I worked with Hilary on her job search over the summer, and she was such fun to chat with! She reentered the job market due to her husband’s transfer to a different region of the country; which meant she had to start from scratch – new local economy and “job search culture,” new networking contacts, everything. But she did it! She got a great position, and agreed to let me interview her.
What is your new position and what company?
I am contracting on a very large project where a telephony system will be rolled out to over 200 sites. I will be the assistant to the project manager which is the position I have been looking for but does not really exist if you look on job boards. I will write the PMO documents, maintain the project plans, keep the meeting minutes, and be a Girl Friday helping the PM any way I can. On such a large project, he is going to need help. This will also help me determine if I want to be a project manager myself and get a PMP certification. Project management seems to be an ‘in’ job but it is a tough position and you have to be able to take your licks.
What service/coaching advice helped you the most?
The best advice was to be true to yourself. Although it would have made more sense (maybe) to say I wanted a project manager job, in my heart I knew that I did not have enough experience as a project manager yet and that I was not sure if I really wanted that challenge/stress. Only a handful of people really understood what I was interested in. And it did not help that assistant project manager or project manager assistant does not sound like a real job. I would have been unhappy trying to pass myself off as a PM that I am not. Still it did get difficult trying to keep one’s head up when you have no job, but passing on PM jobs. Luckily Julie believed I would get the position I wanted and would give me pep talks.
What tips/advice do you have for other job seekers out there?
There came a point when I did not talk about my job search amidst family and friends. All the helpful comments from people who have not searched for a job in over a decade only helped worsen the thought that something must be wrong with me why I do not have a job yet. I just smiled and said I am working on it with my career coach and changed the topic to the last movie I saw.
You also have to smile again when people send you job postings that you are not interested in and really do not qualify for. I am in IT and people seem to think that I can do anything that is in Information Technology. It did make me wonder what people thought I did every work day for 23 years.
Join at least one job seekers group. I knew I was not the only person without a job, but sitting at home while everyone else went to work did not help my morale any. At these job seekers groups you find totally competent, well-spoken people just like yourself; people of all ages looking for positions in all kinds of fields. It was nice to not feel like the only person who cannot find a job (and I guess there is nothing wrong with me after all).
Networking ideas: What worked for you?
Understand that networking is about building relationships, getting to know people, and helping them out. That really took the pressure off going to networking sessions. Every get-together is a networking session if you are going to meet people there. I thought networking was about selling myself and trying to get a job. That was going to be hard enough at any interview and now I am supposed to do that at networking sessions as well? Oh heavens! Thank goodness that is not the story at all.
What is one thing you wish you knew or had been told at the beginning of your job search?
I wish I knew that most jobs are not found by answering ads on job boards. In the beginning, I spent a ton of time looking for positions then scratching my head over how to word a cover letter. I was happy and hopeful when I hit the ‘submit’ button, then anxious when I heard nothing. And you know how one can spend hours on the computer. All of that was a waste of my time, energy, and focus. I should have walked for an hour instead.
Thanks Hilary for sharing, and break a leg in your new position!