For 19 of the 23 years Erin Londen worked for Enterprise Holdings, the family-owned rental car company never did a companywide layoff.
She survived that first round, and rode out the recession, and thought she’d be able to retire from the company. Enterprise had achieved record revenues and record profitability in 2011 and 2012. The company said it did $15.4 billion in sales that year.
But in March 2013, Londen, now 50, learned that her front-line management position was being eliminated. She supervised 13 people in a Bloomfield office. The team negotiated with car insurers to choose Enterprise’s car rental brands for when their customers needed a rental car to drive while their cars were being repaired.
Londen said that for the first several months, she wasn’t as focused in her job search. She received severance from her longtime employer, and she had unemployment benefits.
“I wasn’t very active in the beginning, I kind of enjoyed my summer,” she said.
In the fall, she enrolled in a human resources certificate program at University of St. Joseph, which cost $3,500, an amount she paid out of her savings.
She thinks enrolling in the program definitely made a difference in the job she found in January, though she is not a human resources specialist.
“They were impressed that I took the time to better myself,” she said.
Londen, who lives in Bristol, started going to JETS, the Jewish Employment Transitions Service, and was told networking would be her salvation. Over the next five months, she had two interviews from networking, and two interviews from jobs she applied to online. One was at her previous level, at Liberty Mutual. The other was entry level sales. She had applied for more than 100 jobs during the eight months she was out of work.
In the end, it wasn’t Londen’s networking, but a JETS director’s own connections that mattered. Lesro, a manufacturer with 92 employees in Bloomfield, asked JETS’ Judy Rosenthal to pick candidates for an office manager job. The company did not advertise the position to the public.
Londen was hired, and at a salary higher than the $68,000 she earned with Enterprise.
She manages 12 employees, oversees accounts payable, does the payroll, recruiting and hiring. Lesro — which means Londen — is now looking for a part-time customer service representative and a full-time job that covers some sales and marketing, some spreadsheet work and some customer service.
This time, JETS was not a productive pool — everyone was overqualified, Londen said, and she was concerned they would leave quickly. So she went to the Connecticut Department of Labor, and has gotten 15 applications. She’s doing six phone interviews this week.
It’s great being on the other side of the desk.