Thomas Dowd is the author of his book, Displacement Day. It’s about trying to recover from losing a job and going out job hunting. One of the things that I thought was very interesting was the way he would go about job seeking and how he recommends others do it as well. It’s the difference between networking and job searching.
Thomas Dowd, or Transformation Tom, is the author of “Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work.” With over twenty-three years of experience in the financial industry in management and leadership roles at the same organization, Thomas Dowd received the call nobody wanted: “We’re downsizing.” What could have been a devastating day, immediately turned into a journey toward his next book “Displacement Day.”
Zeb’s Take – Networking while Job Seeking
I really liked the fact that he brought up how to go about finding a job. Recently, I’ve been approached by a couple people who tell me that they’re looking for jobs. When they come up to me and they ask, “Hey, I’m looking for a job. I don’t have a job. Is there anything that I can do?” Desperately I want to try to help them in some capacity, but it’s tough to think of a way to do that. Sometimes I think of people that I might know to put them in touch with.
What Tom brought up in the interview was that instead of being a job seeker, instead of asking people for jobs all the time. Which actually can be kind of a weird feeling, because the person you’re asking, it feels a little uncomfortable because they want to help, but they can feel like they are in control of your destiny… it’s a lot of pressure and makes it a more uncomfortable conversation, I think. Where, if you look at it as you are networking with someone who could potentially give you a job, and not so much like, “hey I need a job, give me a job.” Instead, going in there and asking asking them questions about their business, what is it that they well, how do people get that job, how do they excel in that industry. By asking those questions it’s more of a relationship where you have two people engaging and discussing together. It’s more comfortable for the other people involved. It’s really a great way to think about job seeking and looking for jobs.
In the interview I mentioned that I went around the country, and check out Craigslist and just blast my resume out everywhere. Say, “Hey, I need a job! I need a job! I need a job!” I’m telling everyone, and it didn’t work for me. If I had gone about it differently and I had looked for ways to network with those people I think I would have had better results.
If you are looking for a job, follow Tom’s advice.
Now, go out there and find your success!
Find Out More About Tom Down and His Book
Go to TransformationTom.com
Tom’s book, Displacement Day: When My Job Was Looking for a Job, is available in regular book form and ebook form on Amazon. Just search for the title “Displacement Day.”
- “It wasn’t my communication skills, it was actually my confidence level. By gaining this confidence I learned to communicate much more effectively.”
- “It’s not about getting the project done. It’s about building the right relationships with the right people to get the job done.”
- “When I stopped trying to impress and start being myself I gained the confidence, I gained the skills, and I found a whole lot more success.”
- “I had built the network, I felt really good about it, and I built it before I needed it.”
- “Networking isn’t just checking off a box. It’s about building a true relationship. A mutual relationship.”
- “Stop job seeking and start networking.”
- “In these networking sessions, never leave it without asking the question, who else can I meet with? And run with it.”
- “The important part of the network is that you start the process, but the network does the work for you if you allow it to.”
- “As soon as I became a better teacher I became a better learner. By becoming a better learner I became a better teacher.”
- “I believe in who I am, and more importantly, I believe in who I can still be.”
More From the Interview
Tom was a communications major at the University of Delaware. He graduated on a Friday and started work at a Finance company on a Monday. Worked there in several positions for over 23 years. When his company was taken over and went from a 28,000 person organization to a 300,000 person organization, he had to make a mental adjustment: decide if he was going to be swallowed up in the 300,000 person organization or did he want to make a difference. He joined Host Masters, a worldwide organization that helps to improve communication skills and leadership skills, it was that that boosted Tom’s confidence through the roof. It allowed him to do things within his own professional state, and within the organization to make a difference in the organization. He wrote a couple books while he was at that job. One was on his own transformation of becoming self aware and the other on public speaking.
“I was told for 18 years on my performance appraisals that I couldn’t communicate I was told that I have some issues with those skills: listening, yapping, not being clear/concise, not being confident in how I communicated with senior leaders. So I ended up joining Toast Masters, I found during a time, it wasn’t my communication skills, it was actually my confidence level. By gaining this confidence I learned to communicate much more effectively.”
In Toast Masters, he competed in these speech competitions. Twice he got as far as one speech away from the world semi-finals. He met many people who helped him in his journey of communication, confidence and leadership. He gained mentors. One of whom inspired him to write about leadership, success, and how to be a better speaker.
“I became much more successful when I learned to be myself. Which believe it or not is where my confidence came from. I found myself trying to impress so many people at my job. When I stopped trying to impress and start being myself I gained the confidence, I gained the skills, and I found a whole lot more success.”
To clarify what he means by “Being Yourself.” He was learning to build trust and build relationships. Tom compares his work-self to his home-self. There’s the Tom who is sitting at the dinner table having a conversation with his family, laughing, joking, casual. It’s not about communication or confidence, it’s just being Tom. And then he goes to work, has a tie choking him around the neck, a white collar, get the job done, force the hand of the people around him, give them critical feedback whether they want it or not, who never missed his goals, never missed hitting his numbers.
He got lots of criticism. There were a few people who gained his trust. One of them talked to him and asked him about his relationships with the other people at the company. It helped him realize things he needed to change. He had a reputation as an uptight guy who gets the job done, but people were concerned about his leadership abilities.
Once a month he would pick up the phone and talk to somebody he didn’t know, and who were a couple levels above him in the organization. To push his comfort zone and to reinventing himself. He would tell them about what he’s been doing at the organization and what they’ve been doing. How they could maybe help each other. He became a better listener, a better business partner, became more successful because he stopped trying to impress people and just worried about the job. The people became more important to him.
“I became this push and pull man. I’m gonna push you when you need it and I’m gonna pull you in and figure out what you can do to help yourself.”
“It’s not about getting the project done. It’s about building the right relationships with the right people to get the job done.”
“I was trying to change people. What I really needed to do was change me to be who I wanted to be while still getting the best out of people.”
When he found out his company was downsizing, he said that phone call was almost calming. He has such confidence in the network he built, in the skills he had, in his vulnerability to learn from his mistakes and develop who he wanted to be, he says he saw the whole world ahead of him and said, “Okay.” He wasn’t worried.
“I had built the network, I felt really good about it, and I built it before I needed it.”
“Networking isn’t just checking off a box. It’s about building a true relationship. A mutual relationship.”
“Stop job seeking and start networking.”
Tom stopped asking for a job and started working to build his relationships with people in his network. He had to reinvent himself to them so they would know what he was looking for. Also, he says one of the biggest things he learned was don’t make assumptions. Because he assumed that people in his network, certain people, would support him – drop everything they’re doing to give Tom advice, give him a direction, a path. That wasn’t always the case He realized that they were too close to him. They knew exactly what he wanted and what he didn’t want. It was the secondary network, people who knew people, who had new conversations with Tom about what are you looking for? what do you want? and that led to the first chapter of his book.
By talking to his secondary network Tom realized that maybe he didn’t need to go back into the financial industry. Another assumption. He had the speaking stuff, this coaching, this training world that maybe he could turn into a job.
If you’re networking, instead of job seeking, there is no expectation. It takes the pressure away from the situation so they won’t shy away.
Tom says to have an elevator speech, whether you’re employed or not. Think about what do you want people to know about you. What is your greatest accomplishment. Have a 2 min, 5 min, 10 min version of who you are that you can share.
“In these networking sessions, never leave it, without asking the question, who else can I meet with, and run with it.”
Tom says, that’s when you see the spiderweb of network.
“The important part of the network is that you start the process, but the network does the work for you if you allow it to.”
That’s where you move past sympathy and into action.
He says, I had a little credibility issue as I was trying to coach and train people on how to write resumes and network while I was unemployed. I continued to do that while I was job seeking. I talked to people that had been looking for jobs for over two years. I found a lot of people who would not apply for a job because they met a few of the requirements, but they did not quite meet everything within the job description. He says the hiring manager put down the absolute perfect candidate, probably no one is going meet everything on that job description. He also recommends that have to differentiate yourself, all resume’s look the same. Make your story come alive. Your resume should read like a book. It is the introductory chapter, make people want to read the rest of the book.
“People are just too vanilla in their resumes.”
People always get frozen in these situations.
Always have a plan. Wake up like you have a job. Have a plan of attack for the day. Send emails, make phone calls, schedule and go to meetings. What is your marketing plan? What companies are you going to target?
Until someone offers you a job and you’re unpacking your boxes at that organization you need to continue job searching. When “I got my full time job offer, I was ecstatic, I told my wife, I came back upstairs to the laptop and I continued my job search until I had the official contract signed.” It wasn’t a lack of confidence that he’d get the job, it was how many times did things fall through before becoming official.
“As soon as I became a better teacher, I became a better learner. By becoming a better learner I became a better teacher.”
“I learned that I can be the person I want to be. I learned to be willing to be the student. I became a better listener. I became a better person, a better business partner.”
Anyone out there that considers themselves a failure. I would tell them to go back and revisit themselves. You shouldn’t be striving for perfection, you should be striving for excellence and really strive to make yourself a better person.
“I believe in who I am, and more importantly, I believe in who I can still be.”