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Searching for a Job

Roger Ruhl prepared the following for a talk he gave about searching for a job.

Decide what kind of job or career you want to pursue. Here's a technique I have used to help people make their own assessment. Draw 3 circles. In #1 write the things you are good at. In #2 write the things you like to do. In #3 write the things that the job market is looking for. The area of overlap is the place to focus.

Tell everybody that you are searching and, to the degree it is possible, what kind of position you are looking for. Put your resume in as many hands as possible ... hard copy and especially an electronic version, which can easily be emailed and circulated. Do a simple web site to sell yourself. Word of mouth is the best form of job-search advertising. After a first contact, keep in touch with friends about your search, so they'll remember you are searching. Remember advertising … reach is important, but so is frequency and more often than not frequency gets shortchanged.

Don't get discouraged. Planful people who like to control situations have difficulty with the concept that the job they eventually get will most likely come through some "chance" occurrence. Bob will tell Joe he's having trouble finding a whatever, and Joe will remember your name.

My favorite job search story:

While at the Cincinnati Reds, I was sitting in my office one busy, game day afternoon when the phone buzzed. It was my secretary on the intercom, and she told me that Rusty Wilson was on the line. I said I didn't know any Rusty Wilson, and told her to help him out. She buzzed back, and told me that Rusty said he and I played golf together in high school. I thought for a few moments, and then remembered a Rusty Wilson who played for Mariemont while I was at St. X. I picked up the phone. "Hi Rusty." "Hi Rog." "Been a while." "Yea." Accustomed to getting calls from "old friends” wanting baseball tickets or help buying good seats, I asked after the small talk subsided, "What's up, Rusty?" He explained that our old friend Ted Beattie -- I did remember Ted ... he was a really good golfer ... eventually played at Ohio State, I think -- wanted to get back to Cincinnati. It seems Ted was in marketing with a manufacturing company somewhere in Ohio, and Rusty thought since I was in marketing I would know of some job opportunities. "Well, Rusty, not off the top of my head, but I'll keep it in mind." After a couple more pleasantries, we parted.

A few hours later, I was in the Press Box dining room and happened to sit with two acquaintances, Willis Waterfield and Andy Hopple. Willis was the managing partner of a Big Eight accounting firm and Andy had a little piece of ownership of the ballclub. They were talking about having been at a Cincinnati Zoo board meeting that afternoon. In the course of the conversation, Andy asked if I knew of any promotion people looking for a job. It seems the Zoo was searching for a promotion director. I said no. After a while, the conversation turned to golf. Bingo! I remembered Rusty Wilson’s call and Ted Beattie. I told Andy about Ted and said I didn’t know to what degree promotion was in his marketing background, but I did know he used to be a helluva golfer … little guy, but always hit it straight down the middle. Andy said to tell him to call Ed Maruska, the executive director at the Zoo.

By the next day I had forgotten the conversation, but, as I was cleaning off my usually messy desk I found the telephone slip with Rusty’s phone number. I dialed it and connected … if I hadn’t reached him, I probably would have tossed the note and forgotten the whole thing. I told Rusty about the Zoo job, and he said he would relay the information to Ted.

About three months later, I saw a note in the Cincinnati Enquirer that Ted Beattie had been named promotion director at the Cincinnati Zoo. A couple years later, Ted was promoted to marketing director at the zoo. Then, he took a job with the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. And then he moved on to bigger zoo jobs in the south or southwest. And a couple years later, he was named Director and Chief Executive Officer of the prestigious Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, a big-time position. Ted and I talked once or twice during his Cincinnati Zoo days and again when he was in at the Brookfield Zoo and I needed some information.

I always smile when I think how this scenario unfolded, and I like to tell the story to persons who are job searching. I wonder what would have happened if Rusty Wilson had not gotten through Roger Ruhl’s telephone defenses or if I had sat with someone other than Willis and Andy for dinner that night? I don’t think Ted was bent on working at a zoo, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that he would not have ended up at the Cincinnati Zoo, and a distinguished career in zoological management would not have unfolded. The moral of the story for job searchers – you never know where the break is going to come from, so shake a lot of trees and tell a lot of people that you are searching. Where you end up is likely to surprise you.


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