After graduating from Darden in 1986, Chris Lalik spent seven years in consumer packaged goods at General Mills and James River. Since then, he has worked in outdoor sporting goods and has been able to combine his passion for the outdoors with his career at companies like Bushnell, Redfield, Puma Knives, XS Sights and Sellmark. Chris was laid off in 2006 and landed another position in outdoor sporting goods after three months. Afterward, he recorded the job search lessons that were painfully learned. The lessons have proven themselves when others needed help and when Chris had to find a new position last year.

 Here, the Armstrong Center for Alumni Services shares those lessons to help Darden alumni in their future job searches.

The Emotional Side of Job Search

  • Keep your head on straight. This too shall pass.
  • Talk to a good lawyer if you see a layoff coming or are offered an exit package. It could be the best money you invest in that moment.
  • Talk to lots of people; it helps your attitude. Everyone who has had a long career has been through something like this. Remember, job loss is not a reflection on you.
  • Things blow up for all sorts of explainable and unexplainable reasons, including company reorganizations, a key person leaving or the wind blowing from the south after blowing from the north on the third Wednesday of the month. Companies don’t always make sensible decisions.
  • Be as patient as you can. Search invariably takes longer than you think it will. This is more urgent to you than anyone else. A delay is not necessarily a dead deal. I’ve had some prospects come back to life long after I had written them off as dead.
  • Keep busy updating or learning new skills. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are a great way to get started for free or very low fee, and some offer certificates upon completion. See: Edx or Coursera

Search Strategies

  • Have a written plan, and work it even when you feel like crap. For everything that falls through, two new things will pop up if you keep plugging.
  • Most universities have career services that are available to alumni. They can act as a sounding board and also give you a free, objective evaluation of your marketing tools. The counselors do this for a living and are good at it. Be open to their suggestions.
    (Editor’s Note: For Darden alumni, these services and others are available through Alumni Career Services)
  • Prospect everywhere. You will be surprised at the people who help. Some of the unexpected places I got help were Cub Scout parents, neighbors and gym buddies.
  • Network, network, network! Alumni associations are great; use them! Many universities have networking boards and volunteers willing to help. You can look for local fellow alumni on LinkedIn by finding your school and using the key words to filter location.

After You Land

  • Close out your network by contacting everyone who helped you and thanking them personally. This is where your log book will help a lot. This is worth a few days. You never know what will happen in the future.
  • Keep up with your network. Commit to making a networking call every week just to keep your contacts up to date. Sow the seeds now so they are ready to harvest when you need them.
  • Help others when you can; most will appreciate your input and guidance.

Chris Lalik has been married to his wife, Claire, for 33 years, and they live in Fort Worth, Texas, with their three children. He would love to hear from fellow Darden alumni.