I’m an executive and last week I was downsized, again. This is not the first time I’ve been displaced; several years ago my previous company was acquired. After three weeks in an outplacement workshop I was on my own. I never believed this would happen the first time; now here I am again, a veteran job seeker.
To those who seek to offer comfort, please don’t. I won’t go gently into the realm of “everything happens for a reason” or “when a door closes a window opens.” I’m mad as hell and now possess a power I never thought possible. To those I will soon be meeting in the interview marathon please know the following:
I give myself permission to be angry and sad for two weeks – Well maybe a month, but I’m not going to put on my game face just yet. Anger turned inward is depression and I can avoid emotional immobility by allowing a designated period of time to grieve. Those I can trust need to be willing to listen endlessly to my ritualistic ranting until I tire of such activity. Only then can I move on in a position of strength.
I refuse to be devalued because I’m not working – I am still worthy of the package I was paid when I was laid off. However I understand the crisis at-hand in some industries, and while I know I might have to be financially flexible, I will not allow you to negotiate my compensation toward a lower package because I presently have no paycheck.
I refuse to get lost in your database or human resources chasm – I will be compliant in submitting my résumé to your web site but I will not allow you to reduce me to a file amidst thousands of others. I will learn enough about your company to be able to make contact with associates who work there; I will seek folks who might be willing to network me in or even hire me directly!
I refuse to allow sweet innuendos to stall my search – Should you interview me for my ideal job and speak words of praise and optimism, until I have a commitment, I won’t allow myself to wait. Only an offer including a position, compensation package and starting date will turn my head. You have always known the vast difference between encouragement and commitment; I’ve learned the hard way. There are no rest stops in my job search.
I refuse to allow you to invalidate me with rejection – I understand the competitive nature of the job market. If you choose another I will not be diverted from completing my mission. Who I am is based on how I am and what I’ve accomplished, not merely by your random selection. I will allow myself to be disappointed but not stalled. I know that no champion wins all matches. In job search it only takes one victory!
I’m not old or over-qualified – This rationale is merely a quick fix to avoid admitting to myself that I may have under-performed in an interview. The sooner I get real about my mistakes in this journey the sooner I will succeed. I can’t blame decision makers for the message I failed to deliver. My performance under interview interrogation could well predict my performance on the job. If I weren’t a potential fit you wouldn’t have extended an invitation. It’s easy to write-off mistakes with excuses, and it’s wrong.
I will not allow a big chair-little chair interview scenario – I remember the true meaning of “help wanted.” You carry your own fears about the future and have invited me to interview because you saw that somehow I might just be a solution. Not only do you not hold my future in your decision, but my decisions just might affect yours! I am not powerless to merely answering your questions, assuming that the best responder will be hired. I have a message and while I don’t want to dominate, my methods of introducing content will level your interview playing field.
I refuse to join the herd – If I have to bike to my interviews, I will not follow those in crisis mode by adopting a doom and gloom mentality. I will not fear change nor will I fear failure. I will not be intimidated by candidates who appear to have more experience, status or education. I will reach deeply for those qualities which grew my career and for which I was awarded the leadership of two companies. They will not let me down. I’ve taught my teams for decades, that there are three kinds of people..those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who ask, “what happened?” I’ve
made my choice.