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I will be starting my new job in a couple of weeks after a layoff and 3 months search for Technology Leadership and Management positions. Make it 5 months if I factor in the 2 months additional notice at work that I really couldn’t leverage productively due to the deliverables I was committed to before the layoff.

I joined LinkedIn premium sometime in mid-January and immensely thankful to the insightful posts by various members about their trials and tribulations which put my experience in perspective. I would like to present a framework of what worked, what didn’t for me and lessons learned. For more details about how exactly I went about it, the processes and methods, I will try to elaborate in my blog https://arunarasan.wordpress.com/ at a later date. I sincerely hope this help out others as I have been helped by you all.

What worked?

  1. Networking and Referrals – I reached out to professionals in my community and across LinkedIn. The opportunity I just landed was through an acquaintance in my community.
  2. Routine and Discipline – The process of landing the next opportunity requires the same discipline as being full-time at work. I made a fairly flexible routine that I can stick to.
  3. Rest – I took time off periodically from my routine to recharge and just clear my head.
  4. Taking care of mind, body and soul – I’ll be the first to admit that the last few months has been a draining experience. Even if you don’t feel like doing it, invest (keyword is invest) the time to exercise, read, write and listen to thoughtful, motivating material that may or may not influence your career; whatever that appeals to you. Like all well thought out investments, you will see incremental gains and it pays down the line when you emerge stronger out of the slump.
  5. Family – I spent more time with my family and got more involved in my spouse’s and children’s needs and activities. Most of all, I was able to be there for my father in his battle with a terminal illness.
  6. Career introspection – A few months ago, I wasn’t even contemplating the role I am taking up next. I’m taking a lateral move to reach my end goal which helped me land this position. Evaluate your career if you haven’t made headway.
  7. Inspection and adaptation – I periodically inspected, adapted and fine-tuned my approach and processes based on how my search was going and the results I was experiencing. The goal is to work smarter, not harder. It’s important you take the time to evaluate yourself, your skills, and your methods and calibrate yourself.

What did not work?

  1. Direct company applications – 99% of my direct company applications (through company portals) went into the ether. I’m not saying you should not do it, but pace yourself so that this is not the only thing you do.
  2. Predictability – I had some unpleasant surprises. Some of the positions that were in the bag or close to landing after interviews were shelved inadvertently after budget cuts or job relocations. This can be devastating to the psyche. So be on the lookout.
  3. Length of the interviewing process – Some of the positions took months to move along with each stage of interview taking up to a month to materialize which can be extremely taxing with the constant preparation. Coupled with the unpredictability factor, some of these positions evaporate midway due to budget cuts or job moves which can be a gut-punch. Be prepared to pull yourself up by the bootstraps when this happens.
  4. Number of opportunities available – The plethora of jobs posted can be an illusion or a mirage. Guess what a mirage can do to someone lost in the desert? The ratio of interviews I was able to land is extremely low compared to the opportunities applied for, whether it’s direct application or referrals. So do not be complacent. To be fair, it gets tougher as you go up the ladder in the technology field. So this has to be taken with a grain of salt for other fields or the level you are aiming for.

What I learned

  1. Groundwork – If you haven’t done the groundwork prior to a layoff, be prepared to be doing that work after the layoff. It’s going to be a long haul rather than a short one. This realization made me plan better, recover better and move forward.
  2. Networking – Nurture your contacts and networks diligently. If I had, I would not have been grinding out for 5.5 months. Network down, up and laterally.
  3. Who stands with you? A profound truth I realized is that I should have given the same intensity of attention to my family and friends and nurtured my network as I had given to my job for years. Ultimately, they are the ones who pull you through the tough times; not your job.
  4. Resilience – The job search process after a layoff can be draining, excruciating and demoralizing. There will be setbacks. It’s about acknowledging, allowing the time to process those setbacks and then focus on getting back on track after taking a hit.
  5. Inspection and Adaptation – If something does not work, change it. Periodically inspect and adapt yourself through the whole experience and you will come out better than before.You are investing in yourself through this process.

I want to finish with this quote from Rocky. As cheesy as it may seem, to me truer words have never been spoken.

“You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits.”

Best of luck to you in your search! If you are looking for a hero, look within yourself. Never give up. Inspect, adapt and work smarter. I’ll see you on the other side. 🙂