When we last left Margot she had just told her old boss to take this job and shove it. I was in full agreement. Margot had found out what she didn't like--crummy bosses, weak markets for the company's product, and, most importantly, she had learned a lot about figuring out a company's culture. As an ex-hard boiled finance guy, I view 'company culture' as worthless Human Resource buzz words like empowerment, mission statement and job enrichment. And they are. HR people spend careers sitting around thinking up these things and when the concept doesn't work out they quit and become authors or consultants.
But culture is somewhat borderline and each company has one. Margot wanted (who doesn't?) a place where she could work hard, learn a lot, and build a career. Pretty vague but we're getting there. She also learned she really is project oriented and detail oriented. Getting warm. Margot looked backwards and realized she really liked being a DJ on the A&M radio station and then head of marketing for the station. Got it. Entry level job in public relations, advertising, radio or TV. Margot and everybody else.
We also had economic issues to deal with, like the rent. Samuel Johnson wrote, "Nothing concentrates like a hanging." Or a rent payment. There was, of course, a solution--me. But Margot is an independent sort (thank God) who likes to be on her own and hates to ask for money.
So, united by economic and family ties, Margot and I became a job search machine. And we went about it like this.
Punch up the resume.
Check out the ads.
Analyze the Houston business structure.
Get the word out.
Use the Texas A&M network.
Look for temp work that could turn into full-time stuff.
Sounds pretty routine but that is the way people find jobs and the big unknown is you don't where or what will generate the job lead you want. SO, you have to cover all the bases.
First, the resume. Negatives and positives or, more importantly, turning negatives into positives. We decided to keep her first job experience on the resume. Negative--the job only lasted two months. Positives--shows future employers she had gotten a job, she had showed up and worked in a for profit environment, most hiring managers know recruiting is tough, and she could explain the 'work environment' once she got in the interview. Telling somebody the Hurricane Rita story or the firing two employees after one week on the job story would be enough to paint the boss as a whacko.
Check out the ads. That was my job. Went through the Houston paper and any other website that came along with Houston jobs. You guys today have it so easy with the Internet.
Analyze the Houston business structure. Who actually does business in Houston? Quick visit to the Houston Chamber of Commerce website generated a lot of information about large, medium and small companies along with addresses and websites. One thought I had was a letter writing campaign to all the companies hoping for a strike. Most people think that approach doesn't work. I know it does--a long time ago at The Quaker Oats Company we got a resume that came over the transom, mild interest, interviewed and hired the guy. He ended up his career as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
Get the word out. Most jobs result from some kind of personal contact, a variation on "it's not what you know, but who you know." This should really be, "it helps in the beginning to know somebody, but eventually you better know what you are doing." And everybody knows somebody. We started sending e-mails and resumes to everybody. Who is everybody? Put your heads together and throw out names of anybody, anywhere you know that has any link to commerce. And that is quite a few people. And then contact them because 1) you don't know where the job lead is going to come from and 2) people want to help.
Use the Texas A&M network. For those who are unfamilar with A&M the best way to describe the place is not as a university but as a cult. Aggies are weird but they stick together and the network runs deep. There is an A&M club in Houston and Margot started going to the meetings.
Temp jobs. Enough said.
This all sounds cheery and easy. It's not. Hunting for a job is a job. A hard, unrewarding, door in your face job. But we did ok. More later.