Nothing Special, Really

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Last Chances

I shouldn't be in this spot right now.

I shouldn't be nearly 30 years old, struggling to find a job.

I don't regret leaving my last job despite an offer to stay, with a promotion. I left because I didn't think it was the best opportunity. It was a good opportunity, one that I've reconsidered since, but I still think it was the right move to find out what was available. Plus, the immediate benefit of the financial package was a shot in the arm that my conquest to reduce my debt really needed.

What I've realized over the past couple of months is that I really botched my opportunity with that company in my 3 years there. I started off very strong, impressing everyone from my manager to the Sr. VP of HR. I was in an entry level role essentially, but I was sharp, eager, and inventive, and within 9 months I worked myself into a position created for me, partly because there was a need, but also partly because I communicated an interest & convinced them I could do the job.

When I got into that new job, a role that required me to revamp an outdated training program & implement it within months so that we could train incoming HR personnel from our newly acquired stores, things changed. I became disenfranchised in that position because I realized that the development side of training was not necessarily where my passion was, at least not in that capacity. I had worked on creating training curriculum a couple of years before, but I was never solely responsible for it. Additionally, I've never been the greatest at networking, and combined with how isolated our department was anyways, I really didn't have any relationships built that I could trust. So there I was, on my own, trying to develop a new training program. I took it upon myself to rewrite our training manuals, which is a huge feat for someone who is an expert and\or experienced in technical writing, let alone someone like me.

Instead, I spent a large portion of my time surfing the internet. I should have stepped up, asked for help, tried to initiate contacts with other areas, motivated myself to take this project by the balls and own it. I didn't. I used my time by doing as little work as possible. It nearly cost me my job.

Last January, I was told I was being let go. When I was moved into the training job, I was told it was a temporary position until March of the following year, when the transitional period for the new stores would be over. I would have had to find a new position afterwards, but I was so favored by everyone at the time that it didn't appear it would be a problem. But my work ethic was so poor during that time that followed that I wasn't going to be kept around. To make matters even worse, there were layoffs in our department, and they all were receiving severance packages. However, I would have been let go without severance because I was "temporary." Our department's VP had no interest in finding a new spot for me, but my immediate boss, the director, was willing to give me another chance. It was nothing but pure luck that someone in a critical role left at this time as well. It was easier to fill the job internally, so they offered me the position. It was my last chance.

I stepped it up in this new job, but it still wasn't really what I wanted to do. I did enjoy my job more, but I still didn't put forth the kind of effort needed if I wanted to be successful. Instead, I chose to find a better balance between doing my job and not doing my job. I did what I needed to do, but rarely beyond, and I sometimes needed prodding. My reputation was firmly entrenched as someone who was sharp, intelligent, with the potential to be so much more if I just worked harder.

Being in the divisional office of a major retailer meant that I had the opportunity to work on a number of projects that would have really built my experience as an HR professional. I had access to a large number of well-established HR contacts with experience in any aspect of Human Resources. And I let it go to waste because I chose to spend so much time at work reading poker blogs & sports articles.

I haven't had a face-to-face interview since the end of May. My job search for the past couple of months has consisted of nothing but immediate dismissals, with the occasional phone interview. Some of it has just been circumstance; I could probably be employed now if I wanted to take a $10k paycut, but that isn't an option. My resume has been leaving companies feeling underwhelmed about my experience, so I've restructured my resume to focus on my growth with my previous companies, showing how quickly I've moved into roles of increasing responsibility. I've stepped up my networking attempts, trying to create opportunities that may not have been there before, increasing my visibility to the employer. I'm finally doing something that I should have done the past couple of years: I'm trying harder.

I have two phone interviews this week, and I have my resume in the hands of several people at two other companies. I have four chances right now to convince one of these employers to take a chance on me; that, despite my limited experience, I am the person who will be the most successful for them. These might be the last chances I get before I have to start lowering my expectations, and I need to do everything in my power to make sure that when I'm convincing them of my ability to be successful that it's the truth.

I shouldn't be in this position right now, but I am, and it's no one's fault but my own.

Wish me luck.


  • i had something really similar happen to be at one of my first jobs out of college. i loved it, got promoted doing something in a different department that i didn't enjoy, and it totally ruined my love for the job (along w/ my productivity). happy belated bday, and hope you find something good soon!

    By Blogger lj, At August 16, 2008 at 6:40 PM  

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