Friday, January 2, 2009

Amazing Stories: Get Your Foot in the Door Part 2

A few months ago, a brand new client of mine was flying me to their Connecticut HQ from Albuquerque. On the ABQ to DFW leg of the trip, I sit next a guy who is flipping through the pictures in his digital camera. And being a chatty kinda gal who also happens to live in one of the nation’s top vacation destinations, I ask him, “Going home after a vacation to Santa Fe?” Nope. Wrongo. Come to find out his wife and children live in Albuquerque but he works in Tennessee. “Oh? Doing what?” He gives me one of those highly technical, exotic foreign answers that would make anyone say blankly, “ohhhhh, how nice for you…say where is that beverage cart anyway?”

Turns out, it wasn’t so nice for him. Every time he went home for a visit, it meant that he would have to wrench himself away from his family, and his heart would be going crack, crack, crack, all the way back to his dismal bachelor life back in Tennessee. He was leaving Albuquerque this time freshly determined to find a job within a pillow’s throw of his cherished wife and two adoring sons. And so he told me all about it.

Now remember: His expertise is highly specialized, highly technical, and to make matters worse, highly manufacturing. The kind of job that would make elicit the response, “Well, good luck with that.” But not me, codependent me. Oh no. I said, “Send me your resume and I’ll see what I can do.” Not like I know anything or anyone in manufacturing. But, hey, you never know, right?

Long to short: He started his new job in Albuquerque three weeks later. And now his two sons quite rightly think: “Dad has the coolest job in town.” And he really does. And it’s in town!

Here’s a quick summary of what happened between then and tomorrow: That night I got to my hotel room in Stamford. And there was his resume emailed to me. I was a) tired; b) on major chocolate withdrawal and c) thinking, “what are the chances of anything coming this? What’s on tv?” But that darn inner voice chimed in, “Larry King can wait. You promised, now get cracking.” Yeah, but I promised then. This is now. I’m tired. And besides what are the odds that anything could come of this?

Now there were only two companies that came to mind as possible employers for this guy. But really, what could possibly be the chances that they would have an opening that would exactly fit his skills? I looked up the first company, and discovered that they are hiring out of San Carlos, CA, and looking for a svp/hr. So I figured they probably wouldn’t be hiring someone like this guy right now. I totally didn’t even bother with them.

Then I looked at the other company, found the svp/hr, figured out what her email address would probably be, and sent her an email saying, “You don’t know me but there’s this guy I met on the plane today who….” I attached his resume, detaching myself from any residual interest in the outcome. And then went about scaring up some chocolate and finding CNN on the tube. I spent the next several days working with this new client and thinking only about myself.

Back in New Mexico, this lovely svp/hr took the time to open an email from a stranger, opened the attachment, and discovered a possible match for a position long open and needing attention pretty darn quick. (I just love email, don’t you?)

Next thing I hear: The guy comes back to Albuquerque upon their invitation, surprises his sons by picking them up unexpectedly at school, goes to a series of interviews at this company the next day, is offered the job of his dreams before he even gets home. (I just love cell phones, don’t you?)

Life is full of happenstance matches that make for happy career stories. So for me, it’s a nifty story that makes me smile.

It is actually his doing that makes this a story with a happy ending. He was willing to talk to a stranger. So there’s a tip for you: Talk to strangers; tell anyone who will listen who you are and what you want.

It will improve the odds.


  1. Hello, just found your blog via I thoroughly enjoy your writing. While I am not unemployed I have been searching for a new job for about 18 months now and find your tips very helpful. I look forward to more blog entries.

  2. Martha, I look forward to reading your new book! Tiane sent me your link. I live in Northern Virginia, will soon be 55 years old, and I’ve been unemployed for several months. It’s the first time since 1992, when I re-entered the workforce after a divorce, I find myself without a job.

    As strange as it may sound, I’ve been grateful for this time, even with the reduced financial situation and the constant job search. I had not realized that I was operating on autopilot these past 16 years – just trying to work and raise my family. It had not occurred to me to reassess how I was working and making job choices. In addition, my children are now grown and that allows me a certain amount of freedom in choosing a job and a location. It really does help to look at things from a new perspective.

    I laughed when you discussed being a “chatty kinda gal” as I am the same way. I have had some interesting job discussions on a plane; at a bar with friends for drinks; and even while dining solo at the local Whole Foods seafood counter. I appreciate that people took time to chat with me, forward my resume on to their connections, and suggest new job options that would fit my skill set, options that I may not have ever considered.

    In the past, I have assisted people in their job searches through my network of friends and coworkers, and I know it’s just a matter of time before the right job comes along for me.

    I realize this is a difficult period to be looking for a new job, but I’m a firm believer that with change there is also opportunity. And, you never know when that next opportunity will be the one that takes you in a whole new direction.

    Best wishes to you on your book and to all those out there searching for a new job. Leslie

  3. Hi Leslie:

    I hope you get this response to your comment! I really enjoyed reading your message to me, and hope we get to meet in person some time! Tiane's the greatest, isn't she! Happy New Year!