Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dying Daily

After six months formally and officially dedicated to searching for a job since my return to Massachusetts, which were preceded by six months of a slightly more casual long-distance job search while still in Tennessee, I’m beginning to feel like some sort of an expert. An expert in what, I am not entirely sure, but 12 months invested in an activity must qualify me for some level of something, right? Even if the “something” is banging one’s head against a wall.

Here are a few of the things I’ve learned throughout this soul crushing experience:

1. Searching for a job is the hardest job of which I know. Parked at the computer for three to six hours daily, I plow through job postings and company profiles until my eyes feel like they are going to bleed. Simultaneously, my shoulders are screaming in hunched over agony from sitting in a dining room chair perfectly suited to the height of the dining table, but not at all suited for long term use at the computer desk. It doesn’t help that almost nightly (and each morning), my head routinely bangs the upper bunk when I have the audacity to sit up straight in the futon/bunk bed in Mom's spare room. Between hunching in the “bed” and slouching at the computer, I fear I am now permanently stooped, like the stereotypical crone. Fortunately, the Halloween season is approaching and my elderly witch posture will seem appropriate, for a month anyway. Maybe I can get a job in Salem at one of the several witch museums!

2. Job search agents miss the mark. Often, and by a lot. I have “job search agents” established on job boards, company sites and social networks. The search terms are primarily “marketing” and “writing.” Can someone please tell my why the emails cheerfully touting the subject line “20+ new jobs in marketing” contain plentiful openings for dock and warehouse workers? Please? Although .... were I to become a dock worker, a gym membership would no longer be necessary, and I might even shed the 10 pounds I have acquired since “the broken leg incident” of October 2011. Maybe it’s time to redirect and set up additional job search agents for “laborer” and “witch historical interpreter.”

3. Some hiring managers are dreamers. Or they just lost a superstar employee they should have tried harder to retain. A shocking percentage of the marketing job postings I have seen require someone who not only knows how to write, develop and execute marketing strategy and tactics, and maintain client relationships (my last job), but also has extensive experience dealing with vendors and all aspects of production, expertise in every graphic design program available, years of HTML coding, and experience with a multitude of databases and content management systems. No kidding, this represents the combined skill set of three departments and four individuals at my last job. Maybe I need to go back to school and learn all this stuff, although that still wouldn’t provide me with the years of “increasing responsibility” demanded.

4. Passwords suck. Each company career system and automated job board requires a login and password, which wouldn’t be so bad except the criteria are always slightly different than the 32 logins and passwords already established elsewhere. The login might be an email address, but sometimes it is not. Some systems require passwords include a mix of capitals and lowercase. Some demand use of numbers and/or symbols, while others forbid such usage. Six character minimum, eight character minimum. It’s insane! My journal contains enough logins and coded password reminders to look like I am inventing a new language. Maybe I should.

5. Some companies request seemingly illegal information. Exactly why is my social security number needed in this first step of the process? And if it is illegal for an employer to ask an applicant’s age, why does their automated job application system require a birth date? Is that not the same thing? And the questionable questions come after one has already invested a solid 1.5 hours (or more) inputting information and uploading resume, cover letter and sample writing files. I suppose the company figures after they’ve already robbed you of that much time, you will just key in the info requested in an effort to stop the pain. And they are mandatory elements, so don’t think you can just skip over those fields and move onto the next screen. I tried. Screw you, companies of questionable questioning. Purely on principle and the advice of dozens of articles about preventing identity theft, I’m out.

6. The state’s “Career Center” is full of well-meaning people, but that doesn’t mean it’s helpful. My visit to the local career center was draining. I met with a “career adviser” in a sea of cubicles within earshot of countless other similar cubicles. I know we were within earshot, because I could hear the conversations emanating from ajoining cubicles. My visit was filled with special moments. Like when the adviser practically screamed, “What? A Bentley MBA can’t find a job??” Thanks, dude. I don’t feel enough like shit and die a little bit more inside every day as it is. Then, based on my income for the past six months (exactly zero dollars), Mr. Helpful practically demanded I visit the office that handles the SNAP program (food stamps). Recognizing he was doing his assigned task of pointing people to available resources, I managed to harness every ounce of strength I possess and not burst into tears right there in his cluttered little cubicle. I held back the flow until I got to the privacy of my car, where I then faced the additional challenge of restraining myself from punching the dashboard. Logic, finances, and my illegal absence of state-mandated health insurance won out (another tragic tale), saving both the dashboard and my fist.

Each day in the job search process is a new learning experience. I recently read somewhere that the average job search can take 12 months, but the average job seeker gives up looking after five months, so in between spells of pondering what these people do after the five month mark (give up eating?) I congratulate myself for persevering. I have a new hobby with the potential to bring in a bit of income once I find a venue at which to sell. In an attempt to prevent my spirit dying a bit more each day, I am focusing a different type of dyeing and an experiment with thrift store clothing to “upcycle” it with a fresh new look. For now at least, it keeps me busy. And if I can’t sell the stuff, I guess it will be a hand dyed Christmas for my family.

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