May 9, 2009

Reflections of a Laid Off Job Hunter

This was emailed to me by an old friend who was Director of Consulting Services at a large organization in the US. I wish him luck soon in his job search and thought it would be useful to reproduce his email for others to reflect - whether they are job hunting with or without a job - or even if they are happily employed.

By the way, this friend of mine is looking for a role in the following areas: P&L responsibility for a cost center/ Program & Engagemnt Director role in a Consulting Company or a Service Assurance Leader role in a Telecom Service Provider/ Equipment Manufacturer. If you are looking at people like this then I'd connect you to him.

Here is his reflection on his experiences so far:


It has been six months to date that I have been without a job. Inspite of almost a thousand applications, I am still not know where the next lead is going to come from. I have pretty much applied at most of the places I know and have exhausted all my contacts.

Almost around the time I was let go, one of my friends (probably in jest) advised me to write down my experiences and be ready to share the learnings from this experience with others. Here is my take so far (warning: its a long email. You can stop here or continue on at your own peril !! ...:) ):

  1. Firstly, this is a very painful and exhausting experience both mentally and physically. The reason being one feels totally out of control of the overall situation. One can only guess the reasons for why this happened, only try to submit application and apply for jobs and then hope someone will try to look at your profile and take the next steps. Other than that, one has nothing under control as far as putting the effort for job search. One feels totally at the mercy of recruiters and their whims; along with hoping for great dollops of good luck.
  2. The whole experience is very hard on the ego and self esteem. Its like, just because of unemployment one becomes a person with very low IQ and a social pariah. At one end are people who will try to avoid you completely....emails will be lost, phone numbers will get lost, voice/emails mails will remain unanswered for weeks and months...numerous excuses..(I have heard everything except for perhaps dog eating my stuff in the past 6 months).
  3. On the other end will be people who will be offering you unsolicited advise in plenty. Its like everything one is doing or has ever done becomes questionable. Your beliefs will be questioned, your attitude will be doubted, work ethics will be challenged etc. Even the people who have known you for decades will come up outlandish ideas. In the past many months, I have been advised to sell the house, apply and live off multiple credit cards, move in with my parents/in laws, work in grocery store etc. etc.
  4. There will be many who will be prepared to lead you on. The companies will continue to dangle a role in front of you for months...only to let you know at the last minute that the role is no longer there or the business case is not there, or the client has not signed or we still need to create a job requisition etc. Some instances

- a company I have talked with for several rounds since January came in early April that they have a freeze
- a company verbally offered me a role one day and took the offer back the next day because of some corporate restructuring
- another company talked with me on and off for 3 months and then decided to completely go awol with not even coming to say yes/no
- a good professional friend who took the approach of not returning my calls/emails for 4 months just because he could not summon the courage to say no. BTW, I had the whole cycle of multiple rounds of interviews (off site and in person) before the avoidance tactic
- another person has led me on for almost 5 months with efforts to help me out with network, job search etc. Now, I am myself ready to cut that person off soon.

5. This experience teaches and forces one to (re) evaluate all the relationships one has cultivated over the lifetime. It impacts pretty much all the relationship...including the relationship with the family members, spouse, kids, friends and professional acquaintances. Less than ten percent of the people one knows will truly understand the situation, (em/sym)pathise with you, offer the right advise, be there to actively help out and provide (emotional) support. Others will indulge in the activities listed in points 2 and 3 above. Based on my interactions, I have had to/given up on quite a few people and acquaintances over the past few months

6. It is also a very humbling and a learning experience. One starts looking at life from an overall perspective and not just from the viewpoint of one's job and professional achievements. One really starts caring about savings, income and expenses. We personally have had to live without health insurance in spite of health conditions in the family, track every penny in expenses, forgo quite a few things whcih unil a few months ago were taken for as necessities. Festivals, celebrations, birthdays etc acquire a new meaning of frugality and are often accompanied with long unconfortable silences. Like in the game of cards when one is dealt with a very bad hand... life becomes a constant struggle of decisions among the very limited choices.

Also, one learns how to put on a brave and happy face for your kids inspite of very conflicting emotions on the inside. One finds out real friends who are there to help you out in probably the lowest point in your life. One even finds some great support from unknown quarters...sometimes one even gets help/support from not so known and even unknown strangers. One learns what to do and what not to do for people who may go through the similar situation.

In summary, it has been a very challenging past 6 months. I hope that no one that I know has to go through the experience that I have gone through over the past few months. I will sincerely hope and pray for that while I continue to hope that I find a job someday.