Jeromy Smith needed more time with his family. But first, he had to find time for his job search.
Jeromy Smith knew he had been on one too many business trips when his daughter, age five, asked him why he didn’t want to stay home with her.
“I felt awful when she said that,” said the father of two girls, age five and age three. “That made me realize I needed to find a job where I wouldn’t have to travel so much.”
Smith, who was on the partnership track at consulting firm Deloitte, working in the government sector, said his job was 100 percent travel. Even before his daughter spoke up, he knew he needed to find a job that would allow him to stay closer to home.
He and his wife discussed the situation and agreed that, while his job was lucrative and the possibility to increase his salary loomed large, they would both be happier if he could travel less.
“In February 2008, my wife and I decided the job I had didn’t meet the goals of my family,” Smith said. “I know it was the right decision. But I made it at the most inopportune time.”
He was working 60 to 70 hours a week, traveling to Harrisburg, Pa., from his home in Amherst, N.H., near Boston; he had no time to search for a new position. “I kind of floundered,” he said. “I looked at job boards, but I wasn’t getting anything out of it. I didn’t see any opportunities comparable to Deloitte in terms of money and position; I didn’t see anything that made me excited to leave my job. I kind of put it aside, although I was still thinking about it.
“I wasted a lot of time,” Smith said. “I wasn’t getting any traction with my resumes, and all I was finding was $60,000 jobs. I also realized that given my job at Deloitte, I was not going to land my next job surfing Web sites from midnight to 2 a.m. I needed to end my work day at a reasonable time.”
In October, he discovered Ladders. “I saw the upper-level jobs they had, and I started to get serious about the job search again,” Smith said. But he was still lacking one thing: time.
Making a transition plan
He needed to scale back on his hours if he was going to have a successful job search. “I was managing a $30 million project, and I didn’t want to give them two weeks’ notice that I wanted to quit,” he said. So he approached the management at Deloitte to let them know he wasn’t interested in becoming a partner. “I talked to some of the leaders of the firm that I was close with; I told them, ‘This is where I see myself going,’ and told them I wanted to scale back my commitment to work. I said, ‘Let’s put together a transition strategy, and let me leave without leaving you holding the bag.’ ”
Smith said his mentors at Deloitte were supportive of his decision to try to achieve a better work/life balance. “Most people who leave for that reason are more junior, but I was honest with them, and they let me taper back my sales commitments so I could get out into the job market.”
Smith continued to travel to Harrisburg through December, but with scaled back hours. “I was able to dedicate more time to my job search. I decided to look exclusively in the Boston area. I paid to have Ladders update my resume. I started doing more analysis into the jobs I was applying to and becoming more discriminating about the jobs. And almost immediately, I started getting better hits on my resume.”
Being able to devote time to his job search made a big difference. In December, he accepted a job with a health care consulting company; but a bad quarter for that company meant the offer was rescinded. Smith had not given notice at Deloitte, so he was off again, looking for jobs.
“What really closed the deal on my current position was access to recruiters on Ladders,” he said. He saw a position for a senior program manager at L-1 Identity Solutions of Burlington, Mass., for which he felt he was uniquely qualified. Smith wanted to reach out to the recruiter, so he went to LinkedIn and obtained her contact information. He posted his note on her profile and was able to get her attention.
“I was adamant about tracking her down, because I knew I could do this job,” he said. “The company needed public-sector management skills, someone who had worked with government clients and government contracts. That is exactly what I had been doing. I thought it was a slam-dunk.”
The people at L-1 Identity Solutions agreed, and he started work in March.
L-1 is a different kind of company from Deloitte, Smith said, and that’s just fine with him. “It’s not a partnership, it’s a publicly traded company,” he said. “There is upward mobility, but not near as much compensation as at Deloitte. My raises are not going to be as big, but that was a decision that my wife and I made.”
His job search was successful on many levels, Smith said. He relayed his story while driving home recently at a very reasonable 6 p.m. “I was able to leave Deloitte within the time frame I planned, and I get to go home every night and see my girls.”