December 15th, 2020
From pandemic layoff to Director of Technology, a Talener candidate recounts his journey.
The Search Begins
As a result of the pandemic, and for the first time in my career, I was out of work and looking for a job. I know that I am respected in my industry and I’ve developed many wonderful relationships. I was confident that I would find something soon. Little did I know…
I started educating myself in job hunting, 2020 edition. Long gone are the days of the NY Times classifieds. Armed with 1500+ curated LinkedIn connections, I tweaked my profile to alert the market that I was available. I hit the major job-hunting sites: LinkedIn, Dice & Indeed. I also hit some of the lesser known (and likely sketchy) ones too.
I was bombarded with daily emails, of which 95% of the roles from my keyword searches were irrelevant. I will never understand how my career as a technology leader could generate a match for an Amazon delivery driver. I doubled down on malware and anti-virus protection for my PC.
I’ll be honest, after initially reaching out to many peers, it became slow going. My initial contacts were all saying, “of course we’ll keep an eye open, but the world is changing, and everyone is adjusting to the new paradigm.” Every day, I would scour the sites for jobs; look at LinkedIn for relevant announcements from my contacts – anything that would allow me to start another conversation.
I applied online to a very wide net. I hid tags in my resume that were specific to each role and this allowed the ATS (applicant tracking systems) to pick me up. I got pretty good at this over time, and I highly recommend it. I kept at it. I told myself that it only takes on interview to get me a job, and today might be the day that something happens.
During the search, there were flashes of hope. A connection would reach back out or I’d be scheduled for an interview. I’d prepare by learning what I could about the job and the company – which isn’t always easy. I’d feel that I had aced it. And then the news: “they’re looking for someone else” or “you’re overqualified.” Or worse, I would get ghosted.
As the months passed, I became more and more frustrated dealing with recruiters. I have worked with recruiters on the hiring side for decades. I have my favorites, but over the years I have met some with questionable skills and worse yet, questionable ethics. My biggest gripe was that they didn’t effectively market the position to me, and more importantly, didn’t market me to the prospective employer.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
One Sunday morning a few weeks ago, I saw an ad come in from a recruiting firm I was unaware of called Talener. As I read it, it became evident that the role was extremely well suited for me – in my industry, and in a similar environment in which I had worked previously. My bike ride would have to wait, I needed to apply. Within an hour, I received a response back. I assumed it was an acknowledgement of my application from an automated system. But it was actually a personal email from Henry Boulos. His email told me more about the job and asked some additional questions. I took the time to answer the questions individually and tie them back to my resume. We both got excited. Henry could see that I was a highly viable candidate for a role that I was confident that I would be well-suited for. He arranged for a Microsoft Teams interview with the firm, along with other candidates.
More importantly, Henry spent time preparing me. It wasn’t just about the role, the skills I should emphasize or the people I’d be meeting. More importantly, he prepared my by giving me some frank pointers that he had picked up on my presentation, which I wasn’t used to. I studied the notes I had taken with Henry, reviewed the company website in detail, and set up Google Alerts for current news about the company and its principals.
I felt the first Teams interview went well with the COO. I listened to his questions. I sent a thank you note. And in the hopes of continuing the conversation, the timing worked out that I was able to attend a virtual user conference for the company’s ERP system. Henry updated me on the process moving forward. I had made the first cut. Another Teams interview was scheduled with a larger audience. I put together some notes gleaned from the conference.
Henry and I reviewed in detail what I should further be prepared to discuss. I think we get very focused on telling our story during an interview, and Henry reminded me the importance of listening. I came away again feeling good, that I had “strutted my stuff” well. I also asked about pain points in the role and challenges that leadership saw. I again followed up with a thank you note, including discussing some proposed solutions to the issues discussed during the interview. I made it to a third interview, this one would be on-site. Henry ensured that I was fully prepared, and the meeting went well. Another thank you note sent. The next morning, Henry followed up with the wonderful news that I had gotten the job, and I began the onboarding process. It was less than three weeks from first contact to a signed offer.
Again, I cannot say enough about the professionalism that Henry exhibited throughout the process. I plan to use Henry again and refer him and his firm to my peers.
Yes, there’s a pandemic. But I got a senior-level job. Here are a few things I learned along the way:
- Don’t give up. No matter how discouraged you get, you are one person who needs only one job. This can happen at any time.
- LinkedIn and your resume are a significant part of your personal brand. It’s the first thing people see. Think of it from that perspective.
- Network, network, network. The time to start networking is NOT when you need a job. Do it throughout your career.
- Prepare. Look in detail at the company’s website. Look for current news about the company and its principals. Make sure you check Glassdoor. Find out what products they use and learn about them. Bring it up on the interview when appropriate. Everyone always likes to hear about themselves.
- Listen. I realized that providing answers to a prospective employers’ challenges are more important than talking about an extensive skillset or describing a list of successful projects.
- Always send a thank you note. My wife taught me that.
Layoffs from the pandemic caught many career employees off-guard. We could see the immediate impact in industries like travel or restaurants. However, many employees across industries faced layoffs for the first time in their careers. Even with years of experience, being at the top of your field, and having excellent connections – it’s jarring and overwhelming to pivot quickly.
If it has been years (or decades!) since you’ve written a resume, have had to call up connections, or apply for a job— it can be daunting to start over again. Let the Talener team help you out or provide you with guidance on where to get started.