One is the Loneliest Number When Job Seeking
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 • 3:56pm
Akilah Charlemagne had the classic double whammy of being unemployed and moving. Both were by choice, as she and her husband wanted to return to Atlanta where she had lived for many years. Thinking it would take only 4-5 months to find a position, she waited until they were settled in their new life to thoroughly begin the job-search process.
A Human Resources Manager with Target for nearly seven years, Akilah had amicably left her job prior to the move. When she arrived in Atlanta and started her job search, she found a great deal had changed in the seven years she had been gone—the mix of companies had altered and many of her former friends and colleagues had moved. She quickly realized that she didn’t have a network, as she had lived in professional bubble while working at Target. This predicament was a bit surprising to Akilah, considering she had spent years hiring for Target through the company’s employee referral programs. If anyone understood the importance of being plugged in so that you could be hired through “the hidden job market,” it was Akilah.
Now she had to get out there and create a whole new network. It took three months to “get my groove,” she said. A little short on confidence, she found it difficult to nail her story. When she finally decided to just be her fun self, the authentic Akilah came through and finding people and companies that were a good fit started to happen.
In addition to just being herself, Akilah did a lot of other smart things:
*Adding skills by completing a nine-week HR certification program;
*Volunteering to keep her sanity and indulge her passions;
*Networking online and in person. She started posting thoughtful articles and adding comments on LinkedIn at the urging of a friend who is a career counselor. This began to show her passion for training and developing employees. With time, she found that her online and real-world networks were intersecting—while attending small group meetings with other HR professionals, she was recognized from her LinkedIn postings;
*Staying positive by talking with someone who pumped her up on those days when she needed to be reminded that she was great;
*Identifying “an accountability partner”-- one person who she talked with every week and met with every other week to track efforts and exchange ideas. This really helped to keep her motivated and it worked—both Akilah and her partner found jobs within months of each other;
*Working as a contractor with the hope of transitioning to a permanent position, Akilah earned money, opened up options and expanded her network.
Getting a job today requires many steps. If you feel like you are going in too many directions, I would argue that you are more likely to succeed, for rarely does a job opportunity develop from following one path.
For Akilah, several of these paths converged. Over time, her volunteer work with patients at Compassionate Care Hospice morphed into providing assistance in the office. When the Director of Volunteer Services called Akilah and said he was leaving, he asked if she was interested in his position and she said yes. In less than a week, Akilah had interviewed and accepted their job offer. She now recruits and trains volunteers in an environment that blends her passion to help others with her experience as an HR manager.
Akilah landed a job that was never posted, through a new contact from her volunteerism, that leveraged her prior professional experience and newly accredited skills, while working as a contractor. As Akilah puts it, “it is not someone else’s responsibility to get you a job.”
Watch and learn from Edrie, who used a volunteer position to identify new interests and develop her skill set!
AnnMarie Quintaglie McIlwain is a former marketing executive with Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson and consultant to several Fortune 100 companies. Now, as Founder and CEO of CareerFuel.net, she is a social entrepreneur who connects people with the information and inspiration they need in order to get jobs and start businesses. CareerFuel is the only site that gives people what they need to know to find jobs or start businesses plus blogs and short films about real people who made it happen.
A recipient of numerous civic and leadership awards, AnnMarie is a Board member of CFIRA.org, was a participant in the first White House Entrepreneurial Session, the recent WeOwnIt Summit, and the first Alley to the Valley Event. She is also a member of 85Broads and Startup America.
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