Inviting Change Into My Career Search
In January 2016 I found out that the insurance company I worked for was moving my job to California. Since I opted not to relocate, my position was eliminated at the end of that year.
I had mixed feelings about this news. I was grateful that I had almost a year to prepare for my transition. But I loved my job in corporate communications and worried about finding a similar position. I learned 5 important lessons during my search for a new career.
My Job Search Has Taken Longer Than Expected
I thought I would get a jumpstart on finding a new job, but it has taken longer than expected.
During 2016 I focused on getting ready for my job search while preparing to hand off my projects and train my replacement. I updated my resume and created a LinkedIn profile. I took advantage of the opportunity to review my accomplishments over the last 10+ years and think about how to market myself.
When I met my old team for lunch in the summer of 2017, we all agreed that the job search was taking longer than we thought. My former boss asked me if I had applied for unemployment. Since I had received six months of severance pay, I hadn’t even considered getting unemployment because I expected to find a new job within those six months.
There Have Been Unexpected Benefits
I have made many new connections and found a new direction during my search.
As part of my severance package, I received outplacement services which involve working with a career consultant to update your resume and develop a marketing plan to focus your job search efforts.
There are also weekly job search team meetings with other people who are in transition. One of the things that helped the most was hearing other team members talk about their experiences (how long they were searching, how they networked, prepared for interviews and negotiated job offers).
One team member had been a public relations manager for a pharmaceutical company. She referred me to a recruiter who specializes in placing communications professionals. Another member was an insurance executive, and he provided a potential job lead through a contact at his former company.
Networking Is Key
Previously, I had not done any networking. I had a 40+ mile commute which resulted in a very long day and limited my free time during the week.
Due to contacts I made through the weekly meetings, I found other networking opportunities: the Ellevate Professional Women’s Network and the Philadelphia Business Journal Annual Women’s Mentoring Event.
At my first Ellevate networking meeting in March, someone encouraged me to start writing articles in my area of expertise (insurance, financial services). I received the same advice at the women’s mentoring event.
I Had To Step Outside My Comfort Zone
After looking at job postings, I realized I would need to create new writing samples.
When I joined Ellevate, I took a webinar on writing online content to enhance your brand. The person who led the webinar offered free 30-minute coaching sessions. I signed up for a coaching session, and it gave me the boost I needed to finish my first article. I got tips on how to improve my writing and information about publishing online.
I published my first article on personal finance best practices in May on Medium, an online publishing platform. After registering on the site, I edited my article online and published it at no charge. I published a second article about dealing with an unexpected life event in July.
In the meantime, leaders of the Philadelphia and King of Prussia Ellevate Chapters were looking for content for their soon-to-be-launched She’s It website. I mentioned my articles on Medium and was hired as a freelance writer. I have had two articles published on the She’s It site: one about helping my mother move from her home of 50+ years to a retirement community and one on my father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Learning To Live With Uncertainty
If you asked me in 2016, I could not have predicted that I would become a freelance writer. I’ve learned to live with uncertainty and just go with the flow.
With any transition, there are long stretches with not much happening on the job front. But every time I got discouraged, something would happen—either a new networking contact or a new job lead.
Looking back, 2017 turned out to be a fantastic year which I did not anticipate when I started this search. I have made many new contacts and discovered a network that helped me launch my freelance writing. I’ve included my published articles in my LinkedIn profile and have noticed more recruiters are finding me and contacting me with job opportunities.
I plan to continue freelance writing even after I find a full-time job. This transition has forced me to think about my future in a new way.
As I move forward in 2018, I’m optimistic I will find the right opportunity!