So, it has been a while since I posted something about the trials and tribulations of being laid off during the pandemic. My story isn't much different from others. I am an Executive Leader, Female, in Tech. I was working most recently at one of the largest tech companies in the world and had a fabulous job.
I had great work-life balance. My team worked extremely well together and we all liked our manager. Long story short, changes came, our entire division was laid off (in two segments) right at the beginning of Covid-19. It has been extremely difficult to find real work. I have interviewed no joke, over 100 times; likely 200. I have been rejected times than I care to admit.
I have had offers that were literally pulled right on the day of signing. I say all of this as a note to let all of you struggling that you aren't alone. With that said, I have been experiencing alot of ageism and sexism.
The last 3 jobs that I interviewed for I was told that I was either the top candidate or 1 of 3 top candidates. In one interview series, in particular, I was specifically told that I was the "only woman" and that I answered the difficult questions better than the previous male candidates. This resonated with me very negatively. Needless to say, I didn't get the role.
It happened again, this time for a government role. I spent 6 weeks interviewing with this entity. They were so invested in me as a candidate, that they assigned me a government resume' writer. During this process, the recruiter told me that I had an excellent chance because they were looking for a particular diversity set: white, female, with over 20 years of experience. Again, this didn't sit well. I also didn't get the role. I went through 4 rounds of interviewing and was told by the hiring team that my last conversation would be with the team that I would own in the role. That meeting never came.
The last interview situation happened over the past 2 weeks. I was told that they capped the number of applications off at a certain point and selected their top candidates. The initial meetings went really well. The last was a board interview session of which I wasn't aware of. I only had one person on the invite as an attendee. That was a bit off-putting but not uncommon. They closed my meeting out with telling me it was great to chat and that HR would be reaching out to me on Monday. Monday came, went...so did the rest of the week. I did follow-up and didn't hear anything back until EOD on FRI; Dear jJhn letter no less.
In all of this, I asked for feedback. I was told that I was "too experienced"; not a "cultural fit"; and "better suited for other positions at the company". These are all terms and phrases used in ways to say you are too costly; too old; or the wrong gender.
I didn't accept the gender responses and went straight to the CEOs of the company(ies). I gave feedback as a managing up situation and informed these folks that it is inappropriate to mention that I was "the only woman" interviewing; or that I was a bit older than expected..." I also told the CEO's that they need to have their HR teams coach all of management on how to be more respectful during the entire process. Lastly, I told them that if they are investing that much time in someone, it is very unprofessional to close the loop with generic and insulting canned/template rejection notices.
My experiences with trying to find the next best opportunity has been very upsetting. Recruiters, HR folks, headhunters, all no longer care about the experience set you bring. One of the very first questions I get is "What are you expecting for salary>?" This is not the way to approach hiring. You are losing quality folks by asking how much they want to work before you even talk through the role, company culture, etc. Also, don't breadcrumb and ghost candidates.
I have also been asked what pronoun I want to refer to myself as. I don't give a frig if you are man, woman, or a toad. As long as you come to work to do just that and have a strong character, your pronoun of He/Him/Other or She/Her/Other should have no business in the work place.
In most of my interviews, the executives conducting the meetings aren't dressing professionally either. I have had several men come to a meeting in shorts, hoodies, and simple polo shirts to interview me at the Sr. Director and VP levels. If I am expected to be dressed appropriately (waste up at least!), so should they. One woman wore a sweater that had fur and cat images all over it. Wow, did I feel like I was just a box waiting to be checked off during her interview process!
It is hard to remain optimistic when you consider time of year too. Most companies are now in a lock down or change management period because of EOY, holiday, vacation, etc. Trying to find a job in the Fall is statistically limiting. Throw in a pandemic and scandalous election, and you have the perfect trifecta of limited chance.
I use tools like LinkedIn and others to look and research for roles and opportunities. They are worth the investment, for the most part. My new method of madness is trolling recruiters directly linked to roles I am interested in to get noticed faster and it is working.
I can't change that I am vastly experienced and have certain expectations from the company that I want to work for and with. I also have no control over my gender, ethnicity, etc. I am not embarrassed by any of those. I will ask for feedback during the process and will most certainly let you have it if you are unprofessional.
I want to let all of the women out there in similar situations to mine to know not to lose yourself. Stay true to who you are and what you stand for. Integrity, Professionalism, Compassion, and Courtesy are all traits that the right employer will seek out and find from you.