Are You Suffering From 'Sunday Afternoon' Syndrome?

 

By Michael R. Losey August 25, 2017
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The following is excerpted from Chapter 18 of Touching People's Lives (SHRM, 2017), written by the Society for Human Resource Management's past CEO and President Michael R. Losey, SPHR, CAE. 

When Fridays always seem so distant, and when at about 3 p.m. each Sunday, you experience a pain in the gut thinking about Monday and the job, it is time to consider quitting the job. How do you get that new job? 

Start with a career inventory and appraisal. 

Start with where you are right now. What is your position, and are you comfortable in it? Is your current position a result of a reasonable career progression within your current organization? Identify what you like and dislike about your current job. 

I used this approach when I was struggling with the poor results of the Sperry and Burroughs merger to make Unisys. I simply took a piece of paper and sketched out a flowchart as illustrated above.

It was relatively easy to identify what I liked or the pluses of the job. In addition, I enjoyed the community where we lived and did not want to move again after many previous moves. I adored the people I worked with. I respected them and would hate to leave them. My compensation was good; no complaints. 

Taking a Career Inventory 

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Identifying what I disliked about my current position was not difficult to do, either. I had had four bosses in four years, three with HR experience and one with no HR experience. The new company just did not appear to have the ability to select a senior human resource professional who would satisfy the other top executives and the chairman, Mr. Blumenthal. After the merger, the top HR job always went to a former Burroughs executive. Pre-merger assurances about my future did not materialize. Some of this I brought on myself because of the professional or ethical positions I found it necessary to take. 

After twenty-seven years with one employer, it was time to go. 

Once the decision was made, the next issue was, what did I want in a job? The number-one desire was a position where I could show what I could do, plus regaining levels of achievement and job satisfaction. I wanted to help advance a successful organization that provided reasonable resources to the profession of HR and respected the HR function. Appropriate compensation and security were secondary. Finally, if I had to relocate, I preferred to live in a metropolitan area with a milder climate and close to water, given my interest in boating. 

Once I decided what I wanted in a position, I had to decide: Do I stay, or do I leave?

So What Do You Do? 

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Leaving an employer after many years of service can be tough. The easiest decision is to stay put while taking other actions to minimize the impact of staying. Additionally, I was not so pompous as to believe I did not have development needs. The most important thing, however, was to find a way to test my aspirations against any future opportunities within Unisys. If those actions did not minimize the impact of staying, then I would be forced into seeking another job. 

When I was in my thirties and forties, outside headhunters contacted me on numerous occasions. However, especially when I was with New Holland, I loved my job and the people too much to consider any other employer. 

Now, four years after the merger of Sperry and Burroughs, the successor company, Unisys, was easy to disrespect and difficult to admire. In addition to what I knew about the Sperry pre-merger hesitation to merge with Burroughs, my own analysis of the situation was that Unisys would continue to experience difficulties. This would make my position even more challenging and, eventually, threaten my job security at a more venerable and disadvantaged age. I had no time to waste. By the fourth anniversary of the Sperry and Burroughs merger, I was 52 years old. It was leave now or increase the difficulty of transitioning to another position later. 

The most important thing I did was to start networking outside the company. One disadvantage of working for a very large organization is that too frequently you are networking and exchanging ideas with others in your same organization. Those working in smaller organizations are much more likely to network with professionals from other organizations. Frequently, a more diverse networking involvement yields a better experience. 

A good friend of mine, Mike Lotito, noted labor lawyer, asked me to assist him when he was chair of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) labor relations committee. This opportunity led to excellent networking opportunities with the SHRM staff, some board members, and many top-notch professionals. 

Now, considering leaving was not so difficult. I listed my strengths and weaknesses, accomplishments, considered what professional contacts I had, and who might be able to help me, or at a minimum, who should know I was ready for a change. I also alerted those whom I hoped to use as future references. 

Again, I had a job, and was not immediately at risk, as far as I knew. Therefore, I could take my time, within reason, while being deliberate, looking for my dream job. 

What I was not going to do was chase newspaper ads and the Internet postings. I was not going to send out a ton of resumes and then sit by the mailbox to await the rejection letters. I would do a targeted job search of companies I wanted to work for. I asked myself:

  • Who did I want to work for?
  • Why did I want to work for them?
  • Where did I want to work—what part of the country?
  • How would I approach the companies I wanted to consider? 

Fortunately my networking with SHRM paid off quickly. I was recruited to replace the existing CEO as he prepared to retire. For others, I have frequently recommended the targeted job search approach.  

The Targeted Job Search

There is a very big difference between trying to discover "who is hiring" and deciding what organization to work for. Doing a targeted job search is especially effective when the person still has a job but knows it is now time to leave.  

Start by creating a list of companies you would consider working for. Then do your research. For instance:
  • What was the firm's total revenue?
  • Was the firm profitable, and if so, how profitable (return on investment)?
  • How many employees does the firm have?
  • What is the firm's general reputation in its industry, and among other major employers?
  • What is the firm's market share in its industry?
  • What is the firm's job security reputation?
  • What are the firm's opportunities for continuing education, training, promotion, etc.?
     

Michael R. Losey, SPHR, CAE, is a past president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. Before being named to the Society's top position in 1990, Losey previously served 30 years in HR management and executive-level positions with two Fortune corporations. He has been active in international human resources and is a past president of the North American Human Resource Management Association and the World Federation of Personnel Management Associations.

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