by Mark Cummuta

Personal Job Search Update

Dec 19, 200810 mins

It’s been several weeks since my last post, so I want to bring you up to speed on the progress of my job search.

To start, the economy has continued to make finding my next great permanent position difficult. Finding opportunities and getting interviews does not seem to be an issue (it’s quite possible to find a job in a recession); it’s finding employers that are ready, willing and able to move to actual start dates that seems to be my problem in this recession.

When I posted last, I had had six or seven positions and contracts that had been cancelled–even after we had started final negotiations, I had received a written offer, and in one case, after I had already started on the project. In each of those situations, I was told that the company had decided to cancel or postpone the position because of the economy.

Since that time, I’ve had several more contracts and positions cancelled while in final interviews.

On the positive side, I’ve landed two short-term projects with some prior clients and partners of mine. And I am starting to reach out to employers who had previously postponed positions until the beginning of 2009 to schedule discussions with them.

Here are the opportunities that I am currently working on:

CIO Services Consultant, in partnership with a Boston, Mass.-based consulting services firm.

* I was referred to these consulting opportunities by an author and publishing networking contact. My initial “interview” was very unique in that I didn’t even participate – it was a review of my LinkedIn profile. I was then invited to several phone interviews with the firm’s VPs, the COO and the co-founder to discuss my CIO/CTO, SOA and organizational change management experience. What excites me about this firm is the potential opportunity to help the company expand into the Chicago/Midwest region.

Status: We have partnered on a proposal for the first of potentially three projects with one of their major clients. We are scheduling our next meeting with the client’s CIO to present our proposal.

Program Manager (contractor) for a Chicago, Ill. technology services firm.

* I have worked with the founder of this firm for several years, both as a manager hiring their consultants and as a consultant for them. One of their clients’ SharePoint projects has grown considerably, and they need a Project Manager. They also have an infrastructure project and a PMO development project that we are discussing.

Status: I met with the founder and internal IT team last week to research these projects’ as-is situations and desired near-term needs and concerns. I am drafting and will present my proposal this week.

VP of Program Innovation for an entrepreneurial new media marketing software and services firm.

* The founder and I are both US Marines supporting our regional Marines For Life teams. He liked the new ideas and “take action” approach I brought to our USMC volunteer efforts, which led to several brainstorming sessions where I came up with a number of major new market and product opportunities.

Status: We have agreed to start working together on an ad-hoc basis, commission-only, for the project and client leads I bring to him, as well as the new ideas we can bring to market together.

Project Manager, Web Redesign (contractor), for several firms.

Status: These are all either paid projects for organizations with whom I have done prior work, or these are non-profits where I am volunteering my skills and experience.

Here is a brief run down of some of the other major opportunities I have pursued in earnest over the past 6-8 weeks. As I noted previously, nearly all led to multiple successful interviews:

Senior Manager, Internal Business Systems for a top ten defense and aerospace manufacturing contractor.

* I keep a close watch on this firm’s careers website and have applied to several positions over the past year. Recently, I mentioned to one of my executive networking contacts that this firm is on my “wish list.” He brought my resume and defense and Marine Corps experience to the attention of an internal HR manager. I met an IT manager within this firm’s large IT force through LinkedIn.

Status: The internal HR manager is actively discussing my background with various hiring managers, and I am scheduling an informational interview with the IT manager for after the first of the year.

IT Manager / Business Process Engineer for a defense investment firm with multiple technology and manufacturing management needs.

* The founder is a prior client of mine who is expanding his operations. Their anticipated near- and long-term M&A, BPM, quality and systems needs are a perfect fit with my skills, and our prior successful work together is a major value-add/bonus to this firm.

Status: This is still in early discussions, but they anticipated making major business decisions near the start of 2009.

Practice Director for an award-winning technology and strategic management consulting firm specializing in mid-market clients.

* I was introduced to this firm by an executive placement networking contact that felt my skills and experience as a CIO/CTO and business-builder in the SMB market was a very good match. I am very excited about this firm since the feedback I have received is that my Interim CIO, BPM and mentoring skills are a very good fit with their market focus, and my personality is a great fit for their entrepreneurial culture. The firm’s growth has led to the creation and budgeting for several new Director-level practice heads for 2009. We have been building a business case to push one of these positions up sooner.

Status: After 10 interviews, including one with the firm’s co-founder, the further deterioration of the economy in November made them decide against moving the position into 2008. It had been budgeted for 2009, so we continue our discussions.

Director of Applications for a multi-billion dollar diversified consumer goods firm.

* I have actually applied to several positions with this firm, after meeting with its top recruiter for prior military service candidates while volunteering with our regional Marines For Life and Wounded Warrior Brigade teams. With my career in applications development, financial systems, IT strategy and business development, my background seems ideally suited for this team.

Status: The position above was filled internally. But I am still in consideration for several others and need to upload my resume to this firm’s website to formalize the process.

VP/Senior Director of Financial Systems for a multi-billion dollar diversified consumer goods firm.

* I was contacted by an executive recruiter for this position and had several in-depth interviews with the recruiter’s team. With my career in financial systems, as well as experience in SAP, my background seems ideally suited for this team. The downside is that this position would require my family to relocate. I was submitted to the CIO to schedule next interview.

Status: This position was put on hold, “until the economy stabilizes, most likely after the Inauguration.”

Program/Project/Account Manager for a defense and information security technology R&D firm.

* I have interviewed with the founder several times over this past year, after meeting him at a local technology executives’ conference. We have very similar methods and personalities that tend to lead us to creative solutions and even to new products and services opportunities.

Status: Our discussions continue, but the economy has him holding off on hiring any new employees.

VP of Business Applications for one of the top private multi-media technology services firms to the hotel and entertainment industry.

* This firm is a quiet giant, providing technology services to many of the top names in the industry. I found this position while researching job search bloggers, and I then used my LinkedIn network to meet a lead internal recruiter to learn more about the company and the position through informational interviews. Their new CIO is rebuilding the IT team, focusing on improving project management and delivery excellence with new products and services.

Status: The company just re-organized, laid off about 30 percent (30%) of its IT, and put all new positions on hold.

VP of Applications for another recognized consumer brand.

* An executive recruiter contacted me for this position.

Status: While the firm had already selected its top candidates before my name was submitted, the firm’s head of HR liked my experience and wants to consider me for two more positions to be opened up in January 2009.

Director of Business Applications, for a top-3 pharmaceuticals manufacturer.

* I was contacted, interviewed and submitted for this position by an executive recruiter.

Status: The position is on hold while the role and responsibilities are being reassessed and redesigned.

There have been many other CIO and executive positions and consulting opportunities that I have applied for over the past several weeks, but the above are those where I had a strong internal referrer or champion, and/or that have actually led to interviews and negotiations.

The above fifteen opportunities were all derived using the multi-channel leads strategy and job search project plan that I have outlined and chronicled here for All but one of these fifteen opportunities resulted in multiple interviews. In prior job and contract searches, these methods have resulted in an actual start date on a new opportunity within 4-6 weeks of starting my job search. The only critical difference between now and then is the economy–organizations have simply not been hiring even when they find “ideal” candidates.

Overcoming that significant hurdle, even with good skills, a great plan, a solid resume, and an extensive network, is our challenge. Despite the economy and the challenges, we need strategies and solutions that clearly define us as THE answer a hiring manager wants, so that when they do get the green light to hire again, they know exactly who to call first – you!

My solution over the past two months has been to re-focus the markets I target, as well as the methods, technologies and leads sources I am using. Specifically, and nearly exclusively, I am focusing on the aptly named “hidden job market” and using only the means and methods that hiring managers strongly prefer to use.

The results of these changes in my strategies and methods have been noticeable. In tracking my results so far, my resume-to-interview ratio has improved from approximately 2:1 to now better than 2:1 (more than sixty-two percent (62%+) of my resumes result in interviews, while executive recruiters tell me the average is closer to 6:1 to 10:1, or ten to fifteen percent (10-15%), for most job seekers), and my ratio of interviews to then being named a “top candidate” has improved from a respectable forty-five percent (45%) to now over seventy percent (70%).

I will be sharing what I’ve learned and been successfully applying over the next few weeks.

In upcoming blog posts, I will be covering:

  • Finding the “Hidden Job Market”
  • New job search technologies and websites
  • Protecting your identity
  • Job search expenses
  • On the Job versus Interviewing personas
  • How to get the most out of your referrals and recommendations
  • Networking 201 (Advanced Networking Skills).

As always, thank you very much for all of your comments, emails and input!!



Mark Cummuta

CIO Job Search: A Real Life Chronicle