September  2005

Volume XI Number 3     jimborland@att.net
 

A New Masthead

 

After ten years with Goodrich and Sherwood, my decision to leave was a measured one.  I will continue to have availability there for my individual clients, but I have decided to accept Kate Wendleton’s offer to help develop The Five O’Clock Club’s efforts and to put more time into my own  career/business coaching and clinical practice. 

 

I am listed on Psychology Today’s website, as well as those of The Five O’Clock Club Guild and Career Counselors Consortium.  Additionally, I am “in network” for Empire, Magellan, Aetna, Horizon, MHN-Healthnet, Oxford, United Health, HIP, and others.  

 

I value our relationship and hope you will continue to refer to me both career/business and clinical situations.

 

 

An Old Question -- Made New

 

“What’s different about The Five O’Clock Club” from traditional outplacement has been a frequent question from people who know my experience with two “classic” outplacement firms and my work as a Five O’Clock Club leader.

 

I decided that the most significant way I could answer is to tell the story of a Five O’Clock Club member, several years post-transition.

 

Rod was a classic “techie,” an engineer with an MS in Computer Science.  He had eleven years of systems analysis for a chemical company that was consolidating its IT function in the south. He came to the Club knowing he would soon have to make a decision ....Tennessee or a new situation. 

 

As his coach, I encouraged Rod to complete the Seven Stories.  He reported to the group that his stories all showed two attributes. He liked to complete tasks, and he liked to lead people in that effort.  The following week, when he brought in his pre-Club resume, Pat, a public relations person, told him point blank that he looked, on paper, like a $70K techie, not a $140K executive.

 

Rod winced at that, but he produced an improved resume and a two-minute pitch that focused on his project management successes. Pat, who became Rod’s job-search buddy, went with him before Club one night to pick out three “interview” suits when she learned he was wearing the one suit he owned.    Interviews are not business casual!

 

Rod read the Interview book, and he really listened to the presentations on interviewing.  He later said that the phrase “It’s show business” stuck with him.  In his new suit, with a new powerful resume and a focused two-minute pitch, Rod felt comfortable deciding not to go to Tennessee! 

 

The week he started his search full-time, Rod received a voice mail from a search firm with a position for an experienced security IT project leader with a “Big Four” consulting firm. He called me a bit agitated. “I’m not a security expert,” he said.  I pointed out that his resume had two successful security projects on it.  He had installed an employee swipe-card system in a cafeteria and a closed-circuit monitoring system in a chemical plant.  (This was in pre-9/11 times.)

 

Rod cleared the search guy and was about to see the potential employer when another group member asked Rod, “If XYZ is interested in adding an IT security consultant, perhaps the others are also. Are you targeting them?”

 

In quick succession, Rod made contacts to all the other firms and did target letters to six other consulting firms. Rod’s confidence soared with each meeting, and he eventually accepted another Big Four offer, achieving a 20% salary increase.

 

Rod has stayed in touch since he landed.  He is now a partner, heads the security practice internationally, has co-authored two books, and still is friends with Pat, his job-search buddy.  Rod says the Seven Stories, coupled with the group confronting him to reposition himself, made all the difference in his success.

 

Books I’d Recommend

 

Bait and Switch -- The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream, Barbara Ehrenreich, New York, Metropolitan Books, 2005, $23.00.

 

As the reviewer for the New York Times said, this book is a “spin off” of Ehrenreich’s successful Nickel and Dimed, which spent two years on the bestseller list.  That book told of the author’s experience doing physically difficult minimum-wage jobs, chronicling the boring and financially marginal lives of the working class.

 

This book attempts to take a similar inside look at white-collar unemployment. Ehrenreich invents a persona as a public relations executive and sets out to tour the career transition industry. Her first stop is the web, which leads her to a consultant geographically near her home and then to another consultant, who tries to sell her a $1200 three-month package. 

 

This is followed by attendance at networking groups, job fairs, and a boot camp workshop with a leader who claims to have “the same skill set as Dr. Phil.”  A dress-for-success consultation, a faith-based program, and a public relations professional group lead to one interview with AFLAC, known for its duck commercials on television, to sell insurance on commission.

 

While I admire the author’s sardonic writing, this book is neither a parody on job seeking nor a serious political statement about the current state of American capitalism. In the final analysis, it fails because it is based on a lie:  the author is a journalist, not a public relations executive.  Her resume is false, she can’t network, and she pales when she is actually asked to describe her PR accomplishments. 

 

In her last chapter, Ehrenreich claims the “silencing” of the unemployed professionals is a major force against “the revolutionary threat posed by unemployed and fearful white-collar workers.” She claims that not one of the fellow job seekers whom she meets lands a job comparable to their last position.

 

To summarize, this is not what I’d hoped for in this book.  Ehrenreich misses so much of the positive energy I see every day in career advancement.  The class warfare potential simply doesn’t exist because, to correct the author’s parenthetical, “The pursuit of the American Dream is NOT futile.”

 

Snail Mail vs. E-mail?

 

In June, we asked you to let us know if you preferred this newsletter hard copy mailed or by email format.  The results were interesting -- snail mail got 60% of the vote, email 40%.  Many wrote that they enjoyed getting “real mail.”

 

Postcards are still coming in.  Apparently, since some receivers know that neither a bill nor a check is enclosed, they put it in a pile for future reading.  Another astute reader criticized my survey form.  She wrote, “Don’t you want to save the postage, envelope, and stuffing hassle? Just ask people to put their email on the postcard reply.” 

 

            So, yes, dear reader, if you would accept this newsletter in email, please let me know at jimborland@att.net.