End of Chapter 1

Chapter 1

The Objective Is To Get The Job

    How did I get here?

     There are four different sets of circumstances that put people out of work and into heavy-duty job-seeking mode: downsizing, firing, retiring and just moving on. A brief word about each is probably in order.

  • Downsizing is a generic term for “job elimination.” It might be the result of a corporate merger, a change in strategic direction for the company, a massive reorganization, and so forth. The distinguishing factor is that it’s not the employee being terminated (what an unfortunate phrase!), but the job itself being eliminated. It’s like not having a chair to sit in when the music stops.
  • Firing, by way of contrast, is specific to the employee. It may be cause related — poor performance, insubordination, and so on — or it may be a personality thing, in which the employee is not seen as fitting in. The buzz words are often “…it’s not working out…”
  • Retiring, on the surface, is fairly self-explanatory. Worth noting, though, is that more and more companies are changing the rules along the way, and offering too-good-to-resist early retirement packages. While these are often in everyone’s best financial interests, they frequently put people out of work before they’re mentally or emotionally prepared for retirement, and they join compatriots in the other categories, competing for a finite number of available jobs.
  • Finally there’s “moving on” — a phenomenon in which the employee decides that there’s greener grass somewhere else and voluntarily enters (or reenters) the job market, changing employers or even career paths of his or her own volition.

     Regardless of which of these phenomena have led you to this book, you’ll soon discover you have a lot in common with people in the other “how I got here” categories. The emotions you will experience — fear, anticipation, excitement, happiness, sadness, anger — are pretty much the same, and the traditional approaches you will likely use to find the next stepping stone in your professional life are almost identical.

     In the pages that follow, I’m going to suggest a course of action that is more likely to get you what you want, with less wasted energy and angst, faster and with greater certainty than the “traditional approaches.” Of course, you can always hedge your bet, by going down multiple paths at the same time. I would submit though that there’s not much to be gained by spinning your wheels this way, and you could increase your anxiety level to the point that you’re actually subverting your real goal.

     Finally, it’s only fair that you understand my biases too. The last thirty years of my life have been devoted to marketing, general management, and strategic planning. As the old saying goes, “when you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Accordingly, you’ll find that I approach the job search process from a strategic point of view before I ever begin to develop or implement tactical plans. I also look at the prospective employee — that’s you — as a “product” that needs to be “marketed” or presented honestly and in its best light. And it is my objective to help you view the product — yourself — in the same kind of objective way your next employer will.

     One more caveat. Throughout this book, I’m going to be assuming that the job seeker is a manager, or management candidate, in a white-collar, professional environment. The basic principles apply to everyone, but I’ve chosen to keep it simple, be consistent, and use those kinds of positions as a “base case.” Making the translation to a blue-collar situation, or academia, or a clerical job, shouldn’t be very difficult.

     Let’s get into the strategic development process.

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Last updated: Monday, November 03, 2008