May 21, 2018

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Career Advice

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Hubby’s Job Search

Last year, my husband was laid off from his corporate job. His search was interesting, and also provided me a unique look at the other side of the recruiting equation.

Of course every job search isn’t identical. My husband is a CPA, with CFO and controller experience. He has actually did a great initial job in making headway, but after a few months, he had yet to find a job and was getting quite frustrated. Thus, I am providing job searchers a few tips and words of advice based on both my experiences as an HR person and my husband’s enlightening experiences into the world of the unemployed.

So here are my tips in a nutshell:

  1. Tell everyone you know – don’t be shy!
  2. Ask for referrals
  3. Be organized
  4. Meet with everyone
  5. Follow up
  6. Return the favor
  7. Be wary
  8. Be nice
  9. Repeat

Tell Everyone You Know – Don’t Be Shy!

When my husband was first laid off, he called everyone he knew, told them he lost his job and was seeking a new opportunity. A couple of pointers here:

A. Make sure you have a script that quickly communicates the highlights of your career.

B. Choose your words wisely. I see way too many job seekers try to brush their unemployment off with “nicer” and quite frankly way too passive sounding phrases like “between assignments”. You need to make sure that you are clear in your words. While between assignments may seem obvious, it really isn’t. When in networking circles and you are asked what you do simply state, “I am unemployed and looking for an opportunity in… do you know anyone hiring in that area?”

C. See if that person is willing to meet with you. A phone call is often forgotten, while an in-person meeting is more likely to be remembered.

D. Don’t take up too much of that person’s time. Be sensitive. Don’t push for a meeting, when it is rejected and don’t call the person every week.

Ask for Referrals

Many people that you will come in contact with may not know of positions that are open. However, they may know people who know people. Ask him/her if they know anyone who gets around in business circles. And then call those people.

Be Organized

Keep track of whom you were referred to and what they told you. Also, keep track of where you applied, and why. Many times I will call applicants who have applied for positions, and will ask them, “What prompted you to apply for this position?” Too many times I hear, I don’t know, I don’t remember applying, I apply to everything, why not. Companies want people who are focused, but more importantly actually want to work there. Even if you do apply for every job you see, a company likes to feel that they are special.

Meet With Everyone

This is the busy part. You are more likely to be remembered when you actually meet with a person. Therefore, my advice is to schedule as many coffees, breakfasts, lunches, etc with as many people as possible. When you meet with those people, tell them what you have done and what type of job you are looking for. Ask them if they know anyone who might know anyone. Take down those names and numbers and then follow up with those new contacts. In addition, be sure to find out about what that person does and what type of business they are looking for, what they are struggling with, etc. People like people who are interested in them. Also, knowing this information will help you with step 5 (returning the favor).

Follow Up

My husband followed up each meeting with a personal thank you note. It is a nice touch and again a way for you to be remembered.

Return the Favor

Remember those people who gave you time out of their schedule to help you. Aside from it being the nice thing to do, you will be remembered more by those you help. Therefore, as you meet new people, you may meet someone who would be beneficial for someone you have already met. I highly recommend that you return the favor of giving their time, by introducing that person to someone else who may be of benefit to them.

For example, in the process of talking with a VC (venture capital person), my husband discovered that the firm was looking to invest in a particular type of company. My husband also knew a company in the appropriate industry that was looking for funding. Viola, he connected the VC to that company, and the rest is history. Many times while searching he discovered jobs that weren’t fits for him, but they were for other job seekers that he had met in his networking process and thus connected them together as well.

Be Wary

Headhunters can be great. However, some are not. If a headhunter tells you to do something that you don’t agree with, don’t do it. If a headhunter tells you to say something that you don’t agree with, don’t say it. Remember that a headhunter works for the person who pays them, which should not be you.

For example, my husband was connected with a headhunter that had a great opportunity. She scheduled an interview with my husband before the actual client interview. At this meeting, the headhunter told my husband what questions would be asked and how he should answer them. When my husband asked my opinion, I told him what I told everyone – be yourself, answer how you would normally answer. You want to be hired for who you are, or you will be miserable in the job (if you get it). The list of things she told him to do, go on an on. Long story short. Yes, you want to be hired, but you want to be hired by a company that knows you, because once you get the job, you won’t have a coach to help you answer the day to day questions.

Be Nice

It can be so easy to be frustrated. You see that perfect job, you apply, and you never hear from that company again. You call, they don’t call you back. So you call again, and again, and again, until you finally leave them that message, the one that will guarantee that you are never again called by that company, the one that is left in a somewhat nasty tone and says, “I have called you three times, I am perfect for that job, why haven’t you called me?” Should they have called you? Maybe, but the reality is that companies are overwhelmed with job-seekers and they all think they are perfect, and really most of the time, only one is. And if it is you, and they just haven’t had a chance to call you back yet, that message is surely to kill your chances of being hired.

Repeat and Persevere

Don’t give up until you find something. My husband did not give up until he found something – which was five long and dreadful months!

-Eileen Levitt

Eileen Levitt is president of The HR Team, Inc. a Columbia, MD based HR consulting and outsourcing firm. She can be reached at 410-381-9700 or

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