Human Collateral: Financial IT Manager's Multi-Pronged Job Search

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Irene worked 20 years as an IT program manager for financial services firms. Laid off in December 2008, she is still looking.

I am from New Hampshire, and a few years ago my husband was offered a job in New York. We thought it was both a great career opportunity for him, as well as a chance to spend time in Manhattan. I soon got a job in my field - in mid-2008 there was no better place to be than New York when it came to being an IT program manager in financial services. I found a job making $110,000 per year plus a bonus - which of course at that time was unlimited.

But between the day I accepted the job and I started in the role, the firm actually broke a buck - its worth dropping from $230 billion to zero. I was let go just shy of three months from being hired - just in time so the company didn't have to pay the recruiter's fee.

Initially it was really tough, but now I realize it wasn't as good a fit as I'd hoped. But I have been fortunate in that both my husband and I are professionals and we've always tried to live so that one of our incomes could support us. This way I can pursue jobs that are the right opportunity for my career and I don't have to work at Macy's.

At the time I was hired I had a number of irons in the fire which I let go - as soon as I got fired I realized I shouldn't have done that. When I tried to follow up on those opportunities, of course they were gone.

I've had a number of good phone interviews with recruiters who give me great feedback about how I'm perfect for various jobs, but nothing comes to fruition. Either the money dries up, or the companies decide not to go forward with the project. It's tough being a salesperson when your primary career is not actually sales. Sales is a big numbers game and in getting your name out there you face lots of rejection. I've had to learn not to get too emotional about every little bite. That's how I move forward.

I do have my routine - every morning I look at a number of job boards and tweak a standard cover letter to fit each description. I also try to network, but I've found that if I were looking for a job back home in New Hampshire where I have 20 years worth of contacts, I would have found a job in a couple of months. Here, I don't know many people. I have tried to nurture deeper relationships with my colleagues from my short-lived job, which has led me to some good recruiter relationships.

Overall, I try to tell myself that things are looking up, that with the beginning of the new year companies are pulling together new projects. I'm also optimistic that the move to downsize banks could mean more work for my sector.

Emma Johnson is a New York based journalist who writes about money, business and finance for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Forbes, MSN Money and others. Reach her at emma@emma-johnson.net.

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