After eight corporate moves, H.C. Alexander wanted to return to New Orleans. A fortuitous phone call paved his way.
H.C. Alexander had made eight corporate moves during his career as a sales manager, traveling across Georgia and Louisiana, north to Chicago, and west to Dallas. After nearly 30 years, the SalesLadder member was living in Houston; working for an information management company; and thinking he had one last move in him — if it was the right move.
At the age of 59, he said, there was only one place he wanted to go.
“I really wanted to relocate back home to Louisiana,” he said. While he had worked in his hometown of New Orleans for short stretches before and had stints managing territory that included his home state, it had been 20 years since he lived in the New Orleans area. This time, he was looking to put down roots. Last spring, a shakeup at his former employer, Recall, convinced him it was time to think about making the move.
“My former employer was going through a lot of organizational changes,” Alexander said. “There had been two major reorganizations between January and the spring. Neither one touched my position; one stopped one level below me. The other stopped one level above me. But I didn’t know what to expect next. It wasn’t a good working environment.
“Between my desire to get back to Louisiana and the uncertainty at work, I decided to start looking,” he said. “I always had a desire to come back to Louisiana for the right opportunity.”
A passive search
Alexander, born and raised in New Orleans, began his sales career in that city. “It’s home, it’s comfortable, and I have a lot of business contacts there. I have a lot of family there. I’ve always had some sort of connection to it.”
Doing a job search with a specific location in mind can create roadblocks. But Alexander had searched for jobs with a specific location in mind before — Atlanta jobs had been a destination earlier in his career — so he wasn’t too concerned about how long his job search might take.
“I wasn’t desperate to find a new job,” he said. “I was only going to take a position if the perfect opportunity presented itself. So I wasn’t doing my usual active search, which would have included doing my own prospecting and calls and sending out letters. I wasn’t networking and doing all the things you’d normally do.”
In fact, posting his resume on Ladders was part of his “passive” strategy. “I had used Ladders in a previous search,” he said. “I was familiar with what it could do; I thought if I put my resume on the site, I had a good chance of hearing from recruiters.”
And he was right.
He posted his resume on Ladders in late spring of 2009 and checked the listings a couple of times a week to see if there were any jobs of interest. Nothing was popping up in the New Orleans area. But six weeks into his search, he received an e-mail from a recruiter.
The contact was from an outside recruiting firm that was hired by an information-services company; the recruiter was asking for referrals from Alexander. “He said he was looking to hire people with my skills and experience for open positions in Philadelphia, Chicago and Atlanta. I had worked in Chicago and Atlanta, and he was hoping I might have contacts.” While the recruiter didn’t ask him whether he was interested in the positions — “I think because I was in Houston, he didn’t think I’d be interested in relocating” — Alexander didn’t hesitate to ask him if there were any open positions in Louisiana. “He responded almost immediately with ‘New Orleans,’ ” said Alexander. “That’s how we got together.”
From there, the process went fairly quickly, first with a phone screen with a recruiter; then an internal phone interview; and finally, a series of interviews with VPs. “The more I interviewed, the more interested I became in the job,” he said. “My new company is actually a competitor of my former company, so I had the experience in the industry; I knew the market pretty well. And I’m very familiar with the territory.”
Bringing it all back home
He was offered the position of district sales manager for Louisiana and Mississippi in mid-September and started his new job in early October. His new company, Shred-it, provides companies support with confidential records and information management.
Alexander credits his low-key approach to his job search to knowing “not just what I really wanted but what I didn’t want,” he said. “My goals and ambitions are different than they were 20 years ago: Blind ambition isn’t what it’s about anymore.”
Knowing where he wanted to be, he said, made it easy for him to make the decision to look for another job, and easier to make one more move. Even in this job market, where so many things are still uncertain, he felt it was a good time to move ahead with his search. “If you know what you want, it’s easy to make a choice, to decide whether you need to make a change,” he said.
And, knowing what he knows about himself, he is hoping this is his last move. “I hope to stay in New Orleans, retire there,” he said. “How does that old country song go? ‘This is my first date for the last time.’ I hope this is my first day on the new job for the last time.”