Thursday, September 16, 2010

Trials and Tribulations of an Unemployed Professional

September 15, 2010
For 107 days I’ve been saying that, “Tomorrow I will – fill in oh-so-productive-task here –. “  The list of things I planned to included: deep clean the house (including purging drawers and closets of the miscellaneous crap that one tosses into these black holes over time); get the yard in order (it’s somewhat of a jungle out there right now); finish the dry walling the loft; clean and organize the garage; finish re-facing the kitchen cabinets; get back into my family tree research; find all of the geocaches in Yolo County (there are 667 in Davis and Woodland alone); and lose the 23 pounds I gained while on the road with my temporary job.
Instead, what I’ve accomplished in the three plus months that I have been unemployed is adding 7 more pounds to the weight I’d gained by sitting on my ass watching Netflix® movies on my Wii™ (the complete series of Pushing Daisies, Heroes, My Name is Earl, multiple seasons of Dexter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, and countless movies), playing Words With Friends™, and spending countless hours on Facebook (I still can’t get the top score in Bejeweled Blitz, damn it, and I’ve become one of those annoying people who update their status every 15 minutes). Actually, I guess I shouldn’t bag on Facebook. If it wasn’t for that venue I would not have had the opportunity to share my oh-so-non-productive-life with everyone I know and, in turn, they would not have had the opportunity to invite me to get off my pity-pot and write a book. I’m not so sure this will in fact grow up to be a book, but who knows; I’ll bet Julie Powell never thought her little blog would grow up to be a book either.
            Listening to the radio the other day, I heard that the term “unemployed” does not necessarily limit itself to people who are “involuntarily out of work” but rather can be expanded to include people who have involuntarily left their regular career without having a new career (it would be so nice if I could remember where I heard this, so I could provide a citation, or some sort of proof that I haven’t made this up. But, really, it does make sense, right?) So, following this line of thought (my book, my logic) the temporary job I had as a trainer for the Sacramento based consulting firm doesn’t really count. This means that I’ve actually been unemployed for 446 days.
            In addition to the oh-so-non-productive activities I’ve engaged in since I became one of the doesn’t-have-any-paying-job-at-all group, I have been dutifully job-hunting, filling out applications and going to interviews. The results of my efforts have been multiple rejections from prospective employers via telephone, email and snail mail. The following is a sampling, showing the range of responses I’ve received:
“Dear Kimberly:

Thank you for taking the time to interview for the position of Staff Development Officer. . . You were among a very qualified pool of applicants and the selection process was a difficult one. Regrettably, we are unable to extend a job offer to you at this time.”

This one inspires hope in the rejected job seeker (that would be me).  The way I read this is letter is that I made it into an elite pool of applicants and they agonized over the decision, hoping that they were making the correct choice. Kind of like one of those, “Gee, there were so many choice candidates and we wish we could have hired all of you” warm and fuzzy type of letters. The result was that I felt hope; it was just a matter of time until someone scooped me up.

“Dear Ms. Byrd:

Thank you for your interest in the Associate Governmental Program Analyst position. The applications received resulted in a high number of candidates with extensive job related experiences and backgrounds. While you were not selected for an interview, we thank you for your interest and the time and effort you spent in submitting an application.”

            What this one says to me is, “Thanks for your interest but, really, you don’t even meet the minimum qualifications for the position so we aren’t going to waste our time interviewing you” (okay, maybe that’s a little harsh, but it kind of felt that way.) In actuality, we are in a job market where there are so many more applicants than there are jobs. If we were talking real estate, we’d call it a seller’s market.
I have had a plethora of well-meaning friends suggest that I broaden my job search outside of my usual search parameters (which have thus far been State and County positions in the Social Services field). Once upon a time, the experience of having been a manager was enough to open many doors. I have roughly ten years of experience in grant writing, developing and monitoring budgets and contracts, and all of the other duties that come with being in middle management in the Child Welfare Services field. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty narrow field, and I’m now finding that employers are also looking for people with direct experience in the specific job.
Dear Ms. Byrd:

Thank you for your time to interview. However, I regret to inform you that we have selected another individual to fill the position of Social Worker III.

            That one didn’t mince any words – short and to the point. I really don’t have any commentary on this letter, other than I don’t believe that they really “regret” to inform me. However, it is nice to actually get a letter; I’ve had some interviews where I still have not heard anything. I can only assume that they did not select me. Either that, or they did and I’ve subsequently been fired for not showing up for my first day of work.
“Dear Kimberly:

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest and participation in the interview process for the Social Worker IV temporary position.

While we regard you as well-qualified for this position, we have selected another candidate whose background and experience more closely meets the needs of the department at this time. “

I think this one probably was the hardest to for me to deal with. This letter basically says, “Hey, you were totally qualified for this position, but we liked someone else for the position better.” Well I would hope I was well-qualified for the job; I was a Social Worker for 4 years and then supervised and managed Social Workers for nearly a decade. So, in looking at the part of the letter where it says they selected a candidate whose “background and experience more closely meets the needs of the department at this time” I can only conclude that they were afraid I’d either be hard to supervise/manage or that I would move on the second the opportunity arose. Which might be true, but in this economy, it could be five years or so before I heard that knock of opportunity at my door. So, basically, what these letters have shown me is that I’m either overqualified or under qualified, but never “just right.”  Feeling a little “Goldilocks-ish” right now.

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