Finding a job these days is tough. Jason knows. Here’s his story.
Jason was a successful sales executive working for a large company in NJ, a dedicated soccer coach, a troupe leader for his son’s boy scouts and a good friend to many. Jason’s life in the middle class suburb outside of New York in a small town in NJ was typical of most young parents trying to balance work and life. But then suddenly things changed.
“Looks like we’re merging”, said Jason’s manager one day. And Jason knew exactly what that meant: change, job cuts, interviews, maybe even relocation. After the merger was finalized, Jason found himself being forced to move into a new team with colleagues who had been working for the ‘other’ company and relocating to Danville, California. His wife and kids weren’t too crazy about the idea of moving given the deep roots they had in their home state of New Jersey. But what else could you do? Try to find a new job locally? In this economy?!
In January of 2010, Jason starting commuting to his job in California from NJ. He’d fly out on the red-eye on Sunday. Work Monday to Friday in San Francisco and then fly home to New Jersey on Saturday morning. This went on for 6 months until his kids were out of school, at which time the whole family reluctantly moved to a brand new high-end house in Danville. It wasn’t until September 2010 when they started settling into the house and adjusting to life in California and his new colleagues, boss and the merged company. “I felt pretty good that September to October because I was busy working and we realized that we had some stability and routine.”
Then the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in November 2010, another shoe dropped. He was being layed off as part of a big downsizing!
Shocked and bewildered, Jason was frozen. “I was shocked at first then sad, resentment started seeping in then anger. It was the whole range of emotions. But I knew what I had to do. I had to get another job and fast. The more time I wasted thinking about how the company acted unfairly, the more that anger would feed my negative attitude and that would not be helpful.”, Jason said.
It took Jason nearly 6 months but he did it. He landed a job – in Chicago. Yes, they would have to move again to a new place. The day we spoke, just last week, Jason had just signed a lease for renting a house in the suburbs of Chicago where he is starting a new job with a medium size company. He’s happy and doing great. So what was it that got him from the point of despair and shock and no job to one of being content, positive and with a job? How did Jason get his groove back?
I would sum up Jason’s formula in three ways:
First, Jason maintained an absolute, firm, rock solid attitude that he was going to land a job. He focused on looking ahead and drowning out the bad news. “Everything I was reading was bad news about the economy. Every person I spoke to was negative. I just had to tune out all the negative and focus solely on what I intended to accomplish: Landing a Job.” “Being the rock of the family, I had to push my feelings aside so that it wouldn’t affect them. But it did. I started thinking: How am I going to clothe them, feed them and put a roof over their heads? I had this hour to hour, day-to-day struggle with myself to rationalize what it all means. It was a mental game trying to turn uncertainty into certainty and confidence. But I refused to look back and blame others. If I did, I would be headed down a scary black hole. I HAD to keep looking forward and think only positive thoughts.”
Second, Jason had to adjust his expectations. “You know when you look back, you realize that things are not as good as they seem and they’re not as bad as they seem. You have to be grateful each and every day for the good things that you do have. The kid’s soccer game, the glass of wine with your spouse, the project you have to make with your daughter. These are all good things that you have to appreciate because life is tough and it won’t be great all the time.”
Third, Jason worked his tail off looking for a job. He put purpose to work. He got knee-deep in understanding where the jobs were and digging so deep with friends of friends and their friends. “I was the first one up in the morning and the last one to go to sleep. I spent 10-12 hours each and every day on the phone and the computer. I asked myself: What would I have to do to in order to get noticed? So I used social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn; leveraging all those things together just to get noticed. Then I had to be super prepared on every interview knowing facts about the company, products, competition and more. It was exhausting just keeping up with it all. And finally, I used every contact I had and who they knew and who they knew. I became the best at what I was doing – looking for a job.
One last thing Jason said as we finished our talk, “You know, it’s really easy to spiral down a dark path when you lose your job. You just have to think about it for a minute and you’ve gone down the slippery slope of negativity. You just have to will yourself – push yourself into believing in yourself. Being so confident in your mood, your posture, your attitude that no bad news in a newspaper or rejection can shake you.”