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How I got a job in this market
Volunteering was her route to opportunity.
April 2, 2004: 11:20 AM EST
By Joan Caplin, Jean Chatzky and Ellen McGirt, MONEY Magazine

NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) - Rebecca Martinez O'Mara insists that she got her job because she stopped looking for one.

"It's just like what a friend once told me," she says with a laugh. "'The minute chicks know you're interested, they're not.'"

Eric Fulmer Eric Fulmer - He credits his new job to his energy and enthusiasm -- and his networking.
Brenda Carter Brenda Carter - Though unemployed, she stayed current in her field and learned new skills.
Connie Guglielmo Connie Guglielmo - A job-hunting and support Web site helped her impress the man who hired her.
Eric Green Eric Green - He cinched the new job by moving 700 miles in three weeks.
Rebecca O'Mara Rebecca O'Mara - Volunteering for a Hispanic group led to her meeting executives.
Gilbert Wilson Gilbert Wilson - He used his technical skills to get his foot in the door.

O'Mara may credit her new position -- as director of business development for remanufacturing at Caterpillar -- to her decision to stop sending out r駸um駸, but it took more than that for her to land this plum job. She became an active and visible volunteer in her community. And that brought her to the attention of the right people.

A former Ameritech executive -- her position was squeezed out in 2000 after a merger -- O'Mara was unemployed for almost a year.

"All of the job-search gurus say send out letters to CEOs," she says. "I sent out 400 letters with zero response. I think being midcareer is a different ball game. It takes customized networking. There has to be a unique approach."

After earning an executive M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management, she took a less than ideal position as a global account executive at Underwriters Laboratories.

She felt underutilized, and compensated by doubling her commitment to volunteer work for the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE), a national organization that nurtures Latinos' career ambitions, beginning with high school students. In fact, HACE had helped O'Mara get her first job out of college.

For almost two years, O'Mara worked at UL by day and gave motivational speeches for HACE whenever she had a chance. The longer she led this kind of double life, the more she was convinced that she wanted more than a job; she wanted a career that she could fall in love with, that felt like a perfect fit.

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Then, last December, HACE invited 25 of the "best and brightest in Chicago's Latino community," according to the group's chair, Abe Tom疽 Hughes, to meet six Caterpillar vice presidents for dinner at the Palmer House.

"I knew you did not get to have dinner with six of the top executives in the world more than once," O'Mara recalls.

So she prepped. She researched the company on the Internet. She learned what Caterpillar was doing in China and who its major competitors were. She rehearsed her one-minute elevator speech -- and she wore the burgundy silk pants suit she'd had made in Hong Kong. "I was in the zone," she says. "I was like Michael Jordan."

Two months later, Caterpillar invited 10 of the original HACE group of 25 to visit the company's headquarters in Peoria. O'Mara was offered her ideal job the very next day.

O'Mara may insist that her success lies in her decision to opt out of the job-search market. But dig a little deeper and you find that her thinking isn't as magical as it may at first appear.

 

Once she no longer felt driven to hunt for a better job, she had the freedom to spend her own time as she pleased, volunteering at HACE. And that raised her profile, especially with the organization's CEO.

"I was at the top of Abe's mind," she says of the man who set up the opportunity that has brought fulfillment in her career at last. "And he knows I'm the blue chip."

Continued...  Top of page




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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: テつゥ 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices テつゥ S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.