There Is No Silver Medal In Job Searching

There Is No Silver Medal In Job Searching

“If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.” – Martin Blank

For the past 15 years (or so), I have been in 100% control of my career. I switched jobs a couple times and usually it involved with being professional and ensuring no bridge was burnt. Well, that came to screeching halt when I was involved in a major reduction of force with my employer…

Being involved in IT in the D to the degree that we are, we wrote in confidence “How not to suck at job search” and “How not to suck at quitting your job”. I have worked tirelessly to build my network, my knowledge base and my sales acumen.

The past three jobs I have had were literally all under a two-week timeframe from initial call to job offer. Maybe I was naïve, maybe I was spoiled, maybe times have changed, but wow did I get a wakeup call.

I ended up getting to the final stages with three companies anyone in IT would have been very excited to work for. In all three scenarios, I literally went through the following process:

1. Internal recruiter screen
2. Initial phone interview with the hiring manager
3. Phone interview with the hiring manager’s boss
4. Phone interview with the hiring manager’s peer in another region
5. In-person interview with the hiring manager whereas I presented a cover letter, resume, 15 references, and a 30-60-90 plan with a relationship map.
6. Five interviews with immediate field team members
7. You made it to the finals, and it was a difficult decision, but we chose another candidate.

Each process lasted roughly seven weeks.

On top of that, based on my prior experiences, I knew and worked with a minimum of 7-10 people at each company that called and vouched for me.

At this point, I just wished someone told me the truth. Did I have bad breath? Was my tie out of style? Did I come across as arrogant?

The problem was, no one told me anything other than, “the team really loved you and if another position opens up, we will do our best to fast track you through”.

Is this what hiring has become? Have I outkicked my coverage in my career? Either way, here are some tips on what I’ve learned.

1. Always be networking. Networking doesn’t just mean handing out business cards at socials; inter-company networking is far more valuable in my opinion because they have intimate knowledge of your work.

2. Do your homework. I made the mistake with one company of not uncovering every stone. The hiring manager asked me about their competition. I honestly only knew their main competitor, but none of the smaller ones. I knew then and there I swung and missed and it wasn’t a surprise to me they passed.

3. Use LinkedIn. With every opportunity, I had 4-5 peers from prior jobs who were there now across the country. IT is such a small community, but knowing that people in California, AZ, Texas, Chicago, etc. can vouch for you can only help your cause.

4. Provide a 30-60-90 Plan at your in-person interview. While it didn’t necessarily work for me this time, it has in the past and it shows that you are willing to put in the effort. It doesn’t have to be overly fancy and the content doesn’t have to be perfect, but put some time into this step.

5. Don’t burn that bridge. I was gracious in my defeat each time and sent thank you notes to everyone involved while also connecting to everyone I interviewed with on LinkedIn. You never know what will happen tomorrow. (As I was writing this, I got a call-back from one of the companies for another position that recently opened up).

You can read more of our stuff here.

Happy job hunting and cheers,
IT in the D

Bob Waltenspiel is one of the original founders and resident “Sales Guy” of the group, working for such tech giants as NTT, NEC, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and most recently Cisco Systems. Bob was recently awarded the Elite 40 under 40 designation from L Brooks Patterson, he serves on the Zoning Board of Appeals for the City of Auburn Hills as well as sits on the Oakland County Business Roundtable. Bob is also on the Board of Directors for the German-American Marksmanship Club, served for 2 years as the President of the Auburn Elementary PTA, and is a regular speaker for the Michigan Shifting Gears program, winning 2013’s “Outstanding Contributor for the Transformation of Careers and Lives”.

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