Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 116 of Double-barrel Unemployment - "You Should Invent Something"


My first in-person interview of this layoff! Normally, I'm already re-employed by about day 60, but this time, I had taken it pretty easy for the first month or so. By the end of January, I was applying for jobs daily and checking in with all my recruiters once a week. I had started to get calls from prospective employers, and by the end of February I'd had several phone interviews. These went well, but I had yet to get an in-person interview. Too much experience, too little experience, missing the one résumé item they couldn't live without, not a CPA, made too much at my last job etc.. So, it was exciting to land an actual interview. I won't get into the details. It went great - they liked me, but it had just been too many years since I had managed people.

Day 116 wasn't just my first real interview. It was also the day I was given one of the more insipid pieces of advice I've heard in this or any layoff. As someone who has taken several trips down Unemployment Boulevard, I get a lot of advice. I'm always grateful that people want to try to help, and the pointers I get are sometimes really novel or useful. Sometimes.

I've been through this enough to know the basics by now, so even some of the better suggestions are less than helpful.

"Hey Joe - you should try applying for a lot of jobs." Really? Ya think?

"Have you tried updating your résumé every couple of weeks, so it will show up in more employers' searches - in case they search only for 'new' résumés?" Great tip. I've been doing that since my 2001 layoff. It works.

"Remember you were saying there are tons of I.T. Security job listings, especially with government contractors? You should try to get one of those jobs." I am an order entry, billing, customer service, A/R person with zero I.T. experience or education, and most of those jobs require a top-secret clearance, but I'll keep that in mind.

"You take such nice pictures - you should be a professional photographer!" Thanks. I've actually taken some baby steps toward that goal. Even bought a negative scanner. I'm realistic, though. I've seen the work of pros, and I know I have a long way to go. Not saying no - just need to pay the bills while I work that out.

"Hey Joe - you should work for Google! I hear they're hiring, and it's supposed to be the coolest company to work for." Really? Again, I'm not so much a programmer. Plus, those jobs are in California. We're in Maryland, in a house that's $100,000 under water.

"There are towns in Iowa that are offering all kinds of incentives to lure people to live and work there. You should go!" Okay, again - house would cost $100K to sell. Plus, then we'd live in IOWA.

"Why don't you be a writer?" I am a writer. There are millions of me. I have bills, man. I've been at it for years and I will keep at it, but the odds are not good that I'll ever make a living at it. I love it - I mostly do it for myself, anyway.

"You love to eat - you should be a restaurant critic!" Oh dear sweet zombie Jesus.

"You and [Maris] should start your own company." Cool - will you give us the money? We have a business model ready to go. Phase I: Steal Underpants. Phase III: Profits!

"You should be more positive." Yes, I know. It's worked so well for me in the past.

"You should get one of those top-secret clearances." That would be awesome. Costs tens of thousands of dollars, though. Will have to find a company that will sponsor me. The problem is, they are flooded with applicants who already HAVE clearances. Maybe when the market turns around.

"If the market's so bad, why don't you use this time to go back to school and get a more marketable degree or just take some classes that will boost your résumé?" I can't say this is a bad idea, but by day 116 [Maris]'s job was looking shaky, too - so we just didn't have the nerve to gamble with what little cash we had.

"You should invent something!" You're absolutely right. I should do that.

"Have you thought about going on a reality show?" No. No, I haven't. Have you?

"You should start a blog! Or a photo blog!" Ugh. Wait, what? Okay - I might go ahead and do that...

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