There’s nothing like being comfortable. An easy chair, a warm fire, your favourite wine, a great book and the dog snoozing at your feet. Circumstances like job search though, compel you to step outside your comfort zone, and for those who resist change, it can be a bumpy ride.
Richard is a Chief Operating Officer for a multinational company. I should say Richard was a Chief Operating Officer. Life is tough and a little unforgiving in the executive world and unfortunately, Richard finds himself without a job. It’s a shame that he didn’t negotiate any type of severance package when he first started in the role, but that was not something people used to do in the days when Richard first started out.
So, Richard’s on the market, for the first time in a decade. The resume is obviously the first place to start. He fires up the laptop, selects a Word template aptly called resume.dot and starts listing his career history, education and references. About an hour later the job is complete and he turns his attention to the newspaper classifieds online. There are a couple of roles for senior operating executives in there, so he uploads his resume and waits. It’s a task he repeats every week for six months with only one small show of interest from a recruiting company for a job well below his level of expertise. Feelings of self-doubt rise, carrying with them resentment at his former company and anger at recruiters who continually fail to recognise his expertise.
As part of Richard’s dismissal, his former company provided him with $3000 of outplacement services. Richard attended the “office” once but fled after a couple of hours. It was humiliating to share office space with people in similar circumstances and he needed a break anyway. “Plus”, he reasoned, “What could an outplacement firm offer me that I couldn’t do myself? A resume? Oh please!”
A family friend reaches out to Richard and passes along a business card for a professional resume writer. “She’s really good” he says. “Her resumes are amazing and when I sent mine out, I was getting interviews almost immediately”. Richard sighs inwardly, takes the card offered and tosses it dismissively on the kitchen bench when his friend leaves. “Pay for a resume that I can write myself?” he laughs derisively. “You’re kidding me”.
Two weeks ago, a former colleague called to invite him for a coffee and a chat. Richard was half way through watching his boxed DVD set of CSI Season 4 and so turned down the invitation, but he did have a chat on the phone. Seems his friend Dave, was suggesting he try social media to get a job. Richard hadn’t even heard of it so Dave explained about Twitter and LinkedIn and the vast opportunities to leverage relationships and leads, and source information such as new company hires and so on. It’s a good thing Dave wasn’t on a video call, as he would have been insulted to see Richard’s expression. “Good lord, Richard thought, “Tell the world what I’m having for breakfast in 140 characters is going to get me a job? Ridiculous!”
Richard’s wife Sally has become increasingly perturbed with her husband’s demeanour. He’s cranky, bordering on bitter, and she’s watched him fire down any and all suggestions from people who try to help. Just recently she’s heard about a job loss recovery program Job Loss Recovery Program that showed that stress relaxation techniques coupled with guided visualisation has helped thousands of people come to terms with their negative feelings and at the same time envisage their future self—-confident, successful and drawing people to them; strategising and thinking their way to success. It just entails listening to two audio tapes six times over two weeks. “Honey” she says, “Why not give it a try?” Sally cites the statistics knowing that Richard is responsive to facts. “It has been tested scientifically and the research shows 62% of those returned to work within two months as opposed to the placebo group where 12% had returned to work within two months. What could you lose?”
Richard agrees to Sally’s suggestion under sufferance. After all, “Happy Wife, Happy Life” is the saying right? Inwardly, Richard scoffs at such an idea. “Lying on the bed with my eyes closed thinking about my future self is hardly going to get me a job is it?” he thinks. As the audio tape advances, Richard focuses solely on the anger and resentment he feels about his previous employer and is bored when it comes to visualising his future self. “New age mumbo jumbo” he grumbles. He never completes the rest of the program.
It has been ten months and Richard continues to look for work.
Richard’s resistance to change is having a catastrophic impact on his mental health, his marriage and his career. The longer it takes for him to get a job, the less attractive he is in the marketplace and the less likelihood he has of scoring a job at the same level.
Next week, we’ll look at a very different Richard in Part 2.