Dan hasn’t looked for a job for 15 years. He’s been with the same firm for that period of time and has risen rather rapidly through the ranks. Along the way, his company gave him all kinds of kudos and recognition and continually told him how great a contribution he made, how wonderful he was and how they couldn’t do without him, blah, blah, blah.
It is true that his performance was excellent and that he had been promoted a number of times. He always had all kinds of people in the company and outside the company telling him how wonderful he was. He reached the level of Regional VP and all of these accolades started going to his head. The first blow to his ego was that he didn’t get as big a raise as he thought he should. The second, and biggest blow, came from the fact that he lost a promotion to one of his peers that he was certain he was going to get. The selection committee wasn’t courteous enough to tell him why he didn’t get promoted, but he felt like his meteoric rise was now slowed, if not stymied. “After all,” he thought (and what he told us) “… I’ve given sweat and blood to this company. I got an MBA. I’ve had fantastic reviews. Everybody tells me I’m wonderful and the company could not get along without me and that other companies would feel very lucky to have me.” (My sense is he imagined this last part more than someone telling him that.)
His family didn’t help either. His father, upon hearing the story of Dan’s plight, agreed that Dan deserved the promotion and that the company wasn’t appreciating him. Dan’s wife totally agreed and kept telling him that he should quit because there were boatloads of organizations that would love to find talent like his.
So, Dan quit. That was six months ago and Dan is still looking for a job. He had absolutely no idea how difficult it would be to find a job. Dan was believing his own press clippings. He thought that since his company thought he was so wonderful and his family just knew he could not only replace his job but find a better one, all he had to do was quit and go look for one.
Dan was saying a lot of what we hear from people all the time, “Every company needs really good people…( especially like me).” They each quit their job thinking that companies are simply going to fall down in front of them to get them on board. They do no research on how many jobs like they’ve been doing exist and what their probability might be of getting a job like that even if they could find the opening. Dan even made the comment that his professors in his graduate program were certain, that with an MBA from their school, he should have no problem finding a new job. Of course, they have absolutely no idea what the job market might be like for what Dan does either. (That’s why they are in academia. Besides, that’s what they’re supposed to tell students who just paid $100,000 to get an MBA from their school.)
Dan had a few interviews, but they were more courtesy interviews from friends, colleagues, etc. He is shocked, depressed and demoralized that he hasn’t easily found a job. The problem Dan has run into is very common. He had absolutely no idea what the market might bear for his experience or background. Just because he had all of these people, his company, his family, his professors etc. telling him how wonderful he was didn’t mean that he was going to find a job. The majority of jobs like Dan is looking for are promoted into from within. It’s rare for companies to hire someone like Dan off the street. It has nothing to do with his ability or his performance. It has to do with the availability or should we say, lack of availability of the kind of job he has done.
The lesson is, don’t believe your own press clippings. Just because all of the people you work with tell you how wonderful you are doesn’t mean that people are going to immediately hire you. Do some “market testing” and find out how easy it’s going to be to find a job. Don’t think that just because you’re so damn good and everybody just knows it, that somebody’s going to instantly hire you.
Dan is now considering going back to work for his old company. He’s going to have to take a position that is one or two levels below where he was before. He’s not sure what he will do. Our recommendation is that he swallow his pride and go back to his old company. Now, if he wants to look for a job while he’s got one, that’s probably the better idea. Right now, he needs to get back to work.
Don’t believe your own press clippings.