Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Silver Lining of being Unemployed

Well, it's now been slightly over three months since the devasting RIF that left me unemployed for the first time since I dropped out of college (later earned my degree while working full-time) at age 19. I won't say how many years ago that was, but it was a long, LONG time ago, to be sure!

Silver Lining

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have my hopes been stoked, only to learn that "we decided to promote an internal candidate," or "the job position has been revoked due to budgetary condtions," or "Sorry, but you are way over-qualified for this position?"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.

Friends Rekindling

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.

Recruiting Contact

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


Yogi said...

Hi Michelle,

I'm sorry you haven't found a job yet, but tomorrow could be the day!

In the meantime, would you ever consider being part of a monumental breakthrough in anti-aging skin care technology?

We have a great global team that is looking for talented people to join us.

Why don't you take a look at this video and let me know if you're interested. I'd welcome the opportunity to provide you with greater detail.

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I hope to speak with you soon.

Marc Yagoda

Liam said...

Hi Michelle

I have a similar story to tell. I started out on the job hunting trail about 9 months ago.

Conventional job hunting ethods were not being terribly effective, so I started looking at LI to see what or who was out there.

I've ended up delivering a course in Online Social Networking, Iam talking to 3 people about possible self employment opportunities and am following up on a conventional job opportunity which I only heard about because a former colleague told me about it on Facebook!

It takes time to get things moving, but it sure beats sitting at home waiting for recruiters to call back. You can do all this at the same time as waiting, so the minimum benefit is that you keep busy and stop the brain going soft and squidgy, upside potential? The shy's the limit!

Best wishes


Upendra said...


This is an example where many people face the situation. I am one of them!. I too was in the pharmaceutical industry for 7 years in the R&D sector, but of course in mergers, people are let go.

For me personally, I have followed-up with people with whom I was suggested to get in touch with. All of this time has resulted in dead ends.

houstongal said...

I have a great attitude about my job search. I absolutely KNOW I am going to get the right job when I am supposed to. I never doubt it. I love how you have turned around your attitude, Michelle. Just stay positive --- be thankful every day.

I interviewed today for the job of my dreams and I did as well as I could possibly do. I know that, if that is the job I am supposed to get, it will happen. This has been one of the most wonderful times of my life!