4 hours, 9 minutes and 59 seconds later…Okay, not what I’d expected.

Something transpired on Friday evening.  I won’t bog this post down with the woes of my Monday to Friday grind (simply do a search under my Work & Career tag and you’ll easily find enough rants and heartache).  No.  I have far more important things I’d like to share about an incredible phone call.

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Okay, the backstory…

About two weeks ago, I was sitting in a restaurant having lunch with a senior-level industry professional.  Over the past few months, we’d met, began working together as volunteers on behalf of an organization and started to develop a really good rapport. So far, so good. The trust thing is a real challenge, and up to this point, I’d been a bit guarded.  She’s quite a bit older — been “in the business” for a long time and seen many things. Nothing I’ve told her thus far about the behaviors of the executives I work with are shocking.  We decided to keep in touch beyond our volunteer duties, including exchanging resumes.  Perhaps she could assess whether I’d be a good candidate for a consulting firm?  After all, it falls under the “professional services” umbrella, so why not? I have to think about all my options.  Here’s the thing: Like me, she, too, is on a job hunt. There’s one big difference between the two of us, however.  She’s unemployed having lost  her job a few months ago, which means, there’s an urgency for her.  What’s the saying? You think you have it bad…there’s always someone who has it worse?  A few days after our lunch just before leaving on vacation, she’d already introduced me to three of her contacts at consulting firms via LinkedIn and proposed that we each meet for lunch, dinner or drinks.  This from a woman who has her own problems.

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Fast forward to last Friday…

We’d agreed to speak at 7:00 p.m.  She would provide feedback about my resume.  I’d initiate the call.

4 hours, 9 minutes and 59 seconds later…Okay, not what I’d expected.  (Wish I could figure out how to show you the screen shot of the time clock history on my phone.)

We never did speak about the specific changes she would suggest for the resume.  Instead, we talked about our work on behalf of our association, traded stories about our lives working in a predominantly male, professional services environment, but most of all, we talked about job hunting and working with recruiters.  (Attention Recruiters: Your reputation…um…not good…I’ve spoken to too many people searching for new jobs that have had some unflattering things to say about experiences working with recruiters — and not just for those making junior-level placements, executive recruiters, many of whom work on retainer.)

Even for someone who has wayyyyy more years of experience and is so high up on the food chain versus me, mid-level, career professional, you would think things would be rosy. Not so.  She said all the things you’ve probably heard before, and yes, she still has to remind herself of these:

  • Know thyself — and have a backbone.  Without these, you open yourself up to be taken advantage of by those who cross your path.  Self-respect goes a long way.  This is not a male-bashing comment, but we (women) still find ourselves dealing with situations (some more serious than others) in the workplace. Some of us leave in tears. Some leave with restraining orders.  Some don’t go quietly and you know what that means?  The evening news, a lawyer and a PR agent gets in on the action.
  • Always know your worth.  How do you do this?  Simple. Research. Company research, skills research (is what you know transferable and to what?), salary research. Whatever kind of research you need to do to get to the bottom of your worth, do it.  One of the recruiters she visited suggested she should consider a position that was paying 38% less than her previous position.  That didn’t go over well.
  • Don’t work with recruiters who don’t realize they also work for you as much as they work for the clients who hire them.  The companies who hire them are only one half of the puzzle. Recruiters are getting a percentage of a salary or an agreed upon fee for any candidate that makes it to the “you’re hired” stage. Sometimes they forget they need you.  And a gender comment:  If you’re female, don’t bring the same habits you may have in the workplace with you when you work with recruiters. Ask questions that should be asked, challenge the nonsense respectfully.  The “nice girl”, nurturer, “I don’t want to rock the boat” attitude just doesn’t work.
  • Leverage your connections.  Who do you know?  Who do they know?  Get out there — wherever “there” is, and that includes going beyond the computer screen. Get over your insecurities or embarrassment, or whatever, about talking to people about your situation. You say nothing, don’t ask for help, you’ll get exactly what you’d expect: Nothing.  Even as a senior-level professional, she’s talking to recruiters, people on and below her level (like me) and friends of friends.  She’s even enlisted the help of a coach.  Forget about pride and ego.  They don’t pay the bills.

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We’ve planned to meet in person again within the next two weeks to go over the finer points of my resume — what we should have done during our phone call (!).  She’s also willing to go through interview simulations, and is willing to help me craft “stories” — those that will make a positive impression and resonate with recruiters and hiring managers. Supposedly, I’m too close to the mundane activities of my job, I’m “not seeing things.”  I’ve got stories to tell and she’s going to pull them out of me. 

I’m completely blown away by her generosity, but I’m still guarded. Only time will tell.

Stay tuned…

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2 thoughts on “4 hours, 9 minutes and 59 seconds later…Okay, not what I’d expected.

  1. I am impressed that, despite her own situation, she is still so willing to support you in your own journey. Maybe she just strongly believes in sowing good, positive karma. I hope both your situations bear great rewards soon.

    • Sometimes when you least expect it, someone or something surprises you. I hope I can return the goodwill she is extending to me, although I feel I may not be able (she has not made me feel this is an expectation, but…). Because she is so senior, all of the people she should know, she does know. What I wish is that I could actually work with her. She appears to be a terrific teacher/mentor.

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