Wrapping up a Layoff Job Hunt

Now that I’ve come to the end of my post-layoff job hunt, I wanted to provide some statistics about my job hunt. First, a quick summary of the search.

I didn’t have much of May left when I got “the call” and I spent most of the remainder of the month talking to people and figuring what I wanted to do. In June, I focused on a fairly narrow list of opportunities, putting a lot of irons in the fire to work on through the summer. I am extremely blessed to be in a position where I didn’t have to find something immediately, so in July and August I focused on spending time with the family, keeping existing conversations rolling, and only applying to super interesting roles. By the middle of August, several opportunities looked like they were going to result in offers, but they all died (for different reasons). So in September I ended up doing a soft reset and started applying more aggressively. Of the 87 applications I submitted, 62 came after August 24. By November there were several promising opportunities I thought would turn into offers and I was feeling pretty burnt out by the search, so I slowed the submissions again.  I actually spent some time considering doing some combination of IT consulting and a non-IT job. In fact, I did a lot of research on what it takes to be a park ranger and came close to submitting an application to a walking mail delivery job posted by the US Postal Service in my town. Ultimately, I did end up getting two offers, accepting one of those in mid-November.

Graphically, this is what my job search looked like, based on the number of applications per month:

As the flood of people reaching out with postings, companies, and support overwhelmed me in the first week, I went to a common tool for me: Microsoft Excel. It evolved over time, but became the main place for me to track all the possibilities I had, no matter how real. This really helped me to focus on the most important items to keep up on, while also keeping track of the long-term items. As it evolved, I started doing salary calculations and pro/con lists. I have a scrubbed version of it here if anyone is interested in using it.

Through all that tracking, I got a pretty good view of my experience with the current state of recruiting. Here are a few interesting findings:

  1. Referrals matter just to get a conversation, especially someone who works for the company. Obviously, the best case scenario is to have someone in upper management, on the hiring team, or who is willing to really advocate for you with the hiring team.
  2. You never know where the next job may come from, so applying without a referral is still necessary, but it’s a numbers game with those. For the most part, especially in September and October, I took the approach of applying for at least 5 positions each week (this number was driven by unemployment filing requirements) that looked promising without spending much time reviewing the posting, company, or connections. Most of these were based on LinkedIn recommendations and searches. It just wasn’t worth the time to dig too deep, because odds were that I’d never hear from them anyways. As you can see above, only 5% of those ever had a human respond.
  3. I had a lot of semi-official conversations with companies, many of which never resulted in an application (for a wide variety of reasons). Often starting with “we could really use someone like you,” they forced me to really articulate what I wanted to do and were often the most interesting conversations, because they involved a fairly open discussion to see if there was a good mutual fit.
  4. There are some job postings that I’m fully convinced were never intended to be filled. On September 11, I applied for a Technical Product Marketing Manager position with a startup. Slam dunk for me, right? Over 3 months later, it’s still posted but not a single contact to have a conversation. This is definitely the exception, not the rule however. There were far more instances of jobs getting filled and closed faster than I could apply.

Finally, a note of credit to Leon Adato who also spent half of this year job hunting. His lessons post inspired me to be more open about the details of my search. His write up is a worthwhile read and reflects much of what I experienced.

I’m not sure this information will be of much use other than to add more anecdotes about the current state of things, which I sense may be finally starting to change for the better. But, if anyone does find it to be useful or has questions, please let me know.