Article Title: The White Stuff
Author Byline: Peggy McKee, The Medical Sales Recruiter
Author Website:

20 years experience

Seasoned, mature rep ready for a new challenge.

Do these resume summary lines sound familiar?

You can’t turn on the television or radio without hearing how many people are unemployed or how difficult the job market is today. What you don’t hear too often is that some of the most vocal unsuccessful job seekers shouldn’t be very surprised that they aren’t being successful.

What? How could I possibly say that?

Don’t I have any empathy?

Let’s not even talk about the many interview horror stories you hear (flip flops at interviews, tardiness, texting while interviewing, general unpreparedness, etc.). Even if a job seeker manages to avoid major interview mistakes like that, the job search can still be a minefield. I say that based on actual empirical data–facts. I know facts aren’t too popular these days when debating points of view…it’s easier to talk about the emotional side of the equation and ignore the facts, or “givens.”

What are the givens in this equation?

  • The job market is very competitive.
  • The employers have more candidates to look at, so the process takes longer as they look for their ideal candidate.
  • Experience isn’t always seen as a plus–with experience comes higher salaries and expectations. And, there can be the perception among employers that you can’t teach “experienced dogs new tricks.”
  • Thousands of Pharma jobs have evaporated. Many are looking to move into other areas of medical sales.
  • You have hundreds (maybe thousands) of highly educated financial people with no clinical/research industry experience who are pursuing new careers because of the meltdown in their world.
  • Does that mean your career is over if you have more than 10 years experience?

If you haven’t dealt with “The White Stuff”, maybe so. If you deal with it, you will be in a better position than your peers.

So you say, “What’s the White Stuff?”

The white stuff is the white light and the white elephant.

First the white light:

As a manager, I was often in the position of deciding who would stay and who would go (or be “decoupled” as I heard for the first time last week) as we right-sized, refocused or adjusted to new management. I took the responsibility very seriously because I knew the actions I was taking as part of the management team would affect people’s lives. The way I was able to justify what I was doing was to tell myself that everyone has to be responsible for their actions and most likely; this person’s poor performance made them expendable. That theory worked great for me until I was “decoupled” (fired) with no notice, no performance plan, no clue. I can’t say I wasn’t cognizant of my circumstances. I knew about the Japanese model– executives down-sizing, taking less to make room for the “up and comers” that represent the future of the organization. So, I tried not to get performance review increases, took on more responsibility, anything that I thought would help me provide more value to organization.

The point being, I knew about the White Light.

A neighbor of mine recently lost his job after working for his firm for more than 10 years. As I was trying to console him he made a statement that made the “White Light” topic strike home. He said, “I really shouldn’t be surprised, they have been trying to get rid of me for a few years”.

(It took every bit of self control I could muster to not scream, “Are you kidding me?? You knew your job was at risk and you haven’t even looked for another?”)

This guy obviously hadn’t really seen the White Light. He thought he knew all about it, but, not so much. If he had seen the White Light while he was employed, it might have made him think about things differently, as in:

  • I am 56 years experienced.
  • I am in an executive position and lived ex-US for years.
  • My total comp is over $200,000.
  • I only have a 2 year degree.
  • I am in the cyclical construction industry.
  • If I lose this job, I might have a hard time replacing it. If I don’t replace my current job, my lifestyle will be really negatively affected.
  • I should always be looking to add more value to the organization, because I can be replaced cheaper with someone who can still contribute 10 or 20 years to the organization. Be cognizant of the Japanese model.
  • The White Light is job mortality.

If you have seen the White Light, you know that no one is safe. Any job can be eliminated at any time. Not just “the little people” get affected. You serve at the whim of your master. Do what you can to make your master like and need you. Any new challenge, bad assignment or bummer deal at your current job will be less of a bummer than being unemployed. Not even in the same league….trust me.

So what about the White Elephant?

The white elephant is that thing in the room or on the phone, which is there, present. You can try to pretend it isn’t, but it is. The White Elephant could be:

  • A 2-year gap in your employment.
  • Much more experience than the job requires.
  • Unrelated experience.
  • Getting fired.
  • Job instability as a result of mergers, buyouts, etc.
  • A poor reference.
  • Having a DUI on your driving record.
  • Missing last year’s sales goal.

The list goes on an on….

Have an answer. Address the “White Stuff” up front or you will not make it to the next step.

More issues and specific strategies in my next rambling post.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

About the author, Chief Executive Restaurant Recruiter

Born in Arkansas, moved to FL for 3 years as a youngster. Lived in GA most of my life. Married in 1985, 2 kids, one of each. Graduate of USNA Class of 1980. Love golf, computers, poker, photography, and gadgets.

Leave a Reply

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}