Inside one Tampa job hunter's quest for work
Unemployment trends in the Tampa Bay area have been rough for months but Friday's national job loss figures -- 533,000 jobs lost in November across the country -- are a sore reminder that things will get worse before they get better. Which brings us to Matthew Vuturo, who worked as a strategic planning manager at Tampa's VR Mergers & Acquisitions, a firm for mid-market companies, before losing his position in January 2008. He discusses his job hunting efforts since then on a Wall Street Journal blog called Laid Off and Looking -- here it is for those with Journal access -- which I will summarize because how to network for your next job is a new skill set for many and one that is changing rapidly because of the troubled economy and technology.
The Laid Off and Looking blog tracks eight people with MBAs as "they search for jobs in a post-meltdown world." First of all, best of luck and a hearty thanks to Vuturo, 27, for sharing his situation so that others might benefit (and maybe he can network more along the way). Vuturo (shown as depicted on the Journal blog) spends his time searching for new management opportunities and has taken on short-term business development projects and other work to make ends meet and garner leads. Earlier this year, he spent ten months working the overnight shift at FedEx. Some excerpts from his own, at times frustrating, posts:
"I started out my job search working diligently at the clerical side of things -– editing cover letters and resumes, phone calls, emails, recruiter interviews. I poured serious efforts into all these elements. Nothing. Complete redesign of resumes and cover letters, more phone calls, more emails, and more headhunters. Still nothing.
"After several months of lackluster responses to my individual efforts, I realized that I had no one fighting for me inside the organizations to which I’d applied. I believed my abilities, and credentials stood out enough on paper to get my foot in the door. Wrong again."
Vuturo finally admits that the rejection letters confirmed "how commonplace" his skills are. So he changed his strategy. From searching broadly and on the surface, focus and go deeper.
"In the last few weeks, I selected a dozen or so companies that I knew I’d love to work for, and set about a plan for developing relationships within them. Some have been as simple as a few tactful phone calls, others I’m still working on. The idea is that the next time a suitable opportunity emerges with one of my preferred employers, I’ve put myself in the position to be more than just a resume and a referral."
Vuturo gets philosophical at times but it's good fodder. Networking doesn’t function like a light switch, he says. "Instead, it’s more like gardening: Consistent care and maintenance are the only way to make your garden grow -– or in this case, consistent networking is needed to yield results."
Vuturo's getting plenty of comments from this posting on the Journal blog. Some people urge him to make used of the Web's linked.in business/social networking service. He has -- here it is -- where we learn he's a 2004-2005 USF MBA graduate and happened to go to Colgate University (my alma mater). We'll check on Vuturo's progress from time to time, but please post any positive suggestions you might have for this Tampa-based job hunter.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist