Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Today ...

I feel fractured.

What is wrong with me?, I ask myself, over and over. Why can’t I figure this out?

I know so many people, so many people who have so many nice things to say. I have gobs of experience, of connections, of talent.

How can it all add up to nothing?

I tell myself that I’m not being assertive enough, and perhaps that is my lesson to learn. But I have never been assertive. I am not comfortable talking about myself, selling myself.

And yet, I have. In recent interviews, I have (I believe; geez, I hope) projected self-confidence without lapsing into hubris.

It seemed to work. I connected with those women, first one, then the other, days apart. References were requested, so references were supplied, one of whom had told me that the company in question takes a long time in making its decisions to hire. Patience isn’t my strongest suit, so that was good to know.

Fortunately, I had a legitimate reason to check in with the woman making the hiring decision. To her credit, she replied to my email and took the opportunity to update me on the hiring situation.

Both she and her boss thought I was fantastic, she wrote. They both think I am a fantastic writer.

They were going to pursue other candidates, but they hoped I would still be open to being considered, in the event that those candidates didn’t pan out.

I took that to mean that I was third in line.

And so I replied that I would very much like to stay in consideration and that was true. I believe in the company and the work they do. And I believe I could contribute to the company’s mission in many ways.

Still, in this market, being the third candidate – or a candidate possibly further down the line – doesn’t bode well for one’s chances. How many people do you know these days who are turning down jobs?

Even though I know networking is the most likely way to find a job, I still peruse the job sites every day. Some interesting gigs pop up on Craigslist from time to time, as one did the other day.

I sent off a resume and a link to a blog post as my writing sample, exactly the kind of writing I’d be doing for the would-be client, only the copy they’d need would be much shorter. Shorter copy. Tighter. I can do that.

The woman conducting the interviews responded and mentioned that she would be conducting interviews via Skype.

So I downloaded Skype. And learned a bit about it.

The day of our chat, my hair was very much in the mode of sabotage. Really, hair? The first time I have to do an interview via Skype and now you won’t behave?

Luckily, the woman popped up just in advance of our appointed dicussion time to ask if audio only was OK.

Absolutely. I love audio only. Right now, woman, audio only is my best friend.

So we chatted, and when the discussion came around to how much the gig was paying, I managed to neither choke nor laugh.

Read enough postings on Craigslist and eventually, nothing will surprise you.

She said that she’d be letting people know two days later.

Two days later was four days ago.

I take it I didn’t get the gig.

Frankly, it’s kind of funny. I’ve worked at major metropolitan newspapers. I’ve edited an international best seller. My work has appeared in newspapers and on web sites across North America. And in Asia, come to think of it. Translated.

So was I overqualified or underqualified for the job that would have paid $625?

Some days, it feels interminable, all this. And yet, I know it’s not. I know the day will come when I will look back at this moment and it will be nothing more than a part of my history.

Still, some days, it’s hard to see that day.

Well-meaning family and friends offer advice.

Apply for other jobs, not in your field, they say, helpfully! As if all the people who are looking for jobs who have experience in those fields aren’t going to be considered first?

Go back to school! Get an MBA! I’m sorry, go back to school? You mean, have no income to pay current bills and incur more debt in the form of future bills to get a degree that will allow me to do what exactly?

I know they mean well. I do.

But they don’t understand. They think they do, but they don’t. They can't. They haven't been in this place.

Other friends have assumed the much-appreciated role of cheerleader. Other friends seem to have fallen away. Perhaps they fear ennui is contagious. Perhaps they fear I have an employment pox. Or perhaps I have fallen away from them. These are not my most social days.

I am fully aware that this post is risky business. Will it help me or hinder me in finding a job?

I don’t know. I would hope that any prospective employer who happens across my blog would appreciate my honesty. For today, this is my life. And today, my life feels like a little too much to bear.

Writing is both my release and processor, the filter through which my muddy thoughts pass and hopefully come out more clear.

A way to exhale.


Blogger Steve Olenski... said...

Hey Beth,

First off I dont think this will nor should hinder your chances of finding a job whatsoever.

You spoke (wrote) from the heart and any company that has a problem with that is one you dont want to work for anyway.

I can absolutely commiserate with you as I was in a similar position years ago.

I was getting the advice, go to school, take some classes, etc and everyone meant well.. I believe that.

But you know what's best for you at the end of the day...

You listen to your heart and to your soul you can never go wrong.

Fortunately for me I had My Rock, My Wife right there beside me cheering me on, encouraging me... I would not be here if it not for her

Writers write and as much a cliche that is it's also true... and you a writer and a very good one and someone will recognize that and the rest will be history.

I wish you nothing but the best!

Steve O

2:22 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thank you, Steve. Adding you to the "cheerleader" column presently.

2:36 PM  
Blogger AV Guy said...

Jeesus Louisis, I wish there was something I could do for you. Hail Mary's??? I'll get right back on them.
In the meantime, hang in there and if you need something I can provide or share, let me know.
Peace to you and damn the bad hair days...though you have a lot more of it than me right now. It's not the hair. It's not you. They have just not found you yet...they will.

11:31 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks, Rob. You're a love.

In my head, I just heard your happy voice say, "Ku!"

And that made me smile.

11:35 PM  
Blogger mageez said...

Hi Beth
My occupation is different than yours but some advice I received from an employment counselor last year was to dumb down my resume. It worked. I'm not employed for the same money or great benefits but I'm making the house payment.
Hugs and Prayers.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks, Maggie. I'm glad you're able to make the house payment. That counts for a lot these days.

I've had others tell me to dumb down my resume, too.

I can't bear the thought of it, that we've arrived as a nation at a place where accomplishment is not only not valued but has become a hindrance?

It breaks my heart.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

"They were going to pursue other candidates, but they hoped I would still be open to being considered, in the event that those candidates didn’t pan out."

Telling. What this means is that they are pursuing people who currently have jobs - probably with one of their competitors.

The sad truth today is that companies feel better poaching than hiring someone who is unemployed. More PR bang from the hire. (if you hear who they hire - check where that person came from, they have a vacancy!)

It's a sad state of affairs. But nobody ever lost their job for hiring a known name from a known competitor. The only name on a resume that matters is the last employer and the longer it is since you worked there the less power it has.

I noticed a big difference when I formed an LLC and listed it on my resume rather than "freelance" or "self-employed" - and it lets you write-off some expenses, assuming you are paying any tax in the first place. Just a thought.

Then I decided I'd had it with advertising and made my self-employment (writer/musician/advertising strategist) permanent. Another option.

Best of luck.

ps Weird. The "word verification" I just had to type in was an anagram of Ad Person.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Well, I do believe I remember them telling me that they were talking to someone who used to work for a daily. So that person may have moved on to another job or that person may have been downsized and currently unemployed. Regardless, they were in the hiring queue before me, they were further down the path. Or perhaps the woman who passed along the status update was just trying to be kind.

The take-home message is that I didn't the the job. I choose to believe that that only means that it wasn't the right job for me.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Stay positive. Clearly one of your strengths.

But I would strongly advise not writing too much about job interview experiences on your blog - I know for a fact that many employers hate them. They figure that a blogger is ALWAYS looking for stuff to write about and that it will eventually be them!

4:04 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Yep, point taken.

I haven't, and I won't.

But part of writing this blog is a sense of needing to share, from time to time, what's really going on in my life, not just the gloss.

This felt like a piece that I had to share, if only to provide someone else who's going through a similar situation with a sense of commiseration.


4:19 PM  

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