20 May 2015

Dot the i and cross the t in cryptic

This post is related to this blog but the focus is on me and my recent experiences and not on genealogy or family history directly. I will forgive you for not reading this post if you forgive me for posting it.

The last three and a half months have been a roller coaster of emotion, trials, and success. It has been a time of change and growth like I have not experienced in the last ten years. I am grateful for the changes in my life but it was not easy to go through. I have been told that I have been too cryptic in my social media posts and that people don't understand what I am trying to say. I suppose this is true but to explain I have to tell the whole story. 

For the last 14 years I have worked for a marketing company as their computer guy. I hired on to do web development and site management, but after two years had worked my way into management and was in charge of all the computers, servers, and network. My business card said Mat Trotter, Computer Guy. When I started at the company there were 13-15 people and we worked in a small office building Layton, Utah. As the business started to grow we moved into the former Iomega corporate headquarters in Roy, Utah.  At the peak there were over 40 employees. I feel like I had a huge role in helping the company to grow and expand as well as diversify the products that they offered as well as their reach into the niche markets they explored.

In September of 2014 we lost a contract with our largest  client. The Christmas season was the smallest in over a decade. I knew the company was hurting and that layoffs might be a possibility. On Thursday February 5th, 2015, I was called into the boardroom with the owners of the company and was laid off. I did not think I would be a casualty of the lost contract. I thought I was in a great position to help to find new clients and contracts. Needless to say, I was caught completely off guard. They had me sign an agreement that I would continue to work for them up to 60 hours a month for the next three months in order to get a severance package. Considering the 14 years I worked there the severance I received was less than you would expect. However, they paid out a month of vacation time and offered to pay almost 60% of my COBRA insurance for the three months of what they called the "transition" period.

That following weekend was a blur. I only remember coming home and telling my wife and the tears that followed. I sent a text to my LDS bishop and then my wife sat down our four oldest children who are living at home and told them what had happened. The first of the following week I met with a lawyer to go over the transition contract and I opened my file with the Utah Job Service. I met with a former vendor about the possibility of working for him and I worked for my former company.

I had already paid and was planning on attending Rootstech in Salt Lake City and my wife was covering the conference for our local paper, the Standard-Examiner. So February 12-14, 2015 we attended the conference. I had blogger credentials and was allowed access to areas not all conference goers could enjoy. However, my focus was changed and I spent most of the conference trying to network with vendors and and people who worked for FamilySearch. I figured I didn't have a job so why not look into the possibility of working in the industry that my hobbies align with. You can read other posts on this blog about some of my experiences at Rootstech. What those posts don't say is that I felt like there was not an immediate opportunity for me at any of the places I was interested in, especially FamilySearch.

The following Sunday I counseled with my bishop and he recommended that I go to the LDS Employment Center in downtown Ogden, Utah where I live. Through the training I attended there and the Accelerated Job Search (AJS) program I joined, I had a game plan that set the pattern for the next three months of my life. As part of AJS I agreed to meet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 8:30 in the Ogden offices with other members of the program. On Tuesday we met in Layton with the members of thier AJS program and on Thursday we all met in Centerville with all of the AJS members from the three different areas. It was a great way to network and learn about job openings, other possibilities and ideas from people who were all having the same experience. I also agreed to follow The Daily 15-10-2 Approach where I identify 15 new resources, make 10 contacts, and hold 2 face-to-face meetings or interviews each day.

Over the following three months I only missed four meetings and that was because I had job interviews. I applied for a 104 different jobs and had 23 interviews. I received 26 rejection letters from my efforts but only heard back from a fraction of those who interviewed me. This was a frustrating and humbling experience. I was embarrassed because I didn't have a job but it was through no fault of my own. It seemed as though because I was unemployed I was damaged goods. To many being laid off is equivalent to being fired. I would explain that I was still doing work for the company and that the layoff was because of a lost contract but I could tell it did not matter to them.

On Tuesday May 5th, 2015, three months from the day I was laid off, my LDS ward was given an opportunity for four people to volunteer at the Ogden cannery. They were making beef stew and I volunteered to work from 10 am - 4 pm. After I arrived I had the opportunity to load newly washed potatoes onto a dicing machine. The 230 pounds of potatoes were then added to 300 pounds of beef and other ingredients into a large machine that put the food into cans. Just as the first batch of potatoes were mixed into the machine something happened and the machine broke possible putting shards of metal into the batch. So the whole batch could not be used. They ended up shutting down the line and we spent 2 1/2 hours deep cleaning the plant. Although I worked I felt my efforts had all been thrown away. You are not allowed to have phones in the plant because they can be easily ruined. When I got out to my car I check my messages and email and had two rejection letters from two different companies where I had had multiple interviews. I felt the lowest I had since the day I was laid off.

Wednesday May 6th, 2015, I woke up and didn't feel like going to AJS at 8:30 am. My loving wife encouraged me out the door and I arrived a few minutes late. There were three other AJS members and two employment missionaries in the room. I proceeded to hear that all three of the other members were expecting to receive job offers later that day. I was so discouraged. As I left the meeting I felt like crying. 

Just before arriving home I received a call from a lady who said that she wanted to schedule an interview for me. I was planning on taking my oldest daughter to Colorado Springs and back over the following two days so she could receive a scholarship award from the Exchange Club. She had to be in attendance to receive the award. I told the lady I could not come in either Thursday or Friday but could I come in the following week. She said that would not work so we agreed to schedule an interview that afternoon at 1 pm. She said I would be interviewing for an IT Manager position and that they were located in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. She said that security would have an id badge for me in the lobby and to take the elevator to the appropriate floor. "Get off the elevator and follow the picture of Christ in a red robe, turn left and you will find us," she said.

When I arrived and found them, I was taken into an office and interviewed by a person who was leaving for a different position within the Church. Then I had a 55 minute interview with the manager over the open position. Some of his questions were very different than any I had answered in interviews before. He asked me about the callings or positions I have held in my ward. He asked me what was my favorite calling, I told him Scoutmaster. He asked me what my hobbies were and I told him scouting and genealogy. Then he asked me what my dream job would be. I told him about my experience at Rootstech and how I had tried to find a job at FamilySearch. He said, "this position would be great for you then." I asked him why he said that and he replied, "this position is for FamilySearch, didn't you know?" I told him that I didn't know what job I was interviewing for and that I have applied for several with the church. (A huge no-no I have been taught about in the employment workshop.) He reached into his drawer and pulled out my resume. Then he said, "Oh, I remember. You never applied for this position. I received your resume from a coworker and added to the pile of applicants. I really liked it so I had them call you in."

I really don't remember what else happened. I was so shocked. As I left the building I called my wife and I was overcome with emotion. I could not believe what had transpired and I told her that I thought I would get the job. I was so overcome with the feeling of the holy spirit that I just felt so hopeful that this is where I needed to be. 

My trip to Colorado Springs went as planned and on Monday morning I reported what had happened in my AJS meeting. After I arrived home I received a call with a job offer. I started just over a week ago and I am enjoying the experience so far.

I apologize for the long slightly off topic post and the somewhat cryptic social media messages. I went from feeling so ashamed to so overjoyed. I did not want to tell more than I needed to but I also did not want to seem boastful. This was a true trial for me. An experience I am glad I had but one I would not ask for. I have felt Heavenly father nudge me in a different direction. A nudge I needed. I was so comfortable at my last job I stopped seeking for more. I was complacent. I am so happy for this opportunity. I never would have imagined I would be working for FamilySearch six month ago. I am excited for what the future may bring. I am so thankful for the LDS employment center and the help and guidance they have given me. I am also grateful for the people who were in AJS with me. I consider them my friends. I am so glad my bishop counseled me to go to the center. 

One last note...It is a tradition that after you get a new job that you take donuts to the following AJS meeting. When I arrived that morning three of us walked in with donuts and I had also missed donuts on Friday when I was in Colorado Springs. That AJS program really works!