One of the things I was most surprised by when I got into the jobs business over a decade ago was the prevalence and practice of age discrimination in hiring right here in the USA. Oh, sure... we're not like some overseas markets where job ads explicitly demand youth, or a particular gender, or beauty(!), in the applicant, but there it is...
Moving for a new job is never an easy prospect. Shannon Owen had a house, a daughter and a fiancé — not to mention the rest of her family — in Phoenix. When she was laid off in March from her job as a Web designer for a small interactive marketing company, she was lucky in some respects. A former colleague offered her a temporary position filling in for someone on maternity leave. She didn’t go a week without a paycheck.
But Phoenix, and the rest of Arizona, has been hit hard in this economic downturn. And her field, marketing, has been hit hard all over the country.
“What I found so hard about being laid off was that I had always been an accomplished professional,” she said. “And all of a sudden, I was a statistic. The company went through a financial shift, and middle management got laid off — that was me.”
The right salary
Making it more difficult was that she wasn’t getting any response to her resume for higher-level positions — what few there were. Owen was applying to positions on job boards and getting very limited response to her resume. “I was only hearing about jobs that paid $50,000; I was getting a little desperate, wondering if I should be applying for lower-level jobs.”
After a few weeks of disappointment, her fiancé heard about TheLadders and suggested she give MktgLadder a try. She checked it out and noticed jobs she wasn’t seeing on the other job boards, so she signed up. She discovered the custom search tool could help her create custom searches for Phoenix, for the West Coast and for a national search. “It was helpful to have those alerts,” she said. “Once I started using those alerts, I stopped going to the other job boards. I could focus my search.”
While Owen was grateful her temporary position afforded income she could count on for a few months, she also had to make time for her other job: finding a full-time position. “It was difficult to look for a job while holding down a temporary job,” Owen said. “I wouldn’t spend time during the day doing a job search. I wanted to focus on doing a good job for this employer. Then I would go home at night and spend two hours looking through alerts, sending resumes. I spent a lot of time tracking what I had applied for, and who had contacted me.”
The right location
She wanted desperately to stay in the Phoenix area, but it was becoming clear that she was going to have to make a move in order to find the type of position she wanted. In the end, it was the national search that came through first, with a company in Columbus, Ohio.
“It turned out that I had talked to this company, called Blue Diesel, a few years ago, about a job. I didn’t take that job, but they are a part of a company, inVentiv Health, which does interactive marketing for health care,” she said. “I’d never done health care, but I knew it could be a good field to work in.”
The position she applied for, as an associate creative director in the new division, was at the same level as her previous position. After a series of interviews, including a trip to Columbus, she was offered a job as a senior art director. “I’m hoping to progress pretty quickly,” she said. “I need to get up to speed on health care, all the pharmaceutical lingo.”
And while it is difficult to leave Phoenix behind, her fiancé is also looking forward to the adventure. “My fiancé was understanding while I was going through this process,” she said. “I told him where I was applying, and we discussed the parameters. He was laid off as well, and when I got back from Columbus after the interview, it was almost a sign that it was time to make a change. He’s a sculptor; he’s got some ideas for what he will be able to do for work, and he’ll start checking things out once we get there.”
Owen, who was talking about her job search while she packed boxes in preparation for her move over Fourth of July weekend, said it was a big help that her new employer would be paying for relocation. “Had they not offered to pay for relocation, I wouldn’t have been able to make this move. We’ll be in corporate housing for two months, which gives us some time to look around.”
And Columbus appeals to her on a number of levels. “I refused to go to New York or Chicago; the cost of living was too high. With Columbus, the schools are good, the cost of living is reasonable, and that helped me with making a decision.”
Owen says she sees a lot of opportunity in Columbus. “I have print experience, I have interactive experience. I’m hoping to be a VP of creative for a company where I can do print and interactive. I think it will be a good move.”