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Job Search Lessons and the Wellesley Network


Guest blogger Deborah Brody Hamilton shared her experiences with the CareerFuel community as she searched for a job. Her six month search ended in December and in this final blog, she sums up her key lessons.

Trust your gut. Early on in my search, I turned down a high-paying job because I got a creepy feeling from the interview. This was also less than a month into my job search, and I thought another offer would be around the corner. Shortly thereafter, a friend took a job at this organization and spent the several months telling me how great it was and how I blew a good opportunity. Other people told me I should have just taken it and kept looking for something else. I spent hours second-guessing my decision. In April, I heard that the organization was in deep financial trouble and was letting people go. 

It’s really not about you. The most painful event of my job search was spending hours interviewing for a job that seemed to be a perfect fit, and then never receiving a call back about the outcome. The search firm took up days of my time and then sent me to see the hiring executive who was rude and criticized everything I said. After the interview I followed up with the search firm, and they never returned my calls. Several months later (after I was employed) this same search firm called me several time asking for referrals for searches as well as soliciting my business.

Weed out friends who make this all about them. During my four months of unemployment, I heard from friends who were supportive and encouraging. Others, who I had helped through job searches and other crises, either didn’t reach out at all or, if they did, they said things that I didn’t need to hear. Like how glad they were that they didn’t get laid off, or how lucky I was that I didn’t have children.

People hire candidates they know. Several of the jobs I interviewed for last fall were only recently filled. In almost every case, someone the hiring executive knew from a previous job was hired, despite a yearlong search process. Throughout my career, I have only gotten jobs through contacts— in retrospect, I wish I had just forgone the online applications and the headhunters and networked even more than I did.

The universe works on its own timetable. For the first three and half months of my job search, the job I ended up in didn’t exist. Enjoying the fall was not an option, since I didn’t have a crystal ball, but then I wouldn’t have learned all of these lessons.

Post Script from AnnMarie McIlwain. Who you know can stretch back decades. Deborah and I shared an alma mater—Wellesley College—and a wonderful mutual alum and friend in Paul DeMasi, an economist turned life coach. Paula connected the dots of what I was doing on CareerFuel and Deborah’s sudden employment needs. We were looking for someone to blog about the unemployment experience; she needed qualified advice and a therapeutic outlet. The two coalesced six months later when her boss-to-be was in the final stages of extending an offer to Deborah and read her blogs as part of his background checking.

Two articles have appeared since then profiling Deborah’s experience, one in our alumnae magazine where Deborah said “I could not have made it through without the McAfee (Wellesley) connection and the wonderful support from CareerFuel.” Another appeared in last week’s AARP online magazine. When the media asked us about a good story of someone in their 40s who turned unemployment into a paycheck, we had just the person for them.

If you are living through unemployment, have a flair for writing and a desire to build your social media deposits, write us at am@careerfuel.net. You never know where a virtuous circle might roll.

For more of Deborah’s blogs, click here. To read about networking to find work, meet Michael.

About Deborah Brody Hamilton

Guest Blogger Deborah Brody Hamilton is a writer and communications professional with almost 30 years of work experience in Washington, D.C. Her peak moments were (1) in 1972, when she won an award from the Yonkers Public Library for most books read in a summer, and (2) in 1997, when she was a mediator at Congress’s first Bipartisan Retreat for Civility.