by Mark Cummuta

Week 3: In Job Search “Mission Mode”

Aug 22, 20075 mins

As I noted in last week’s and yesterday’s posts, August 15th was my last day with my prior employer. With only an open agreement for a consulting engagement, I need to move my job search into “Mission Mode.” I’ve got a family to feed. And now that the kids have started high school … well, more on that later.

So what is Mission Mode? As taught to me by my first true management mentor, Emmett Moore while at Allstate Insurance, Mission Mode is simply the application of two basic principles: (1) Making this job search my JOB. That is, devoting 10 to 12 or more hours each and every day unearthing and following up on leads, and (2) Applying my own project management skills to analyzing, planning and delivering a successful job search.

Case in point, it is 1:39 AM as I write this. My day started at 6 AM with a quick cup of coffee with my wife. As she started making sure the kids were ready for their first day of school, I started reviewing and planning what I needed to do today. I then spent all morning following up on prior defense and intelligence leads. This included:

  • scheduling a fourth interview for next week with one contractor.
  • making initial contact with a second contractor from a networked referral.
  • forwarding a draft of my defense-specific resume (that I stayed up almost all night yesterday finishing) to a networked recruiter specializing in defense that I had met three levels deep (friend of a friend of a friend) who by chance transitioned himself back into the defense industry last year.

I then spent two hours preparing for a set of interviews with a major satellite and systems integration contracting firm. After those interviews, I…

  • scheduled a follow-up interview for tomorrow with a Chicago-based marketing software and services firm.
  • bought some better quality resume paper.
  • started drafting several referrals and recommendations for prior managers and peers whom I had asked for referrals. They asked me to draft something for them.

I did spend time with my family. At dinner my wife and I heard about the hectic, exciting, scary first day of high school, which included –I kid you not– a new crush that one of my daughters has, how my son was publicly called to the office on his 1st day (to then be thanked by the dean for something he did that set a good example!), and how both daughters won their first doubles tennis match together. And I thought my day was full! 😛

Yesterday was a similar early-to-rise and late-to-bed day, and tomorrow will be as well. It’s not because I’m some kind of job lead magnet. It’s because I put the principles of networking to work in my favor early on in my job search. And to be honest, I’m having a hard time keeping up with the leads now.

Here again are just two examples of what I did and what has happened to demonstrate the power of networking.

Recall that I noted that six to eight weeks ago I had started using LinkedIn in earnest. The first things I did were to email all my friends and my close professional contacts to join my network to let them know I might be available for a new opportunity soon. I also joined a LinkedIn group called ‘LinkedIn USMC’ for members of the U.S. Marine Corps. I then researched LinkedIn, learned some of its features, and studied how other individuals at my level use this tool to market themselves – e.g. the phrases, terminology, links, etc. they use. I then redesigned target=”_blank”>my own LinkedIn page. Finally, I contacted about three dozen executive recruiters and IT executives with military experience who are also “hubs” or network gurus within LinkedIn and asked for their advice on my transition and job search.

Also recall that I noted that two weeks ago I utilized’s and’s careers pages to load my resume and’s Veteran Networking Center source to research and email nearly 100 individuals at firms I am targeting in defense and intelligence.

Between just these two sets of very specific activities alone, I have had over four hundred (448, to be exact) e-mail replies and follow-ups to date! Remember the old IBM commercial where everyone cheers when their first online customer order appears on screen, and then they all go silent when suddenly their online orders skyrocket in mere seconds. That’s what I feel like sometimes.

To wrap up today’s entry, as a quick summary, I have had some initial interviews with two defense contractors and fifteen to twenty networking and information gathering calls from individuals in my targeted firms and intelligence agencies. Last week I had an initial interview with a marketing and financial services firm who called back today for a follow-up interview. I’ve also had several interviews and calls with three of the top strategic management consulting firms who are interested in either my merger and acquisition, systems integration, and/or my finance industry experience. Overall, I think my informal survey has me at about 20+ calls and interviews from networking (plus the 448 emails I still need to follow-up on), and about four or five calls from blind recruiter contacts (plus, to be fair, a fair amount of “resume spam” emails each day).

In my next entries I hope to discuss what I’m learning about the differences between corporate and federal job searches. I also plan to elaborate on how I’m using my project management skills to conduct my search.

PS: If anyone has any tips, hints and examples they can send on federal KSA’s (“Knowledge, Skills and Abilities” application forms)… please send them!!!!

For now, I’m going to bed! Wake me when the coffee’s ready….