Raul Sanchez has sent his CV a thousand different places.
The 44-year-old was a causality of the oil price downturn, losing his job as an engineering operations leader with GE Oil and Gas in March 2015, when his entire department was shutdown.
“I’ve sent off hundreds of applications. I would say about a thousand actually,” he said.
“There’s never a day without trying or applying for a job. I’ve probably had close to a hundred interviews. Most of them are second round interviews and they’re in all different industries, not just oil and gas.”
And while his story – an unemployed oil worker trying to restart his career – is replicated the world over, Raul’s has a unique layer.
Raul found himself at the centre of viral online campaign after he suited-up and hit the streets during OTC in a bid to find a job.
The industry veteran later revealed he was inspired by the Matrix to try the unusual approach.
“In the Matrix, there’s that scene where you notice that one person,” he said.
“It’s the woman in the red dress. The entire street is busy, but that one person is sticking out. I needed to figure out how to have that same effect – to stand out. Because all of these hundreds of thousands of people are applying to the same recruiter, for the same role, with the same company.
“I decided to be that red dress kind of concept and do it unconventially.
“My sign doesn’t express anything like ‘Poor me, I have a son to feed and my house is about to forclose’.
“People don’t care about your bad news.”
What they do care about, much to Raul’s detriment, is the recovery of the oil price.
Raul frequently finds himself in second and third interviews, before being told they’re worried he’ll jump ship as soon as oil starts to climb.
“They’re concerned to hire an oil and gas individual into their industry, because when oil comes back up how do I ensure to them I’ll stay,” he said.
“A lot of other laid-off oil and gas people are in the same position. It’s very difficult.
“What people don’t understand is that it’s not easy to find a job coming from oil and gas. The ‘family umbrella’ where you can nine times out 10 be granted a job is torn up in oil and gas.
“So that 1% of other industries, who would be interested in leveraging your skills, is very difficult to find. And when you do find them they have their doubts.”
The dad-of-one added: “It’s hard because now you’ve got a little guy, who looks up to you as a teacher, father, protector and also a provider. Knowing my ability to provide is the bare minimum is really hard.”
Raul has since taken on two roommates to help cushion the financial blow.
But he has also found a silver lining amid the turmoil – launching his own non-profit.
The organisation, dubbed Sowing Deeds, tracks the ‘pay-it-forward’ chain reaction.
“I wanted to do something to get my neurons generated, so I could be ready when I get hired again,” he said.
“I created an organisation to make kind contagious. It’s tracking kindness.”
An ID card is handed over like a handshake. People can then log-in and share how they were affected by the good deed.
“So a person years from now could track back to the origin of that first good deed,” Raul said.
“It’s an opportunity to track the ripple effect to see where it went, how it happened and connect people through kindness.”
Raul was inspired by his own experience helping a woman with her flat tire. He offered the stranded stranger his spare tire, who offered to pay for it.
“I said there’s no need just go do something nice for someone else – pay it forward,” he said.
“She said ‘I’ll do one better let me have your name and number and I’ll share what I did the future’.”
A few weeks later Raul got a call from a man.
“He said ‘Jennifer wanted me to tell you thank you for your spare tire’.
“I said ‘I don’t remember a Jennifer, but I do remember my spare tire. Tell her you’re welcome and by the way how is she doing?’
“He said ‘I don’t know a Jennifer, but all I know is there were four big bags of groceries on my porch that had a note on it that said thank Raul for his spare tire. And it had your number on it.’
“And then he said, ‘What you don’t know is that I was at church last Sunday asking for prayer, because I lost my job and have kids to feed. The next thing I knew I had these groceries on my front door with a note to thank you for your spare tire’.”
Raul added: “Being laid off encouraged me and opened up the time for me pursue my passion to connect with people.”
So what’s next for Raul?
“Apply for more jobs.”