Don Straits

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Sneak Peek of my Ladders Article and Importance of Advice for your Search

Happy New Year! At the bottom of this post is a sneak peek of my article that will appear on January 7, 2009, in The Ladders career newsletter. It is entitled “Starting Over after a Job Loss: The Challenges and Opportunities.”


On the same day I will be conducting a free webinar on “Avoiding Executive Job Search Mistakes.” Immediately to your right is my Webinar Widget where you can sign up.


It is my sincere wish that 2009 will bring great things to you and your family. Even though 2008 has brought career challenges for many people, there are opportunities out there. You need to be in the right place at the right time and with the right message. If you are still in the job market, then Corporate Warriors can be the catalyst to make that happen.


I normally I don’t use my blog to discuss my services, but I love what I do, and I want you to be successful in your job search. So I want to end 2008 with some insight on how we can make 2009 an awesome year for you, and help you land a new job. Yes, I have to get paid, but my greatest satisfaction comes from the profound “thank-you’s” that I receive from the people I work with who I am pleased to call my friends.


If you are still searching for a new challenge, isn’t it time to take a different approach? Our technologies and strategies can set you apart from all the rest. You will become the standard by which all others are measured. Period. Exclamation point! Here is how our clients respond.


Here is a link to one of our executive portfolios. If you have already seen it, please take a look at it again. Compare it to your current resume. Now ask yourself the following questions:


  1. Which executive will get a higher hit rate for job opportunities?
  2. Which executive has set himself apart from all others in a job search?
  3. Which executive has demonstrated that he is current and contemporary?
  4. Which executive has positioned himself for a higher level of compensation?
  5. Now, trick question: Which executive will be at a disadvantage when he is up against a client that I am representing?

It’s a no-brainer.


Now, virtually everyone, without exception, loves what we do. What’s not to love? Our portfolios are awesome and we have connections to thousands of recruiters and key corporate executives.


The most common comment I get during today’s tough recession is: “I just don’t want to spend the money. I must conserve cash. I don’t know how long this will last and I can’t take a risk.”


Simply stated, you are taking a greater risk by not being aggressive in your search. Guaranteed you are already spending the money. Every month you are out of work you are draining your savings account. Our services typically cut your search time in half. The net result is that you will end up saving money!


But some prospective clients say: “There are NO jobs out there.” That is not the case. Just this week, we have received eight requests from recruiters for executive candidates. These are unpublished positions that you will not find on the internet. Here is just one example we received during Christmas week:


VP, General Manager ($150-180k + 25% bonus) Near Seattle, WA (Position still open)

COMPANY: This Aerospace manufacturer specializes in manufacturing world class, precision machined components. The Company is an award winning supplier to leading aerospace original equipment manufacturers (“OEMs”) and Tier I suppliers. The Company’s products are installed on many of the aerospace industry’s most well-known platforms.

New opportunities are always opening. It is a terrible thing to say, but people die, get transferred, quit, get fired, or retire every day. Again, the key is to be in the right place at the right time and with the right message. Most executives fail on all three counts. They might get one or two right, but they fail on the last one . . . and the game is over. Second place again, and there are no prizes for second place.


If I could talk to nothing but CEOs all day long, that is what I would do. They “get it.” CEOs recognize in a heartbeat the importance of leveraging human assets to drive their success—for their companies and for their careers. They know that spending some dollars on talent to solve problems is not a cost, but an investment. Why not adopt a CEO mindset when it comes to your career?


If you face a legal challenge, you hire a good lawyer. If you get sick, you hire the best doctor you can find. When your car breaks down, you hire an expert mechanic. You are now facing a career challenge; why would you not hire an expert in search strategy?


When was the last time you invested in your professional career growth? Are you still going to go it alone?


You know the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. You have probably now burned through your network without success. Now you are making the mistake of responding to positions on career sites like The Ladders with the same old boring resume. Yep, traditional resumes have worked in the past, and in some cases will continue to work. But in today’s recessionary you MUST have a unique competitive difference.


Wednesday night will bring the NEW YEAR. I would enjoy helping you make 2009 your best year ever. It will take commitment—from you, and from us. We will do everything in our power to help you land your next challenge. Don’t get discouraged. Let’s make something happen.


If you have already landed a new position, you may have friends, relatives, or colleagues in the job market. I would appreciate your referral. We can make a difference in their lives . . . just as we can make a difference in yours.


Please give me a call or drop me an email—I would love to hear from you. And if you have landed a job, please let me know what you are doing.


Enjoy your New Year’s Eve. Drive safely if you are traveling. Hug your family. Toast the New Year. It’s going to be a great year!


Now here is a sneak peek of my Ladders article:  You get to see it before everyone else.


Starting Over After a Job Loss: The Challenges and Opportunities


by Don Straits



You’ve known for months that it has been coming, but you cling to the hope that it won’t happen to you. After all, you have been with the company for many years. You have produced great results. The company can’t survive without you.


But the economy is suffering from one of the worst recessions in years. Your company has not been doing well. You have watched others around you lose their jobs. But you tell yourself they won’t let you go. They need you.


You, of course, know you are in denial. Although you haven’t lost your job yet, it is the first stage of having to start over; of having to go through the agonizing process of finding a new job. The questions pound through your head: “How long will it take? Will I have to move? Do I have enough resources to survive a long job search? Will I have to take a cut in pay? Will I like my new job?”


Suffering the loss of a job can be an emotionally wrenching experience. Regardless of the reason, it is usually difficult to understand. Extensive research has demonstrated a consistent pattern that is exhibited in the following diagram:


Emotional Stages of a Job Loss


Let’s briefly take a look at each stage:

  1. Denial. You want to believe that it won’t happen to you. But too often you are fooling yourself. It is the wise person who recognizes what is coming and begins the process of seeking a new opportunity. The average job tenure today is approximately four years. For senior level executives, it is only 18 to 24 months. You should always position yourself for new opportunities.
  2. Disbelief. When the day comes and you receive your discharge, the first reaction is “I can’t believe it. They have made a mistake. They will call me back.” But in your heart, you really know they won’t call you back. This leads you into the next stage.
  3. Outward Anger. The anger may take many different forms. It may be directed toward your boss: “How stupid can he/she possibly be?” Or to the company, the economy, or any other convenient outlet for your anger. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is directed toward family members and friends, resulting in high stress and tension for everyone. At this point, you should seek out strong support. Surround yourself with family and friends who understand your challenge. Perhaps seek professional counseling or guidance from your minister. There are also many community job search support groups available. Seek them out and participate. As your outward anger subsides, you start to move into the next stage.
  4. Inward Self-Criticism. This is the most difficult stage. You may begin to blame yourself for what happened: “What did I do wrong? How did I fail? I must not be any good.” Typically, this is when your self-worth and self-confidence begin to wane. When you start to question yourself, you reach the onset of stage five.
  5. Withdrawal. All of a sudden you find every excuse to avoid contact with the external world. You experience periods of depression. You stop your usual social activities. Your physical activity declines. You start to gain weight. UGH. It is at this point that your inner strength and support systems are most important. It is imperative you move through this stage quickly. Get up, get out, get moving. The more active you become, the more quickly you move through stage five. You begin to think through what has happened and stage six begins to unfold.
  6. Reflection. Being depressed is no fun and that extra ten pounds doesn’t look good either. It is time to do something about it. You begin to take stock of your life and career abilities. “What should I do now? Where do my talents best fit? How do I conduct my search? Now, instead of looking back, you start to look forward and move into the final stage. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and you begin to see it.
  7. Acceptance. “Hey, it’s not my fault. My company fell on hard times. I am a great person with exceptional talent, so when I land my new job, my new employer is going to get one dynamic, motivated employee. I’m excited. This is a great opportunity for new experiences, new friends, and a whole new positive outlook on life.” You have made it. You have survived the loss of your job. You are now ready to move on to a new opportunity.

By recognizing the different stages, you are better able to move through them quickly, rather than languish in them for weeks. Yes, you still face the arduous task of conducting a tough job search with all its inherent frustrations. Be creative in your search. Seek out job search advice and help from friends and work colleagues. Network like crazy. Practice the “Three Foot Rule”: whenever you get within three feet of someone, engage them in a conversation and find a way to help each other. There are tons of resources on the Net and in your community to assist you. Through persistence and hard work, you will land a great new job. When all is done, you will probably end up saying: “You know, losing that job was the best thing that ever happened. It was not easy, and the job search was tough, but I couldn’t be happier in my new opportunity.”


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Reader Comments (2)

I read your recent article on Ladders about age discrimination. I was I went into your site and read a bunch more. It's great to read someone with detailed, useful advise about hiring and getting hired. Perhaps you can explain this to me? I have noticed a trend by some prospective employers trying to hire people at about 1/2 of what the going rate was for simular positions just 2-3 years ago. I have refused a couple offers of this nature. (I gave the leads to a couple friends.) It seems to me that the employer is being short sighted. I actually had one recruiter brag that people are taking these positions out of desperation. (And he was pleased about it.) Won't these new hires tend to not respect the very company that hired them? I also suspect that these "MacDonalds" employees will leave for a better position at the first opportunity. Why should they stop looking? Is this a trend? I do not see the wisdom nor the savings. The cost of a failed hire is usually much more than those salary dollars saved . A great hire is priceless. A failed one costs a fortune in direct and indirect economic costs.

February 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterArthur Nichols

Just read your excellent ladders article on age-based excuses/avoiding discrimination. Great tips for mature executives on the job market! I'm interested to know how you would view the flip side of that same topic... tips for younger yet equally accomplished executives competing for positions alongside candidates with many more years on their resume...

February 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

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