Thanks to Linkedin, I was now connecting with hiring managers and recruiters across the board and I was in the driver’s seat accepting or declining second and third interviews. It was me who was evaluating employers, picking and choosing where I went and when!
By Erik Pettit
Director of Facilities Management at The Sterling Group
It was 10pm on crisp March night. I checked my bank account, looked through email, caught up with friends on Instagram and Facebook and confirmed a connection with an executive on LinkedIn, all from my phone! I knew it all, right? I’ve used social media for years, met my wife via MySpace in the height of its’ day but I had much to learn about using social media to find my dream job; LinkedIn is where my story begins!
Outside of my second story brick home, master bedroom window, I can see and old fashioned, iron street lamp cutting a dim path of light through the soft falling snow. I reminisce back one year earlier when I had a slim chance at owning a home, a subpar job with a less than average boss and mediocre income. I’m confident I did my job well but found my bosses to lack leadership foresight and out of touch with other departments within the organization. I grew more and more dissatisfied with where I would end up in the role I was playing. Did caring and wanting to excel within the department prove to be over achieving and frowned upon by upper management? That may sound funny to some people or even arrogant but to contrary, I understand arrogance well and stay far away from it, as a rule of thumb. I was simply unhappy, stuck in an unproductive role and wanted more for my personal story.
The 2007/2008 economic disaster was just that for me and my new family, a complete disaster. My 11 year old construction business had just collapsed; I was a new husband and an even newer father. I was responsible to be the provider for the first time in my life and I found myself unable! It was clear I needed my first job, ever!
A property management/investment company, Holland Residential, offered me a low/mid-level corp. position and I was thrilled; the learning curve was huge but doable. The position gave me a new lease on life and I found myself very humbled, appreciative of the folks that I worked with. I was quietly ashamed though because what they didn’t know was that my humble salary wasn’t paying for 1/2 of my bills, not to mention the finer things in life, like lunch. My dreams had died with the economy and I was trying my hardest to feed my family and simply survive. I may sound a bit dramatic but life was tough. I was on the cusp of losing two homes due to foreclosure, meeting with the IRS in my living room for months on end, dodging the repo man just to keep my vehicle and I can’t count how many sleepless nights my wife and I endured. The position with Holland was amazing and like all amazing things, it had to come to an end. A year later I was laid off and looking for my next survival adventure.
A long 7 months later and an unemployment receiver, I landed a similar position in Colorado. With the homes and IRS dealt with, we packed up and headed a mile high! It didn’t take long for me, in my new position to realize that I was capable of much more in my career. One year in and three bosses later I was ready for a new chapter. Looking at Monster and Craigslist ads, I began to seek a new direction; my main motivation, responsibility and creativity. Internet job searching took me nowhere and the job response was dismal. Time slowly went by and the job front was stalled; then it happened. It was a chance meeting and a chance conversation that would change my life.
It was my 3 year old son’s birthday party and Dave Mendoza, attended the party with his wife and daughter. While standing in a group of dads, I mentioned that I was on the job hunt. Dave quickly looked over at me and asked me, in what industry and what methods I was utilizing in my search. I rattled off the usual, Monster, CareerBuilder and Craigslist and hit a couple of other job sites. Dave peaked my interest when he told me in other words that I’ve wasted the last 6 months and should of come to him for advice sooner. Dave took it a step further and invited me to his home for a Sunday afternoon “lesson” on job finding! For the next 24 hours I contemplated what I could be missing and I couldn’t think of anything, I knew it all, so I thought.
At Dave’s home the following day, we sat down in his regal office where his Apple computer screen glowed with my very own LinkedIn profile. I knew very little about LinkedIn and in one hour’s time, Dave had me requesting connections with people throughout my industry all the while using Linkedin to create my personal brand. My profile was a close copy of my resume, detailed and to the point. Dave worked with me to set up my profile with key words and showed me how to search for key terms such as “Vice President” and “recruiter” to reach hiring managers. By the time Dave was finished explaining the ins and outs, I had my first connection and found myself excited to continue marketing myself! My job seeking world had changed.
As I left Dave’s home that day, he asked me to make 100 connections in the first week. “It’s doable” he said. I was eager and blessed to have someone like Dave pushing me deeper into the unfamiliar.
That first week of connections I had four phone interviews! The next week I had four more. The third and fourth week I had a Chicago flight booked, all the while connecting with folks, seeking my dream job and making progress in creating my personal story. I went from a silent job market to an explosive one!
In the back of my mind I couldn’t let go of that position in Indiana. “LinkedIn” I thought! I did a quick search and found several people in the organization to connect with. It wasn’t long before I received an email back requesting a resume and more information.
Thanks to Dave Mendoza, I learned how impactful social media was. It helped me find my wife, and it took a friend to show me it would just as effectively connect me to gainful employment, let alone my ideal dream job. Instead of sending out as many resumes to mass, general email accounts as I could, I was able to find key people and send resumes with precision and the age old saying, “aim small, miss small”, was once again relevant! The position would be giving me a huge promotion including freedom and the chance to explore business creativity I’d been longing for. Thanks to Linkedin, I was now connecting with hiring managers and recruiters across the board and I was in the driver’s seat accepting or declining second and third interviews. It was me who was evaluating employers, picking and choosing where I went and when!
I had thought I knew it all. A 30 something, low level manager with a passion to do my job well and to be the best! What I didn’t know was that I was lacking the knowledge that would put me over the edge; the knowledge of Linkedin and personal branding. For me, I landed that Indiana job thanks to Dave and Linkedin. My advice, whether you are job hunting or not, begin to put together a Linkedin profile and like me, create your personal story, one connection at a time!
Dave Note:“I often tell my colleagues in private or during a presentation that too often we forget that we work in an honorable vocation. At the core of what we do, the consequences of our efforts genuinely impact real people, with actual families that are directly effected by our role. A few months ago, a birthday party and overhearing a conversation presented a fateful opportunity to make a difference. I’ll treasure every opportunity to pass goodness forward. This is one genuine tale I have been looking forward to sharing with you. I thank Erik for considering the potential of what is a deeply personal story so that others can directly benefit.
It doesn’t have to be a sad story, happy endings are a journey, they say, and easier still if someone takes the time to point someone to the right direction. Destiny has a way of everyone having a role in the discovery. I am blessed I could be a small part of one family’s new destination; and Linkedin did the rest.”