Man on trapeze
Between the Trapezes Avoiding "DEC Syndrome"
January 2007


Welcome to Between the Trapezes! Often the changes in our lives feel precarious as we are suspended between two certainties. But the frightening moment passes as we bravely go on to the next step -- as we always do.

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  • How to Avoid "DEC Syndrome"
  • Job Search Half-Life
  • Software That Manages the Job Search

  • How to Avoid "DEC Syndrome"
    Man thinking blue shirt

    A former client I'll call Rich, now a technical support lead for a software company, recently called to enlist my help with a decision: should he leave his current job or stay? It had taken him a while to land the job, and he really liked it, so his question intrigued me.

    I asked him to list his reasons for leaving and for staying. He paused, then said that the reasons for both cases actually overlapped. "I can't ask for a better boss, and they're all nice people. I know the products like the back of my hand, and I am making pretty good money. I feel very comfortable".

    He went on. "But that's just it: I know all there is to know, and I'm no longer feeling challenged. I've felt this way for a few months now, and there's nothing new on the horizon there for me. I feel like I'm too comfortable, especially in a technical way. I could stay, but then again, what's going to happen to my skills if I don't get exposed to other technology, developing technology? And what will happen to me if my company gets bought?" Rich was asking some very smart questions.

    Rich's description of where he is right now, and what he wants to avoid, is what I call DEC Syndrome. DEC Syndrome the state you're in when you're oh so comfortable in your job, you feel "all set", and it seems like it could stay this way forever. Part of DEC Syndrome is that the person does not look up to see what else is happening in his/her field, because, well, they feel they don't need to.

    The name is from the late, great, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), where legions of New Englanders worked over the years. So many former "DECkies" tell me they thought they'd be at that company for their entire careers. They started their careers there, and got very comfortable, then the world (and technology) changed beneath their feet and job cuts ensued. Then the company was sold. Now those who'd stayed too long, and whose skills were too tied to their old company, were adrift. And many found their job searches to be very difficult. Although many are now employed elsewhere, many DECkies are still looking for another DEC: that very comfortable place where they can work until they retire. Sad to say, those places are very rare today. Better to spend your time keeping up your skills, which are your currency in the job marketplace.

    Rich has decided it's best for him to move on. He is now sending his resume to network contacts, and is researching new target companies. He's being smart by doing so. It makes no sense to let your career and skills get too comfortable, or you will stall. To do so means you'll be left behind. And he wants to get ahead.

    Today, "Digital Equipment Corporation" is just an entry in Wikipedia. Nothing is forever.

    Except change.

    Job Search Half-Life
    time flies sm

    Very often, people in job search call us, expressing shock at how different the job search is today. Whether they're exployed, or are now between jobs, they most commonly say "I'm getting no responses to my resume... this has never happened to me before". Then, "Have things changed that much since I last looked for a job 10 [or 5 or 3] years ago?"

    Not only do many larger employers use resume screening software , other changes continue to take place. For example, today some job hunters, particularly those comfortable with video technology, are posting videos of themselves on and other sites, answering typical interview questions. They are eager to get the attention of interviewers. No doubt this method will up the ante for other job seekers.

    The changes come at us all faster and faster. I call the time span during which things remain relatively the same, a "half-life". Physicists define half-life as "The time required for the disappearance or decay of one-half of a given component in a system". So in terms of job search, some of the usual methods stay the same, and some go away, and it's happening faster and faster. Blame it on technology or our attention spans or our shifting culture, the speed continues to grow. And the half-life continues to shrink.

    Result: many new job seekers realize they need to spend a few weeks getting to learn this dizzying new way of doing things. It's sobering. So if you haven't looked for a job in a while, build in some extra time before actually networking and applying, so that you can learn the ever-changing ways of going about a good search.

    New rules, new year: At Face2Face on January 3rd, Dr. Paul Powers speaks about "the new rules" in the changing workplace, and how to adjust your job search attitude. Join us for this vital talk.

    Software That Manages the Job Search

    Because of the level of activity in many searches today, it's essential to keep track of all your communications with potential employers and with networking contacts. There are many ways you can keep your search organized: you can use specific software which our speaker will talk about, or you can use an Excel spreadsheet, file folders on your PC, even a 3-ring notebook or 3" x 5" cards. Whatever keeps you on track is a good system.

    At the January 17th meeting of the Face2Face Job Search Networking group, we'll have a speaker who'll bring us up to date on a new type of job search management software.

    Come hear about the latest, plus meet fellow job hunters. The link below gives you the details.

    Thought of the Day
    Joanne's pic

    Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile... initially scared me to death.

    Betty Bender


    We are proud members of:

    • Association of Career Professionals Int'l
    • Career Planning and Adult Development Network
    • Career Counselors Consortium/Boston
    • Massachusetts Women in Technology
    • National Resume Writers Association
    • BNI, Holden, Mass.

    Called "The Resume Queen" years ago by a career counselor colleague, Joanne Meehl decided to have fun with the nickname (which we've officially trademarked). But she also takes it seriously by keeping her career management skills on the leading edge, through research and ongoing dialog with hiring managers.


    Next Meeting of Face2Face, the Job Search Networking Group:

    Wednesday, January 3rd, 9am - noon, in Boxboro, Mass.

    Topic: The New Rules for Career Success: Savvy Moves for a Changing Workplace, presented by Dr. Paul Powers, motivational speaker and psychologist. For details about the program, and directions, click here. Also on this page, you'll be able to see notes about previous speakers at Face2Face.

    At Face2Face meetings, we make it easier for you to network, no matter how shy you are. Come meet new people who might be the link to your next job!

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    Marketing Yourself: Your New Resume

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