With the unemployment and underemployment rate over 17%, competition for the few jobs out there is brutal. But there are success stories. Here’s how Tina Chang landed her position as New Product Program Manager at Cisco.
Tina’s career began right out of college with an Industrial Engineering degree, working for HP as a Process Engineer. After a few years, she had the opportunity to use her degree with a group of other industrial engineers and worked for IBM for 6 years. She went back to HP for a few years working in PC Manufacturing as a Platform Manager.
Tina’s career continued to advance as she joined Quantum as a Production Planning Manager for their disk drives and was there for 8 years. A merger with Maxtor led to a layoff while on assignment overseas in Geneva. Tina had been considering a move into non-profits and the layoff gave her that chance at her church as Director of Family Assimilation.
She loved the work but after a year she realized that she longed for the management structure of a larger company. “I missed the analytical side of business in that role and when they assigned me to manage the budgets, I was thrilled to be using a spreadsheet again,” said Tina.
Here’s where Tina’s tenacity paid off. As the church was downsizing, Tina began telling her friends that not only was she looking for a new job, but what type of job, industry and company. From her actions, a friend emailed an executive at a medical equipment company on her behalf. This executive was also a member of the church and Tina knew his family.
Once the email was sent, Tina knew it was time to act. She contacted the executive, he introduced her to the VP of Manufacturing and she was hired. Tina was there for 5 years as Director, Manufacturing Program Management. In October, the company restructured and Tina was laid off.
After a few weeks of visiting friends and taking some time for herself, Tina got to work on planning her search. She says, “I didn’t even have a PC of my own in the beginning – I borrowed a friend’s and started spending time at the library so I could use their Wifi.”
She started working on her plan: With some help from the outplacement firm the medical equipment company provided, she got her resume set and learned how to best use the internet for her search. She reflected on what she loved doing and the type of company that could match her skills and experience. After going through the Best Companies to Work For lists, she identified her target companies.
“I wanted a large company with some infrastructure, one that was international – I love to travel! – , no start-ups, and a great manager to work for,” she added.
Then she started her spreadsheet. She tracked her target companies, who she knew who worked there, when she contacted them, who she sent resumes & letters to, who she met at Starbuck’s, etc.
“I would tell all my friends what I was looking for! Prayer helped give me the determination to keep going. Someone asked me if I got bored during my time off and I said are you kidding? I’m working 40 hours a week meeting people, spending time having tea and talking to others and following up on referrals from old colleagues and new friends I met.”
She said that LinkedIn was the most helpful website because she could look up all kinds of information once she focused on a company, especially contacts she could meet with to learn more about the opportunities and culture.
During her intense search, a friend from IBM and Quantum sent her job leads. Her friend gave Tina’s resume to the hiring manager just before Christmas. He met with her first, contacted her before the New Year and asked her to come in on the 4th for additional interviews. He made her a verbal offer the next day and she is now working at Cisco.
Total time in her search was a little over 3 months, very good in this market for that type of position.
When asked what single thing most helped her land her job, she said, ” I focused on what I wanted and told everyone I came into contact that. I believe that praying for what I wanted helped make it happen.”
What are you doing in your search to find your job? Please share your success stories here.
JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.
Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott