Day four of the rest of my life (in between jobs)

Maybe paging through what I did after I lost my job will help someone. I suspect it’ll help me, if only because it might result in comments from others who have been there.Step 1: Don’t listen to the HR director’s offer to help me find other placement within the organization.

This probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, if one follows the conventional wisdom of not burning bridges. But I am aware of the job openings at my prior employer (I always looked, even when things were great and I had no interest in changing jobs) and know the only positions available either paid $9/hour or were positions for which I had no qualifications or experience. So was he. So maybe not wasting my time listening to him actually was smart, considering what I did next.

Step 2: Get on the phone.

First, I called my fiancee. Since this impacts her nearly as much as it impacts me, she has the right to know. The second person I called was someone I knew who had a job lead and who seemed to have had some interest in me in the recent past. So he knew about it before most of my former managers knew. He told me to get an application on file, then go home and get some rest. Well, I couldn’t rest, but at least I wasn’t brooding.

This particular lead was just the result of being in the right place at the right time to know about it. Not everyone may necessarily have a job lead in mind five minutes after being told he no longer had a job.

Step 3: Get cracking on the good ol’ boys network.

I started digging out contacts to use as references and potential leads for part-time work as an insurance policy. My first order of business, of course, was to try to find a full-time job, but, knowing that I can tread water on a budget of $1,500 a month–I’ll pile up a lot of debt quickly but at least can keep my roof over my head and the lights on and some food on the table for that–a part-time job plus savings buys me a lot of time. I won’t have to take the first job offer I get out of desperation.

Who to talk to? People at church. Former coworkers who have moved on. Other people in the industry you know for whatever reason.

Step 4: Get on the job sites.

Steps 3 and 4 could be interchangeable, depending on the time of day. I got onto and and started looking. Nothing thrilled me. But I posted a resume so that recruiters and headhunters and HR types can at least see that I’m out there. Four years ago when I was fed up with my job, I posted a resume on and had recruiters calling me within a week. Nothing they found enticed me to leave, but it’s easier to entice someone out of unemployment than it is out of a job that’s unpleasant but familiar.

In this case, my resume was posted by midnight the same day my job evaporated.

Step 5: What do I want to do with my life, anyway?

About four years ago, when I was fed up with my job and there was no room for advancement, I took the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory exam. It asks you questions like “Would you enjoy chasing an outlaw in a sherrif’s posse in the Wild West?” and you assign your interest or disinterest with a number, and likewise for your confidencein your ability to do such things. Then it comes back and tells you the kinds of career categories that are appropriate for someone with the skills and interests you indicated.

Mine told me that, among other things, I should avoid farming. But it also told me some useful things, like that I should avoid jobs where I was supervising people. It said a lot of other things that turned out to be right. So if you’ve ever taken any tests like that and have the results, look at them.

I took some quickie online tests hoping for more insight. They told me to avoid jobs that were rudimentary and look for jobs that were always offering something new and that challenged me. I’m sure my mother could have told me that, but I didn’t know to ask her.

Step 6: Look at jobs you aren’t qualified for and figure out why.

Jobs equivalent to my old one are generally called “Windows Administrator” or “Systems Administrator” or something similar. I noticed a lot of job postings for those list installation and support of SQL Server as a requirement. At my old job, my support of SQL Server consisted of shoving in the CD and running setup.exe, and then a DBA took over. Then, after the DBA did whatever was necessary, I had to set up backup jobs. But it looks like a lot of so-called equivalent jobs are going to want me to be able to do a little more with SQL Server.

And in talking with the second someone in a someone-who-knew-someone chain this morning (remember, work the good-ol’-boys network, even if you’re not a farmer), I found out that a SQL DBA makes more than 50% more than what I used to make. I suspect I would have to go back to school to become one of those, but there are a lot more job openings for SQL DBAs than for sysadmins. For that kind of a raise and increase in marketability, it would be worth doing.

Next up: Hit the library.

The book What Color is Your Parachute? is one great reason. In my case, any book on SQL would be another. I won’t immediately learn enough to become a DBA but I can at least learn how to create new databases and users and set access rights and manipulate logs. Knowing where to find the information and being able to understand it when you find it is 3/4 of the battle in this industry.

To shift into being a DBA, I would probably have to take a class or two. But for that kind of a salary increase, it would be worth it.

Or maybe there’s something else I’d be happier doing. Where else am I going to find out about it? Spending half the day at the library would be a productive use of some of my newfound time.

Next to next up: Hit Mizzou’s career center.

I choose Mizzou because it’s my alma mater, so they offer services for me. It’s two hours away, so it’ll chew up a day. But they may be able to help on job openings and at the very least cam help with resumes and cover letters. My situation is different from seven years ago when I graduated, but still challenging. I probably could write a 12-page resume today. There’s conflicting advice on whether a resume ought to be one page, two pages, or the size of a novel. It would be good to know when to use the 12-pager, and whether I’m putting the right stuff on the two-pager.

There are lots of people who will do that for a fee, but I might as well go get the help that’s there for the asking. Besides, while I’m there I can work the good-ol’-boys network.

4 thoughts on “Day four of the rest of my life (in between jobs)

  • May 16, 2005 at 1:06 pm

    Dave –
    Sorry to hear about the job loss, but you’re headed in the right direction. Now, find some balance. Don’t make the focus of every waking minute about a job. I’d recommend doing the job boards and resumes each morning, callbacks late morning (when people have more time to chat), and spend some time in the afternoons on self-improvement. Learn SQL (Start SQL Server Enterprise manager, select Tools, SQL Server Query Analyzer, type in SELECT @@VERSION, hit the blue check mark and the green arrow, and you’ve determined the version of SQL Server – always useful to know, and impresses the native non-IT folk when they ask you to show them that you know SQL Server) – focus on things like diagnostics and keeping the database running. That’ll get your foot in the door with "Some experience with MS SQL Server" – then suck up to the DBA, and he or she will eventually leave – and you may be ready to step up.

    Good luck – you’re in my prayers… –jd.

  • May 17, 2005 at 2:19 pm


    Please let me know if you successfully received my very long email I submitted through your email form. It is about job possibilities.


    Bruce W. Edwards
    Information Security Officer
    University of Louisville

    MedCenter One Building
    501 East Broadway, Suite 320
    Louisville, KY 40202

    Phone: 502-852-4363

  • May 17, 2005 at 9:15 pm

    Apply for jobs even if you don’t think you are qualified. I recently changed jobs. I spent 9 months applying for jobs every week. Some employers are rigid in their job requirements but others are willing to hire someone with experience and the ability to learn. Hang in there. You will find the right thing.

  • May 20, 2005 at 6:37 am


    I agree with jhendrickson. You should consider jobs where you think you don’t qualify. I think the healthiest way to look at the list of qualifications for a job as a wish list.

    Don’t sell yourself short either. If you find a job where part of your job will be SQL Server then ask how many at the location are working with SQL Server. The best way to learn is to have somebody show you the ropes onsite. Tell the would-be employer that you have the basics to built upon instead of saying that you don’t know it.

    Another way to sell yourself is to tell the would-be employer that you may not have the exact requirements but that is a good thing. A person that has the exact requirements won’t find much motivation for that job anyways because of the lack of personal development.

    Good luck.

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