For human-resources manager Michele Begovich, that's what it took to find work.
Between October and March, job hunting was her
only job, and she
has the spreadsheet to prove it.
Fear can be an amazing motivator, and the early 2000s had not been kind to Ms. Begovich employment-wise.She was a regional HR manager in Chicago for a copier company for a year when her job ended in late 2004.
Before that, Ms. Begovich
HR manager's role in the Chicago regional office of a large media company was eliminated due to cost-cutting after just 15 months.She
received a month's severance and collected unemployment.Age 39 and single, she
knew that money would be tight if she
didn't land a new role quickly.But it had taken her
nine months of 2003 to find that position, and so, she
says, "I was petrified" about a third job search in five years."I had just had back-to-back layoffs," she
says, "and I knew it would be a tough market, so I went at it full force, full time."
Since they were short term, the two positions were an added burden when she
talked with employers.They either ruled her
out immediately or questioned her
work ethic."They would look at me as though I was a job hopper," she
says, "It was like, 'What's the matter with this girl?She
doesn't stay anywhere for long.' "She began joining HR and job-hunter networking groups, such as HR Illinois and Job Network Illinois (a free Yahoo list serve), and networked incessantly.Members of Chicwit, an online-networking group with mostly women members, gave her emotional and networking support.She
made cold calls to companies, applied for openings on corporate and job-seeker Web sites, contacted recruiters and placement agencies and reviewed postings at the state unemployment office."There was no source too small for me to talk with about potential job leads," she
On a typical day, Ms. Begovich
might go on three to four interviews or send out resumes by the dozen.She
would strike up conversations with strangers in Starbucks
, telling them she
was job hunting and handing them a business card, which included her
name and contact information.She
also put her HR
experience to work helping other job seekers.Starbucks customers learned from the coffee shop's employees that an HR
pro was there most afternoons who would lend a hand on resumes.Ms. Begovich
says helping the customers helped her
."You never know when someone you help might be a future hiring manager and could offer me a job," she
search, few HR
openings were available, and Ms. Begovich
was reassured by networking contacts that the market would pick up following November's presidential election.But she
was disappointed when no job offers materialized.Then company representatives told her
they weren't hiring due to the upcoming holidays, and things would get better after the New Year.
But Ms. Begovich
began to lose hope.To make ends meet, she
started applying for temporary jobs and contract HR
accepted filing and other low-level work, she
self-worth begin to crumble."I felt like I couldn't get arrested," she
says."I had to fight feelings of panic and self doubt."
The worst was the morning she
gave a friend a ride to work in Chicago's Loop business district.She
watched office workers on their way to their jobs carrying briefcases and backpacks."I started sobbing," she
During a single week in February, Ms. Begovich
was invited to take HR-manager jobs at four separate companies.Some were well-known companies, including a large national telecommunications firm, a leading U.S. consulting firm and a retail company that sells window treatments.Two of the jobs she
had heard of through networking, and two had been posted online on CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com.Ms. Begovich
was uncertain which would be best for her
, so she
asked a group of friends to Sunday brunch and put her
options on the table.The group weighed the pros and cons of each offer, and the exercise helped Ms. Begovich
decision.The next day, she accepted an offer to be a human-resources manager for a Chicago based oral-care products maker called Sunstar Butler.
Butler is a division of Sunstar Americas, which is owned by Sunstar Inc.
, a Japanese company.She
started the new position in March.
"From the moment I came here, they made me feel welcome and as though I belonged and was wanted," says Ms. Begovich
confidence restored, she
encourages current job seekers to keep plugging, even when they feel their situation is hopeless."When you get those regret letters and your phone isn't ringing, you can never lose sight of the fact that you are hirable," she