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Last Friday I had my 90 day review for my new job. I thought I'd celebrate by sharing my long journey to employment with everyone.

Last year my dream job ended and I had to find something else. I worked the Olympics in Salt Lake City, and I knew when I started in 2000 that it wouldn't last forever. The organizing committee was great about getting everyone prepared for life and employment after the Olympics, but the economy didn't quite cooperate. I started looking, networking, etc. several months before the Games. Despite all those efforts, it took me almost a year to find my current position. While nothing will compare with my Olympic experience, this job comes very close. I LOVE what I am doing, have a GREAT staff that reports to me (first time having direct reports other than interns) and I have a GOOD boss. But I thought I would share with you all some of my lessons learned.

First, let me say unemployment SUCKS!!! I will do my best not to dish out cliches or that kind of nonsense. I'm sure you are getting that from well meaning friends and family. No unemployment isn't the end of the world, but I don't know anyone that can relax when they don't know when or how much their next paycheck will be. The only exception is someone who is independently wealthy.

Next, follow Nick's advice. It works. In particular networking and research are really important.

Here is my story. Hopefully you will see how Nick's advice worked for me and that my journey can help/inspire others. After the Olympics I decided to move back to Florida so I could live cheaply with family. While I was in my hometown, I hadn't lived there since high school so I didn't have any professional contacts. Having the Olympics on my resume was great for getting me in the door at many places, but once there people didn't know what to do with me. Kind of frustrating. I'm a member of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and decided that getting involved with the organization would be a good way to network. I attended luncheons, but that isn't really getting involved and it was hard to get to know people at a luncheon.

So I decided to participate in the chapter's study group for the public relations acreditation program. I had always wanted to do this, and thought it would be a great way to meet people and sharpen my skills. I was right. I met 12 other professionals and established great relationships with 5 of them. Plus it really helped my self esteem. When you are unemployed for a long period of time you start to doubt your skills. During our study group I sometimes felt insecure because I was the only one unemployed, but I just kept plugging on. After the exam I had several people come up to me and thank me for my contributions. They even said they saw me as the leader of the group. And all were sure I passed my exam (I did). What a boost that was for me.

I did a lot of research on companies in town. Once I narrowed down the list, I heavily researched those companies. I got some interviews that went very well, but that is when positions got put on hold or completely eliminated (that was the economy working for me). One position I spent a lot of time researching ended up paying very little and providing no benefits. Felt like I really wasted my time on that one. More frustration.

Then one day I got a phone call from someone I had met networking. They knew of an opening, but the organization was in the final stages of hiring. She thought I would be perfect and told me to send my resume to her contact right away. That was on a Thursday, and I did send my resume minutes after I talked with my contact. I then followed up with a phone call. Nothing. Friday I followed up with a phone call. Nothing. Luckily that weekend I went out of town so I didn't think about it. Monday when I got back in town, I called my contact and said I hadn't heard from them. She said she would look into it. A couple of hours later I get a phone call requesting me to come in for an interview first thing on Tuesday morning. Since I was working a night job to make ends meet, that meant I would have no time to prepare. I asked if we could meet that afternoon and they agreed. I always have a porfolio with me just in case, and I customize it for the job.

Well remember that job I did all the research for that I thought was a waste of time? Well this job was in the same industry, so all that research wasn't a waste. I used it to refresh my knowledge and prepare for the interview. The interview went great. They gave me a take home writing test to be turned in at the end of business the next day (I left there at 5 p.m.). Since the job involves a lot of writing, much of which has to be done under pressure, they wanted to test my skills.

Well thank goodness for my study group. I called one of my contacts from there who worked in tourism also. Told him what my assignment was and he sent me samples of similar projects he had worked on and gave me ideas for mine. Once I wrote up the project this guy even proofed it for me before I turned it in.

Thursday they call me back and would like me to come in an hour for the second interview. Hmmm. I was in jeans and a t-shirt and needed a shower from just finishing my workout. Told them I could come in first thing on Friday.

I decided to use the power of positive thinking - you know act like an employee - and cleared my calendar for the day. I knew that Friday was my predecessors last day. I wanted them to know that not only was I qualified for the job, but that I could start right away and make it an easy transition. Interviews went well (met with a consultant and one of the people who would be reporting to me). Afterward they asked me to wait a few minutes (about 20). My boss came into the room and offered me the job. I said yes, I can start right now. That was 11 a.m. I needed to do a drug test before it could be official, so I went straight to the testing center and peed in a cup. (Nick, that was when I met the hr person.) By 1 p.m. I was with my predecessor learning my new job.

Monday morning I started as an official employee hitting the ground running.

After the fact I found out some interesting things. More than 200 people had applied for the job. They had been interviewing for 8 weeks, but no one had really wowed them and that was why the position was still open. By the time they recieved my resume and recommendation, they had narrowed the field to 3 candidates and were getting ready to offer it to one of them, but my boss wasn't really excited about any of them. My resume got their attention. My writing sample was great. My portfolio blew them away. I didn't have a tourism specific background, but I know public relations very well. They knew tourism and could teach me that. They didn't know pr and needed someone who had those skills already. Yeah I was nervous, but since it all happened so quickly I was myself. Also, I immediately clicked with my direct report during our interview. That didn't happen with anyone else.

90 days later I'm still here. Still very excited and loving my new job. I get along great with my boss and she gave me a great review last month. Several of my co-workers have commented on what a good fit I am for the organization. The planets finally were aligned.

To all those still looking -- keep plugging along. I know it sucks sometimes, but just keep moving forward. Don't look back and say I shoulda done this or that. Correct your mistakes and go forward. Take a break too. Follow Nick's advice. I can't tell you how much my research skills have helped me in my new job.

It was a slow and agonizing process. Thank God it is over for me. Those still going through it are in my prayers. Use this board to vent, get advice and most importantly to keep our sanity. That is what I did. Just like all good things come to an end, so do bad things (Okay that is my one cliche).
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