Getting Keen Career Advancements, Sideways
by Jason Stauffacher; Twitter: @RazorResume
August 1, 2012
I have a great friend, a friend of over 10 years, who just got hired in a major multinational corporation in St. Paul, Minnesota and Minneapolis, proper. It took a few years to get where he is. It’s a better business card by far and the perfect job title than he had even 4 years ago in Anoka. (I must change names to keep things matter of fact, but let’s call him Peter.) Peter was working the whole time, not looking the past four years for work but only for a short time. He finally got his ideal job at this top-20 company in Minnesota which is respected worldwide.
Let’s go over how this happened for Peter, and me for that matter. I got a call one day a few years ago, and Peter asked me to re-write his resume, at least go over it, as he got displaced from a local engineering firm in the north metro that is not well-known, not a multinational. It was a big surprise for him and his family. Peter had a great post as an engineer, but was asked to leave one day with a 2-hour notice. Nice of them, but a very common practice these days from human resources and intermediate staff leaders.
Peter did not work for about 7 months, getting his state unemployment benefits, emotional accolades were sought by going to a support group at a local organization to talk and work through the issues in his mind. This helped but not the whole psychology of it all. Peter needed to get a job, and a job fast. Enters a temp-to-hire agency with possible permanent placements. One drawback. Change of job title. A significant move for anyone, in any field. Peter was given an opportunity to work for a subsidiary, a company partially owned and operated by the MAJOR CORPORATION I mentioned above. It was not a direct way in, but a sideways manner. So it was like a foot in the door, but not exactly. It was one foot in the door, and the other outside. And would it ever change? There was a high chance it would not change he was told. So Peter took the job hoping that a possible job would open up in a few years. He took that gamble and it worked.
Peter did take a decent sized pay-cut taking the initial job at the distant subsidiary. That job title cut from Engineer to Technician from the temp-to-hire agency in New Brighton, Minnesota was an even harder blow too, emotionally. That’s like going from lawyer to paralegal in one fell swoop. Will Peter ever get a job as an engineer, again? Will someone hire me with my degrees with technician on the CV/resume ever? And it had to happen that way since the job was that, a technical spot. Peter took the plunge, jumped in happily, and felt like the opportunity from the agency from New Brighton would be more likely to move towards that Fortune 500 arena. It had to work, he felt. It was distantly-owned by the multinational, yet was still part of the larger organization. There was that connection and it had to work somehow.
Here is another amazing fact: this multinational company has an on-going hiring freeze, currently. Peter got hired on and was part of the company all along. At least from HR’s perspective, it was an internal post offered to an internal employee. It just looked like a bad situation at the get-go for Peter. It was not. Peter came in the side entryway with a bad job title, back to his original one, Engineer, and got with the mothership. He had to face a few ghosts along the way to get to that multinational spot, but at the end of the day, he got his career back on track with a far better job than the one he had 4 years previously in Anoka.
Here are some Twitter like takeaways from this urban job hunting story that happens to be very true for Peter (and maybe you in the future)!
+ Look for companies you would LOVE to work for. Find subsidiary organizations within the structure that have far-off relationships in your town.
+ Take a gamble at a company even if it is a title change. It is worth it. You never know. Temp-to-hire is not that bad.
+ Listen to your gut for a change. If Peter took the obvious advice, he would have never had the chance to be hired on by the larger organization.
+ Bypass hiring freezes by working for the smaller distant-off company subsidiaries.
+ Research, research, research the smaller distant-off company subsidiary’s mothership. You might be very surprised at who owns who.
Human Resource Departments Mimic Vicious Ant Colonies
Dear Job Hunter, I need to confess to you, I have felt this way for years, HR Departments really function as an ant colony, as a vicious killer ant colony. The bad ones from Africa I’ve seen on NatGeo. What do I mean? Human Resources and their supporting staff eat their own, devour wooing applicants up and, will step all over other staff members in other departments in the organization. I’ll begin this mental journey, to explain why, with a true story of a job seminar I gave some time back.
I was doing a short talk at a church in Minnetonka, Minnesota about how resumes and career profiles should be written in a tight job market, and had some success with my talking points. As well, the hosting career coach opened a question and open comment time for everyone, as I was her guest speaker that evening. To my surprise an HR Director got up, who was displaced herself, said, “I want to apologize in how rude HR Departments are, as I have now seen what it was like being on the other end. They can be the some of the rudest people in the whole organization. And I am sorry for that.“
I was very shocked why she was so terse in her confession, the same way I felt about HR for years. They don’t send rejection letters. If you are fired, they give you three minutes to prep your desk to leave. I could go on and on, and I’m sure you, the reader, could probably add your own horror story. This behavior needs to stop. It needs to stop immediately. We need to point out how rude and very disrespectful they have always been, and it needs to cease with informative essays like this one. We demand respect and tolerance they give themselves.
I’ve been working with a local fresh grad paralegal on her resume marketing package, and need to note to you that from my experience over the years, and with her, the only organization that still may have a ‘Pollyanna’ view of people, meaning, be nice to your neighbor, is the law firm. Law firms still send out rejection letters (or emails) and thank you cards for inquiries into employment of the firm. HR Directors need to learn from these law firms that you are required to be nice to people by telling them at least you got the application, if the firm is not interested, send a letter stating why the position was recently filled or the position has been closed. Treat your applicants like you are writing your grandmother from summer camp. Don’t be rude; see them as a real live person and tell them what’s going on this week.
Finally, I’ll tell you what ant colonies do. When in war with another ant colony, going over a water stream or something like that in a desert in Africa, the dead ones in the water are walked all over by the warrior ant.
HR Managers and the like, please treat resumes and applicants as the best document or work history they can produce at this point. It is. Don’t walk over (reject) the applicant IF there is one spelling error. Functionally, it is the work history represented in the submitted documents that shows some kind of accomplishment. I am sure, even an HR Director, does not write an email in grammar-perfect English everyday or may have a questionable work history. Why shouldn’t you expect the same? Don’t kill the resume or application over one little error or a perceived job gap. Are you a queen ant dictator that gives no grace and mercy, killing all workers with even the slightest deviation? I would hope HR would prove to be human and not a vicious ant-eating killer ant colony.