Thursday, March 18, 2010

Free Agent in the House

About a year ago I started a website - Help I Was Laid Off (and on Twitter as @HelpIWasLaidOff).

As a recruiter I was often approached by people who had been laid off, those thinking about leaving their jobs and others keeping an eye out for friends and loved ones. They'd ask if I could help with their job search or review their resume. I was getting invited to coffee and breakfast and lunch left and right. My dance card was filled.

Then it dawned on me. I was repeating much of the same information time and time again.

Lightbulb - Hey, why don't I create a place where I can dispense all of this information at once?!

Thus the site began. But I also didn't want it to just be me. I, by no means have all of the information where job searching is concerned. Don't get me wrong - I think I have a lot to offer and having been laid off in September of '01, but I also thought it would be interesting to also have others' vantage points.

I solicited a few friends and acquaintances that I'd met along the way from various places and asked that they write about what they'd like where job searching was concerned and it's been a pretty successful endeavor. Great information and lots of folks reading the information and telling me how helpful it's been for them.

So . . . when I received news a couple of weeks ago about my impending lay off - my last day is tomorrow . . . I wasn't nearly as frightened as I might have been.

The site was preparing me for a day in which I might hear those words.

And you know what I did? I followed the suggestions that I've made to hundred of other folks and the suggestions that my writers dispensed.

I immediately reached out to my network! I received my notification before it was officially announced to anyone else, so I made sure that the people I reached out to in the first 24-hours would honor my request for confidentiality.

Then my network went to work.

I'd recently given a talk to the Austin Women in Communications Association and reminded the 70 or so in attendance to get to work on building their network before they needed it. If you start building your network once you need it, it will simply take longer to get to your desired destination.

What does my network look like?
  • I run Help I Was Laid Off's site and Twitter account (over 400 followers combined)
  • I run AustinTXJobs on Twitter (over 400 followers)
  • I run the Out of Work Austin group on LinkedIn (currently over 800 members)
  • I have over 1700 followers on my personal Twitter account
  • I have over 900 direct connections on LinkedIn
  • I belong to over 40 groups on LinkedIn
  • I belong to a confidential group of HR professionals in the Austin area comprised of over 60 companies and I manage their social network
  • I serve as the communications chairperson for our home owners association.
  • I've attended the same church and been involved in various areas for over 10 years
Within 24-hours of my news, a contact in Atlanta put me in contact with a recruiter in New York looking for a sourcer (someone to search for candidates) and within 48-hours I had a signed contract to work with her on a project basis as her sourcer.

It's now been two weeks since I knew I'd be joining the intervewing circuit. I have had a well networked recruiter calling me a couple of times a week about opportunities. I've been on two face-to-face interviews, turned down one opportunity and have calls on schedule with a couple of others about specific positions.

It's nice being a free agent. Not something I necessarily wished for or hoped for, but I'm looking at it in a very positive light and feel good about the possibilities of where I'll land next and how I'll spread my wings.