By Raymond Arroyo
If you're looking for an executive-level job, be prepared to invest time and effort to find your ideal next position. It could take a very long time. Being talented, educated, experienced, and reputable are important job-search assets. But even possessing all of these cannot guarantee that your job hunt will be a short one.
It takes significant effort to land the job that's right for you – researching, partnering with a trusted search firm, networking, and preparing for interviews, to name a few of many job-finding tasks. But there is an essential attribute that supports and augments all these efforts: perseverance. Without perseverance, many job hunters grow disenchanted, frustrated, and willing to settle for a lesser job than they deserve. Those who persevere will find satisfaction and success. But, it isn't easy.
Take Iván Gutierrez's case.
Iván is a fully bilingual sourcing-and-supply-chain executive who is supremely talented and highly educated. He has a proven transformational leadership style and a record of cutting costs in the double digits for the companies for which he has worked.
Iván has a degree in Materials Science Engineering, an MBA, and a J.D. from top nationally recognized universities. He has 20 years of experience in the procurement field. His personal brand reputation is stellar, and his contributions in the field have been recognized. He has been recognized by Hispanic Business Magazine as a Corporate Elite, and as a Young Corporate Achiever by the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility.
Despite having these impressive qualifications, after taking time off after his previous employment, it took Iván over a year to find his ideal next position. He finally found the perfect role of Chief Procurement Officer at Sungard Availability Services, a leading provider of information availability through managed IT, cloud and recovery services. "Looking for a job is a full-time job," says Iván enthusiastically. "You have to give it 100%. You also need to keep yourself in the game, and as a result I did consulting work during that time. This is not a time to isolate but to remain engaged."
Iván's challenging job search taught him significant lessons that he shared with me:
- Believe in yourself, even when the odds are against you.
- Nurture your personal network; don't wait until you need it.
- Save for a rainy day; you don't know when you might need it.
- There's a talent shortage in America; be recognized as a top A-talent, not B-talent.
- Most of all, never give up—persevere.
The long journey took Iván to places he had never been before; he experienced some triumphs, but also difficult days. Like most Americans, he depends on medical insurance from his employer. During this jobless time, his family had unexpected healthcare cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. And he said, "you still have to make home mortgage payments, and they became more taxing with each passing month."
It is not unusual for someone in a prolonged job search to sporadically feel overwhelmed and have a low confidence level. It can also be a very lonely experience. People you thought you could count on don't return phone calls or emails. You start wondering whether you have any friends. All of these difficulties create self-doubt and make you start wondering whether there's something wrong with you. The good news is that it's perfectly normal to have these feelings. In the process you become more resilient and develop stronger bonds with your true friends.
"Not knowing when you're going to land your next job is a daunting proposition for anyone," Iván says, "but the possibility of not landing the right job should never enter your mind."
As it turns out, Iván continued, "there was nothing wrong with my decision to take time off or with me." The economy had taken a severe downturn, a recession, in fact. Executive jobs were scarce. And for those few jobs, there were over 200 qualified people for every opening. Competition was fierce.
If it weren't for Iván's perseverance, he wouldn't have found the dream job at Sungard Availability Services. A job that keeps him "engaged, intellectually stimulated, and working with a great management team who value all that he brings to the table."
That's a job well worth the wait—and the perseverance.
Raymond Arroyo is a Managing Director at Reffett Associates, a nationally recognized, "pay for performance" retained executive search firm. Recognized as a top 100 Most Influential Hispanic, Raymond is a former Head of Talent Acquisition and Chief Diversity Officer at Aetna. You may contact him at Raymond@ReffettAssociates.com.