If you read this blog with any frequency (THANK YOU!!!), you know in addition to being a professional resume writer, I ran a busy pet sitting service – emphasis on the word busy. Back on July 29th, I came to the realization something had to give. I drove 150 miles doing pet sits, – never leaving the county – had promised a resume to a client AND it was my 10th wedding anniversary. (OK, so I didn’t do such a hot job of scheduling that day.) Anyway, the light came on and I began the long process of figuring out how to sell or close a rural pet sitting business and not leave my loyal clients hanging – I’d been pet sitting for seven years.
I approached several potential buyers. They all turned me down, basically saying, “I really don’t want to be that busy” (WHAT???? This is the “Summer of 2009”. Hello. Recession. Double-digit unemployment … But that’s a blog “rant” for another day). Finally, for my own peace of mind, I realized I had to walk away. I’ll spare you the details of that decision-making process. Suffice it to say it was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made in a long time. And I greatly underestimated the emotional roller coaster that decision would bring.
Fast forward to October 4th. I composed a farewell letter to my clients (approx 75 households in a 25-mile radius), stayed up until 1 a.m. stuffing and addressing envelopes. I awoke, bright and early on October 5th to do two pet sits before arriving at the post office to buy stamps and mail out the farewell letters. Around 8:30 that morning, pet sits completed, stamps purchased, I’d dropped the letters into the mailbox. There was no turning back. Following is how the rest of that week shaped up:
- About 10 a.m. one of my most loyal pet sit clients called to book two pet sits. I wasn’t prepared mentally or emotionally to have the “I’m closing” conversation, but had to have it. She’d get the letter the next day. I couldn’t play dumb. At one point, she started to cry. In retrospect, a wonderful testament to the value I provided my customers. At that moment, it triggered heart-wrenching, “What have I done???” thoughts.
- Half an hour later, my 9:30 Tuesday morning resume client called and said the temporary agency she’d registered with months ago finally came through with a job, starting Tuesday morning, so she was going to postpone having her resume written.
- An hour later, I heard from another pet sit client, who not only wanted to book me the following week, she had a friend who also needed my services at the same time. Another unexpected, difficult “I’m closing” conversation.
- Oh, and the client I scheduled to write for on Monday never followed through with payment, so there went that project.
- Then my 2:30 Monday appointment didn’t answer the phone at any of three numbers I had for him.
- Also on Monday, a resume colleague emailed to reschedule a business conversation. She didn’t know the craziness of my day, but it was frosting on the cake. Even my resume colleagues didn’t want to talk to me.
- Tuesday my writing project never followed through with payment, so there went that one too. (I’ve got to revisit my business model and how I schedule/invoice, but now’s not the time.)
- Wednesday, another pet sit client called. She’d not had a chance to go through her mail, so didn’t know I was closing my business yet. Another difficult conversation ensued – she had 15 Jack Russell terriers and a horse. Who would take care of that crowd, if not me?
- Thursday, my morning resume consult didn’t answer the phone and when I called my afternoon appointment she responded with, “Oh, I meant to call you, I decided to postpone working on my resume for awhile.” By the way, I’d schedule Friday to write for her because when we spoke on Wednesday, she was in such a hurry to get it done.
- Thursday afternoon, I heard from the son of the client that didn’t respond at three different phone numbers on Monday afternoon. He’d heard the message I left his father (friendly and upbeat) and wanted me to know his father had passed away from a heart attack on Monday morning. He said his father was the type of person who would want me to know why he didn’t keep his appointment. His son, a stranger until that moment, and I cried together. Partially because in the few conversations I’d had with his dad, I found him to be charming and delightful and I regretted not having the opportunity to know him better and I felt the son’s pain, partially because I wondered what exactly the universe was trying to tell me. I found some solace when the son said knowing about his dad’s career plans and the content our conversations gave him great peace of mind.
So let’s tally this up … The same week I decided to close a successful pet sitting business to pursue what I thought was my ever-growing resume writing business – my phone did not ring for resumes, except cancellations, for two days, three of four writing project disappeared, four of five resume clients canceled, one of them passing away (two more appointments canceled the following week.) In the same week, three pet sit clients called to book four appointments and one wanted to refer a new client. I gave up pet sitting and am turning away pet sit business to advance my resume career, yet my resume clients start disappearing like chocolate at a fat lady convention. (I can use that analogy. I’m round!)
To say I was confused, frightened and full of self-doubt would be an understatement. I didn’t know this old, round body could still get into the fetal position, but that’s pretty much where I spent the week.
Why do I bare my soul to you with this l-o-n-g story? Well, to tie it into the job search of course. Know what I did during my time of self-doubt and fear? Honestly, I had a good cry; then I reached out to my network. You know the network I tell you repeatedly that’s soooooooo important to nurture and cultivate and support. Know what? They were there for me. They rallied. They reminded me this too shall pass. They offered virtual hugs. They emailed frequently. They called to check on me. They let me rant. They let me know when I’d ranted enough. They let me cry. The kicked me in the butt when I needed it. Most importantly, they were there, letting me know I didn’t have to go through anything alone.
Know what else? They were right. Within two weeks I’d weathered the storm. The resume business rebounded. Now, less than two months later, I’m rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’ wondering how I ever fit pet sitting into the mix. I won’t say a job search will go that quickly, but I will tell you even at the bottom of a pit, from a fetal position, an attitude adjustment and good friends will get you through most anything.
Sure, it was a lot easier sitting around feeling sorry for myself, but eventually, even I couldn’t stand to be around me. I had to take a different approach. I can finally tell this story. I kept saying, eventually, this’ll make a great story, there’re some great lessons in here and we’ll laugh about all of this … and I was right. As another good friend said to me tonight, “We are git ‘er done kinda gals. We don’t stay knocked down long.” I’ll be honest. I had to “fake it ‘til I made it”, but adopting that “git ‘er done” attitude made all the difference. Try it. You’ll be astounded at what happens.