Navigating the Unemployment Terrain
Based on the comments in the What Should I Be Doing With My Free Time To Secure Employment? post, I thought this post would be helpful for those who need encouragement (not just through unemployment but in general):
One year ago, I was in the process of leaving a job due to a family medical hardship. While it was possible I could have stayed in the role, the work environment was not the most conducive for a variety of reasons. I thought even though I am leaving a role with nothing lined up, I should be fine since I had strong transnational experience for being in M&A for quite a few years. Yet, I did not realize the months ahead would be the strong test of my character and will that I could not imagine:
I interviewed for quite a few different roles in terms of Corp Dev, FP&A and PE. There was one process in particular I thought I was moving along pretty well with. The night before the second office interview for a solid Corp Dev role, someone broke into my car to steal a handicap plaque card. The next day, I drove to the interview with tape on the side of the car where the window was broken into and of course it was raining. Still, I felt confident after the interview and was expecting to hear the great news that following week.
Earlier the following week, I heard back through email that the firm decided to go in a different direction. I was completely stunned. I thought I did a great job and tried to reach back for feedback (which I was surprised to receive. I tried to move forward with other interviews I had lined up and study for the GMAT when I had time (not the best idea in hindsight). To stay busy during the days, I would look for roles in the morning and try to study in the afternoon. I was able to get a few office interviews as well (some through HHs) but I could not reach the final step of an offer for different reasons.
The strain of caring for a family member and job search took a toll on me in a few different ways, especially the person I was engaged to. That fell apart and become difficult to reconcile as I looked to move back home at the start of the new year.
Work (now Job Search) Side:
I decided it would be best to take a Christmas Vacation with my family as a few of my siblings were looking to move out on their own. Funny (now in hindsight) is that for one job in particular, I found out the firm was not going to proceed my candidacy as my flight landed in the Family Vacation destination. I did my best to put a positive spin on the trip. During this time, I realized I need to try to best utilize my time in terms of the job search, so I made a routine of applying to jobs in the morning through utilizing LinkedIn and Indeed.com and then doing rideshare as a job to supplement my income. For a few processes I was able to do office interviews for (better to detail since I had a lot of phone interviews that did not move beyond that stage):
West M&A Role: I actually landed an offer through video interviews with the team but the offer was below market given the city had a higher COL compared to where I was living. I debated it for a few days but decided to decline the offer with the believe something better would come along (I do have a strong belief in my sense and the higher power, but still incredibly difficult to do that this time).
Midwest RE role: I thought the office interview went well, but the firm ghosted on me. I probably would not bring it up except they told me they would reimburse me for any expenses I incurred. It hurt at the time since I was unemployed and I needed to be strategic with my funds.
South M&A role: After the office interview (which I believed was the last step), I was informed a case study would need to be completed. I followed up for a few weeks and was then told by HR the process would need to be shut down due to internal changes.
I realized at some point, I was being inconsistent in how I was carrying myself. So I really dedicated myself to becoming more disciplined in terms of how I carried myself and going to church more and being better in my communication with family, friends and so on. Also starting seeing someone new, but.....
Job Search Side:
Still no luck over six months into the search and sense of panic starts to settle in a bit each day. I am able to still get interviews and explain the unique circumstances of my unemployment, but having no luck converting a process into an interview. I still continued the process of searching and applying for roles in the morning before doing rideshare for most of the day. Some processes to mention:
West FP&A role: I had to do an aptitude test before the office interview and really did know what to expect. The office interview was fine but the location threw me for a loop and I realized it probably was not a role I would want to take. Never heard back from the firm after the office interview. (to be fair, I did not follow-up)
South Debt Role: I laugh now, but at the time it was a bit hectic as I had to book my own travel with the agreement I would be reimbursed later. I did a same day flight (based on what I could afford) and had to change into attire in the bathroom before the interview (which is hilarious). Anyway, the interviews were more technical heavy then I expected given I was interviewing with senior people but the vibe of the office threw me off and I decided when I left that I would want to do that particular role if offered. Never heard back from the firm after the office interview (to be fair, I did not follow-up)
Local (for me) FP&A Role: To this day, I will never forget this. I did the office interview and was told a week afterwards the team wanted to extend me an offer. I was beyond ecstatic as I was looking forward to staying in the region for family reasons. They mentioned all I needed to do was complete background checks and reference calls. Two weeks later, I was informed the team decided to go in a different direction. I WAS STUNNED. I never heard of anything like that. The wild thing was that my background check was clean (I got a copy of it) and I spoke with the people I got references from.
**West M&A Role: **I will bring this role up briefly to say it took two months for the process to conclude. I actually heard back about doing follow-up interviews the same day I heard from local FP&A role about going a different direction (quite the range of emotions that day). Anyway, I did a few follow-up interviews and went back and forth in emails (I figured out at some point that I was on hold). I was then informed a few weeks into late spring, they made an offer to a different candidate and was thanked for my involvement in the process. That process was infuriating but I decided to keep pushing forward
I was able to help my siblings move out and my family medical hardship concluded since family member's health improved considerably. Things with new lady were all over the place and ultimately decided to step away from that situation. Also, just strove to be the best person I could be in how I carried myself from attitude to actions and stay optimistic in light of circumstances
A few weeks before summer 2019, I did office interviews for two roles (one local and one out of state). For those process:
Out of State M&A Role: I was a bit skeptical about the role given the highly lengthy job application. But of course I had time to complete it. To my surprise, I was invited to office interview after one call with the recruiter. Office interview was pretty good given my prior role aligned well with the role. The group lead actually contacted me a week after to say I was still in the process as they were interviewing other candidates. As for Local (FP&A Role)....
Local (FP&A) Role: After I did the office interview, I was asked for references and provided them. It took them a little over a week to get back to me. They actually called me when right after I finished a rideshare trip and made me an offer to join the team. I was quite elated and they gave me a week to decide on the offer. I called the Group Lead of the Out of State CD Role to leave a message about the offer I just received. 10 mins later, while I was doing a rideshare, the Group Lead called me with an offer and my day was set.
Took the Out of State M&A Role
(which, funny enough, offered me the most compensation of all the roles I interviewed with throughout my unemployment plus full relocation). The job I took was essentially a promotion from the last role I did but somehow more compensation just on salary alone.
I write this as someone who started a new role exactly months to the day I stepped away from my prior job to say: Stay positive and keep pushing every single day. There were be times of challenge ahead but also times of pure bliss. Having a good perspective on life is important facet to take hold to.
General Job Search Advice:
1) Use LinkedIn and Indeed.com for Job Search. I actually was able to set up daily alerts for LinkedIn (which become the platform I preferred) and had saved searches from Indeed.com. I would say spend at most 2 hours on looking through roles.
2) Network. I did not network as much given where I am in my career (A good deal of post-grad experience). If you have just graduated or still just a few years into your career, this should be more of your focus in the job search than online applications. Use M&I and WSO networking guides for more detailed advice
3) Hobbies. What helped me keep my sanity was not only rideshare, but also volunteering, going to church and being out. DO NOT STAY INDOORS ALL DAY. I would even go to Starbucks to search for jobs and study for GMAT. Get into a daily routine for the week and stick to it. Weekends are more flexible.
4) Outlook. What really helped me in the long run is that I am always wired to think the best is yet to come in terms of the future. This (along with prayer) helped me to get out of bed each morning and look forward to each day.
To quote a great philosopher:
There's gon' be some stuff you gon' see.
that's gon' make it hard to smile in the future.
But through whatever you see,
through all the rain and the pain,
you gotta keep your sense of humor.
You gotta be able to smile through all this BS.
Quest on, fellow Monkeys...