It's been a difficult time for a middle-aged Senior Director in Biotech/Pharma Clinical Operations to be in the job market in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region. Tens of thousands of qualified professionals have been turned out on the streets due to mergers and downsizing, and there are dozens and dozens competing for each open position. Figuring out how to get your resume to be READ is a major mystery, and to actually reach the point of a face-to-face interview is a feat of monumental proportion! And we are competing with hungry, career-building, talented folks who are willing to do the job at discounted salaries, just to get the proverbial 'foot in the door." Tough business, this job hunting is! It can seem like the most vast of wastelands.
Ghost Ranch, New Mexico
And how many times in the past three months, have my hopes been stoked, only to learn that "we decided to promote an internal candidate," or "the job position has been revoked due to budgetary condtions," or "Sorry, but you are way over-qualified for this position?"
But...after living for three months on the lower end (never higher than mid-level) of the depression/exhilaration curve, I've come to the point where I can see a "silver lining," and my fortune is starting to turn around.
So here it is, and let me be the Upteenth person to tell you: There IS hope out there for us--Never Give up!
Never Give Up
Up until this unfortunate jobless period, I had never been very much of a networker. Though books like "Never Eat Alone" extoll the virtues of a lifetime of reaching out, I hadn't even read it until this happened to me. So, thank the Good Lord that Linked-In has come along. It's an amazing tool.
Well, I don't know about all the "how to" articles that are out there on the job sites; I believe most are really there to churn up business from job searchers needing the services of various types of coaches. For every bit of advice out there, there's another bit -- equal and opposite. And some are, in my opinion, utter travesties, like one I read recently about how to "take ten years off your age." (Don't take a newspaper to your interview because only OLD people read newspapers.) Jeepers!
So you could spend a lot of time getting lost in the bog of advice--How do we know which advice is Golden and which is Rubbish?
Bridging the Bog
But -- Linked-In, if worked to the maximum, finds people from your past, with whom you may have had positive working and personal relationships, but who you probably haven't thought about in many, many years. It's like the play, "Six Degrees of Separation," which proposed the notion that one can find a relationship to any person in the world through no more than six connections. As an example, Linked-In somehow connected me to my brother, who works in the BANKING industry--pretty far afield from most of my professional network in the Pharma/Biotech industry!
In the past three months, Linked-In has brought people back into my life who I have been fortunate enough to have mentored, starting with my first management position. Many of these people have seen their careers blossom over the years--because they are downright great at what they do. But now, they are telling me that I had a lot to do with their success, and they have, in some ways, modelled their own management styles after mine! Can you imagine how wonderful it has felt to hear that? So I have the opportunity to rekindle some terrific friendships.
But, the phenomenal thing is that all of these people have developed their own networks, and are providing ideas, contacts, and recommendations for me. It's astonishing. And, the extra, added benefit is that all this works as a super, non-pharmaceutical mood enhancer for the out-of-work job hunter! Self confidence comes rippling back, and it is reflected in all of one's contacts with recruiters and hiring managers.
I don't have a job yet...these things do take time. But just yesterday, I was told by an astute company recruiter (for a job that is being created that I would just LOVE to have), "Think of this period as a vacation, Michelle. With a background like yours, you won't be without a job for long--and let's keep in contact at least once a week!"
Even if nothing comes of that particular opportunity, the New Year begins with a huge blast of growing hope and confidence! Thank you, Linked-In. With the New Year comes a New Beginning!
All photography by Michelle Alton