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My Job Search Journey: How Outplacement Is Different This Time Around

By Wendy Lai, SparkEffect (fka Torchiana) Outplacement Participant

This isn’t the first time I have been in a career transition. In fact, this is the third time in 20 years that I’ve found myself at this juncture. All three times, I have found myself in this situation through no fault of my own, yet there I was. But this time, I am having a completely different experience, and I believe SparkEffect (fka Torchiana)  is the key.

Fifteen years ago, when I was last unemployed, I was given access to an outplacement agency. Whether it was because I was too inexperienced, too young, or too whatever, that particular experience wasn’t useful, so this time, when I was given access to SparkEffect, I didn’t have high hopes. I assumed it would be like my previous outplacement experience, lukewarm at best. Boy, was I wrong!

When I didn’t engage in my program after my separation, SparkEffect proactively reached out to me to remind me that I have this free service. I appreciated the gentle prodding and finally checked them out. My first impression was that they have an organized and resource-filled website. There were lots of self-service tools, templates, and exercises a job seeker could use. I was fairly happy to just access these services on demand, but then I was assigned to a career coach, Rebecca Kieler, and she and I started having one-on-one conversations.

Before talking with Rebecca, my strategy for landing a new job was to spruce up my resume, diligently mine the job boards, and apply for every job I was qualified for. Rebecca, very diplomatically, tried to change my mind. I have to be honest; I was stubborn and didn’t get it right away. Three calls later, I finally saw THE LIGHT. Rebecca explained that the key to landing the job I want is to find that job through networking before the position is posted publicly.

Networking, as it turned out, was simpler than ever. Circumstances in our world had called for people to work from home more, and people were used to taking calls and Zoom meetings. They sought more human connection and were willing to go the extra mile. My initial outreach to my network of people and complete strangers was met with positive and warm reception. Within a week or two, I saw the fruits of my labor. I wrote a whole blog series about networking and suffice to say I am a true believer now. I now believe all job seekers and even employed folks should network. The benefits of networking are just like exercising and eating healthy, it will pay dividends in the long run!

Besides online tools, SparkEffect also offers many online classes and micro-learning sessions on various topics. I have not attended all of them, but the ones that I have inevitably led me to learn something new or meet someone new. From the “LinkedIn Lab”, to the Speed Networking Event “Career Connections”, to the small group session “Savvy Negotiation Basics”, SparkEffect has a full range of programs that will help a job seeker from the first day of unemployment to after an offer is accepted. While viewing job searching as an opportunity for a better career, it can present unique challenges that can cause job seekers to have self-doubts and moments of anxiety. I know, I have been there. But since I have been working with SparkEffect, I feel like I have the experts in my corner, rooting for me and helping me on this career transition journey.

Wendy’s Bio

Wendy has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare/biotech industries, working and leading in marketing communication, marketing operations, and marketing services roles. Her expertise lies in tactical execution, operationalizing strategies and plans into repeatable, high-quality programs. In her most recent role, she managed the KOL engagement and events team and the commercial projects management team. Wendy’s particular area of expertise is best suited for a company ready for their first commercial product launch. With years of experience working with sales and marketing to create demand and increase growth, Wendy can help build teams, processes, and programs to achieve commercial success.

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