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.



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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