Take little time to reflect, relax, and hit search hard
By SANDRA GUY Business Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Anderson, a former vice-president at the McCormick-Tribune Foundation was laid off in 2010 and took 16 months to find a job. He now works as the General Manager at Windy City Fieldhouse. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Dave Anderson took a couple of detours on his way to figuring out what he wanted to do for a living, so he accepted the inevitability he would have to detour again after he was laid off last year following a 17-year stint as an executive at the charity formerly known as the McCormick Tribune Foundation.
His position as the foundation’s vice president of civic programs was eliminated in June 2010 in a management change.
His job search took 16 months, partly because he thought he would be moving out of state for a terrific job that never materialized, and in part because he “threw himself” into volunteer work with two charity boards and his condo board.
He was admittedly uncomfortable jumping back into the job market after 20 years of never having to go through a formal interview process. He had always had such a good relationship and highly regarded reputation with the person with whom he interviewed, the hirings were done deals.
“I now encourage people to press hard right off the bat and not take much time to relax or reflect,” said Anderson, a 43-year-old Winfield native who lives in Lincoln Park.
Anderson admits he’s not good with interviews because he simply refuses to give answers that score points with human resources professionals, and he didn’t interview others for a “technically right answer” when he hired people in his executive tenure.
“I was looking for a subjective feel whether someone could learn, take criticism, articulate their positions, stand up for themselves and fit in,” he said.
In his latest job search, Anderson relied on his strong networks of friends and colleagues who notified him of job openings, and checking NPO.net, a local website that lists openings at non-profit organizations.
“I didn’t find the big job boards to be helpful at all,” he said.
Anderson ended up doing 40 to 50 networking meetings and getting 20 interviews for 10 different jobs from March until October — one interview each for four jobs and 16 interviews spread among the other six jobs.
Success came from Anderson’s extensive network. He had known one of the owners of the Windy City Fieldhouse in the Logan Square neighborhood for 15 years, and agreed to supervise corporate picnics as an hourly wage worker this past summer. He worked 30 events, where he got to know the other owner and the employees, caterers, activity companies and others. In May, the owners told him they wanted to hire a general manager, and were interested in hiring him. But they posted the position and interviewed qualified candidates. The final decision came down to their comfort level.
“They decided I was over-qualified in some respects, but that was more than offset by the fact that they knew me,” Anderson said. “We had done an on-the-job interview process.”
He started his new job Oct. 17 at a “significant” pay cut from his previous job, but he’s happy to be working with people he’s come to enjoy and appreciate.
Anderson recalled his boyhood plan to be a cop, a prosecutor and then a judge. Though he finished law school in 1999 while working as a development officer at McCormick Tribune Foundation, he quickly realized being a prosecutor wasn’t for him.
He is now learning to use his management and organizational skills at the fieldhouse — essentially, a small business.
“McCormick had $1 billion in assets, so if you needed something, you just ordered it,” he said. “That’s been the harder transition.”