Focus to the Starting Line

I heard a story on NPR yesterday about a man who is making the long journey back to work.

He was a regional bank manager, making six figures, happy and fulfilled in his career.

He got laid off . This highly educated, experienced bank manager couldn’t find a job for two years. He survived because his wife was working (she’s a teacher, so we know they weren’t flush), but he was simply unable to find a position in his field of expertise.

Almost two years to the day of his layoff, he got a temporary job, doing data entry for a company- the overnight shift, 10 dollars an hour.

Hearing his soundbites in the piece, you’d think he won the lottery. He says things like “I’m just so happy to be doing something, anything…it feels good to get out of the house and contribute!”

Amazing.

We find ourselves at a time when employers know they have us right where they want us. We take jobs because we are grateful they asked. Large companies are sitting on billions of dollars of reserves, as they save up, post-recession. The jobs are not coming as fast as many thought they would.

There are still millions of Americans who find themselves in the same position as our bank manager. They are just happy someone asked them to work.

Our manager’s graveyard shift job ended, and he was offered a new position by the temp agency he is represented by. It’s more data entry, for a different company, but this one is a day shift.

It can be a long, slow slog to get back to the life you remembered.

I’m currently counseling an old colleague who recently was sacked from a plum position at ESPN. He knows sports; he understands media; he has rich experience in his field.

I’m telling him to think about all the things he did in his former job- not just the title and the “headline” duties he performed, but the minutiae, the little things he did that might be dismissed as not relevant.

I’m challenging him to look for work that is a natural extension of the skills he has acquired over his career. What’s the next thing? What is the missing puzzle piece?

 I’m going to let you in on a little secret: there is virtually no enterprise in America that is not hiring people. Every company is hiring, right now. The jobs are hidden, however. These companies are looking to hire the RIGHT person. That person is you.

Look at all the things you did at your last position. There are a lot of details there. You have many skills you didn’t know you possessed.

Focus on it. This will get you back to the starting line faster.

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