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Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Blue Sky Resumes is a small team of professional writers and job search experts. We offer one-of-a-kind resumes, smart career advice and fantastic customer service. This is our blog.


You Had Me … and Then You Totally Lost Me


I’m watching 60 Minutes and they have on a really moving piece about a small town in Ohio, and they interview this guy who’s probably in his late 40s/early 50s and he’s explaining how he used to have a great job managing a hundred people, but then his company shut down and he can’t find work. There’s a video of him as a senior executive a year ago, and then they show him now, and he’s not clean shaven and he looks older and tired and he explains how his house is being foreclosed on and my eyes are filling up with tears for him and for all he’s lost.

And then the interviewer asks him how many resumes he’s sent out and he said he thinks it is about one hundred and twenty-three.

Wait.

What?

One hundred and twenty three?

Back when I worked in HR – in a good economy – and decided to look for a new job, I sent out at least that many resumes before I found a new position. At any kind of senior level there are always just a few vacancies at any one time, so you need to be sure you reach as many people as you can.

I sent at least 100 resumes to recruiters who specialize in HR, because who knows which one would have the perfect opening? Most of those were recruiters I had some connection to, but some were strangers. I sent out quite a few to networking contacts. I applied for probably 40+ advertised positions. And I wrote to companies I was interested in, even if they didn’t have an advertised vacancy.

The position I got actually came about because I emailed my resume to Korn Ferry, a recruiting firm who already had my resume and who had actually interviewed me in the past. But when I sent my resume to them again, I got a call within the hour from a headhunter who was looking for someone with my exact background. I have no idea why she didn’t find my resume in a database search, but she didn’t. And three rounds of interviews later, I had the job.

I think that job probably cost me around 250 resumes and that wasn’t a bad economy. How is this guy a symptom of a terrible recession because he sent half that many resumes and didn’t yet find a position?

For me, this was a reminder of how few people actually have a clue about how to look for a job. Yes it’s tough right now. And yes there are millions of people who simply don’t have the qualifications to find work in such a bad economy. But this guy wasn’t one of them. He just hadn’t been smart about how he looked for a job. I’d bet money he didn’t even have a LinkedIn profile.

How do we change that? How do we reach people like him? There are tens of thousands of free resources or low-cost programs that could teach him how to look for a job, but he’s clueless. And so, apparently, is 60 Minutes because their reporter seemed horrified at the fact that one hundred and twenty-three resumes hadn’t got him a job. *sigh*

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About the Author

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive. Her industry experience includes music, video games, fashion and advertising. She lived and worked in the US for many years, but moved back to her native UK in 2012, where she now lives in the Yorkshire countryside. In addition to her full-time role with Blue Sky, she's a professional artist, so you can imagine why she couldn't answer the 'what do you do with your free time' question! Contact Louise by email.

2 comments on “You Had Me … and Then You Totally Lost Me”

  1. JB King says:

    I’d hope one idea would be to tap into some of the educational resources we have in the U.S. and Canada. Colleges and universities aren’t a bad place to have workshops or other programs to help people understand the various ways that one can work,e.g. some people like being contractors others full time employees and others part time employees to name just a few, and how does the general getting a job work.

    Another aspect to this is the question of teaching people how to self-assess what kind of jobs they’d like and have sufficient skill to do it well enough to be compensated. We all have strengths and weaknesses but not everyone knows how to find them and interpret the results.

  2. c.p. says:

    I didn’t see the segment and don’t know what the town is or how small it is, but having grown up in a small town, I can tell you that it’s entirely possible that there aren’t more than 123 potential places he could work.

    There likely aren’t hundreds of potential recruiters he could contact – there may not be any, unless he’s willing to commute several hours a day to get to a large city – which some people did, in the town I grew up in, simply because there were no other employment opportunities. But a long commute is not an option for everyone, especially those with children to take care of.

    Also, there are many rural areas of the country where high-speed internet is not available, making networking and job-hunting online very difficult. Imagine trying to visit employment websites on dialup – or think about how many resumes you would be able to send out on the half-hour a day you get on the computer at the public library, which has high-speed internet, but where time is limited because everyone else is waiting to send out resumes.

    And when a large employer closes down in a small town, it essentially kills any chances of networking for a job, because all of your family, friends, and acquaintances each know dozens of other people who were laid off.

    In the small town I grew up in, a factory closed a few years ago. A lot of people there would like to move to larger cities where it’s easier to find work, but they can’t sell their houses. Because so many people want to leave and because nobody wants to move into a town without jobs, you basically can’t sell a house at any price. They’re stuck there.

    I live in a very large city now, and in my own job hunt, I could easily imagine sending out hundreds of resumes. But if someone in my hometown told me they sent out 123 resumes – that would be an enormous number. It’s a totally different situation.

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