No. of Recommendations: 70
About two months ago I was shown the door (exit door, that is), in no uncertain terms by a company I would have given my eye-teeth to work for.

That stung a bit, but I learned some important lessons. And I received fantastic advice and overwhelmingly positive support here to help me stay on the right track. Let me update you on these past two months.

Shaving away the savings

My savings are running thin, so I take a bottom-of-the-barrel job working in a factory to accrue income while continuing my job search. After six weeks on the job, I am promoted from the very lowest paying job to the very highest paying one (second only to plant foreman).

I now make more money starting in this position than I would have at the eye-teeth job, anyway.

It's a funny story of how it all came to be.

Oh god, not another HR interview… God, what did I ever do, I swear that I'll never again…

I go to a cattle-call company job fair. (Don't throw the tomatoes just yet! Networking prowess is forthcoming, keep reading!) I am the only candidate to arrive in a full suit. I want a sales job or something in the office but they are only hiring for plant jobs. Fine. I need income.

The HR person clearly does not believe I can possibly work in a factory. I tell her everything I know about the business. I can tell she considers it irrelevant. She just doesn't think I will fit. In desperation, I say, “Look, I'm a strong, tough guy who is no stranger to physical exertion and old-fashioned hard work.” No response.

My mind is going rapid-fire through everything I've learned about persuasion and influence, trying to do something to reach this woman. Just as I know she is about to show me the door, I think of physical transformations as described in How to Persuade People Who Don't Want to be Persuaded.

I slowly lift my arms and move my hands toward her. She becomes alarmed as any woman would when a stranger who is getting rejected for a job looks like he's about to strangle her!

I stop over her desk and flick my palms open toward her. She gasps a bit at the calluses and hardened skin on my grip. “That,” I declare with a smile, “is from deadlifting over 450-pounds with my back. I'm as tough as anybody you've got back there.”

She finally breaks down and smiles. “Why don't you come back tomorrow for a tour of the plant?... Honestly, I wouldn't have invited you back if you didn't show me the calluses,” she says with a chuckle. “You look too 'pretty' to work here if you don't mind me saying.”

“Well you're pretty and they hired you.

A "callous-approach" to getting a job, perhaps? Whatever works. This time, it was a "pretty" face and beat-up hands.

The best place to begin succeeding is where you are, with what you have

I go from certainty that I am getting my dream job to painful rejection, and then one week later I'm out of my business suit and in a pair or dirty, greasy coveralls, taking instruction on how to bevel steel from someone who can barely speak English coherently. I just bare down, grin and take it!

Most plant employees don't communicate much with the office, but I want something better and higher-paying, so I start networking. I make friends with the foreman and supervisors, and get to know the plant manager and production manager.

I become good friends with one of two guys who are working the highest-paying job in the plant, basically sitting in a chair and programming a computer to cut steel. Their job is the highest-paying, most complex, least labour-intensive, and most important to the production process. They also have the most interaction with the foreman and managers, and are most likely to become foreman or production managers themselves. Heck, they don't even get dirty!

I work as hard and smart as I can, and find a number of ways to improve my machine's production, and to make it easier for others to work with me. Within a month I am producing at a higher-rate on my machine than anyone has in the last forty years. I attribute some of that to my “genius,” and some of it to me simply being compared to about 40-years worth of lazy guys. :-)

You can't make a sale unless you ask

If they were paying me for piecework, I would have bought a Beamer with cash. But I am still paid by hour, so I need to do something that pays a higher rate. That's when I write a proposal to the plant manager with whom I had talked to a lot about the business and had come to know personally. I write him a detailed, two-page letter, proposing why I think I would do an outstanding job on a higher-paying machine that I had heard had an opening.

He calls me into his office the next day.

“Erdrick, I got your letter. It was very well-worded. You must be good at that typing thing. We would love for you to take that job. Let me talk to the foreman tomorrow, and I'll see what I can do for you.”

The next day he calls me into his office again.

“Erdrick, I wanted to get that job for you, but the foreman and I have someone else in mind for it.”

In my head I'm fighting back thoughts of, “Dammit! Every time I show initiative I get shot-“

“Because we want you to do the ESAB. Are you interested in that?”

I stare at my boss. In my head, I'm thinking something along the lines of, “Let me get this straight. You're telling me that you're not giving me the promotion I wanted. Instead, you're giving me the highest-quality, highest-paying job in the plant, the one that *everybody* wants but that only two people do, and you're offering it to me, after other guys have been here decades and I still have another two months of probation?”

Star Trek's Data might have been a little quicker to compute the comparison and respond, but I'm pretty sure I rather quickly said, “Yes, I'll do it.”

A friend that works the ESAB saw my proposal and said, “This should be posted on our company's bulletin board. Instead of complaining and whining about not rising in the company for years, people should see how it can be done in weeks if you're talented and ambitious. If you have initiative and confidence. Also, I spoke with so-and-so in the office. There is talk of you and me perhaps succeeding retirees in the office, to be trained for executive positions, because they need people who are striving to get ahead, and who really understand the business… By the way, what's this about you being pretty for the clients, but that you might need a manicure before shaking their hands?”

Well I'm sorry I've missed what's been going on at this board the past two months, but… I'VE BEEN WORKING! :-)

Very best wishes and thanks to everyone. The people on this board rule so hard.

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I enjoyed reading your story. It's funny how often disappointment leads to greater things--good luck in your new job!
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1

I have been sucking my thumb and sulking over how I cannot find a decent, well-paying job in depressed Dallas so I will be able to quit my high-paying, comfortable job in consulting. Your article made me realize the effort and initiative involved in getting what you want.

Kudos to you.

- TD
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
[Having been away from the board for too long (and that's a long story that you may not care to hear...), it took an e-mail from Erdrick to get me back in a hurry to read this story.]

Erdrick, you are not only a good writer, but a writer whose writing pays off. And those are VERY rare. :-) I'm going to share your story with Mark Levy, co-author of How to Persuade People Who Don't Want to Be Persuaded. He's going to love it.

You have demonstrated so many Ask The Headhunter concepts all in one posting that I'm humbled. I've been trying to do that for years...!

My highest compliments. You have found success where you are, and I suspect more of it is coming your way!

I'll be on the board again regularly. And I may even try to explain why I've been gone. (I'm doing fine, just a bit worn out lately from other obligations.)

Nick Corcodilos
Ask The Headhunter

Author of the free Ask The Headhunter Newsletter:

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 10
Erdrick, congratulations on your job! Amazing story that I wish I could rec twice - make that ten times!

By the way, I noticed that you are in Ontario Canada as well!

My story was similar to yours. But my job search lasted over a year and finally money was running out and I ended up working part time on contract for a marketing company that was doing promotion work for a computer company named after a fruit (a company I would have given my eye teeth to work for). This was just so I could make the annual insurance payment on the car, which was coming up fast.

So I end up doing a few promo events for literally burger flipping wages and there is a regional promo rep on contract that was leaving and I did such a great job he asked if I wanted to take over. So I did. There's one for every major region/province and I ended up doing the best job of all of them but it was still on contract and for pretty much burger flipping wages still. But through talking with people at the company, they realized I had a business degree and experience in business analysis so I ended up doing a lot contracts that had to do with that, and for better money.

In the meantime I tried to apply to the company directly and got turned down 3 times for 3 different jobs! This was over the course of about 2.5 years. Finally, the position of Market Research and Promotions Manager came up and having done a lot of the things that the job entailed, I applied for it with full confidence.

I believe that I was up against 10 people and it finally came down to me and someone else from General Mills or one of the packaged goods companies. My future boss was very upfront with me and told me she preferred the other candidate because of his (her?) packaged goods experience and somehow, I must have been guided by a higher power because then I mentioned that as technology progresses and going forward with this company, the higher margin and more important parts of the business are becoming more and more complex and technical in nature. She agreed with and then I hit her with the punchline, that "It's not like selling a bowl of cereal."

As soon as I said that, I could see the wheels in her mind turn and I knew I had it. Found out the next day that I did indeed get it. It's been almost a year since I've been hired and it's been an amazing trip so far. I remember when I finished university, I had written down on a piece of paper the top 3 places I wanted to work for. This company was first on the list and now I'm here. I took the circuitious route but somehow I'm here, maybe this writing things down works?

I mentioned earlier that I had been rejected previously for 3 other jobs. This job I ended up with turned out to be the most senior of the jobs by far and not only that, for the first job that I was turned down for, the person hiring said I was "not qualified" to work for her. Well, she's right, because she is not my boss, but my colleague on the same level. Not only that but these days she has learned to depend heavily on me and the "not qualified" has been all forgotten (and then some).

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It was a very long and frustrated path for me and I know there are people on this board that are still trying to find their path. Hoping that this will inspire them to go for what they want and not to lose faith in themselves and the abundance and genoristy of the universe.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It was a very long and frustrated path for me and I know there are people on this board that are still trying to find their path. Hoping that this will inspire them to go for what they want and not to lose faith in themselves and the abundance and genoristy of the universe.

Thank you for posting yet another amazing story.

I am facing a similar problem. I am getting rejected left and right because either I am over qualified, not qualified enough or am a flight risk. The one job that I found and was deemed perfect faded away when the project got cancelled.

Your post and the OP are a fantastic start since you managed to land a job where you were not considered the most qualified and gives me further idea on where to start as I grapple with the issue of throwing away everything that I invested in my career for last fifteen years and start afresh.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
You are brilliant, dude.

Love it!
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Erdrick-- well played. You rule so hard!

(This is the first time I've seen the "Ask the Headhunter" board. Wish I'd known about it before... I may be hanging out here a bit. Looking for some career change action myself...)
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Your story was so inspiring that I had just emailed your post to several friends. I hope my friends will find it just as inspiring as me.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
To everyone, your comments are so kind and touching! :-) It is a great honor to be selected for Post of the Day.

Your story was so inspiring that I had just emailed your post to several friends. I hope my friends will find it just as inspiring as me.

I emailed it to friends, too! ;-) I expect a handful to ask, “Who is Erdrick? And do you have a job yet?”
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Thanks Erdrick.....
Print the post Back To Top