This week I am interviewing Joe Rohde. Joe has had a great sales career and agreed to chat for a bit about what's been successful in his job search.
First, can you give an over view of your background and the circumstances that led to your unemployment?
My experience was continuous growth which alternated between startups and established companies. Typically my success was in establishing the 'early adopter' customers for new technologies and products. The immediately previous 14 years were spent starting and running a company, located in the California foothills, acting as a reseller for a set of products and services that changed over time. This lent itself well to having a lifestyle balance, raising kids and helping with grandchildren, and we also made a very good living. Ultimately things changed, resulting in that company being merged with a MSP and after effecting the transition it was time to re-set my career. It was a strange to be 'looking' for a job as in the past I'd generally been referred into my next position.
What was the first thing you did when you started looking for a job?
There were actually several months that I took for myself before commencing my search. When I decided it was time I took the typical steps today of subscribing to job boards, researching companies and applying directly (electronically and direct snail mail) and also engaged a firm to assist in the search. None of this met with any substantial success. With the depth of the talent pool these days it seems there has to be an exact match between skills, experience and education to even make it through the screening technology. It was frustrating as I knew that in the interview process I'd shine.
What was the most valuable or successful thing you did to land the job?
Becoming frustrated with the lack of prospects I looked at ways to make myself more valuable and took several online courses, specific to sales skills and tools. This led to attending local events put on by vendors (NOT job fairs) where I could make personal contact. It was at one of these events that I was introduced to an entrepreneur who had interesting technology and that needed some business development help. Since he was bootstrapping the company there was no compensation other than commissions that would be earned. After getting some decent traction for that product that same entrepreneur introduced me into my current employer. Basically I took the opportunity to show what I could deliver and that led to a great new job with a talented crowd of people.
The actual act of working productively, not just working at finding a job, did a lot to reinforce my ego and bolster confidence in my abilities.
How long were you unemployed?
The total time was about 9 months. The first 4 of those were absorbed by taking time off purposefully followed by a death in the family. I really got started at the first of this year.
What advice, based on what you've gone through, would you give someone who is looking?
Actively pursue and expand your social connections. You can never tell where they'll lead, plus it can be very isolating when you go from the social aspect of having co-workers to being on your own in front of the computer.
And take a flyer when something interesting comes along. You can still job search, but the act of work can be gratifying on it's own. As a friend and advisor likes to say, "You can't count the apples in a seed."
A couple of valuable lessons here for folks to consider. If job boards or recruiters aren't working, push the envelope. Depending on your situation, it may make sense to take a "flyer" as Joe did (commission only or volunteer role) to show what you can do. As we can see, these can often lead to a paying job. Lesson #2 - expect to get frustrated in your job search. But don't let that frustration derail you. Joe used that frustration to re-invigorate his search.
Joe - thanks again for taking the time to chat and share your experiences. We wish you continued success!