***Read lessons one and two in Hello From the Other Side (and More Songs from the Unemployment Line) - Part I.***
Hello from the other side...
During my hiatus and in subsequent months, I learned a lot about job searching and myself. In no particular order, here are three of my top 5 lessons from the unemployment line using song titles and lyrics. (Of course, like Puffy/P. Diddy/Sean Combs, I had to remix a few to make 'em work.)
3. We Are Young: As part of my severance package, I had the opportunity to work with a career transition service and, overall, it was a good experience. While participating in a workshop to improve interviewing skills, I recognized that majority of the attendees had been with their respective companies for more than a decade. (I was almost a baby in this bunch.) One gentleman spent 26 years with his employer before being let go. Heck, even one of my former colleagues had been with our previous company for 35 years. So, why did this interest me? Simply put: we were playing the game all wrong.
As we were learning to be better interviewers, I recognized that there was some animosity towards younger recruiters and hiring managers. Trust me, I get it. But, as one participant complained about peppering his resume with keywords and explaining his experiences to "kids", he failed to recognize that, based on 2015 findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 22% of the U.S. Workforce is 25 to 34-years-old. If you add 20 to 24-year-olds, that number jumps to over 31%. The workforce is almost a third Millennials (18 to 34-year-olds) and, according to CNN Money, "The new normal is for Millennials to jump jobs four times in their first decade out of college [by age 32]. That's nearly double the bouncing around the generation before them did." So, logically, if you can't beat 'em, JOIN 'EM!
Millennials truly believe, "We are young. Let's set the world on fire. We can burn brighter than the sun." Sure, some are pampered, privileged princesses and princes. And others expect to be promoted to VP after two months of solid employment. But, I'd venture to say that is a small minority. Most are smart and "degreed up". They've done their homework. They understand their value and they have absolutely no desire to stay in the same role for an extended period of time UNLESS their career trajectory demands it. Mostly, they are not afraid to ask for what they want because closed mouths don't get fed. So, don't blame Millennials. Learn from them. (And, never make assumptions about who will and who won't help you land your next role.)
4. (These "Companies" Ain't) Loyal:Clearly, Chris Brown has a different take on this one but the concept of loyalty often gets otherwise intelligent folks caught up. In a nutshell, gone are the days when we work at the same company for 30 years and retire with a nice watch. Sure, there are industries and organizations that still value long-term employment. But, when corporations are beholden to stockholders, they will lay off workers if they are not generating enough revenue. My company was still making plenty of money but Wall Street demanded more and the company responded.
After my layoff, my perspective changed. A friend said, "You are the CEO of You, Inc. There is no other company that should take precedence over yours." Now, that does not mean, you can or should shirk responsibilities on the job. Be committed. But, keep in mind that most of us are at-will employees. In other words, your employer needs no good reason to fire you. So, rather than wait until you actually need a job, why not be prepared for whatever might happen? My advice is to continually nurture your network, find good mentors and advocates, refresh your resume and LinkedIn profile, and hone your interviewing skills. It is better to have these things and not need them than to need them and not have them.
5.U Don't Have to Call:Usher was right...and, they probably won't. Every single day in America, someone is on the job hunt. Just like you're consumed with the process, so are recruiters. They often simply do not have the bandwidth to respond to every applicant. Honestly, it would be really nice if there was some sort of follow-up, especially as you seek to improve your skills. But, it's very likely that you may not hear anything after the initial resume submission. If you have a personal contact at the company, by all means, investigate further. If not, apply the K.I.M. Principle and keep it moving. YOUR job is waiting for you...you've just got to find it.
Unemployment often conjures up feelings of depression, fear, and anger and finding a new job is TOUGH. But, you don't have to operate from a place of defeat. Make the most of your time off. Learn new skills. Use your hobbies to generate income. Take classes. Start your own business. Travel. Focus on being a better you and things will work out for your good. I'm currently on a self-imposed hiatus and, this time, I am much happier and more settled because I am investing in me. As Gloria Gaynor can attest, I will survive...and so will you! Good luck!