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...
Bryan Stinson's approach to the job search won't work for everyone. He is methodical. He is patient. He is slow.
When he began his most recent job search, he had a job and the resources to take his time. It took him 18 months to find his next position. He likes to say that he doesn't look for a job; he looks for a career path.
"The question I asked myself when weighing the options was, ‘Will this company provide me with a career path that I want to be on? This job is going to have to get me my next job.' "
He recognizes that his pace won't work for everyone, but some of his tactics can. The methodical approach he took to networking is a lesson in how to marshal your colleagues and friends to help you find the right job. By his own count, Stinson, a technology salesman from Salt Lake City, had about 100 people helping him find a job. Doing it took discipline.
Stinson was working as a salesman for a technology company outside Salt Lake City, when the company was acquired in June 2008. His role changed and he was asked to relocate.
"I asked myself, 'If I don't see myself in this role long term, why take on a lot of risk, in a new role, with a new manager?' It didn't make a lot of sense."
Still, acutely aware of the dismal economy, he wasn't ready to leave his job just yet. He spent much of his week making sales trips and "softly interviewing, seeing what was out there, polishing my interview skills and testing my resume to see what response I could get. It was just a casual thing, as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do."
He spoke to recruiters about potential positions and joined SalesLadder to investigate openings. But because he was working, he didn't feel the need to jump at every job.
"Part of my approach came from a conversation I had with my brother," he said. "He told me that for every $10,000 you want to earn, you should invest a month in the job you want to find. The right company, the right pay structure — you don't find that overnight. So I wanted to take my time in coming to a decision."
'100 people looking for a job for me'
Once he decided to leave his employer, Stinson used a Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheet to compile a list of everyone he knew.
"I put everyone on that list — friends from Facebook, LinkedIn contacts, neighbors, business partners I had worked with in the past — and it grew very quickly. When you do that, you think, 'I don't know that many people,' but you surprise yourself how many people you know."
Stinson then broke the list down into people to call and people to e-mail, and started contacting people.
"Once someone knew I was on the market, it was like someone else was working for you," he said. "I had 100 people looking for a job for me."
One of those people was his former boss. By April, when the company he had been working for was restructured, he was reassigned to a new supervisor, but he remained friends with his previous boss. When he made up his spreadsheet, his former boss was at the top of the list.
"I reached out to him … and we had a general discussion," Stinson said. "And about four weeks later he called me and asked if I was still looking, because he knew someone who was looking to hire an account manager."
The position, with one of the top five software vendors in the country, was for someone to oversee 10 accounts in the Great Salt Lake Valley of Utah.
"There were hundreds of people applying for this job, but his recommendation was favored very highly. I was one of three people short-listed for the job," he said.
Stinson started his new position in December, and he's happily becoming acquainted with people in Utah, he said.
It's ironic, he said, that despite living his entire life in Utah, "every job I've had since graduation has required me to travel to some other location to transact business. I know more people professionally in New York and New Jersey than Utah," he said.
"I knew I needed to build my professional network in my own backyard."
After a long, deliberate search, Stinson said his career path is now clear to him.
"This is a company that cares about its people and their development. The path to management is clear; it's available. It's what I was looking for when I started this search."