach others how to look for a job. I’ve been posting regularly to my blog on WordPress, and I’ve been participating in on-line discussions on LinkedIn, and I opened a site on ScoopIt to highlight news items from my field of expertise, all intended to establish and maintain professional credibility. I started a personal web site to provide some details about my work accomplishments and methods. I’ve given talks at professional meetings, and I was a guest lecturer at the local university before becoming an adjunct professor, teaching project management, strategic planning, and supply chain management.

I joined a volunteer committee to help new job seekers get started with LinkedIn. I was asked to write five chapters for the ninth edition of a technical handbook that will be published next year. I’ve been a guest blogger for two other sites. I’m working with a former colleague to record podcast interviews with authors and industry leaders in reliability and quality. I spent a year studying Spanish, and now I’m working on Mandarin Chinese.

While my focus has been on finding a full-time job, I’ve let everyone know that I’m also open to temporary contract positions and consulting. I’m willing to commute long distances, and I would consider relocation. Despite my considerable experience and training, I’ve lowered my salary expectations. I’ve been told that I’m over-qualified. No one has told me that I’m too old, but I worry about age discrimination. I worry about the stigma that goes with long-term unemployment: the longer this goes on, the more likely hiring managers will assume that there’s something really wrong with me.

I’ve been told that my resume is the problem, and I tweak it regularly. I send cover letters and follow-up with my connections (almost 1500 people on LinkedIn). I’ve sent Pain Letters to help companies imagine how I could help them solve their problems. I’ve been told that the red background on my photo in LinkedIn is the problem. I’ve gotten a lot of conflicting advice from folks who mean well. I’ve just about run out of ideas, and I’m not sure if doing the same things over and over again will lead to a different result.

I keep plugging away, but I’m beginning to wonder whether corporate America has a place for me. I’m busy and optimistic most days, and I try not to let myself be defined by my unemployed status. We’ll see what happens next.



1. Happy Holden - November 8, 2014

This is a mystery to me! Someone with Tim’s experience and skills should be gobbled up by Corporate America. I hope a reader of this Blog may have some advice- maybe from HR?

George - November 10, 2014

Agreed. This really shows how broken and dysfunctional the current recruiting system is.

2. Ali Syed - November 9, 2014

I am afraid I am unable to offer an advice to a person who has such a robust skill set and experiences. However must want to say, Best of luck to Mr. Tim.

3. Adlan - November 9, 2014

I’ve gone through, to a lesser degree, similar experience. I concluded that hiring manager deciding factors are; attitude and aptitude, more than skills and experience!

I wish you the best, it is around the corner!

4. KC Klosterman - November 9, 2014

Tim, the answer may be within your own writing. The answer is not in the why not, but in the what’s next. Sadly, corporate America has significantly rejected people of age in new hirings. Education, charitable organizations and many other public service organizations seem to still search out for those of our age. I teach part time. Have you thought about going deeper into your own statement “… I could teach others…”?

Tim Rodgers - November 9, 2014

Hi KC, great to hear from you. I’m actually on the faculty as an adjunct professor teaching classes to MBA students at both the University of Colorado (Boulder) and Colorado State University here in Fort Collins. I’m glad I kept all those old OEMBA texts. It’s always been my plan to teach “after retirement” (whatever that means). I’m way too young to retire, but at least this keeps me busy.

5. mommiez - November 9, 2014

I do not know you, but I looked at your linkedin profile, and there are few things I can guess. Finding senior positions are the toughest. They are the tiniest are on the pyramid, and very dangerous once you lose your seat. I am currently also in a similar situation because I relocated back to the US. Companies were trying to poach me in another market, in this market it is back to job search 101. I also feel like, I get lots of informational meetings. Lots of praise on my skills and experience, but no job offer.
I have seen my father in this situation when I was younger. He was an extremely successful man, then his company had a few changes at top level, he was also a top level exec, and he fell down hard. It took him 2-3 years to get back up. BUT, he had the best time of his career between the ages of 60-70. So there is hope for all of us yet 🙂

Someone out there will need you. But, unless someone leaves that precious seat, you will have to wait. Even at a large fortune 500 company, I do not think there are more than 20 positions for someone with you skill set.

Again, I am at a much earlier stage in my career compared to you with 17 years experience, and I am finding it hard to find something. Out of the 12 people I interviewed so far only 2 had more experience than me. Good luck, I will follow your blog. And, good days will come…

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