Hugh Taylor had barely settled in at IBM when the recession claimed his new job. Yet he found his short tenure wasn’t an obstacle to finding another position.
Hugh Taylor was living in Los Angeles and commuting to Seattle for much of his work at Microsoft. When the software giant asked him to relocate to Seattle, he decided instead to look for a new position. After 13 months with Microsoft, he landed at IBM in August 2008 and was ready to settle in for the long haul. Instead, seven months later, IBM laid off 10,000 people. He was one of them.
His position as a software evangelist for the company was eliminated along with many others — something that still shocks him a little.
“I saw the news; I saw people getting laid off, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen to me,” he said. “IBM used to be a place for lifetime employment. It may not be that way anymore, but it’s still a place for long careers. I thought I would have had more time there.”
Looking for a job just seven months after finding one created a lot of concerns for the MktgLadder member. “I didn’t have a complete credential from IBM,” he said. “I was concerned how it would look to other employers that I had been there for such a short time and only 13 months at the job before that. I really had to scramble. I have a wife, a house and three kids under the age of eight.
“My first thought was, ‘I’m not interested in doing another job search.’ But eBay wouldn’t let me put my kidney up for sale,” Taylor joked.
He may have been making light of a bad situation, but he was thinking about his options. “I definitely had a panicky couple of weeks,” he continued. “I was looking at all kinds of jobs, soliciting freelance work, wondering if it was time to launch my freelance business.”
Tapping an exhausted network, again
Going back to his network would be a challenge, he said. He had used it to land his position at IBM. He wasn’t sure he could approach the same people again. “I had vigorously worked the network before,” he said. “I wasn’t sure I could go to them and say, ‘Here I am again. I need a job … again.’ ”
He did attempt to contact some people in his professional network, but what he heard made him even more nervous. “I talked to people I knew, and they were saying, ‘I don’t have anything for you. We’re in a hiring freeze.’ I’m 44 years old; I’m old enough that age is an issue; it can be a tricky age group for finding a new job.
IBM had given him 30 days to find a position within the company, but with a hiring freeze, that was problematic. So, Taylor went back to Ladders — where he had looked for a position seven months earlier — and began the process again. He applied to 70 to 80 postings on Ladders, as well as other job sites, over the course of the next six weeks.
He received calls about eight positions, four of which turned into face-to-face interviews.
He also worked with an outplacement service provided by IBM, which helped him to rewrite his resume. “I learned a lot about resume writing,” he said. “I wanted to articulate what I could do for a company. They had me focus on a problem-resolution format for each job description, so I could talk about my role in problem-solving,” he said. “It’s an atomic resume.”
Gaps in employment
The irony: Before he could get his resume out, he was already hearing back from potential employers. And while Taylor thought he would have to do a lot of explaining about his recent employment, he found that most potential employers understood his situation and were not concerned with his short tenure at previous companies.
One of those employers was Mitratech, a technology company that makes software which allows Fortune 500 businesses to manage lawsuits.
Mitratech was looking for a vice president of marketing. “They brought me in, and although they didn’t feel I had the experience to be a VP, we talked,” he said. “It took a fair amount of time for things to come together, but eventually, they offered me the job as senior director of marketing.”
Taylor is relishing his role at the forward-thinking company. “At Mitratech, I’m in charge of all the marketing. I can get things done without a lot of meetings. It’s been a good transition.”
He is cautiously optimistic about his prospects at this company. After two jobs in two years, he would like to settle in someplace. “Companies need better software tools to manage litigation, and lawsuits never go out of style,” he said.
And, just in case, he keeps his “atomic” resume in his back pocket. “I’m holding onto this one,” he said.