Breathe. Just breathe and focus. My lips form a small letter o and I exhale slowly making a slight whistle, trying to blow the tension out of my body. Sometimes I have to remind myself that things will be OK. But it’s tough you know? I’ve never been out of work before and I’m not finding anything decent, let alone get-out-of-bed exciting. And it’s the 12th. My student loan payment is due on the 15th. Great. Can’t wait to hit up dad again; guilt trip departing at gate nine. Stop. Stop! Be positive. Breathe!
My name is Shannon Wilkens. I’m 29 and have been looking for work since getting laid off as a corporate manager at a national outdoor products retailer. Their “just in time” philosophy turned into automation, and my time was no longer needed. I was automated right out a job and replaced by software 23 weeks ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I love tech. I guess I always felt disruption was a good thing until I was on the receiving end of it. But I get it. The company found a way to save money and further streamline the inventory ordering process. My VP had a decision to make and made it. That’s business. He told me he felt bad about it, but he had pressure coming down on him too. “So, best of luck to everyone in the department. And hey, unemployment is down, you’ll all find work pretty quickly” he said.
Being laid off forces you to make decisions about your direction in life. Going forward, I decided to look for a job that combines everything I’m good at. I enjoy interacting with people and I love project management. To bring a project in on time and under budget is personally rewarding to me. But more importantly, I genuinely care about making a difference in this world, so my next position also needs to mean something beyond the salary + benefits.
I’m doing everything you’re supposed to do. Online recruiters, sending out the resume, going to networking events, coffee with potential contacts. I’ve had a few interviews, but nothing has lined up so far. What’s missing? I’m a pretty determined person, but still, the process takes its toll and fighting off the fear has become a daily part of my day. Something needs to change.
Wanted. Greater Earth Systems environmental design company seeks candidates for a Senior Manager of Community Relations. Click here to learn more. Qualified candidates only. Serious applicants may reply to this email and attach your resume.
This was perfect, and I wanted this job. I wrote a reply nervously checking three times for typos, attached my resume, and hit send.
For the next two days I checked my email after every notification. Nothing. Then at 8:03 a.m. on day three, I got an invitation to schedule an interview. I joyously responded in a nanosecond, received preset day/time options, accepted, and it auto-scheduled in my calendar. Excellent! Next, I made an executive decision that I needed a new suit. Something that made me look, and better yet, feel like a senior manager. It’s an investment, right? Since I needed this right now, online was not an option, so I was off to a few brick & mortars. Seven hours, one caramel-mocha latte and multiple dressing rooms later, I came home with the newest women’s designer suit by Andrei Ancee. Success!
8:27 a.m. Monday morning. I’m sitting in my car in the parking lot of Greater Earth Systems, way ahead of my 9:00 a.m. interview. I took my coffee with me this morning to help beat traffic plus built in chill time. Several napkins are draped like a fan across my rose-colored blouse and dark blue pants to ensure no errant drips find their way to them. I’m nervous, excited, confident and ready.
8:50 a.m. I stride across the bamboo hardwood floor to the receptionist’s circular fortress, my heels echoing in a perfect staccato rhythm. I smile warmly and check in with the young woman. “I’m sorry, there appears to be a mistake. We have you scheduled for 9:00 a.m. tomorrow,” she states coolly with one eyebrow arched. “Oh, I’m pretty sure it was for Monday, let me show you the confirmation email,” I said and handed her my phone. My heart is racing. Am I sweating? Great, just great, glad I’m wearing the suit jacket! Don’t fail me Andrei. Miss Eyebrow picks up her phone as if I’ve messed up her day, “one moment, please have a seat while I make a quick call.”
I take my cue and sit down on the soft, luxurious sofa in the lobby. I pull out my phone and look at my calendar and email to ensure I did not screw this up. No, this is not on me. “Excuse me, Miss Wilkens? Apparently, there’s been a communication issue on our end. Do you have some time this morning while we sort this out?” “Absolutely,” I reply. “I have some work to do, I’m mobile, and can do it from here.” I open up their company website to keep me focused on the interview.
10:02 a.m. “Miss Wilkens, Jan Chanefsky can see you now in the top floor atrium.” As I pass Miss Eyebrow on the way to the elevators she says “by the way, I really like your suit. Is it an Andrei Ancee?” Her tone was a 180. “Yes, it is and thank you” I reply. Breathe. Just breathe and focus. Be positive. I feel good. I want this job. It is mine. This suit makes me feel like I’m the new Senior Community Relations Manager for Greater Earth Systems. I’ve got this.
And I did. The delay was intentional to test how I handle a “disruption.” Oh, the irony. I met with Jan for more than an hour and with each passing minute, I felt more empowered. Thank you, Andrei Ancee. Over the week I had three more interviews with senior staff, and the following Monday I was offered the position. The salary exceeded my initial requirement and I accepted immediately. Yes, I feel like a boss, look like one, and I am one.