It gets better and much more rewarding than that, but let’s start at the beginning.
I had been working in the financial services industry since 1981. Having achieved senior executive level status, the corporation I worked for (a very well-known global financial services organization) let me go after more than 20 years of service. To be fair to all parties concerned, when I left my last employer, it was actually more of a mutual parting of the ways. None-the-less there I was, unemployed for the first time in my life and in my 50’s and not sure what I was going to do. Because we have been living in the worst employment market period since the great depression of the 1930’s, I knew competition for any job at my level would be stiff and wondered “Who will hire someone at my age?” and “Will I have to sell my home and move away from family and friends?”
My former employer did offer to send me through a pricey nationally known outplacement service as part of my severance package. So at least at the outset, it offered me some level optimism. I attended the seminars, met with my job counselor and so-forth since it was on my (now) former company’s dime. It was my belief that the price was right and what could it hurt?
I will say that the people at the outplacement company certainly were nice enough, but I can’t say they really taught me anything new. Essentially what I walked away with was a new resume (that I had to correct) and (was) given a list of all the local Pittsburgh area executive recruiters to contact should I opt to. That pretty much sums up my experience with that high visibility outplacement organization my former employer uses. That money could have been put to better use; like putting it in my pocket to provide a financial buffer while I conducted a job search in these challenging times.
Fast forward a full year and then some. By this time I had sent out literally hundreds of resumes. The net result? I was no further ahead in my job search than I was a year earlier. Much to my disappointment, companies simply were not acknowledging receipt of my resume; I wasn’t getting interviews so it was obvious to me that a job offer certainly was not in the cards any time soon.
Thanksgiving weekend was now on the horizon and my wife and I agreed that if I were not employed by that time, we would sit down and have a family discussion. The holiday weekend comes and I’m still unemployed. As agreed we had our family gathering to discuss my career situation and what I need to do next. During that meeting my wife said, “Steve you are very good at what you do, but you are not very good at marketing yourself in this economy. You need to find some professional help.”
Not long after the Thanksgiving holiday, I found myself reading career search related blog articles written by Mark Haluska, a Certified Guerrilla Job Search Coach and a co-author of the international bestselling “Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0” book. I’d never heard of him prior, but the job search advice in his articles surely resonated with me. I checked Mark’s credentials as an Executive Recruiter and as a Guerrilla Coach, as well as his close business alliance with David Perry and Kevin Donlin. Satisfied with my findings, I concluded that Mark would almost certainly be a worthy job search mentor.
At that time I was also in the preliminary talking stages with another career coach as a possible person to help me get back to work, but Haluska’s career search articles really piqued my curiosity. It was then that I took what would be my first Guerrilla step and called Mark regarding the 10 week Guerrilla Job Search program.
In my first phone discussion with Mark he said that should he agree to bring me on as a client I would have to first commit to diligently work the Guerrilla Job Search course on a full time basis. That’s 40 hours a week. Upon reflection, the course was not only fast and furious but it was also out and out grueling at times. Not once did I ever have to wonder what I would need to do next to find a new job because between having a direct line to my coach whenever I needed him, the regularly scheduled phone conference calls, the Guerrilla software and my weekly lesson plans; it was all laid out for me.
Secondly, Mark told me that because of my rather conservative career background in financial services, and my senior level (to) be prepared to do things that will make me feel somewhat “uncomfortable” at times. Lastly, he advised me to feel free to ask any questions I wanted about the tips and tricks I’ll be learning as we go, but ultimately I’ll be required to execute those tactics in order to remain in the program.
By this time it was becoming abundantly clear to me that this guy was going to be more like a drill sergeant than what I would have envisioned an executive coach to be like; so much for preconceived notions. That said, everything else I had tried to do for more than a year to find a new position was not working for me. I needed to get back to work! As a result, I agreed to Mark’s terms and with that, I started the course with Mr. Haluska as my Guerrilla coach about a week later.
While I was enrolled in the Guerrilla Job Seekers course I was challenged nearly every day to do things one would not normally do as a job seeker. At the same time though, I knew I was doing things that my competition (for a new job) was not doing. What is more, in order to remain in good standing in this program I simply had to execute my assignments. On occasion I would call Mark to express some concern about what he was asking me to do. I knew he did not want to hear it but I called him out anyway just to let him know my feelings. As tough as Mark was as my job search mentor he would somewhat soften up and in a most confident and convincing way say; “Steve, because the herd (of job seekers) is heading north… I’m sending you south. It’s all good.”
Speaking of being required to do things out of the ordinary, I recall while enrolled in the course, sharing with my family the unusual tactics that I was being coached through to find a job. At one point, my daughter, a very highly educated and accomplished person in the medical profession said to me, “Dad that stuff is just too bizarre, those things won’t work!” I can laugh at about that now but at the time, it did cross my mind that she may be right!
Fast forward to the 4th week of the course; it was then I received my first unofficial job offer. By that time I had sent out only 10 (well targeted) resumes and by the course standards I was actually falling behind. It was then though that (I) surprisingly started to get action as I spent the next week (plus) literally getting worn out as a result of all of the resume activity I was getting with in-person interviews and phone screenings. Out of the 10 resumes I sent, I received 8 responses from actual hiring authorities!
By the 5th week of Guerrilla coaching, I was offered a couple of more positions. At the beginning of the 6th week with competing job offers in hand, I finally accepted a lucrative offer from an employer that not only met all of my expectations but exceeded them as it turned out to be a great fit for me. I’m now a Senior Vice President with and great organization. I believe that without the Guerrilla Job Search program and having my coach as a mentor, especially after being unemployed for so long, it may not have ever happened.
I’d like to express my thanks to coach Mark Haluska and the entire Guerrilla Team. Not only did I get a job faster that I could have ever realistically expected, but this experience has made me an even better senior level executive.
[David and Mark’s Note: There some interesting twists to Steve’s job hunt journey that would be of interest to a serious job seeker and should be on your “must view” list. For example, watch as Mark talked Steve out of actually turning down a solid job opportunity that he really wanted or as Steve shares his story as to how he achieved an 80% resume success rate… and a whole lot more! Tune in as Steve talks about his Guerrilla Coaching experience as he sits down with Kevin Donlin, co-creator of Guerrilla Job Search International and Guerrilla Coach Mark Haluska to share his success story with others. There are two separate videos.
The first video is titled, “80% Interview Success Rate for Guerrilla Resume!” and the second video is titled, “Guerrilla Job Search Coaching: Shock and Awe!” Enjoy!]