I would have to say that the last five months of my life have been some of the hardest. At the end of May my company did a 20% layoff and I was the last one to get cut. While I enjoyed my career and a number of the people I worked with, it was definitely a blessing in disguise. Why a blessing? Well, I grew up in a small town and after graduating college I always envisioned that I would be living or working in a larger place. A city such as Portland; a city more conducive to my lifestyle. Corvallis, OR was not that.
Moving on from my lay-off with this mindset, I kept telling myself “keep your chin up.” I decided this would be appropriate as I have both witnessed and heard of people who took their lay-offs really hard. Most of these people did not have a college education, were older, and/or had families. Myself being college educated, young, now having over three years of professional work experience, and no family, made me feel as though this layoff wouldn’t be too bad after-all, but really wanted to keep this motto in the back in my head just in case.
Thankfully I did just that. Even though I was young, had great experience, etc… the job search was so much harder than I thought and the emotional roller-coaster that ensued was more than I could have ever expected.
I began my job search by updating my profiles on LinkedIn and Monster.com, telling close friends and industry colleagues about my layoff, and really just diving into job postings online to see what was out there. Ultimately, I really wanted to take a step forward rather than a lateral move or step back. With this in mind, I began pursuing marketing agencies and other technology companies. The huge shock came when I started following up with some of the opportunities I applied for.
Knowing that the job market was tough, by no means did I have any idea how tough it actually was! I remember following up with one company and they told me that while I met the minimum qualifications for the job, I wasn’t the most qualified. He continued to explain that for the particular position I had applied for (an associate level marketing position) he had ex VP’s of Marketing applying for the same job. I’m pretty sure you could have heard my jaw hit the floor.
This news was hard to take, and the rejection came very frequently. My dad kept reminding me that it was a numbers game. He is totally right, but I wanted to speed up the game with a bit of strategy. What I was doing was not enough.
I continued giving my 110% with my job search and while rejection kept coming through, I really started connecting with recruiters online or in person. I avoided this strategy earlier in my job search because I just didn’t feel it was completely appropriate to go around them through behind-the-scenes connections to essentially stalk and hit these people up. I just didn’t want to be THAT GUY, the nuisance. That in mind, I was very careful about how I made my approach.
After being completely disregarded by many recruiters, I finally started getting some action! Interviews were getting lined up and not just with marketing agencies but huge companies. I was so excited!
Being a people person, I do very well at phone interviews and have known this for a LONG time. Knowing this made my emotional roller-coaster even worse when I would hear back, “well Steve, you did GREAT in your phone interview,however, we have decided to pursue candidates with a few more years of experience than you.” While this is literally the most positive way anyone could give this type of feedback, it was so hard to take! I obviously start thinking ‘well what if I would have said ABC instead of XYZ,’ or ‘what if I would have followed up on this day, with this method, versus on that day, with that other method.’ Great questions to ask myself to improve my interviewing strategies but, at the end of the day, detrimental to my self-esteem and was terrified that interviewers would notice.
There were literally some days when I would get an interview setup, be high on life, and then two hours later hear back that I wasn’t selected to continue the process for a different position and have an emotional crash. These ups and downs were what I never expected. I mean I have letters of recommendation from my last direct supervisor AND CEO for goodness sake!
Luckily, after five months of ups and downs, countless days of the waiting game, life decided to lay my cards on the table, and I found a new career in the technology field; just where I wanted to be. While I don’t wish a layoff on anyone, it will leave its mark on me as one of my most life changing events; it really made me sit down and figure out who I was, what I want in life, and taught me the determination to achieve the goals I desire.
I would like to dedicate this post to everyone who stayed right there by my side and supported me in this process. I love you all!