How I Got the Job: Tracy Dawson, 61

DFN: Great article about how Mr. Dawson got his job, some trials, some lessons learned.

How I Got the Job: Tracy Dawson, 61
Sue Dye Babson, special to The Star
Submitted by Donna Vestal on November 1, 2009 – 5:00am.

Tracy Dawson The job: Shift supervisor

The employer: For over a century, Kansas City ’s Fairbanks Morse manufacturing plant has been making a wide range of pumps for applications in public works and industrial installations throughout the world. Fairbanks Morse several years ago was purchased by Pentair Inc., based in Minneapolis, and, since it today sells brands other than its flagship Fairbanks Morse brand, is now known as Pentair Water Kansas City Operations.

My role: I am responsible for all aspects and all operations of the four-building plant during my shift. This includes safety, quality and productivity. I direct the activities of about 40 union employees. I track and record productivity; train and coach employees; set priorities; and facilitate cooperation between departments.

How long have you been in this position?
Since mid-September.

How long did it take you to find this job?
Six months. I was laid off in April and blessed by a fair severance package and contract work, so I only collected about two weeks of unemployment.

How did you find your job?
This job was posted at When I first saw the posting, I was very interested but did not respond because the job description listed several skill requirements with which I have no experience — especially machining experience.

I changed my mind about not applying during one of the career transitions meetings directed by Laura Johannesmeyer at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park. During the job club meetings, members offer advice and encouragement to each other. At one meeting, it was suggested that job applicants should not eliminate themselves from positions they are interested in securing. We were encouraged to focus on the skills we do have and to allow potential employers to see our applications and decide for themselves which of our skills are truly critical to their needs.

At Pentair’s Fairbanks Morse, I met with four people in a three-hour interview — and never was asked about my lack of machining experience. Someone from human resources called me a couple of days later and offered me the job. The plant is still hiring, and especially looking for skilled welders and machinists.

What helped the most in the job search?
I believe that the key for my job search was the support and guidance I received from networking with the participants and organizers at the two job clubs I routinely visited. The work done by Laura Johannesmeyer at JCCC and the volunteers like Deanne Sheets at the job club of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood were outstanding in many ways.

I also learned much from the Internet, networking through LinkedIn and through some of theindividuals that I met through LinkedIn who helped me focus my resume and search efforts. I also owe a thank you to Debbie Douglass Sauer of Kansas City’s Sauer Photo, who provided me and many others with encouragement and free professional portraits for our Web-based resumes.

Did you reach a low point in this process?
I think that for me the hardest part of my job search was identifying the “vultures” that surf the Internet job sites. For me, few things hurt more than the gang interview or the phony job posting.

What is your best advice for others in the job search?
Find a job club, attend as part of your routine and share and learn from others. No one job club is right for everyone. Keep trying. Everyone can benefit from the networking found at one job club or other. I found that even the JCCC job club that meets three times each week with the same leader in the same room has a different vibe or feel depending on which session you attend.

What is your educational and work experience?
I have a bachelor’s degree in ceramic engineering (1981) from the University of Illinois in Urbana. I have almost two decades of industrial management and engineering experience.
Is there anything else you would like to share related to the job search?
If it has been a while since your last job search, you will have to learn the current methods. The days of heavy-cotton resumes and postage stamps are gone. Get to the library, do your research, break out your keyboards, surf the Internet, find the right job club or clubs, network, network, network and keep your shoes shined.

How does this job fit into your long-term career plans?
This company has sound leadership and great potential. The actions that I have seen taken by my boss and his bosses over the first few weeks that I have been here are very positive.
I am also pleased with Pentair’s focus on 5S and Lean, a technique that results in a well-organized workplace complete with visual controls and order. When I speak with others about the progress they have made and progress they need to achieve, I can see both a pride in the progress and a determination in the present to achieve even more.


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