Help me help my friend
May 11, 2007 11:02 PM   Subscribe

A long time friend was recently laid-off. I'd like some advice on how I can help him out.

As usual, sorry for the length, I'll try to keep this brief.

I am posting this as our long time friend, anon, because I'd rather not make a personal situation any more public than necessary.

My long time friend (he is more of a brother than friend), who is 45, has been working for the same medium sized company for the last 20 years. He began his career with this company in an entry level position and over time worked his way through the ranks to IT director about 10 years ago. Fast forward 9 years, his company was bought-out. Since that time upper level management has been slowly phased-out in an attempt to "manage costs." My friend's time came last week.

Naturally, after 20 years with the same company my friend is quite upset about being laid-off - not mad, but sad. I'd like to help him in any way possible with this next step in his life. Specifically, I'm not looking for advice to help him emotionally. His mother, brothers, sisters, wife, and I are doing all we can to make him feel better.

I am looking for advice on how I can help him with his search for employment.

The facts:
- He's 45, married, 2 young children (elementary school, jr high)
- He does NOT have a college education. He learned what he knows on the job - he is obviously knowledgeable, he was IT Director for 10 years
- I believe that a lot of the software used with his old company was developed in house, he had a hand in a lot of the development
- The IT Dept he managed was staffed by 20-30 people
- Lives in the NW US
- Very personable. He was well liked by his superiors, peers and those that he oversaw
- His salary was around 150K

Any suggestions on how I should go about helping my friend? I've offered to help him with his resume, for some reason I have a knack for them. What else? What types of resources are there for an individual in his position? Specific job boards (not Monster) perhaps? I'm at a loss. I've already determined contacts I have that may be of help to him, but outside of the networking aspect how do I help him out?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like every independent consultant I ever met. I worked in IT for two years in the UK - he may want to consider setting himself up as an independent contractor. They're needed everywhere, especially on government work, to fill in the gaps which the big guys like IBM have in their project teams. With a resume like that, he should have a pretty good chance.

Check out the Independent Computer Consultants Association, and perhaps this book
posted by Happy Dave at 11:54 PM on May 11, 2007

I dont think he needs to worry about not having a college education - 20 years commercial experience pretty much blows that into insignificance.
He isnt 'over the hill' as far as finding a new job goes but finding an agency that can get him some contract/consultancy work might be the way he chooses to go - guys on the low end are 10 a penny and its an insecure life for the inexperienced but for someone of his age and experience there could be plenty of opportunities. But if he needs the security he might consider sending his CV around to local companies, I dont think I've ever seen an IT job advertised that would suit him - most of the stuff on job sites is entry-mid level stuff. A lot of those kinds of positions are filled from within so he would be better contacting companies directly, see if they're looking and ask them to keep him in mind in the future.
posted by missmagenta at 12:42 AM on May 12, 2007

If I were in his position--20 years since my last interview--I'd want someone to help me craft my 'story' and 'elevator speech'. Having a 20 second soundbite ready really helps when you run into a potential lead. And he may not be comfortable or practiced in talking about his skills, attributes, challenges, etc. If he can role-play today's typical interview questions and get to the point where he can field them with ease, it'll be a big help.
posted by cocoagirl at 3:18 AM on May 12, 2007

Help him manage his expectations, for good and bad. Senior-level job searches take a long time but usually end well. Encourage him to take a little time off, to get back into the gym and reactivate some productive hobbies, because this could easily be a six or eight month process. But also encourage him -- and continue to encourage him if he starts to get discouraged -- that he's not going to end up doing tech support for $12 an hour. He'll be on his fit in an equivalent or better role, it'll just take some patience first.
posted by MattD at 4:38 AM on May 12, 2007

Your friend is about to go through hell.

At least in the Pacific NW there are plenty of IT types of jobs to be had, but he will almost certainly be looking at a pay cut. Start by working the rolodex.

Beware of "networking" events that turn out to be collections of other unemployed people all hoping somebody else has a job lead, or that turn out to be church recruiters. The same goes for resume consultants who are "consultants" pending finding a new paying job. You might read Bait And Switch, but don't let your friend read it or he will become more depressed. Sad but true, there are people who prey on the insecurities of the unemployed.

Don't forget that most temp agencies also do permanent placement. A temp position will not only bring in a little cash, it might turn into a working interview. That's truly a win-win situation because the both the company and the potential employer know exactly what they are getting into. Worst case scenario, you meet people who might know somebody who is hiring. If nothing else it will get his mind off of being unemployed.
posted by ilsa at 10:36 AM on May 12, 2007

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