Hired! Time for a Change

Washington Mutual manager stretched job search


Looking for a way to change careers while using his existing skill set was a challenge Brian Stetter had been dealing with for at least a year. It became even more of a challenge when he learned that his current position, managing life-cycle strategies and campaigns at Washington Mutual Bank, was on the verge of being cut.

“I had been looking for jobs before I learned my job would be eliminated,” said Stetter, 36. “I was looking to move out of traditional financial services. I had done [this kind of work] for my whole career; if I was going to make a career change, now would be the time. If I waited much longer, I would be hurting myself.”

One thing Stetter had learned from previous job searches: If you are reaching a little outside your skill set, you need to be able to offer the potential employer some assurance of your ability to do the job.

“I had found, in my applications for jobs previous to this, that I had been attempting to stretch a little bit too much, reaching for positions outside of my expertise. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Anyone in a job search should take risks, and they should challenge themselves. But prospective employers are not in a risk-taking mode. Given the glut of talent out there, people want to hire someone that hits on all their skill-set requirements.”

With that in mind, he “tried to assess my core strengths and match them with prospective business and industries that needed to engage and build customer relationships through targeted marketing campaigns and communications.”

Stetter had made up his mind last April to start looking for a new job. But with little motivation, he was not totally engaged in the job search. By September, as banks, including Washington Mutual began to fail, “that sense of urgency kicked in,” he said. He started his search on Ladders, a service he had used in a previous job search. Stetter had his resume critiqued by Ladders two years earlier and used the critique as the foundation for subsequent iterations since.

Not wanting to limit himself, Stetter also had various versions of his resume on hand. “I continued to enhance and customize my resume depending on who I was sending it to,” he said. “You need multiple versions to react quickly to new opportunities.

When to limit your search
Stetter was still at Washington Mutual in September when With time of the essence — he was still working at Washington Mutual but knew his job would be gone within a matter of months, he started his search in earnest. Using search terms such as “customer engagement,” “retention” and “loyalty marketing,” to see what came up on Ladders site, Stetter found several different types of jobs to consider. “Ladders will send you jobs they feel are the most relevant,” he said, “but if I limited my screening to just those search words, I would have limited my opportunities. I needed to dig a little deeper to find my job.”

Stetter applied limits when it came to geography. He lives and works in San Francisco, and was not interested in moving. “Relocation is not a fun thing, and I did it two years ago for my previous job. I love living here. So I limited my search to the Bay area. I think it worked out well.”

Stetter’s wide open search in a limited region worked. After clicking on the button “look here for more jobs,” Stetter found a listing for a position with NetSpend, a company that sells pre-paid debit cards both online and in stores. Stetter is the company’s new online marketing manager. He found the listing in mid-November and accepted an offer in late December, beating Washington Mutual to the punch —he was able to leave WaMu before his job was actually eliminated.

What appealed to him about this job over ones that may have seemed more relevant was that this was a new position for NetSpend. “The company was looking to build and develop a customer relationship marketing function,” he said. “The prospect of being there from the initiation stage was compelling, versus being with a company where it was working and functioning. The NetSpend job is in line with what I have done, but is different enough that it was still compelling to me.”

Stetter says that it’s a challenging time in the consumer credit field, because of consolidation in the banking industry. And, for those looking to find jobs in other fields, it can be a struggle, since their jobs tend to be so specialized. That is why he would advise anyone looking for a job in the field to diversify their job search sources. “Talk to people in your network, read industry publications, do a skill-set inventory to make sure you are giving yourself every opportunity to find the right opportunity.”