David Newman of Nyack, a lawyer who specializes in trade law and has been unemployed since 2009, looks over a binder filled with notes of prospective employers Jan. 3. He is building a network of contacts for himself. (Ricky Flores/The Journal News)
Editor’s Note: David Newman of Nyack is one of six bloggers working with The Journal News and LoHud.com as part of our Jobless Recovery series, which began in today’s print editions. The 12-part series examines the job market and the impact unemployment has had on the Lower Hudson Valley. As the region climbs out of the recession, some sectors and businesses are expected to grow. Read stories of survival and learn about opportunities over the next 11 Sundays in The Journal News. Read more at LoHud.com/joblessrecovery.
Last week, the superego and the id each vied for attention. One promoted an active and energetic job search. The other would have been happy lolling about and eating frozen pizza and ice cream all day. But what about the middleman, the ego? For the answer, I’ll begin with the snow.
Yesterday, I drove by Rockland Lake State Park and noticed with pride that my cross country ski tracks from a couple of days earlier remained firmly carved into the snow. The tracks were much like my career, an identity of achievements and relationships blazed over time. Like a Nordic ski course, the best of my career was engraved on a blank white slate, my vision for the job guiding me into new and creative ways to re-imagine the work and serve my company’s constituents. Though heights were sometimes climbed with friction for traction, ultimately I reached peaks that set free a great rush of speed in accomplishment. Twists and turns challenged balance but by maintaining a center of gravity I kept along, swiftly moving. And, like the crisp clean winter air and the unspoiled perfection of the snowy surface, there was in it a certain purity of purpose. Yes, at its kindest, I could slide ahead with guileless disregard for what lay underneath, the rust brown earth that buries snowy dreams (“and miles to go before I sleep”).
But, snow tracks are never indelible and neither are we. A career diverted and before long your imprint fades in time and melts from sight. And, among the many hardships and difficulties to be found in transition, the bruises to the fallen ego are maybe the most black and blue. This is why I’m so happy for my friend Hayden.
I met Hayden in my first job search work team. Soft spoken and thoughtful, he brought to bear intelligence and insight from a career that spanned numerous successes. Most recently, before his layoff, Hayden had launched new medical products, taking them from concept to commercialization. His past colleagues lauded him for unparalleled strategic vision and strong financial, marketing and analytical skills. And yet, before me appeared someone who was shaken and filled with uncertainty. Not long ago he shared his doubts, his life filled with questions. What am I? What do I want to be? Now that I’m in this position, who are we as a family? There were even a couple of times when I remember observing Hayden and witnessing someone who seemed physically diminished, lost and swimming in his own clothes.
I began to see less of Hayden during the past few months, his despondency precluded getting up for team meetings, I suppose. I hoped that he wasn’t going to become one of the many displaced souls who gave up hope and stopped trying. I sent him a message, reminding him about the inestimable contributions that he’d made to his prior employers, his family and community. Still, Hayden moved under my radar and I lost sight of him. Then, suddenly came the news that he had landed a great new job. A former staff member, remembering his talents and his people skills, hired him to run a product group in a major corporate organization.
You’ve heard it before — loss of a job is one of life’s most traumatic events. In many ways, it’s like a divorce and the best you can do is hope for a good settlement. But, if you are ever in this situation, recall Hayden when you and your ego fall on bitter times. And, remember these two things. First, recount to yourself (in writing) your success stories— re-visualize those imprints in the snow — all that made you and your contributions uniquely memorable. Know that you have the proven skills to forge a new trail, still able to leave tracks of your own.
Second, contact your friends and colleagues, all those people who know what you have to offer. Share your objectives with them and remind them of your core competencies and accomplishments so that they can help connect you to potential hiring managers. It is you, your individual essence, that will sell in a work world that is still run by people and not cyber recruiters — people who will recognize in you someone with whom they want to climb that next snow covered peak.
About the writer
David Newman was former in-house counsel at an international technology company. He specialized in regulatory compliance and public policy, with an emphasis on the international supply chain to the United States. In fact, David was highly involved in the discussions surrounding the development of regulatory rules designed to prevent terrorists from using instruments of the international supply chain to smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the country.
After sixteen years with the company, including efforts that saved tens of millions of dollars, David’s business group was eliminated as part of a much larger, recession induced series of cost saving measures.
In this jobless recovery, David’s blog posts are designed to help him and his “in-transition” counterparts recover a spirit of belonging, perspective and sometimes humor.