Chronicles of a Job Seeker – Part 1 of ?

Hello friends and avid readers, it’s been a little bit since my last post, but I’m back for what I hope to be an enlightening and inspiring story in the latest phase of my life.

My attention these days have been spread in many different directions with the main focus on figuring out my next career/life move.  To put it simply, I’ve been gifted job seeker status.  To put it more accurately I’ve been gifted time to learn more about myself, to spend non-conventional time with my family, allowing for day trips to the beach and watching my boy grow by leaps every day with a first-hand view.  I’ve also been given time to figure out how to navigate this new and increasingly complicated world of finding a job/ career, and the next phase of my life.

To say I’ve learned many lessons during this journey would be an understatement.  It is because of these learnings that I thought it may be appropriate to share them with you.  I don’t claim this to be your model for success in finding a new career, rather it’s a chronicle of what I’ve experienced in the world during the writing of this, and maybe offer insight for those that become job seekers.

If you were to ask me a year and a half ago if I’d find myself searching for a new job……and struggling to find the right fit, I would have taken the insider bet against it.  I’ve had a 10-year streak of highly rated performance reviews (yes, this is a shameless job-seeker pitch, which is also true), but here I am, sitting on the losing side of that bet.  I only say that it’s the losing side because it was unanticipated, I’m pretty good as taking calculated gambles and understanding the risks.  A year and a half ago I was starting an exciting new opportunity, then I was preparing for my exit a couple months before it happened.

The Story of How I Became a Job Seeker:

We had just transferred to a new company via acquisition 8 months before I started a new role in the new company.  During the initial 8 month transition phase, I was heavily involved in the gap analysis and migration of management reports, tools/software, and processes.  In that role, I understood once migration activities were complete I’d have to carve out a new path, so I built relationships spanning the many businesses at the new company.  I maintained conversations about potential opportunities, then that perfect fit came.  I took a leap of faith, I found a new challenging opportunity, I found a career that bridged my love for Learning & Development and Project Management with my creativity and my experience with IT.  I took a chance on a manager that presented a great opportunity for the new company.  This new team was looking to instill a new culture, I was given the freedom to build a new product from the ground up, while simultaneously overseeing the upgrade of a content library of 200 courses.

I mainly worked from home as the solo Canadian employee while the rest of the team was in NYC, things were great.  I was responsible for expanding our presence in Navi Mumbai, I grew the team from 0 to 15 employees in just under a year.  I built valuable relationships, and many of these former employees I now call friends.  We had a great team, we had great culture building/motivating meetings, we discussed all the things we’d do during my first trip to India.  Did I mention things were great?  Sadly, this trip didn’t take place, I was booked to fly to India 3 days after I had my exit meeting with HR.  The hardest part of the unpacking process was individually unwrapping the maple syrup jars I was bringing as a gift, all 15 of them.

During my tenure, I made trips to NYC every 6 weeks.  It was during those trips that I started to understand the long-term desire was to have the “onshore” team situated in New York City, so we could all work closely together.  I was offered the opportunity to move, but with a young family and passionate roots in our Canadian home, I had to politely decline.

Then the culture shift took place.  My immediate manager was given an expanded role that involved leading another organization within the company alongside ours.  Given his larger responsibility, he found it difficult to allocate his time properly between the two businesses, so a new Director was hired to oversee our business operations.  Two days after that Director started, I knew the geographical consolidation plans were picking up steam.  As a Product Manager, I was met with a new Director that was very hands-on, aka micromanagement.  I found the job that I originally accepted was transforming in front of me.  The job was altered from Product Manager to Project Manager, as the new Director wanted things done their way.  It felt like a new coach on a mission to bring in his or her own people.  The Project Manager role is not to be discounted, in fact I enjoy Project Management very much, but I found much disconnect from what I had accepted to what the role had quickly become, this caused much cognitive dissonance…RED FLAGS.

Given this new approach to leadership, I knew the time was inevitable, which was only reinforced when tasks were being “taken off my plate because I had too much on it.”  I decided to test my gut feelings by asking to use the company’s “tuition reimbursement” program that companies often cite in interviews, but are surprisingly difficult to utilize.  I wanted to use this assistance to help me obtain a project management certificate.  When I asked, this was greeted with, “that’s a great idea, but given that the budget is a bit tight this year, let’s have you sign-up early into the new year”…RED FLAGS.  It goes a long way in an employee’s eyes when employers make it easy for employees to use the programs that are promised to them in their contracts.

I knew the time would come, I just didn’t know exact date/month, so I started passively looking at other opportunities to define my next move.  In hindsight, I should have been more active in my search or at least researching my next best fit.  This would have ensured I was in a better position to navigate the new world of job seeking.

My HR business partner must have been taken back at my emotionless approach to the emailed meeting request.  I felt a sense of curiosity wondering how I already knew my fate when surely, they tried to keep things confidential in the months leading up.  I drove in to work that fateful day, a sense of peace fell over me as the sun shined around me, my music playing like a scene from a Quentin Tarantino film.  At that point I just wanted to sign the paper, to thank them for the opportunity and to start my new life.

The process seemed unnecessary, fake if you will. The mere offer to be a reference for a new role seemed in bad taste.  It was as if I was forced to walk through a process when my feet were already out the door.

I look at those times and can truly say they were great.  I wouldn’t give up the opportunity I chose for anything.  It showed me a path I didn’t know existed, it brought out a passion for Learning and Development, and it allowed me to spread my creative wings, all while introducing me to amazing people and friends for life.  All that said, the time since that fateful day has encompassed some of the greatest life and learning experiences in my life.

These are the experiences that I’ll share with you in Part 2,

Your tomorrow’s best you starts now……stay tuned.

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