After 1,000 Applications, Director Finds Focus

David Goldstein considered everything from flower delivery to a cashier’s spot and sent out hundreds of applications for full-time work. Then the IT executive got in gear by going to his network.

090304resumes1David Goldstein knew he was doing the wrong thing: sending a resume for any job for which he thought he was remotely qualified after he lost his job as a vice president for information technology at Aetna. “I knew it was wrong,” he said. “All the advice says to be selective about who you send resumes to. But it kept me busy.

“Each time I sent a resume, I was refreshing my mind about my skill set. I was remembering things that didn’t necessarily come to me the first time around. And it reminded me of something I could add to my resume,” the TechnologyLadder member said.
Goldstein had been working for Aetna near his home in Sanford, Fla., when he was laid off along with 1,000 colleagues in December 2008.

Florida, which has been especially hard hit during this recession, was a tough job market to crack. So Goldstein said he was trying several strategies to get the attention of hiring managers.

First, he reworked his resume with the help of the outplacement service provided by his employer. Then, he perfected his cover-letter technique, he said, to the point that he was able to give tips to his resume-writing class at the outplacement center. “To get the hiring manager’s attention, I would start off my letter by saying, ‘Here are three reasons why I would be a perfect fit for this job.’ And underneath that, I’d create two columns, with the job requirements in one column and my qualifications across from them in another column. The teacher in the class said, ‘I have to write this down.’ ”

Despite his success in class, it was a little tougher out in the job-search world. “This economy and this job search were the most difficult I’ve seen in 15 years,” he said. “I sent out over 1,000 resumes over seven months, and I ended up with just 20 phone interviews and three onsite interviews.”

A stuttered pace

His search ultimately took seven months, and Goldstein said it could be hard to keep his head in the game. “There might be two weeks of heavy-duty activity, and than a week or two of nothing. There were a lot of highs and lows.”

But he did find ways to keep himself going. “On a couple of holidays, I delivered flowers for a local florist,” said the father of three. “And I did apply for a cashier’s job at Lowe’s, but I was turned down because I was overqualified. I was at the point where I would do whatever I needed to provide an income.”

Goldstein also got satisfaction working on behalf of some of his former Aetna team members who had also been laid off. “When I made calls to my network, and people said, ‘I don’t have a job at your level, but I do need someone to do this,’ I was able to refer my team members,” he said. “I felt good I was able to do that.”

Documenting each new contact pays off

While Goldstein did send a lot of resumes, he spent a fair amount of time targeting certain companies and contacts that he thought would be the most promising. He learned from his seven-month job search that even if you don’t get the job, you’ve made a contact. And that contact is almost as good as a job interview.

Goldstein was keeping a notebook with every contact he made. In an interview in February, he learned while speaking with the hiring manager that they had both worked at the same company 10 years before and had overlapped for about a month or so. While he didn’t get offered that position (even after the company flew him to Washington, D.C., for the interview), Goldstein knew this was a connection he should not let go of.

“One lesson I have learned is to never burn a bridge,” Goldstein said. “The job I was finally hired for involved meeting someone who I had crossed paths with at a job 10 years previously. I don’t know if that’s why I got the interview, but I have to think it helped.”

He connected with the hiring manager on LinkedIn and continued searching for positions with that company, a health care organization. When in early April he found another position for which he felt he was qualified, he contacted the hiring manager, who was happy to pass his resume along to the person in charge of hiring for that job.

Goldstein had a phone interview, then flew to Chicago for another interview. A week later, he had a follow-up interview. He was hired as project director for the health care organization in Chicago in mid-July, and begins his new job on August 24.
While he had hoped he would not have to uproot his family, he is excited about the opportunity in this new position.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for me, and I actually worked at one of the affiliated companies of the organization in Florida for seven years, so I will walk into this company immediately vested in the 401(k) and I’ll get an extra week of vacation,” Goldstein said. “That was one of the reasons I was targeting this company.”

As he spoke about his job search, his wife was in Chicago looking for a house to rent for his family. His kids, ages 11, eight and six, have never before seen snow. “My wife was born and raised in Florida. The kids are excited. It will be a big adventure for everyone.”