theicingonthecrazycake

When life hands you lemons, toss them in the trash and eat cake

Archive for the tag “job search”

Plastic pyramids

Walking the dog last night, I heard the crickets, a later-summer soundtrack that soothes me but also reminds me of changes to come. This morning, the sun rose later and the birds weren’t in a noisy food scavenging frenzy to feed their young. It was eerily quiet. Yeah, I know it’s not even halfway through August and I’m already thinking about autumn. I have difficulty living in the moment, particularly these days.

I can’t be truly present because all I can think about is September 1 and October 15. (And believe me, the Keebler Elves in my brain – my anxiety – will NOT let me forget. They need a fucking vacation. A lonnnng vacation, perhaps in Antarctica.) Those are the days I will get my official termination papers and my last paycheck, respectively. So I have about 70 days to find a job, and I’m scared shitless. Sigh. If only someone would pay me to write book reviews and snarky blog posts and/or be an advice columnist and/or be a secret shopper for deep-tissue massage therapists, and I’d be all set. I would’ve found employment months ago.

Ahhh yes, months ago. The day I found out, along with 60 other people, that I was finished at a company to which I had devoted, on and off and then back on, 8+ years of my working life. I work from home, as did a number of other soon-to-be-fired folks, so we were conferenced in. Yes, I got fired on a conference call, where I couldn’t see my firers faces, nor the firees who were on-site, but I could hear stifled sobs and a bit of weeping here and there. Papers nervously being shuffled on what I imagined to be a large, lacquered table, lots of coughing and throat clearing. It is a moment I will never forget. At the time, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or stick my head into a bag of potato chips (I ended up doing all three, but not simultaneously; eating chips while laughing hysterically is dangerous, trust me on this.) It was time for me to leave, honestly. I had been miserable with my job for the past two years; I just wanted to leave on my own terms, not theirs.

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How going on a lot of bad dates can make you a more successful job hunter

I didn’t get the Marketing Consultant job I interviewed for in Boston. The kind recruiter sent me a personalized email, before I received the nauseating system-generated rejection email, to give me a heads up about the “not so good news.” Maybe she liked me. Maybe she felt sorry for me. Maybe she felt she should feed the Good Karma machine that currently keeps her employed. Who the fuck knows. One thing’s for sure, I’ll never find out.

Of course, this made the over-anxious, neurotic Keebler Elves in my brain start over-thinking as they sifted flour and beat eggs while making their Pecan Sandies and Chips Deluxe, which no doubt contained Xanax and a shitload of sugar.

And here is the point at which I arrived after all the thinking and when the Elves went into sugary Xanax shock: Job-hunting is a lot like dating, just without all the fun, booze and (sometimes) good sex. But there are similarities (both can be torturous and frustrating, for one), and valuable lessons can be learned from dating, which translate into being a more realistic, creative and resilient job seeker.

DATING CAN HELP YOU DETERMINE YOUR TRANSFERABLE (OR SOFT) JOB SKILLS

It’s a crying shame that my career counselor strongly urged me (actually, forced is more like it) to remove “More than 20 years of dating experience” from my resume’s career summary. Pshaw. That should count for something, right? They talk about transferable skills in these resume workshops, and over the years, copious amounts of dating have left me with many soft skills of which naive early-marriage-adoptors should be jealous:

  • Works well under stress: (Tampa, 1997) After I was invited into his apartment for a drink post-first-date, my date came out of the kitchen with gin & tonics, but without pants or underwear (yet, oddly, he was still wearing his shirt). I told him to put his pants on, calmly grabbed my purse, left his apartment (while screaming, “Hey there’s a crazy naked man in #301” throughout his apartment complex courtyard) and took a cab home.
  • Creative problem solver: (Gainesville, 2000) One boy-man took me out for Chinese, proceeded to order the entire menu and then said, “Oops, I forgot my wallet can you cover me?” when the bill came. Prior to settling up the tab, I excused myself to use the restroom and covertly walked out the front door. Maybe he is still there, 12 years later, washing greasy Chicken Chow Mein off of plates.
  • Strong communication skills*: (Providence, 2006) The first guy I dated in this city (for three insufferable months) was angry because he thought I loved my dog more than him (of course I did) and gave me the silent treatment during dinner at a local Thai restaurant. I left as soon as the bill came and waited outside in the fresh air for him to take me home. He came out, got into his car and drove off. W I T H O U T me. After I got home, thanks to a kind friend, I had a message waiting on my land-line phone (not the cell phone I was carrying) that said “I hope you had a nice fucking walk home alone in the dark.” He showed up at my apartment the next day, CRYING and apologetic, and I said “Why don’t you go tell your mommy what you did to me and if she thinks it’s okay and respectable for you to make a woman walk 2 miles home alone in the dark, I might take you back. Oh wait, I won’t. Have a nice fucking life.” I shut the door. (*He is now married – who marries these assholes?)
  • Experience with social media: (Various locations and years) I can defriend a recent ex on Facebook within 2 seconds of the break-up and deflect – in hockey-goalie fashion – ex-boyfriends who message me “wanting to be your friend now” or who are looking for a booty call. Booty call? Really dipshit? Did you notice that I live in New England now and you are still living in the same lame-ass town I grew up in 1,200 miles away. (I used to only date the moody poets, obviously not the mathematicians who still have possession of their frontal lobes.)
  • Works well as a member of a team: (Tampa, 1996-2000, various bars and clubs) During my 20s I often went out with a gaggle of singletons (who have since happily moved on to Smug Marrieds-land and lots of diapers). We attracted a broad spectrum of single guys, ranging from recent parolees and crack-heads, to UT grads who did mind-eraser shots until they puked into our laps and Hugh Hefners who thought the size of their paycheck could make up for the fact that they were quite simply gross old men hitting on 26-year-olds. We protected each other from the scumbags and made sure we were visible to the “good” ones (even though we were wearing beer goggles most of the time). But the thing is this: We never left anyone behind and we kept each other safe. We were a team, a drunken, slightly slutty team, but a team nonetheless.

IT HELPS YOU BUILD A TOUGH SKIN FOR THE SEEMINGLY ENDLESS REJECTION OF THE JOB HUNT…

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Have wheels, will deliver meals

I pulled up outside Marra Food Services this morning at 9:30 a.m., anxious as hell. I was going on a training run with Joseph, who would show me my assigned route, should I decide to take on the work. Anxious because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, anxious about what I might see today, anxious because I didn’t know who this Joseph was — other than what the volunteer coordinator told me over the phone. Would he be an axe murderer? Smelly? An asshole? A horrible teacher?

Anxiety is so stupid sometimes. Joseph was a lovely retired gentleman who couldn’t have been a better tutor. He stood waiting for me as I walked up to the building. He firmly shook my hand, saying good morning, and I was completely at ease.

We walked inside and he ushered me over to the enormous, food-stuffed coolers that we would soon carry out to his car – one with hot meals, the other with cold food (milk, juice, cookie, roll). He showed me how to check off the number of meals/dietary specifications of the people on his route versus the food in the coolers (1% milk vs. whole, special diet needs, only some people wanted juice, no milk, one man who needed his food cut up for him, etc.). Everything looked good and we headed off to his car, coolers in our arms.

As we drove to our first stop (of 20), he explained the detailed notes on the route sheet, next to each meal recipient’s name: some people would leave their own coolers filled with ice packs outside their front doors (because they were either unable to get to the door quickly or they didn’t want to interact with the volunteers), others would be waiting for us, eager to see perhaps the only person they would see all day…to get what might be their only meal of the day. And others had caretakers or adult children that would be waiting to take the food from us.

“For the cooler/ice pack people, they sometimes forget to leave ice packs in them, and if so, we can’t leave the food. It might spoil,” Joseph explained. “If that’s the case, I’ll knock on the door to try to rouse them, but if I can’t get them to the door or they’re not home, I’ll give the extra meal to the next person on the route.”

He then laughed, and said “There’s one guy, toward the end of the route, who leaves hundreds of ice cubes in his cooler. Sometimes all that’s there when I arrive is a pool of water…and then I can’t leave the food for him. I’ll knock and knock, but he never comes to the door.”

Our first few stops were what I called “cooler people,” who had dutifully left their ice-pack-filled coolers by the front door. We packed the meals into their coolers, Joseph would rap on the door, and we would head back to his car.

On our fifth stop, a woman was waiting for us to arrive. As we pulled up, Joseph explained that she had only been on the route for three weeks and that she had baked pound cake for every volunteer who delivered meals to her during the first week. She was thrilled to see us. Joseph introduced me and told her that I would be delivering her meals on Mondays.

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In degrees

I debated about taking a shower this morning. It was a long debate. A senseless debate, really. If you haven’t taken a shower in two days, it’s probably an opportune time to take one. Remember my muscle memory post? Shouldn’t showering be a muscle reflex (if anything, a reflex from your nose when it smells your armpit)?

Well, apparently it isn’t, at least not for the jobless, the depressed, the shut-ins, those who don’t have an office to go to or a client to meet. And I know several of them right now, including myself. And for some reason, the showering really trips us up. We share in  a community: the community of a lack of purpose and (sometimes) poor personal hygiene. And really, who gives a shit about soaping up your armpits when you lack big-picture meaning – a job, a vocation, a career – in your life?

As I’ve posted previously, I will soon be unemployed. The spaghetti I’m throwing at the walls – through research, writing, online job searching, networking and agreeing to whore myself out for anything that pays at least $20 an hour – is not sticking. So recently, my this-feels-fruitless-job-hunt-I will-be-living-in-a-cardboard-box-very-soon anxiety has grown into an enormous green-scaled, red-eyed monster, who hovers in my shadow during the day and hides under my bed at night. He has really sharp fingernails (talons?) and it hurts when he pokes me in the shoulder to let me know he’s still there. I’ve offered to pay for a manicure, but he’s ignored my offer. I’ve named him Puff the Magic Dragon; it makes him seem harmless…even though some days he is quite the opposite of nice.

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Still insane, but now I’m an insane jobhunter

After a nearly four-month hiatus from this blog, during which I completed a 10-week Fiction Writing course at Brown and have endured a job loss, I am back in the blogging saddle. My writing instructor encouraged me to write for at least 1-2 hours per day. So I figured, blogging would be a perfect way to get some writing hours under my belt.

After getting the pink slip (which is not officially official until late Summer, so thankfully I am still drawing a paycheck/health insurance until then), I began to think about the word “jobhunter.” I feel like I should be going into the forest of jobs with my bow and arrow (a la Katniss Everdeen). Or maybe I’m like a job-hunting lioness, who stalks the innocent, unsuspecting job at the watering hole, or an orange-vested redneck, waiting in the job blind with a scoped rifle in hand?

Is jobseeker any better? “Seeking” sounds so calm, as if one is searching for enlightenment or foraging for mushrooms in the woods. In this economy (arrgh, I hate that phrase, I’ll get to that below), simply seeking ain’t gonna cut it, especially when the state’s maximum monthly unemployment benefit is about $900 dollars. (That will barely cover my rent, let alone my raging espresso habit, or better yet, food and those other pesky necessities called electricity, healthcare and gasoline.) Instead, I need to hunt, beg, barter, prostitute, plead, argue, outwit, bend, break, and do backflips while tap-dancing and juggling sticks of fire simultaneously. Whew, I’m out of breath (and slightly terrified) after typing that.

And I swear, if I hear “in this economy” one more time, I’m going to swallow my fist. It is the reason (and sometimes the excuse) for myriad things. My very very very favorite is this one: “In this economy, you should be glad you have ANY job.” I’m thinking thief, hooker, Bernie Madoff wanabee, mob boss, bank robber, professional pyromaniac and/or hitman are not the ANY jobs I would personally want (but if that’s your preference, I will not judge). I will, however, serve as a barista, muck stalls, walk dogs, model nude, or do backflips while tap-dancing and juggling sticks of fire simultaneously. Any caffeine addicts, horse/dog owners, artists or circuses/traveling carnivals looking for an employee? You know how to contact me.

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