As an IT recruiter for more than 15 years, I’ve experienced my share of employment panic. During the dot com bust I found myself laid off after more than 2 years of loyal and productive service for my employer at the time. I looked for any opportunity I was qualified for; we were definitely a 2 income family . In a panic, I accepted a position with a local staffing firm whose specialty was not IT or even professional level staffing. They specialized in clerical, light industrial and a smidgen of Accounting; and because it was a franchise, we were limited to servicing only a small area. I accepted a salary much lower than what I had been accustomed to, knowing my options were limited (and thankful to have gainful employment).
Tampa is a highly competitive market for staffing at all levels. Quite frankly, it’s pretty saturated. When I joined my new employer in the beginning of 2002, I was tasked with developing IT business for their firm. It was an uphill battle in a time of cutbacks and because my available sales territory was so small, I was forced to take some extreme measures to bring in business and secure my position.
About 1 month into my new position, I learned I was pregnant.
It was an exciting discovery but also a terrifying one. What if I failed to do what I was hired to do and lost my job? Business was scarce and I was fighting wildly for the scraps. I knew there was a chance I could lose my job and what then? Who was going to hire a pregnant woman in a down recruiting economy?
8 months later, the fight was getting even harder. Business was so bad that one morning I put on my most professional maternity attire, donned my most comfy shoes and picked a nice tall building downtown armed with business cards. Cold calling to the extreme! I started my rounds on the 2nd floor; visiting a couple of offices where I got polite “no thank you’s”. What happened next changed my entire perception of cold calling in an instant.
When I walked in the door of Suite 250, I wasn’t sure what the line of business was but it didn’t matter. I hadn’t gotten enough “no’s” yet to be discouraged, so in I went! There was a gentleman behind front desk obviously looking for something – who greeted me. I quickly introduced myself and handed him a business card. I explained our services as quickly and briefly as I could, prepared for my “no thanks” response so I could move on to the next office.
He paused, looking at my business card and said: “I’m not interested in your services, but I am interested in you.“ He reached into his pocket and took out his business card, handing it to me. He said, “Let’s set up a time to talk further, I’d like to talk to you about an opportunity here with our firm.” I looked down at his business card – he was the President of the company! Turns out I was in the office of a national IT Consulting firm – which was more in line with my career experience. He was so impressed with my tenacity and willingness to cold call (even while pregnant) that he wanted me on his team.
Long story short, I was offered a job 2 days later – pregnancy and all.
After some consideration, I held off on joining that company until after my daughter was born – but I did take the offer! I spent 5 great years with that team and have no regrets. In fact, it was a significant turning point and learning experience for me in my career.
Now, imagine if I hadn’t gone cold calling that day. Imagine if I’d chickened out, as I wanted to do. Cold calling isn’t a fun activity, with this I can agree. You have to pick a day when you aren’t feeling down or sorry for yourself and give yourself a good pep talk (or three). The point is, you never know who you might encounter by chance that is going to be interested in you. Social media with all it’s worth can’t create those kinds of connections for you. Only fate and a little bit of guts, can.
So get out there! Take a chance! Who will you meet? One thing is for sure, if you keep sitting there you aren’t going to find out.