A Bird In Hand

Hand Shot

Image by Sangudo via Flickr

Well, here we are, smack-dab into the end-game of my own personal job search.

Things are assuredly not yet final – there are still a couple of details to iron out (some pretty major details such as “for whom will I be working?”, “when?”, “where?” and “for how much?”) and it will be at least a couple of weeks before they are final.

It has been an interesting journey, and as I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I am absolutely sure that I am ready to resume the other part of my life.

As I began to see the end of my time at Thomson wind down, I embraced the change wholeheartedly.  I was ready for a little respite, and the fact that they supported six months of paid, benefitted R&R seemed a godsend.

And R&R I took.  Sure, I used that time to write a novel, while still meeting with various people about specific job opportunities, but there was absolutely no pressure whatsoever.  I talked with just a couple of companies – dream job type stuff, mostly, and with little reason to hurry on my own part.

As that six month cushion (as well as my non-compete clause) ended, I began to look around the marketplace.  I had a couple of high-level contacts in the industry who were supportive of helping me get into the door at their own organizations.  And although none of those turned into full-time jobs, I did secure quite a few projects through them.

These projects have been great.  I would download some data at the office, and do the remainder from home on my own schedule.  I have never been so creative, so productive in my life.  Not only because, frankly, I wasn’t busy all the time and I had the extra energy to spare, but because I could work under my own direction, with the work judged on its own merit, without any politics, red tape or other unnecessary distractions.  I have been able to make a difference in a couple of organizations, one in particular, and have raised awareness of my some of my own capabilities and work quality.

The money has perhaps not been secure enough to feed my family, and I am not particularly interested in going out and hustling for work to build a proper business.  But in addition to other sources of income it has been sufficient to take a lot of the urgency out of my job search, a blessing in itself.

There were some pretty good near-misses – I was a finalist in 3 very exciting opportunities in 2010.  One of these, which would have required us all to relocate to the mid-west, came as close as “your offer should come tomorrow” from the recruiter, which degenerated to never hearing from them again.  There were several other opportunities which developed fairly far – almost all if which would have vindicated the final years spent at Thomson, with the political atmosphere into which I had been thrust.

But as 2010 became 2011, the situation started becoming a little more pressing.  We are still surviving fairly well, and it has not yet reached the point where I will have to take a job selling insurance, or some such.  But that deadline can now be counted out on my fingers.  It was starting to seem that while I should see the proverbial end of the tunnel, it was getting too dark out to distinguish one environment from the other.

<It should be noted that while the external world did seem dark, it was usually bright inside the car.  My wife is a delight, ever supportive and patient.  Without her, my car would have crashed long ago.>

So I took a couple of steps to remedy the situation.  I didn’t search harder, but I did search a little smarter.

  1. I approached the search more strategically.  I applied for some dream situations, such as business school,  and gave more effort to each of those more likely opportunities.  After analyzing my performance in job hunting in 2010, I was able to look at what things were working, what were not, and I particularly applied that knowledge towards the opportunities I did get.  I also applied for a couple positions which may be backtracking my career a little bit, but it would be able to pick up speed on a completely different pathway.
  2. I approached the search more tactically.  I started by building this website with content I had been creating based on the analyses I was performing for the scientific publishers, combining that with anecdotes from my job search and some older content I had compiled on my personal blog site in 2010.  I relaunched and made some effort at promoting the site, though it was mainly geared as a professional personal marketing site.  It has helped me gain recognition for my capabilities, and even brought some additional exposure.  I also created my fact sheet – now used as a leave-behind item which also helps me (I HOPE!) stand out from other job seekers without being too pushy. 
  3. I approached the search more personally.  As much as it pained me to do so, I made more concerted effort to be outgoing, to be friendly, to try to talk with people and at least emulate the characteristics of the charismatic.  Sometimes it gets easier.  It’s still not me, but it’s not feeling quite as unnatural as it had in years past.  And oddly enough, I do find myself more relaxed in interviews – I am being “myself”, despite the fact that at least my inner self is painfully shy while my outer self somehow seems to hold down an intelligent and interesting discussion.

As, I stated in the beginning of this post, “here we are, smack-dab into the end-game of my own personal job search.”

I have another intention for an offer.  As happened with that mid-western company, I have been told that I am the candidate of choice for a particular job.  There is still some red-tape to deal with before the official offer can come in.  But while that mid-western opportunity fell through, I knew at the time that it was a 50-50 shot when we had reached that point – this is more like a 95% shot. 

And it feels great, let me tell you.  Sure, there is a little anxiety as this truly is not official yet, but it is very unlikely to fall through.  So it’s just a matter of a little more waiting.  But I have the comfort of knowing that within a matter of weeks (even if that figure is close to double-digits) I will be working again.  It takes a lot of pressure off of the financial situation, knowing that there will be a source of income in the near future.

And don’t get me wrong, it is a good job.  It is one of those paradigm-shifting jobs I mentioned above – it is moving back a step or three, career-wise, but there is definite opportunity for the future in a whole new environment.  And not that doesn’t mean just a different industry, but a completely different type of environment from which I have ever truly experienced.

There are a couple of other details – which I will be happy to discuss after things are a little more firm – which are pretty relevant, but the proverbial bird has landed right on my wrist.  I don’t have my hand wrapped around it yet – it is conceivable that if I do something rash and stupid then that bird will fly away – but it is eating right out of my palm and I can be very comfortable taking this bird home.

But, as such things usually transpire, two beautiful birds alit on top of a nearby bush.

The original contact came through just as the first bird had sensed the food in my hand.  I got a closer look at those two birds just last Friday, and I have to tell you, I want those birds.

Sure, my one bird has a nice flavor, will be easy to digest and will definitely hold my family over until a can catch another bird.  Living off of this bird might cause a few inconvenient changes for my family’s lifestyle, but in other ways it will be more secure, more reliable than any other means of support.

But these two birds which just landed are another story completely.  This is a mating pair – I might not ever need to catch another bird, if my hunch is right about these two.  And if that same hunch is right, they will be utterly delicious.  I mean, this is the kind of job I would have left Thomson for in a second.  And, to add icing to the cake celebrating mixed metaphor day, this bird simply has a beautiful song, creating the exact kind of environment where I would be able to be my best, day in and out.

I am in love with these birds, and want nothing more than to take them home to be mine.  But as we know, a bird in hand …

Thankfully, I still have a little time.  But very little.  I know that the next weeks will fly by so fast they’ll make my head spin. 

I need to keep my hand firmly on the bird I am holding, while inching closer, ever closer, to those two in the bush.  Maybe I have enticed them with the food I am holding.  I will gladly give up the one bird for the two, but only after I have those two eating out of my other hand.

So wish me luck.  You have all been so supportive this whole time, and I can’t express my gratitude.  I am fairly sure that whichever direction I end up traveling, this site will likely continue to have some sort of relevant content to share with those of you still interested.  The first leg of this journey is nearly over, but it really is only the beginning …

3 Responses to “A Bird In Hand”
  1. Jurate says:

    Good luck! Promise you will continue blogging while on the journey through your new work life!

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