I’ll bet you thought rain was the worst thing that could happen on your summer vacation.
Max is an absolute star. A high-performing, bilingual, credentialed, and innovative leader in his field. He has vast knowledge of the ever-evolving healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.
His resume is overflowing with cutting edge experience in data analytics. His background includes impressive roles in IT consulting and implementation, strategic client management, and leadership.
Max is a dream employee, and even he was not immune to the latest round of cutbacks that his company was making.
The company, which is just outside of Boston, had gone through a series of mergers and acquisitions. And as most seasoned professionals understand, mergers and acquisitions mean change.
Sure, some changes are for the better — growth, improved tools or processes, innovation, more customers. But often, mergers and acquisitions bring up fear-inducing words like redundancy, consolidation, and reorganization.
Max, the dream employee, was the latest victim of a “top-heavy” organization.
It was 4:30 on a Friday afternoon in July. Max, being the good employee that he is, was still working so he could make sure to close all the loose ends before he started his two-week vacation.
When Max was pulled aside for an impromptu meeting, he wasn’t overly shocked to learn that it was his last day. He had been around long enough to know that sometimes, even the best employees are let go. He had been on the other side of this table before, so he got it.
In times of change, difficult business decisions have to be made. But this one stung.
The upside of being let go from a leadership role with an IT company is that usually, the company offers you a parting gift on the way out the door. AKA some severance pay as a “thank you” for all of your hard work in that “top-heavy” role of yours.
And sometimes, they even offer you things like “outplacement support” to assist you in transitioning to a new job. This support typically comes in the form of resume writing assistance, interview coaching, and grief counseling — because yes, being laid off from any job is a loss.
From that perspective, Max was once again one of the lucky ones.
As difficult as it was to put the situation out of his mind, Max left the office on that steamy Boston summer afternoon and went on vacation. He did not think about his job or his career for two weeks, knowing that he was fortunate to have a little bit of a cushion and some support resources waiting for him when he got back.
Not to mention, Max had his impeccable resume to fall back on, which was already ready to go. Max is always ready to go. He was confident that he would land a new job in no time. Recruiters always found him before on LinkedIn with little effort on his part. The economy is booming, and Boston is a hot market.
Max never expected his search for a new job to turn out the way it did.
Fresh off his vacation, and ready to go all-in on his job search, Max quickly engaged the transition support team that was available to him through his former employer.
This gave him quick access to professionals to help him with the initial blocking and tackling activities that are necessary when looking for a new job. They gave him:
- Advice on how to enhance his already stellar resume
- Mock interview practice and coaching
- Access to a special job search engine and job board feed
With all of these resources and so much free time to dedicate to his job search, Max was convinced his next job was only an email away.
He quickly started applying to jobs, but not just any job. Max was a Director in his previous role, so he wanted at least to stay at that level. But with his experience as a hiring manager, he also knew that he had the qualifications and experience that recruiters drool over, so he even looked at some roles that would be stretch assignments and allow him to grow.
As Max found jobs that he was interested in, he researched them on websites like Glassdoor to try to find out as much “insider information” as he could about the potential companies. He wasn’t desperate, and so he didn’t even consider companies that had a lot of negative reviews or whose employees regularly complained about their salary and benefits.
Max spent 4+ hours a day applying to jobs on the public job market.
And by public job market, think jobs that are openly posted for anyone to see — either on a Company’s website or on public job boards like Indeed, Monster.com, or LinkedIn.
Max was diligent in his process. He knew that to say yes to an offer quickly, that finding a job was his new job. And like with any job, Max was serious about this one.
He did everything you are taught to do when looking for a job. He:
- Worked diligently to expand his LinkedIn network with personalized InMail and Connection requests.
- Wrote thoughtful emails to recruiters and hiring managers after applying.
- Updated his resume to present his experience in the best light possible based on the advice from the outplacement professionals.
- Sent his resume only to jobs that he knew were a good fit for him.
- Practiced interviewing with his outplacement counselor.
- Reached out to a couple of people he knew that could give him advice on how to get his foot in the door at their company.
- Spent hours daily monitoring and engaging on job boards and social media feeds.
- Mediated to cope with the stress of job searching.
Several weeks and fewer interviews later… Max’s frustration was hotter than the fans sitting in the shade-less bleachers at Fenway Park that summer.
When you’re stuck in the middle of a grueling job search like Max was, it’s only natural to feel like something is wrong with you. Like somehow you are the problem. You’re trying and doing all the right things that you were taught. You’re expanding your network. You’re sending different cover letters and resumes, customizing everything to each particular job.
But overwhelmingly, your resumes and applications go into the public job market void, and you have no clue what you need to change to get a recruiter’s attention. Most companies don’t respond at all, so you have no sense of what is going on. If you’re lucky enough to get a phone screen, you rarely get feedback after. Or, if you do, more often than not, it is a cold and automated rejection letter.
The public job market system is cold, heartless, and broken.
Max was a month into his search, and nobody was getting back to him. The emails with his resume went into a black hole. Those friendly messages to recruiters and hiring managers were ignored. The job applications that sometimes took hours to complete because of the horrendously cumbersome applicant tracking systems were pointless.
A project manager at heart, Max kept great stats throughout his job search so he could monitor his progress and make improvements. He found that 99% of his job applications did not result in an interview. Only 10% of the companies he applied to wanted to conduct a phone screen. 66% of companies did not bother to respond, even to reject him. Those that did respond often took up to 30 days to do so.
When someone as talented as Max cannot find a job, there is a serious problem.
One miserable month and hundreds of emails later, with his anxiety mounting, Max pushed himself outside of his comfort zone and did something he never thought he would do. Max bravely posted on his LinkedIn profile about his job search.
Up until that point, he had been hesitant to share what might be perceived as a cry for help. But he realized that doing what he was “supposed” to do was getting him nowhere. So ever the innovator, Max took a leap of faith and wrote three short and sweet sentences telling his network who he was, what he was capable of, and what he was looking for.
Then, Max’s Pathway to Yes began to emerge.
Emboldened by putting himself out there, Max decided to reconnect with an old colleague to check in. This friend knew somebody at a venture capital firm that had just invested in a new up-and-comer in the healthcare data and analytics field… just outside of Boston.
As it turns out, Max had already completed a phone screen with this particular company. That phone screen had gone well, and the recruiter genuinely seemed to like him. But like most of his 16 phone screens (out of 167 applications), several weeks went by without an update.
The silence that follows what you thought was a great interview is suffocating.
Eventually, and surprisingly, Max did hear back from that recruiter. The company decided to go with another candidate. However, the recruiter thought Max was a good guy, as did his connection at the venture capital firm ironically enough, so they wanted to give him another look.
The recruiter told Max he wanted to help him out, and that they should stay connected. Three weeks later, this same recruiter went back to Max with a new opportunity. Excited about the role, Max said yes to traveling to New York to meet with the hiring managers. A few days later, an offer was made and accepted.