Patrick Morand knew the game and he played by the rules.
He studied hard, found a job and worked diligently. And he enjoyed the fruits of his labor. For nearly four years, he was the executive director of the Central Maryland chapter of the American Red Cross. He and his wife, Joan, owned a home in a new Towson subdivision where they lived with their three children. It was the American dream.
Then came the American nightmare.
Mr. Morand lost his job in April 1991 due to a reorganization of Red Cross branches here and around the country. It happened during a time when companies everywhere were downsizing and professionals along with laborers were being laid off.
He tried hard not to focus on all of the negative news about the economy. He studied a few self-motivational books and suffered more rejection than he cares to recall. But one year after losing his job, Mr. Morand found a new one. Today, he is president of LifeSource, a community blood bank in the Chicago area.
During his job search he received nine "serious" interviews and six job offers. He turned down five of those job offers because they were not for the type of work he sought. But he referred the employers to friends who also were out of work.
"Three people did end up getting a job," he says.
Mr. Morand, 43, has learned a lot about job searching during the past year.
"A person at any level of society can apply these techniques," he says while relaxing in his Towson home, which recently was sold. "But you have to go through a fair amount of disappointments to get to your goals."
Q: Did you see the ax coming?
A: I knew it was going to happen. It was pretty clear from the reorganization. My board wanted to put up a fight. But I said, let's not fight it. I said you might vent your spleen but the results would be the same. I did want reasonable severance pay but I just don't like to burn bridges. There were 50 of us across the country who were let go. Some decided to stay on and take a lesser job at the Red Cross. But I thought it was better to break clean. You make career decisions based on your hunches, experiences and the evidence at hand.
Q: The loss of a job has got to be a tough thing to talk about with your spouse. How did your wife take it?
A: She has been extremely cooperative. She never second-guessed me. A whole lot of people have spouses who give them a hard time. But this is when you especially need someone to be supportive.
Q: What about the children?
A: I would take my two oldest to the outplacement center with me. We would get into this assembly line and gather together my resumes. It was fun getting them involved. After a while, Natalie -- she's only 9 -- would say, "You said you would have a job by Valentine's Day! You said you would have a job by Thanksgiving!"
Q: Did you go through a grieving process those first few days when you woke up with no job?
A: Everyone does when there is change. The sign of maturity is how you handle grief. You can lie in bed and have pity on yourself -- that will get you a buck and a Big Mac! Or you can channel that sense of loss and anger.
Q: How did you go about motivating yourself?
A: I have obligations! I have three kids and a mortgage! I made a job out of looking for a job. I told myself, I'm president of this little company. All I have to do is make at least one sell today. It was a full-time job, 12 to 14 hours a day. In fact, it was a job that you never left. You're always wondering about it. Always thinking about it.
Q: So how did you get started?
A: The whole key to looking for a job is talking to people. I based my whole campaign on people that I know. With the help of my personal computer, I made a list and then started contacting them. I made contact with 1,300 people either face to face or over the telephone. I found out that people really do want to help, even given this economy.
Q: What did you say to these people?
A: I would tell them what I was looking for and then say, "Maybe you know someone else I can talk to?" It defuses the situation. But nobody wants to talk to a loser. I've seen these real sad-eyed people. Even if you feel that way, don't show it!
Q: What were you looking for?
A: My goal was to be president of a non-profit company. My
background is in non-profit management. And I wanted to go someplace where I would have a future. We wanted to stay here. It was painful deciding to leave Baltimore because we like it here. My kids like it here. But just looking here would have been very limiting.
Q: Out of 1,300 people you contacted, you ended up with only nine interviews. How difficult was it handling all of that rejection?
A: Early on, you are full of bravado. There were the people who said, "If you're so hot, then why aren't you working?" But it's like any sales job. You have to deal with rejection a lot. You keep at it. All of the time. One day at a time.
Q: What's the best piece of advice you can give to job seekers?
A: If I have anything to say it's that you have got to have faith in yourself, even if you keep getting rejected. Too many people give up. Nothing falls out of the sky.