After about 16 months of semi-retirement, looking for a new position, and consulting I’ve returned to my ex-employer – Stratus Technologies (aka Stratus Computer). They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I started last Monday. I’m not returning to the same job I had, but to a different (and hopefully more interesting and more secure job). Rather than home office Technical Support, I’m going to doing more Professional Services with direct customer interaction. In fact, I’m going to be traveling about 50% (or more to start), but I’ll try to stay in touch.
Thanks to all the people on LJ at the various networking groups (especially Acton, TCP, and Wind) and the Burlington Buddy Group who helped me!
I have a handful or so of advice for people looking for jobs. (Sorry if it's long winded, but some people said they wanted to hear it.).
First, “be yourself”. Finding a job is like finding a spouse. You can look too hard and very often you find one in the places you aren’t looking. [I think the talk last month on interviewing at WIND East was right on.] At the risk of being controversial, I’d say don’t do anything you are uncomfortable doing. If you go on an interview and they are jerks (keep you waiting, are rude, don’t even offer you a glass of water or a cup of coffee) and you don’t want the job, don’t feel like you need to send a Thank You note. Maybe they’ll get a clue. Similarly if a head hunter is pressuring you on the phone to send a resume or cover letter or answer 20 questions ASAP, chill out. Go have a cup of coffee (or drink) and then do it. And whatever you do, don’t spend more than 40 hours a week looking for a job, 20-30 would probably even be enough. In retrospect, I think three 8 hour days a week would have worked best for me.
Second, don’t burn your bridges either. I think one of the most important things (after being laid off from Stratus after 20 years) I did was leaving as professionally as possible. I was given 3 days notice and I finished up as much work as possible, passed on information to those who were staying, and cleaned out my office. I was there until about midnight two nights in a row. This isn’t exactly relevant now, but remember it for next time. In addition, this might be hard but don’t be bitter. Layoffs are a fact of current American culture. It isn’t you or even the company; it is America and the stock market pressure to cook the books. In the time I was out, I went to company reunions and even made it a point to introduce myself to HR people who joined Stratus after I left. (“Hi, you probably don’t know me, but I’m Rick Kovalcik, Class of 2005…”)
Third, get your resume out there. Post it on the job boards. Monster, Dice, Career Builder are the big ones. BostonWorks didn’t seem to be worth anything to me. Net-Temps might be worth something. Hopefully you’ll get hits and headhunters or companies will contact you. Follow up on them. Even if you are dubious about the job, go for it if it is at all a possibility. Remember the more interviews you get the more experience you have. There was one company I almost didn’t follow up on because they had a bad (financial) reputation, but it turned out it was a good interview and I found out they had turned themselves around. It didn’t work out to a job offer, but it almost did.
Fourth, don’t spend too much time sending out blind resumes and cover letters. Sure, if there is something you see that you are interested in, send out the resume and cover letter. But a couple a week is probably more than enough.
Fifth, network, network, network. I don’t necessarily mean go to a lot of networking events (two a week is probably more than enough, one might be OK). But, when there is a company you are interested in, figure out how to network your way into the company. Once you send your resume in with a cover letter (as I said above), look for people you know at the company. LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is a great source for contacts. WIND is another great source for contacts, as are some of the other job seeker mailing lists. And if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. In one case my wife’s cousin walked a resume in to a major security software vendor on 128 where he worked and nothing came of it. A couple of months later, I noticed someone I used to work with (over 20 years ago) was also at that company and I contacted him via LinkedIn and asked him if he would also try to bring in my resume. He did and I got an interview within a week. Once again it didn’t work out, but it almost did. In another case, someone I worked with previously carried my resume in to a different company and nothing came of it. I happened to go to a job fair where the company had a booth and I introduced myself to the people in the booth, and got a phone interview out of it.
Finally, keep up on your skills and expanding your skills. If I had more Linux or Database experience (as well as the Windows experience I have), there would have been 2-3 times the number of jobs to go after. One of my resolutions in taking this job with my ex-employer is to get some more training, even if I need to take classes by computer because I’m going to be traveling so much.
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