by Mark Cummuta

Week 29 Time Works Against Your Job Search in a Bad Economy

Mar 20, 20084 mins

As the economy weakens, I’ve been focusing my efforts on actions and individuals providing effective, immediate and positive movement up Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs. Translation: I’ve been consulting to pay the bills.

Feeding, clothing and housing my family is my first priority. It’s the foundation of Maslow’s chart. As the weeks and months have progressed in my job search, I have moved down Maslow’s chart from Self-Actualization (when I was focused on very specific industries, firms and roles) to Self-Esteem (as I allowed for lower-level titles in global firms maintaining the same responsibilities I have held previously in national firms), then down to Safety (stability) and Physical needs.

Now six-plus months later, as our family resources have ebbed, I have been taking on consulting projects for income, while simultaneously continuing my job search.

And therein lies the rub. Time has become my enemy.

To explain, lets start with an update on my personal job search.

I have three major opportunities for CIO, CTO and COO positions. All three are in the market space in which I have significant, successful experience and therefore do very well in – SMB and entrepreneurial firms. And all three firms are in the final stages of contracts and/or expansions that will give them the additional resources they need to fund my position.

I also have two great consulting firms that I am very interested in. I have been talking with these firms for several months now, and our personality-to-culture fit seems great, as does the strategic-to-technical balance that I enjoy.

And finally, I have several other CIO/VP-level and strategic consulting opportunities that I am pursuing, but these are not yet as solid as the ones I mentioned above.

With our family resources running low, my time to find the ideal position is running very thin. But I also do not want to lock myself out of a great opportunity with one of the above firms.

So I am purposely seeking and selecting consulting positions that are either with one of the above firms, OR, short term projects that give me flexibility in case one of the above firms is ready to move forward. I completed a very quick assignment for a friend’s firm; I am completing a short project with one of the firms above; and I have two to three additional projects waiting for final client approvals.

My time is also affected on a daily level. Now that I have started consulting, my client projects and deliverables take the majority of my day. That leaves me with just the evenings for my “big picture” job search efforts, including trying to stay in frequent touch with the above firms, and continuing to find, research and apply to new opportunities. As well, my greatest leads are from my network, so helping those key individuals is still a priority. As is staying informed of my industries and technologies. As is sharing my experiences with the readers of this blog and through a series of presentations I have been asked to give in the Chicagoland area. (I hope that explains why my writing here has gone dark over the past couple of weeks.)

So, time truly has become my enemy! And I know I am not alone in this dilemma. As the economy continues to tighten, there will be more job seekers who will find themselves in this position.

My recommendation to everyone from this recent experience in my own job search is not to wait. If you get laid off in today’s economy, look to land one or more short term consulting projects as fast as you can – to stay employed (easier to find a job when you have a job), to stay connected (keeps your managerial and technical skills up, while also building your network further), and more importantly, to stay paid (as in, maintain peace and harmony on the home front, reduce you and your spouse’s stress levels, and fewer loud growling noises from your family when mac & cheese night becomes more and more frequent). Hope springs eternal! But even the hope that spring is near would be a welcome boost!

Thank you again for all of your comments and ideas!


Mark Cummuta

CIO Job Search: A Real Life Chronicle