When I was first “nuked”, I was very very lucky. I was given outplacement services. That, in and of itself, was slightly less than useful. Although I very quickly came to some personal and situtational realizations. How based in reality they were I am still not sure. Personally, I knew it couldn’t be me. I had recognized that slowly, over time, as more nukings were occurring, I was “losing” allies, “giving up organizational ground”, and momentum. But, I “knew” in my gut that there was nothing “wrong” with me. Well maybe a little in that I could not figure out how to fix the situation. Perhaps it wasn’t even fixable? Or smart enough to jump ship before it happened? Or, perhaps, going down with the ship was the best result that I could achieve under the circumstances. To this day, when I think about these questions it gives me a headache. So realization #1 is that it wasn’t me. Shortly after that, I figured out on my own, that I was given “outplacement services” not for my benefit but for theirs. So realization #2 is that extract what I can from outplacement and move along.
The lucky part was that at outplacement, I fell in with a bunch of interesting talent souls in the same boat from various other firms. It was a bunch of kindred spirits sitting around the “kitchen” in the midst of doom and gloom, the flotsam of the jobsearch process (i.e., want ad sections of past papers) and the jettison (i.e., the outplacement firm’s “suggestion” papers), that someone came up with the label of the “Turkey Farm”. And, that each individual was a “turkey” of sorts. We were there after getting the metaphorical axe and didn’t have enough sense to die. Some objected that they in particular weren’t “turkeys”, but misunderstood, betrayed, misappraised, or such. We eventually started writing these objections on index cards and posting them on the bulleting board. The rump group would eventually shout down the objectors with the essential fact that since they were at the the “turkey farm”, they were by definition “turkeys”. Eventually, all protestations were either shouted and hooted down. Most realized the truth of the matter.
Starting as the gallows humor of a bunch of condemned prisoners, inmates of the turkey farm, it eventually morphed into a team. Just because they were in the turkey farm, there were a lot of talented individuals. Give them some time and an inescapable realization, and as you would expect good things started flowing out. A fraternity emerged. The turkey farm was run by Drake Beam Morin. Their shorthand label was DBM. We recognized that the was an essential difference between the counselors and the turkeys. The counselors were being paid; the turkeys weren’t. We created a label Delta Beta Mu for the group of us turkeys.
A long about the same time, small groups of like souls began cooperating. I don’t know how it started. Initially it was twos and three of diverse souls working as teams. I was drawn into a team with a marketing guy and a financial guy. Since we were looking for different things it wasn’t competitive but cooperative.
I know that when I “found” leads for which I was overqualified, unqualified, outside my geographic comfort zone, or outside my financial comfort zone, I would create a “finding”. I’d pass it around my group, and if they weren’t interested I’d stick it on the bulleting board in the kitchen. Eventually lots of people were doing the same things.
From those meager beginnings, evolved a job finding machine. Teams formed, reformed, ideas flowed, and a great amount of energy was released. Eventual among the many ideas and insights that came out, was the idea of roles. You see what makes it so very very hard for the average job seeker is that they have to fulfill many roles at the same time. If they don’t realize it, then they don’t recognize the things that need to be done. They are then sucked into the legendary activity trap. Not realizing that they are wasting themselves by not working on the correct problem.
There was one “poor” soul who stands out in my mind. I write this to call your attention to the concept of “roles”. This individual was a CFO of F1000 who was great except for one blind spot. He was unable, unwilling, or just being dense, but he couldn’t get the concept that he had to look at the problem from different points of view. While he eventually landed, he made it much tougher on himself than it had to be. At one Friday session, (Friday being an especially dead day in the job search world.), the rump group who was being the Board Of Directors for any who wanted it. (The Board Of Directors would play act and people would report to them on progress and get helpful suggestions.) This fellow was badgered into “reporting” how he was doing. They used the ultimate punishment to try and help him. Scorn. They challenged him, if he was so smart, to present how he was doing so they could learn from him. That and they threatened to withhold coffee. Any way, in his presentation, they found him to be unorganized, unfocused, and unable to understand what was now to them the rudiments of how to organize a job search. It was very contentious. At one point very sarcastically one BoD guy made a bunch of little paper hats with labels like “VP Marketing” and insisted that he wear it. Then he was FORCED to be focused on Marketing. They would not permit him to wander to any other topic. He couldn’t confuse the issue or interject other items.
Bottom line, he eventually landed. But, I am not sure he ever really understood. I on the other had too my paper hats and have always used the concept.
Job search is hard because the candidate is, at once and at all times, the product and everything else rolled up into one. Without recognizing the roles, the candidate gets into a hamster wheel of activities that have no strategy. They use tactics that have no alignment with their strategy. They don’t evaluate their results. And, worst, they don’t adjust – strategies, tactics, processes, procedures, or activities – based on what they learn. They are just befuddled.
You as the CEO of a floundering enterprise, and everything else
Congratulations. By virtue of being fired, laid off, downsized, or whatever it was called, you are now the CEO of You, Inc.
From that simple fact, you need to recognize that it’s all you. There is no one coming to help. There is no one who can “help”. It’s you and you alone. “Your mileage may vary!” That’s the phrase you should remember. There’s no ex-boss, rabbi, mentor, headhunter, friend, or spouse who make “this cup pass away”. You are now totally and completely responsible for the results you achieve. You don’t have a group, division, or others to cover for you, to blame failures on, or share the rewards with. It’s all you. So what’s next? Even before we get to you roles, you have to get a Board of Directors to assist you “the Leadership Team” to focus, evaluate the assumptions, see / suggest alternatives, eliminate your blind spots, prevent disasters, critique the plans, and review results.
You as “The CFO”
As the CFO of “YOUINK”, you must quickly have an accurate assessment of where you are, an accurate assessment of what you face, and a
realistic appraisal of how long it will take. No sugar coating. If you need a formula, I can give you one: divide age by ten throw away the remainder, divide salary by 10k throw away the remainder, ask ten networking contacts how long they estimate, take the average multiply the age number and multiply by the salary number. It might be wrong, but use that as you worst case. Next the YOUINK CFO has to assess all the resources available. Do you have the staying power to last? Cut the burn rate like a venture capitalists. Project the financial metric for all the activities that you need to be successful.
You as “The VP of Marketing”
As the Marketing “go-to” person, you have to create one or more Unique Value Propositions that can be sold and delivered. Much harder than it sounds because you have to sort out the emotional “I want to be a basket weaver” from the fact that there’s not much demand for highly compensated basket weavers. Sometimes, an extinct skill is good for a paycheck. You might even be able to craft it into a a career. (I know one fellow who has a “full dance card” doing CICS COBOL maintenance.) You have to pick out the dead ends, unprofitable paths, and those that look good but can’t be sold. You translate the UVPs into and determine the Unique Selling Propositions. You have to assess the market and what will “sell”. What is our product or products? What price? How will we promote the product?
You as “The Product Manager”
As the “Product Manager”, you have to create a “product” based on the USP and identify the differentiators in “our” product. Add, change, and delete features as needed. Repackage skills and achievements into offerings and values.
You as “The Product”
Put your offering in a nice container. Be well presented. You want the “New and Improved” but not used. You should be a lifelong learner capable of satisfying the buyer’s needs. Consistent with the Unique Selling proposition. Expose the “Hidden benefits”. Be a good value; but not “cheap”. Adaptive and flexible. “Re-fill-able”, coach-able, lead-able. A “winner” even when he loses.
You as “The Sales Manager”
You get the USP from the Marketing VP and the product form the Product Manager. Then design a sales process and program that “funnels” from 10k possibles to 1k probably to 100 listeners to 10 try-ers to 1 buyer. (I don’t know what your :”funnel” will look like. I have a few.) Whatever the sections of the funnel are and what the multiplier is, you have to mange the sales funnel, sets quotas, fills the funnel, reports on the funnel.
You as “The Salesman”
You have to meets quotas. (That’s more than “one job”!) We all know that sales is always a numbers game. You have to hear the requisite number of “no”s to get to the “yes”. You presents the product to potential buyers, qualifies the buyers, and gets them to try their “product”. Report activities against targets.
I also think that some one who is “in” will also have additional roles:
- The VP of Operations
- The VP of R&D
- The VP of Accounting
- The VP of IT, IS, and everything techie
But, the seeker will have all their work time absorbed by the other roles.
You have to have a very segmented mindset to prevent confusion, hubris, and the “activity trap”. Some seekers never get the concept. it’s a fiction. Maybe you don’t need it. But, I find that most seekers do. They all want to rush their “product” to the marketplace before they’ve done ANY of the ground work. It’s sad. When it doesn’t work, then they get all upset. It’s much more effective and efficient to do it “right” imho.
But, what do I know, I’m just the big fat old turkey hisself.