Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Running a Business & Running a Job Search: Different Animals As They Say

Based on the stories people have shared with me over the years, I should (and do) consider myself among the really lucky ones. I have only had to go through a job search twice in my life. And by "job search" I mean looking for a job when I didn't have one, not the type of "search" that happens when a recruiter comes calling. In any event, and even at this stage of the game when I look back on both job changing experiences (one was 18 years ago, and the other more than 30), it takes no time at all to bring back the rush of bad feelings, bad memories, and an anxiety level that probably registers near 10 on the personal stress Richter scale.

It is with this in mind that on a daily basis as we talk with senior level executives in job search that I realize why it is that people who are absolutely brilliant at running businesses are so often absolutely clueless in terms of running a job search. They may be able to predict to within two decimal places the potential market share of a new product, but haven't the slightest notion of how hard it would be to make a job change at the executive level if you are over 50, and while they have prepared their organization to be in a position to deal with any market changes, they have done zilch to prepare themselves for the same threats.

There are, of course, lots of other factors that are involved which include in no particular order:

1. Loss of power to make others take action.

2. Loss of the comfort that comes from having structure around you.

3. Loss of self-esteem - America keeps scores, and if you are not working, that still goes in the L column.

4. Loss of recognition as a leader.

5. Loss of control in one's ability to make choices

6. Loss of motivation to succeed. (I have worked so hard to get to where I am, I can't imagine going through all that again!)

7. Fill in the blank_______________________ And if you need more room, as they say, use the other side of the paper.

When you are not the person affected by an event, it is way too easy to lose one's ability to empathize or understand. Especially because of the ease with which we view the such things from the comfort of air-conditioned homes over a nice dinner and a glass of wine.


Rick Jones said...

You are right on the mark with your comments.

There are many people in transition, such as I, that made the choice not to make a change awhile in a seated position or timing was not right for a change awhile employed.

The real shame is many recuiters and hiring entities often will not consider a transitional candidate or an over 50 candidate or both.

Yet frequently it is announced that a company rehires a former president, ceo or chairman that is over 60 to salvage an under performing business. Or that a 50-something chooses to change careers or life styles to make major accomplishments in their new fields.

The real shame is that we can be the answer to success for the business with the vast experience and knowledge we bring to the business.

Anonymous said...

Dave, I will add one more item to your list ..... loss of familiarity. We have had decades of experience in running companies or doing our jobs and are extremely familiar with what needs to get done under different circumstances. Not many of us have the experience running a job search campaign ..... and the natural tendancy is to revert back to what we are familiar with and fill up our time with activities that are not necessarily valuable in terms of job search.

Dave Opton said...


Obviously I agree with your thoughts, and while I don't have the space for it here, I can tell you that at least to some degree attitudes seem to be changing, not fast enough to be sure, but changing.

As you may know, we do a survey every year, and among many others, we have questions around the age issue. Based on the responses over the years, the bias would seem to be lessening a bit.

The other "good news" may be that as the war for talent starts to heat up once again, as it seems to be doing at the moment, organizations are going to have a much harder time filling critical slots, and the chance to take advantage of the experience folks like yourself represent may be far more attractive.

Rick Jones said...

Thank you for your prompt response it is an example of why Execunet in my opinion is one of the best resources for Six Figure earners.

I network with a number of senior level talented CFO's, IT Professionals, Manufacturing and Sevice Executives, Presidents & CEO's and other professional level people. Most are in transition and voice similar issues regarding their search and the matters that they encounter along the way.

Your Blog "Running a Business, Running a Job Search" was so on the mark that I passed it to a number of Recruiters and Business Associates as well as the transitional groups. I have discovered extremely talented people available some willing as I to step down a notch to join underperforming businesses or a company that needs to strengten their bench with "A" level players. The 7 points were right on the mark.

I know when I land I will have a resource for finding talent to support the business and will push through barriers.

Keep up the good work.

The real Rick Jones. (I just read your E-mail.)
Aurora, Ohio

Dave Opton said...


Thanks for the kind words, and for sure you will have a resource.

One of the reasons this has always been a membership and not a subscription is because it was built on the notion of people helping each other.