I feel like George Bailey at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life


As soon as I got the news that I was being laid off at work, I texted my closest friends and colleagues with the news. And after I packed my office into my car and drove home, I emailed a bunch more friends and colleagues.


I’ve worked for a lot of software companies in my career. Changing companies is how I’ve gained new challenges, moved up the ladder, and made more money. But as a result I know a lot of people in my industry all over town. And they swung into action like my own personal army of Spider-Men.


I was deluged with replies. I had a call from a recruiter by lunchtime, and by mid-afternoon a coffee was scheduled with a woman I once worked for who is now a VP at a major local employer of software developers. She gave me a bunch of practical, useful advice on my search, and sent me a bunch of information about companies she talked to around town earlier in the year as she searched for the job she now holds. She told me she’d introduce me to anybody she met at any of those companies.


The next day, one of my oldest friends, who is well known and well connected in the open-source community, started asking around about freelance jobs I can do to make some money while I search. And I started reaching out to colleagues I enjoyed working with in the past but who I haven’t talked to in a while, to schedule lunches and coffees to catch up and see if they could connect me to people who might need someone who can do what I do. I’m booked for lunch for the next two weeks and have coffees sprinkled across my calendar.


And then the CFO of the company that let me go emailed me to schedule coffee, at which he opened his considerable contact list to me and offered to connect me with anybody he knew. That led to a few more coffees being scheduled with software-company CEOs and VPs around town — and directly to one job interview, with a company that needs to build a software testing practice. That’s exactly what I do best!

The strongest advice my VP colleague gave me was don’t settle. She urged me to wait for just the job I want — one with the right cultural fit (collaborative and collegial), at the right level in the organization (Director), with the right salary, doing the things I like to do the most (building and leading teams of technical people, driving projects, delivering software).

The closer I get to the money running out, the more I will have no choice but to settle so I can pay the mortgage. I hope that right next job is in this tidal wave of responses. This surge will peter out sooner or later, and then I will have to start working on alternate plans: aggressively seeking freelance and consulting jobs, and looking at permanent positions that aren’t exactly what I want but which will pay the bills.

But today, I feel like George Bailey at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, when everybody he knew in Bedford Falls collected money to make up for the Building and Loan’s $8,000 shortfall. I feel affirmed and valued, at a depth I didn’t know existed. They say that in hard times you learn who your friends are. I’ve learned that I have far more friends than I ever knew.

All the little Spider-Men above courtesy Disneyclips.com.


18 responses to “I feel like George Bailey at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life

  1. jpcavanaugh Avatar

    After years of doing the hard work of looking out for others, it can be good to be reminded of your importance in peoples’ lives. Being George Bailey is a good thing!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It feels pretty good right now! If only it paid the bills.

  2. Gerald Avatar

    I’m glad things are looking more positive. And holding your nerve and not settling sounds like really good advice at this stage.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have to admit, not being able to pay the mortgage will cause me not to hold that nerve.

  3. stephanyalexandra Avatar

    Yeah it feels great to have friends willing to help you! I’ll be praying for you to get a job very soon!!!!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks! Prayer always helps!

  4. dmswriter Avatar

    What a good feeling this outpouring creates – it’s encouraging and I’m happy for you! And you can thank your VP colleague for me – I’m in the middle of a job search, and it’s tempting to “settle” for a job that’s almost what I’m looking for, but not quite. I have my eyes on one employer, and thanks to what your friend said, I’ll continue to look and interview, but keep my eyes open for a job that fits me. Keep us posted on your progress, Jim.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      One must be practical in the end — it’s better to pay the mortgage than not. But I hope you do find the right fit before you have to make a practical decision!

      1. dmswriter Avatar

        Oh, so true!

  5. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    Hope you find your right job soon and with all your friends batting for you I’m sure it wil turn up soon.
    All the best and good luck.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I feel so fortunate! I know this tidal wave will end so I’m getting while the getting is good.

  6. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Wish I had someone in your area I could add to your network. I do believe that ultimately you won’t have to compromise.

    Until then…thinking good thoughts for you!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks my friend! I’ve got an interview tomorrow, and another company has a “proposal” for me that I’ll learn about Wednesday. That proposal might be just a short-term contract but I like that company a lot and would be willing to consider it.

  7. hmunro Avatar

    I’m so glad to hear about the outpouring of support, Jim, but not at all surprised: You strike me as a consummate professional who invests himself both in doing good work and in building constructive relationships. As others have said, I strongly suspect that not only will you not have to “settle,” but that you’ll actually be weighing several viable offers. I continue to send my good wishes … and I hope you’ll continue to keep us posted. We’re all rooting for you!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Heather! I appreciate your support. I like to think I do good work and have built strong relationships. This experience is giving me evidence that I’ve done just that.

      If you’re interested, I (occasionally) blog about what I do for a living over here: http://softwaresaltmines.com/

      1. hmunro Avatar

        “The software salt mines”? That’s *brilliant.* As is the blog! Thanks for sharing the link, Jim; I look forward to following your (professional) adventures.

  8. Walter Czyz Avatar
    Walter Czyz

    I used to tell my management team the same advice, don’t simply hire warm bodies, hire the right people the first time, even if it means working with a skeleton crew for a bit. Your right fit is waiting for you and it’s only a matter of time. Once they hire you, they’ll be just as excited as you are! I’m so glad you’re receiving all this outpouring of help right now. I’ll be praying for you….

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Walter! Here’s hoping that kind of exciting fit finds me before I have to make a practical choice just so I can keep paying the bills.

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