Thursday, January 22, 2009

For the Record

Okay, let me get the objections and arguments out of the way first, because some of my readers will want to make these points as they read.

1. I'm not whining or complaining. If you read this with a whiny tone, please go back and reread it with a dispassionate tone. I'm still rather upbeat and optimistic. I don't have time to whine.
2. I'm not sitting around, waiting for someone to offer me a job or a pile o' cash. I'm working hard, spending 60 hours a week on the job search.
3. I've heard all the advice. More advice won't fix the situation. Thanks anyway.

Now, for today's posting.

This economic downturn has created a job market different from all the job markets I've ever seen. In the past, when I've been out looking for a job, I have gotten lots of rejection letters, and a few rejection phone calls, that said: "Your qualifications are impressive, but we had lots of applicants for the position you applied for, and we chose one of them instead. Good luck looking elsewhere."

This time around, it's different. This time, what I'm getting in person and over the phone, is "We'd love to hire you. We need someone just like you. Unfortunately, we just got hit with a hiring freeze." Or "... our budget for that position has just been cut." Or "... our sales have dropped to near-zero and we may be closing our doors." Or, in the case of Avago, "... we just finished laying off 240 people instead of hiring anybody."

And nobody's lying about it. I've been able to verify most of their stories by independent means. Things really are tough all over.

The only people making money right now, I think, are the people writing books and articles and giving seminars and speeches with titles like, "How to Set Yourself Apart from Everybody Else and Get a Job in These Tough Times." I'm always wary of the people who write these things: what's their day job, and how did they get it? Did they follow their own advice?

One of the ironies of the current situation is that there are a lot of job openings out there. But those employers all require 3 to 5 years of experience in the specialized area that the job requires, and they're not willing to give a new hire 3 to 6 months -- or even one month -- to retrain and to learn the ropes. Employers used to be willing to take that chance, but not any more. Many of these job openings have been out there for months, some for a couple of years, and employers are still waiting for their Prince Charming to come along. It seems rather stupid to me: an employer could hire a versatile-but-obsolete professional and retrain them in less time than they've been waiting for Prince Charming.

The Northern Colorado Networking Group,, is a network of professionals who are either unemployed or seeking other employment. They meet every Monday morning in space donated by Faith Evangelical Free Church, in Fort Collins, Colorado. Normally their meetings are attended by about 80 people, and they normally get 3 to 5 new members each week. They consider themselves successful if they have a high turnover rate. For the last 4 to 6 weeks, however, their meetings have been standing-room-only, with between 100 and 200 people, and 20 new members each week. Like I said, things are tough out there.

It would be easy to give in to the discouragement, to fall into depression, and to sit at home all day in my grubby clothes, drinking (root) beer and watching the tube. To combat that tendency, I start each day by giving service to a group of high school students for an hour, running a couple of miles, eating a healthy breakfast, reading from the scriptures, and praying. I shave, I dress in business attire, and I spend the day doing all the things I can do to land a job.

(My wife keeps reminding me of what M. Scott Peck said in The Road Less Traveled, about insanity. He may have been quoting someone else, but it's something like this: insanity is when you keep doing the same thing, over and over, expecting to get a different outcome each time. I think there's a fine line between insanity and persistence, and I intend to stay on the persistence side of the line.)

I set aside some time in the evenings to work on a couple of entrepreneurial projects I'm involved in. But the payoff from those entrepreneurial projects is several months off, and I need a job today. So the job hunt takes priority.


Zyzmog said...

Oh, and if any potential employers are reading this, you can read about my professional experience at .

Van Walther said...

So, I'm one of those guys who teaches you how to stand out in the crowd, but I only charge 10% of your income for life donated to your favorite religious organization. Anyway, I'm highly qualified to do this because I've done it myself, using the tools that I teach with. My networking group has grown from 5 to 10 per week to 30-35 per week. Same challenges. But people disappear each week with a job and new people appear so I must be doing something right. You're right, there are jobs and you have to stand out in the crowd. There are other tools to use as well to find the jobs that aren't posted (about 60% of all job openings). See for some great networking tools. I use them very effectively. Are you on That's another powerful networking tool. Also read, "Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi, a great book on networking.

jodi said...

I don't think I've ever read anything you've written that seemed to be whining. EVER. I know things are tough. I have friends scattered across the US and Canada, and I see the news. Matters are full of challenges here, too, of course. It's a little different for me, working for myself as I do, and there have been some wrinkles here. But I've found when one door closes, another one opens. So far, anyway...

I think you've got a good healthy, pragmatic but positive attitude, and that things will turn around. But I get accused sometimes of wearing a pollyanna bonnet, so what do I know?