Unemployment

And Like That, It Ends… Or Does It?

(Source: flickr.com via @Christian G.)

I had my group interview last week and soon after they were seeking references. That’s great, right? Clearly they want me. Then I reach out to those that I think would vouch for me – ex-managers and senior people of influence. I send out pensive emails, seeking their kind words of support, to tell a total stranger that I’m the person they need. Then, I start to doubt. In my last company, managers are two-faced. They give you one image but give another when you’re not around. Of course, they’re not all like that, but it’s just hard to tell who isn’t lying.

Given the circumstances of my departure (generally amicable on the surface), I am not certain who I can truly rely on. Can all the work be undone because of misplaced faith in someone’s supposed belief in you? That’s hard to tell. I’m still waiting for a formal offer and they always said that that would be pending referees.

Time ticks on.

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Unemployment

On Rejection

(Source : flickr.com via @RickMandel

The thing I hate most about this job search is the rejection. More than the tedium of trawling through job ads, scraping through worn networks for a potential connection and the unnoticed customization of CV and cover letters, being told that you’re not wanted is the worst.

My first interview of 2015 happened last week. That was quickly followed by a presentation to the whole team yesterday. The pace of discussion was a fillip for my confidence. Yes, I’m wanted.

Then there was some feedback from the contact who instigated the opportunity. She said that I maybe talked too much and should have been more succinct. There were questions about my ability to deal with ambiguity (really?). Yes, it annoys me that the virtual singing and dancing that has to be done to impress people boils down to the proverbial sequins on your outfit but I guess they’re the people with the power. Maybe it’s just my interview technique.

Today, I’m waiting and stewing. It seems like the decision is on the edge and I’d be continuing this search a little longer. The worst part is that the more it draws on, the less you feel like you have any ability at all. Perhaps it’s time to look for a way to take the decision-making and power in my own hands? Not sure. I’m a little lost and really which way is up.

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Unemployment

Re-thinking

(Source: deathtothestockphoto.com)

(Source: deathtothestockphoto.com)

I’ve got a lot of time. Well, sort of. Being Mr Mom means getting kids ready for school or naps, preparing three meals a day (yeah, think about that), perpetually picking up toys from the floor, grocery shopping, and so on. I feel like I need to do a few of those things before I can really settle into this seemingly endless job search. Well, endless isn’t true – it just feels that way.

I need focus to apply for a job. I put in effort. I customize my materials as all the advice says. For a given job, there’s a little research on the company needed. That becomes a small (but enjoyable) rabbit hole.

For all this effort, I haven’t come close to a job offer. Final interviews, yes. Something that says I’d be employed, no. And so, after a heated discussion with my significant other, I need to do a bit of thinking. Again. The questions are about:

  • What is it that I’m good at?
  • Where can I apply this?
  • Can I be open to being in other industries?
  • Can I view my past experiences into something applicable for a different industry?
  • Can I join at a level lower than I am used to?

Essentially, it all boils to re-framing what’s possible. The last few months of effort hasn’t really worked, so an adjustment has to be made. Yes, I’m open to different things because I know that I can apply what I know to other circumstances. The tough part is being able to think in an uncomfortable new way. I like it to the awkwardness of a new class, a new environment, a new hobby. That bit has been harder than I expected.

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Unemployment

When Did I Become Unemployable?

(Source: flickr.com via @smartblue)

I’ve been keeping an eye on the clock and it’s been ten months since I haven’t worked. That time has gone by quickly and my routine of child-rearing, housekeeping and limited personal development has repeated itself day after day. In the shower (where I do some of my best thinking) I just wonder where I skipped a beat career-wise. While I feel technically competent, there are some skills where I think I didn’t quite keep pace with the market. I can point to the somewhat backwards looking environment that I worked in but also my own inability to look outside of my current situation. That is, while working, I should have viewed the market and gauged my own capabilities against what was on the up. Interviews and job ads are looking for things I should have and really this one is on me.

Also, I think I neglected building more useful connections. In the hustle of job hunting, using existing connections to find new ones seems to be the way to find roles. This use of oily recruiters isn’t getting me anywhere. Again, on me.

That said, I do have energy (most of the time) and propelled by a little smidge of disgust about my own situation just keeps me going. I know there are organizations that aren’t as smart as they could be and surely I could be useful to them. While it’s a trap to fall into bemoaning my situation, pushing to find something new has to be the main focus.

To tomorrow.

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Unemployment

The Things I Miss

(Source: flickr.com via @401(K) 2012

This extended period of non-working gets me down because of a few things that I really miss.

I miss the commute. Being able to just plug in, listen to a treasured podcast, flick through some mail, and then arrive at the station to walk to the office was a precious amount of alone time that I no longer have.

I miss the banter. That inane stuff that people yak about because they want to burn time, spark a little creativity and to just find out what’s new from another human. Right now, I’ve got a toddler substituting for that and while he understands me perfectly, he talks in babbles.

I miss shopping. I miss this one most of all. Yes, as a household, we didn’t budget too tightly when I was working and we didn’t worry about buying this or that at a whim. Nothing too extravagant but an internal wishlist, always at the top of my head, could be retrieved within seconds. I can’t even think about that without that pang of longing.

I have learnt, however, that we are an all consuming society. Unable now to satisfy that need to just buy, buy, buy, I see how that programming is so unavoidable. We are told to buy this or that (and yes, I contributed to that machine). Yes, I crave for the ability to buy those things that I want, even though I’m not so sure about why I wanted them in the first place and that I have so many other things that do exactly the same thing, only they’re older.

Am I better for knowing this? I don’t know but I can’t wait to go shopping again.

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Unemployment

“You’re the Preferred Candidate…”

(Source: flickr.com via @AlexTurton)

That is, until the client met somebody else.

Sure, this just happened today. Before Christmas I had met with a recruiter and subsequently his client. All went well. The company was in a state of flux, trying to modernize itself, just the kind of environment I’d like. There were also a few former colleagues there who vouched for me. All seemed well. Everything seemed to signal that I would be it.

Then there was another job ad for the same role. Despite assurances from the recruiter that I was their preferred, apparently they had met other candidates and while I was pencilled in for a final round interview, that has since been pulled in favor of another candidate. The recruiter then called to say that it wasn’t me it was the client. In all this, it’s hard to know who’s telling the truth. For a moment, I felt incredible rage with the amount of flexibility I’ve provided to both the recruiter and the client and this treatment just makes me think less of them.

The only thing I know is that I’ve got my drawing board to go back to and a shaving of trust has been ground into powder between me, that recruiter and that company.

For all the false claims that I aim not to make, why is it that folks on the recruiting side never feel that they could do the same?

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Unemployment

We Offered That Role Last Friday

Source: flickr.com via @id-iom

The thing about this job hunt is that the power is clearly on the recruiting side. You can point to all manner of factors: a weak economy (hence soft job supply), a recruiter looking to maximize returns so filters all responses to applicants, and maybe even my own skill set which could be deemed either too senior or too junior.

The worst aspect is the inability of recruiters to be fully truthful or to maintain an ongoing relationship (of course, there are exceptions but they’re just that, outliers). Their task (it seems to me) is to plow through as much inventory (applicants) to quickly find the right fit for the client and not care too much about how they treat said supply. The “Dear Applicant” letters are such an example – I go to the effort of being cordial and I get this impersonal response.

So, when I applied for a juicy role and met with the recruiter, I was enthused. She appeared happy with my background, even to the point of saying, this role sounds a lot like what you’ve done in the past, yes? After interviewing with the hiring manager (which I thought went swimmingly), I heard nothing from them – not the recruiter, not the company. Being accustomed to this, I sent an email a few weeks later to the recruiter asking for feedback about my technique and how I could position myself better for future roles. Surprisingly, she said that she had no update from the company and would follow up and I’d hear from her that afternoon. There was a little flit of joy but in hindsight I should know better. Delays of this sort are never good. I didn’t hear from her that afternoon. I didn’t even hear the next day. I finally received an email a day later saying that the role was offered the week before but she would call me to give some feedback. That phone call never happened.

I’ve read that people who are in my position tend to not trust people once they get back into work. After these recruiter experiences, I think there is some truth to that. Now I’ve got a few roles in the works, I know better than to put too much stock in a recruiter’s words. Such a shame.

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