I was an employee of Eastman Kodak and Kodak Alaris for a combined 43 years. Once an industrial giant, Kodak was battered by foreign competition and the switch to digital technology and has been in a downward spiral for the past 35 years. I was hoping for three more years with the company to reach Medicare eligibility and full Social Security, but was laid off at the end of September. Ouch.
To say I was unprepared for the layoff would be an understatement. I did not have a resume prepared (despite being fully aware of my company’s ongoing decline) and I knew nothing about how one goes about searching for a job in the digital age. As part of the separation package, Kodak Alaris provided three months of assistance from a “career transition” training firm, which was VERY helpful. I’ve learned all of the ins-and-outs of job search including crafting a resume, interviewing skills, and networking. Networking? Yup, statistics show that the majority of job seekers find new employment via contacts and word-of-mouth.
One of the must-have requirements of a job search these days is having a profile at LinkedIn. Recruiters routinely check a job candidate’s LinkedIn profile so it had better be appealing. I did not have a LinkedIn profile prior to being laid off, so it was all Greek to me. The career transition company helped me put a profile together. Whew!
It’s important that a job seeker has a lot of “connections” on their LinkedIn account. That gives the impression to recruiters that the candidate is well-connected, well-liked, a team player, yada yada. There’s also the possibility that a connection can help point a job seeker to an employment opportunity. So I began inviting my former co-workers at Kodak Alaris and Kodak to “connect” with me. Some did connect, but half didn’t. I could see that some of my invitees had even gone to the trouble of viewing my profile (LinkedIn enables members to do that), but still declined to connect. Why not? They knew I was in need of a little help that would have taken very little effort – a click of the mouse – on their part and yet they declined to do so. Yes, I’m aware that some LinkedIn members rarely interact with their account, so that explains some of the non-responses, but others purposely declined to accept the invitation. Ouch.
However, there are several ways to skin a cat. I’ve sent out close to 1000 invitations – mostly to strangers – and 372 have accepted to date and become part of my “network.” Thank you, kind strangers!
I’m inclined to hold a grudge against those old friends and colleagues who wouldn’t help out even in a very tiny way. But then I think about all the times I have deliberately disappointed people. Perhaps some of the non-respondees felt that I had wronged them in some way when I was working with them. I also think about how many times I have disobeyed God – in thought, word, deed, and by omission – so far just this week. Quite a few times and it’s only Wednesday!
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14
Better that I should set an example of love and forgiveness than bitterness and feeling offended. Jesus Christ calls us to be that way.
A little advice to EVERYONE who is working: You could be hit by a layoff/downsizing/restructuring/takeover at any time. Prepare now. Buy a good book about “career transition” (there are many), follow the steps and regularly work at it. I wish I had. Build your network – at LinkedIn and elsewhere – now. Be systematic about it. And if someone invites you to join their connections network, be kind, even if they’re not on your “favorite people” list. It won’t cost you anything except a click of your mouse.
Postscript 1: I began applying to job postings in December, admittedly not a good time of year for doing that, and I’ve applied to 33 job postings to date. Now that we’re in the new year, I’m starting to get some serious nibbles from employers. Objectively, my age (63) is a serious disadvantage. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for my job search!
Postscript 2: Many people tend to think of LinkedIn as just another social media outlet where they can connect with their friends. My career transition coach told us to think of LinkedIn rather as a mammoth Rolodex (remember those?), a resource for growing networking opportunities that should not be limited just to friends and personal acquaintances.
Postscript 3: I realize the majority of people under age 50 don’t need to be schooled about LinkedIn.