Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Knee High & other stuff

It has been a busy week or 10 days around here. Last week I went to a 3 morning job search workshop, put on by the Tarrant County Workforce center near me. OMG! I so wish I could have gotten into one of them sooner! They provided lots of tips and strategies for searching, resumes, and interviews. Random weirdness started on Thursday morning, when I was still in the building for the workshop. I was headed back to the conference room, and I encountered a woman at the elevator, that I wish I could have taken a picture of! Seriously, she must have weighed 350 lbs, and was wearing a very loud, brightly colored paisleyish print oversized top, with cropped leggings that I suspect were once black with little skulls all over them, however they have faded to gray. I know, you are thinking "OMG, where is my brain bleach or a spork to put my eyes out," right? Keep going on down the outfit to her feet... on the left, a t-strap sandal in white. On the right, a knee hi (because it definitely wasn't pantyhose, could have been a thigh hi, I guess though) in a lovely shade of dark brown, and a leopard print ballerina flat. Yeah, I was pretty traumatized by the whole thing. I get how you might put on mismatched shoes or sandals when you have more than one pair in the same style. I had a friend who did just that once, but really, how do you put a knee hi on one leg and not think "oh, I need to put a knee hi on the other leg so I can wear matching shoes"?! I also had a really good interview on Friday morning. It came about very quickly, and I really had a good vibe about it just from that. I had responded to a job posting the week before, and frankly, didn't expect to hear anything for another week or so, if at all. When I got home Wednesday evening, there was an email with an attached questionnaire. I really tried to think through my answers, and make sure that all of my answers were somehow positive, even if I didn't have the specific experience they were looking for. When I woke up on Thursday and checked my mail, I had a reply to my questionnaire, telling me that my answers were good, and asking when I was available for an interview. Within an hour, I had an interview set up for Friday morning. By the time I left the interview, after an hour and a half, I had been told to expect to return on the 24th or 25th for a second interview. By Friday afternoon, I was told to plan on the morning of the 25th. In all honesty, I feel better about this one than I did the one for my last position. I'm still checking the various job boards an submitting applications for positions I'm interested in. Speaking of pantyhose and random weirdness, a couple of days ago, I was doing some laundry, I looked up and saw this: I have been in this house for 17 months, and I can assure you that I have not bought any knee hi hose, especially a ginormous box of them. I'm not sure exactly a. from whence they came, because I have been up on a ladder putting stuff on those shelves in the past year, and never saw them before, or b. to whom they might belong, because the previous resident was a widower, and had been for several years before he remarried and moved out of the house.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

12 Weeks & Counting

It's been 12 weeks now that I've been unemployed. In that time, I've put in somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 resumes & applications. I've gotten a whopping 3 interviews, and only gotten feedback on 2 of those. The last time I was unemployed, I started working again after 15 weeks. Several people have commented to me that they had practically nothing for 3 months, then the rush came and they went back to work. I am crossing everything possible for that to be the case. OOH, men in kilts. uhh, I digress, and get distracted by Celtic Thunder. Piper in Gunn tartan... yummy. Last week I had an interview with a staffing agency on Monday. The guy I talked with seemed impressed with my experience, and told me he was sending my resume to a firm that is looking for an Admin with construction jobsite experience, and that the firm wanted to interview that week. By Wednesday I hadn't heard anything, so I called, AND sent an email. I got no response, so I called again on Thursday morning, and was told that my agent was out of the office but would call me when he got in that afternoon. Nothing, so I sent another email that afternoon, and another Friday morning. FINALLY on Friday afternoon I heard back from him, and apparently the company hasn't selected any candidates to interview yet. Patience is NOT my virtue. Now, I've not put all my eggs in one basket, but the bottom line is, this is the only basket that has acknowledged my eggs. I've registered online, AND called to try to make appointments with 10 different staffing agencies, in addition to this one, and this one is the only one that is even acknowledging my existence! I get that there are THOUSANDS of people out there applying for the same positions, but holy shit people, how many of them out there have the specific industry experience that I have? I've read several articles, including one in today's Startlegram about not applying for positions unless you have 75% of the qualifications stated. I have at least that many of them! I have NEVER looked at a position online or in the paper and thought "well, I've never done that, but I COULD, so hey, even though I have none of the experience they are seeking, I'll go ahead and apply". I think even more frustrating to me is the fact that I have submitted resumes for a couple of positions directly to companies that have the position listed on their website, yet I can't get a response to a follow up email or call, AND THE POSITION IS STILL LISTED. Now, I realize that one of those situations, is likely the result of the "good ole boys network", as they are a firm with whom my former employer has done A LOT of business in the last year, and that rather than calling HR, they may have called the person that they knew. I'm also learning who my true friends are throughout this whole thing. I've known forever that in general, I am a better friend than I have, and I came to terms with that a long time ago. It doesn't make it any easier that a significant number of people with whom I used to talk/text/correspond DAILY seem to have vanished into thin air. Now I know that a couple of them have had, or are having in the next week, major surgery. Most of the others, however, I guess have decided that I suck now that I got canned, and am not worthy of their friendship. It annoys me, and it hurts my feelings, especially the ones who have fallen on hard times themselves and always turned to me for support. Obviously my support system is not what I once believed it to be. One of my friends said to me today at church "you have a tendency to draw in needy people", and she's right. I don't know what it is that causes me to do that, but that's pretty much over now. I am not going to be anyone's doormat anymore. On the upside, since I haven't been working, there has been only the occasional raging migraine, as opposed to the weekly occurrences I was enduring. I'm fairly sure that my blood pressure is down, and my ankles stay normal sized these days. In retrospect, the thought did cross my mind a time or two in March and April, that I might ought to scope out some want ads, and see what was out there. Part of it may have been an unconcious thought that perhaps it was time to move on. As much as I like what I do, and as comfortable as I was in that position, the mere fact that there are less than 50 people in all 3 companies that were affiliated, means there was really no growth or advancement opportunity. As cool as it is to work for a small company, and be part of the "family", it is also very easy to stagnate, and get locked in to a road that's going nowhere. My goal now is to turn the negativity around and use this opportunity to find something that will allow me to grow, and actually advance. I'm working on that, in baby steps.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Looking up

I don't want to get overly confident, but it appears that perhaps things are looking up, at least on the job search front. I had an appointment this morning with a local staffing agency. I had some success with them several years ago, before I had the job I lost this spring. Unfortunately, at that time, the positions they had available were nearly 50 miles, one way, away from my house, and the pay that was being offered would have been eaten up in gas. The good news is that they seemed impressed with my experience, confident that they would be able to place me, and, in fact, have a position that while it would likely be a year-long temporary position, I am an excellent match for, and it's in my industry! And it's less than 20 miles from my house (the last job was 26 or so)! I had put in all of my information online already, so there were only a few forms that I had to complete, and the orientation/office safety video. I just almost couldn't concentrate on it simply because "Sherlock Holmes" had SUCH a HORRIBLE British accent! At any rate, my Excel & Word scores were great, my typing speed was about what I expected, and my Power Point score was better than I had anticipated, considering I've done a whole ONE PPS in my entire life, and I generally don't have access to the program. Now I just have to wait for them to submit my information to the client and see when they want to interview me!

When I got home, I happened to look at my horoscope message that comes up every day on the welcome screen of my phone and found this: If you have been stamping the ground with impatience, dear Libra, waiting for the moment to jump into new adventures with renewed vigor after your meditation during the last few months, know that the moment has almost arrived! You now have the strategy, objective, and means at your disposal to success. Just a bit more work remains to be done. Gather your strength and get ready for action! Now, I don't live my life by the astrologer's statements or predictions, though I am often amazed at how accurate they are. This one came across to me as a positive reinforcement of my morning's activities.

On another note, there's someone in my world that has been quite important to me for awhile now, and the whole situation has had its ups and downs. I finally came to the realization that he is indeed an idiot. I have told him in the past that I need to figure out how not to be in love with him, and for awhile he gives me space, and then he sucks me back in, and I wind up tripping down that same path, flirting with him, looking forward to talking to him on some sort of schedule, and getting hurt feelings when that doesn't happen. It has occurred to me that this is all some sort of game to him, an idea that I resisted for months. If he REALLY wanted me to stop chasing him, and not flirt with him, he has had plenty of opportunities to either ask me directly to stop, or to talk to some of our friends who have questioned him about the whole situation about it bothering him. I am no longer going to stroke his ego just so he can feel wanted, let one of his other female friends, that he really gives a crap about do that. It's not as if he has women fawning over him. I don't know what it is that causes him to be unwilling to spend time alone with women who might actually be available to be in a romantic relationship with him, but for whatever reasons, the ones he will actually hang out and go places (other than with a group) with are all married or involved in committed relationships. My heart will eventually heal from this, but the whole situation is just another in the string of events over the past year that have caused me to question virtually all of my friendships, and my trust in both myself and the people with whom I surround myself. It sucks, and it's going to take me some time to rebuild my faith in my ability to trust what I'm dealing with.

Quote for the Day: Instead of looking at life as a narrowing funnel, we can see it ever widening to choose the things we want to do, to take the wisdom we've learned and create something. –Liz Carpenter

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I must have been absent

The day that they passed out the forms that said "we guarantee you will be able to get a job after you graduate from our school". Oh, wait, that's right, they don't have those forms! But apparently, a woman in NY is under the impression that there is a guarantee that comes with her diploma. She is suing the private college she attended because she doesn't think they did enough to help her find a job when she graduated in April. It's some sort of business degree, but any FOOL knows that a degree does not come with the promise of a job. Hell, I have NEVER worked in the field of my degree. A Bachelor of Arts in History is not a particularly career friendly sheepskin, unless you want to teach, go to law school, or live somewhere with an abundance of rich history museums. I think that my degree has gotten me 1 temp-to-hire position, and that was not even in my field, not that the company cared. I think that the only thing that mattered to the company was that I would actually finish something that I started, and the degree shows that. Do I wish sometimes that I'd taken more business classes, or majored in something with stronger marketability? Sure. In retrospect, I should have taken some accounting, some HR, some more in depth computer classes. Even with those I wouldn't expect a guaranteed job.

I am consistently astounded at the sense of entitlement that people have these days. I've been unemployed for 11 weeks now, and do I think I SHOULD still have my old job? Yep, I absolutely do, however I don't, and I have spent well over 40 hours a week for the last 11 weeks trying to find something new. I've managed to secure my SECOND interview tomorrow morning. The first didn't pan out into a position for me, and I'm ok with that, because I was honest about my experience and abilities, and while I honestly believe I could have done what they were looking for a candidate to do, they wanted someone who already had the experience of doing it, and I don't. Do I believe that I DESERVE a response to the resumes I have sent, especially those that I specifically followed up with more than once? You betcha. Am I ENTITLED to know why they won't answer me, or give me the courtesy of an interview? Nope. For whatever reason, my resume didn't meet their criteria. Or they've called someone who is NOT on my reference list and the "Good Ole Boys" network rides again. There is a degree plan, actually a couple of options in my current field, and come the end of the month, hopefully I'll be enrolled in night classes at one of the community colleges in the area to work toward getting some certification under my belt. I have paid back my student loans, which, granted, didn't fund a $70K education, but that's mostly because I didn't go to a PRIVATE institution. I am sure that there are those who believe that a private school provides a better education and therefore an easier time finding a job, but I don't think that's necessarily true. It seems to me that it would benefit EVERY STUDENT to have to do some sort of residency or internship, just like doctors, nurses, teachers, and some other fields require. The bottom line is that a Bachelor's degree doesn't prepare a person for the real world any more than a standardized test prepares a high school student for college. (and THAT is a whole other rant that I will save for another day) The bottom line is that with my nearly 9 years experience in my field, with progressively more responsibility, I have applied for 15-20 different positions WITHIN MY FIELD (and fifty or so others in other industries for which I'm also qualified), and I've managed to score 1 interview.

If you ask me, little miss priss needs to get a grip on the real world and realize that she's looking for an entry-level position, and there are thousands of other people competing for that same position, despite the fact that I would venture to guess that at least half of the people competing for that same job have become victims of the recession and have a proven record of their successes IN THE REAL WORLD, and frankly, are a much better risk than the fresh-faced young thing with no experience.

Rant over.

Quote for the Day: "Anyone who has gumption knows what it is, and anyone who hasn't can never know what it is." –Lucy Maud Montgomery

Saturday, August 1, 2009

August Already?

Where is the year going? It seems as if summer just began, yet we’ve gotten through June and July already. And I’ve only gotten to swim once! WTF??? Oh, yeah, I’ve not been able to afford to open my pool this year L. I went today over to my friend Vicki’s and hung out with her for a couple of hours in the pool, and then awhile longer in the hot tub, until clouds rolled in, and the lightning started in the distance. I’m clearly out of practice with the sunblock, as well, because while I didn’t get burned a lot, there are a few red spots, where I somehow didn’t manage to get the SPF100 applied. OOPS! It was my intention to start my candida detox today, but there was a fiasco last night with my bedspread, which I’d washed yesterday morning and hung across the deck rails to dry, not realizing when I left to go to dinner that there was rain on the way, and so this morning, instead of fixing myself a nice, healthy, minimally processed & raw foods breakfast, I grabbed a Dr Pepper and a package of cheez/pb crackers for my breakfast and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of my eating. I did stop on my way home at Central Market and picked up a kohlrabi, a couple of potatoes, some fresh herbs, snap peas, and a couple of cheese options, as well as some meat for a few days. Tomorrow will be better. Last night’s festivities started with dinner at Angela’s, with Angela, her hubby, and Lissa. Angela made an awesome pasta salad, which converted me totally to being a pasta salad person! I’ve never been much of one, and frankly most of the ones I encounter have stuff in them that I just don’t like cold, if at all, like peas (love them, HOT), onions, lots of tomato. This was very basic, whole grain pasta, some sliced grape tomatoes, chopped fresh spinach, a bit of mozzarella thrown in while it’s all still warm, and tossed in warm, seasoned olive oil. And warm garlic bread to go with it! MMMMHHHMMMMM. And for dessert some kind of Breyers ice cream. It was sort of vanilla with chocolate shavings in it… After dinner we cut Angela’s hair and watched So You Think You Can Dance and an episode of Dr. Who. I think I vaguely remember seeing an episode of the Dr. at some point in my past, but I didn’t appreciate the British humor until I was grown and so I was sort of a Whovirgin. Loved it, but not enough to fork out the additional dough to upgrade to the package that would get me BBCAmerica, so I’ll just have to borrow DVDs. I talked to my BFF today. For all of 20 minutes. And of that 20 minutes, she was involved solely in our conversation for about 2. The rest of the time she was wrestling the toddler, or having a conversation with our #1 Boy, who is now 18, and frankly, capable of managing to realize that the fact that Mom’s got the phone held up to her ear, thus she is ON THE TELEPHONE HAVING A CONVERSATION, and not decide that he MUST have a conversation with her. The last time I actually SPOKE to her was, umm, 3 weeks ago. In the last 10 years, the longest we’ve gone without talking on the phone was a week, and now it’s been 3. It is beginning to piss me off that every time she has been in crisis, she has been able to call me and talk to me about it, and now that my world has all gone to pieces, I can’t get a return call for weeks on end, and when I DO get the call, I don’t rate 5 minutes of undivided attention. I’ve known for a very long time that in most cases, I am a better friend than I have. I truly thought, however that she was the exception to that rule. I mean, over the last several months, I have learned that 2 people that I thought were my friends, were, in fact, using me. I don’t think she’s using, or has used me, and perhaps the fact that I have no children means I don’t have a concept of what she has on her plate, I don’t know. Perhaps I’m being too selfish. Or not. I have always been the strong one that people lean on, and now, when I find I need someone to lean on, the one who has always been there, is not. I realize that I tend not to ask for help, but I don’t like seeming weak or needy, and when I am in that place, I don’t like the person that I become. She is whiney, and bitchy, and frankly unpleasant to be around. Since I don’t like being around people like that, I try not to subject my friends to her. And the quote for the day: There are seeds of self-destruction in all of us that will bear only unhappiness if allowed to grow. Dorothea Brande