EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

At some point during a long job search I often get an email from a member in which the primary message is about “the futility of it all.”

Having been out of work myself for almost two full years in 1991 and 1992, I guess I can say I’ve been there and done that.

Being out of work is never easy, and but it is especially hard on those of us who are older. It’s not just that employers are looking to cut costs and our big salaries are a good target, it is also that we are at that point in our lives when we are faced with particularly large financial obligations.

This could be college for our teenagers or if your children are older, weddings. Or if you are really old like me, the thought of retiring in less than the grand style to which we have grown accustomed. Gone are the days when you could pack everything you owned in a few cardboard boxes and head off for parts unknown for a few months until conditions improve. As you get older, you tend to get wallpapered into your life.

Adding to the stress at this time of year is that we are in the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s when we believe, rightly or wrongly, that not much happens. Please know that I got a job offer in December of 1981, so the urban legend is not necessarily true.

Assuming that it is doom and gloom for the next few weeks doesn’t excuse you from working on your job search. The truth is that this one of the best times for networking and for preparing for the turn of the year, so when things pick up you are ready to hit the ground running.

Have I mentioned our rather remarkable Member Directory Search feature recently? (Well, certainly not in the last 24 hours.) Now is the time to explore building up your “inner circle of friends.” Have you checked to see if any old friends with whom you have lost touch have now joined our august body? Have you checked to see if any folks from firms where you have worked have now joined and may either know of you or know folks who you know? Have you checked to see if anyone has joined The FENG who lives in your neighborhood? (Getting out for a cup of coffee will keep you from hitting bottom, or if you have already hit bottom, it will get you energized.)

If the phone is quiet, this might also be a good time to get a book on resume writing, or to reread one you bought previously. You are more experienced now in the whole process, and you will often find it hard to believe you actually wrote the dumb stuff that is in your current resume. (Sorry to say this, but I see a lot of resumes and most of them could use some serious work. Don’t worry, I love you anyway.)

The economy is still not strong for senior level jobs. All you have to do to know it isn’t just you is open up the newspaper and do a little reading.

I spoke to one of our members last week and went through his job search with him from soup to nuts, and honestly, there wasn’t much that he was doing wrong. Sure, there were a few nits I picked on his resume, but by and large he was doing all the right things.

What I often hear when I make suggestions is that “I tried that once.” Well my friends, this is the kind of job market where even if you are doing everything right, it is going to take more than a little dogged persistence on your part to find another work opportunity.

Like someone faced with hanging in the morning, you are going to have to get your mind focused on solving this little inconvenience with which you are faced.

As a sailor, I can tell you that I have been in some pretty unbelievable storms. One began at about 7PM on a lovely summer evening with 55 knot gusts that had my rubber dingy airborne and spinning WITH a motor on it. (Fortunately I was anchored at the time.) It went on ALL night with heavy rain and more high winds. I was sure we were going to drag anchor and lose the boat on the shore. But when the dawn came, as it always does, the storm had passed through, the sun came out, and it was like nothing happened. (The birds were even singing in the trees.)

Giving up is never a good idea, and as a strategy, it doesn’t work anyway.

So, batten down the hatches and keep the faith. As I have often been heard to say: No one is out of work forever, it just seems that way.

With any luck, you will survive to tell the tall tale around the holiday dinner table in years to come about how you survived being out of work.

Regards, Matt

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