In Like A Lion

Today is the last day of March so I am finally starting to relax a little in the assumption that winter is behind us for another seven months or so.

What I can’t relax about is the job search. I did it this afternoon and there was nothing new. When I think that tomorrow is April 1st I cannot believe that I am still not working. At the end of 2009 there is no way I would have said I’d still be searching for a new job as March went out like a lamb.

When faced with a struggle in life, it’s all about the minute-to-minute survival. Every moment you get through is a victory, every day a triumph.

And so I have not been searching for a job for over 2 1/2 years, but rather I have prevailed for more than 900 days. When you’re living in the trenches of battle and every day you go back to the fight, that knowledge of survival is your greatest weapon.

April 1, 2010. I will see you then.

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One of the last projects I’ve had to do while I’m not working has been hanging over my head like the giant rain cloud that has positioned itself over Pennsylvania these days. WE ARE NOT SEATTLE — GO WEST OH DARK RAINCLOUD!!!

Sorry. I’m back.

The project I am finally tackling is to organize all our digital pictures. Last year I did all our print pictures which was a gi-normo (a favorite word of my nephew’s) endeavor but still unorganized were all the pictures on the computer and CDs. I am happy to say I am done except for one last piece.

When I found out my company was closing in July 2007, I began to make copies of files and pictures I would need for my job search and for future reference once in a new position. As I make my way through all the disks, I’ve got a conflict of emotions.

Bitter . . . This company that I worked for was a subsidiary of a well-known corporation and our organization was really in its infancy. The team we put together to grow the business was energized and passionate and smart about where we were headed and how we were going to get there. I suppose one could say I am still bitter because I have not found my next position. And one might be right. But seeing the pictures and files from my time at this company makes me sad that we weren’t given more time to really see what we could do. I am angry that all my skills, talent and experience are going to waste.


Sweet . . . Although in the eyes of our parent company we failed, when I look at all the pictures from my time at this company I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish. Since I pledge honesty to my blog readers, I will confess that it is so reassuring for me to see what I was able to do and make happen. I am pretty confident in my abilities for the most part but the amount of time I’ve spent searching for a job has put chinks in my confidence armour and has caused me to doubt myself and my skills. But there it is, in captured color for me to see.

I did that and can’t wait to do it again. In LIVING color.

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I Love My Car

I applied for a job over the weekend, so that makes it a little easier to discover no new leads this morning. Not really but I’m trying to stay positive once again at the beginning of a new week. I’ve applied for ten jobs this month which is a huge number considering there was hardly any activity the previous two months.

This morning I took my car to the dealer to get an oil change. I should tell you something about me and my car. I love my car and treat her with TLC (yes,,I refer to my car as “her”). I tend to keep my cars for upwards of ten years and people tell me they would never guess its age by looking at it. Too bad the same thing can’t be said about me!

I always get nervous when I take my car in for service because I worry there’s going to be expensive things that need to be done. However, the alternative is to not take care of her and then have to buy a new car which is not on our horizon at all these days.

I needed to have a few things done, totalling a little over $200. Again, I will do what I have to, within reason, to keep her healthy.

I drive a Toyota RAV4. I have often said if I had all the money in the world, I would still drive the car I drive. How many things in life can we say that about? If I had all the money in the world would I live where I live? Probably not. If I had all the money in the world would I be worried about the job search. That’s a HUGE no!

I love my car. Together we can go anywhere we want. She gets me there safely and in comfort with heat or air conditioning and the music of my choice. We are a team.

Above is a photo of me and my RAV doing what we do best. Cruising down the road, no matter what the weather. And when I land my new job, she’ll be safely taking me there, patiently waiting in the parking lot for our drive home. Call me crazy, but I love my car.

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Come On 7!

I was doing the job search this morning and realized that as I scrolled through the postings I was holding my breath, literally, searching for a job that looked like me. I realized I have done this before, held my breath, waiting for something to happen that would finish in a happy ending. Then I put 7 + 7 + 7 together and got JACKPOT!

That’s right. When I would play the slot machines and the numbers would be whizzing by I would hold my breath until they stopped and revealed themselves to me. Did I win? If so, I couldn’t wait to pull the handle again (yes, I’m THAT old) and feel that rush once again.

Now I’m not going to go so far to say I get a rush out of the job search, but in some ways it is the same feeling. I pull the handle (scroll through the job postings) and stop when I find a “winner”. It’s not something I consciously plan, but my internal need to hit the jackpot and find a job is the same.

The law of averages would say the more you pull the handle, the better chance you have of hitting it big.

Gambling with your “play money” is just that — gambling. Searching for a job — that’s life. My life.

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I’m Gonna Need A Spotter Here!

I did my long job search today and found no new job leads. I was feeling so positive last week and the beginning of this week because there were opportunities I was able to pursue. And now there has been nothing new the last few days.

I have a friend who’s been out of work for 9 months. I was emailing with him yesterday and he said he’s going crazy and doesn’t know how I’ve done it this long. His job leads have dried up. I feel so bad for him because I know how he feels. Trying to stay positive even though some days you feel so hopeless. Keeping at the job search even when there are no leads. It’s no fun and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

I need to write back to him and I want to offer encouragement but I need to find some myself right now. If he believes, as I do, that what’s meant to be will happen, then he’s got faith as a foundation. But even then, in the day-to-day struggle, I am sorry to say it’s not enough. It should be and that’s a failing on my part, but I’m being truthful. I will continue to attempt to live in that faith and I will continue to pray for strength and patience and hope for myself, my friend and all the others in this same predicament.

What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger. I am pretty sure at the end of this I will be able to bench press a semi.

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Feedback Schmeedback

I was doing my job search this morning and was on a well known employment web site. I was at the bottom of the page and was about to click on “next page” when I noticed an odd question. It read:

Are you satisfied with the jobs on this page?

I was flabbergasted to see such a thing. I mean, is it the employment web site’s fault if there just aren’t any jobs that match my skills, experience and interest? It’s nice to be asked one’s opinion, but again, what can the web site do about it any more than I can when there just aren’t jobs available?

After I sat there staring at the question for at least a few minutes, I clicked on “No” just to see what would happen next.

I received the following in response:

>>Thanks for your feedback.

I’m really confused as to what this web site was trying to achieve by asking this question and then providing no follow-up based on the reply received. If anything, it’s representative of my entire job search the last 2 1/2 years. I see a job that I’m interested in and the job posting is really asking the “question”, “Are you qualified?”. I “answer” their “question” by applying for the position via my resume, cover letter and online application (where applicable) and then, if I’m lucky, and usually I’m not, I get a thank you and that’s the end of it.

This employment web site might not be big on follow-through, but at least they’re courteous. A fundamental behavior missing from searching for a job.

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Make New Skills But Keep The Old

In an interview a few months ago, the Human Resources Manager asked me what I had been doing during the time I’ve been out of work to maintain my skills. This is probably a valid question, but I initially found it insulting. Just because I’m not working does not mean I don’t challenge myself and use my skills on a daily basis. Yesterday, I was given a solid answer should that question come up again.

One of the jobs I’ve applied for in the last few days had the following requirement:

Must have working knowledge of blogging software . . .

This is the first time I’ve seen that on a job posting and I was so happy! First to know that I have indeed developed a skill during my time off that I can not only put on my resume, but quite possibly utilize in my next position.

Secondly, writing this blog is such a joy for me and now it’s given me another tool in my career toolbox.

Thirdly, although there are millions of blogs out there, hopefully in my little corner of the world, in my profession, that number is much smaller and having this skill will help to set me apart.

I close with a little blog humor (although you will be the judge of that), a song from my Girl Scout days with a twist:

“Make new skills
But keep the old
One is italic
And the other bold.”

My gift to you. No extra charge.

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Everything Old Is New Again

We had a beautiful weekend here in Pennsylvania. It’s only March so you can’t trust that winter is truly over, but it was nice to have a few warm (in the 70s), sunny days.

I did the job search this morning and I found another lead. Once again, to apply for this position will take all of my investigative skills, but I am up for the challenge. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s fun, but I do enjoy feeling like I’m working hard to move myself forward in the job search.

My husband and I spent a lot of time this weekend doing things around the house. Since we are watching our spending with me being out of work, most of the time I am overwhelmed at everything that needs fixing around here. What I realized this weekend is that even small things can really make a difference. We bought a new trash can as well as new switch plates for our kitchen. With some major cleaning, our bathroom and kitchen are sparkling and have that “I just bought ’em aren’t they great?” look to them. A little elbow grease and $20 went a long way this weekend. Understanding that I can improve my situation with some sweat and very little expense will go even farther.

I’m going to go investigate this job opportunity. After I look at my new trash can and shiny 50+-year-old-stove. And I’m not even kidding.

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A Danger To Myself and Technology Around Me

Yesterday while doing the job search, our mouse finally stopped working. It had died a slow death, and then finally moved its last cursor. We had a brand new mouse here so I didn’t have to run out and buy a new one and this new mouse, in the words of my husband, is the Mercedes-Benz of mouses. It’s cordless and reacts instantly to the slightest move. You know how you have something for a long time and you just assume it’s still working as well as it once did? Like when you get new glasses and you realize how much you’ve been missing? We knew our old mouse was slowly slipping away but we had no idea just how sick it was until we installed the new one!

Feeling like a tech pro after setting up the new mouse, I decided to tackle another issue. When I was scanning those writing samples the other day to apply for a job, I was reminded that our scanner wasn’t working properly. I was unable to scan directly to the computer, but had to put an SD card into the scanner (it’s a printer/scanner/fax/copier all-in-one) and scan onto the card. At one time I could scan directly to the computer but haven’t been able to for a long time.

I Googled some info and then got on a live chat with HP. They basically led me back to the website I had found on my own and I started working through those steps. I didn’t get the scanner working, but I did manage to mess up my McAfee Anti-Virus program settings. I finally figured out what I had done there and adjusted the settings back to where they were. Then I realized that when I installed McAfee for the first time last May, that’s what caused the scanner to stop “connecting” with the computer so I reinstalled the HP all-in-one software and now the scanner will work directly with the computer!

Don’t get me wrong I am so glad I got the scanner working but what should have been a 30-minute to an hour process became hours spent trying to get things working again that were working fine to begin with. Things start out smoothly and you start feeling like you know what you’re doing, only to find out that you really don’t.

When I was signing on for the live chat with HP, they ask you to rate yourself as far as computer knowledge. I gave myself an intermediate rating (between beginner and expert).

What the rating should have read was “Knows enough to do some real harm”. Know your limits people, know your limits.

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Put Me In, Coach!

Yesterday I told you that I had found a job I wanted to apply for and that it required that I send writing samples with my resume via email. I tried several times but kept receiving an immediate email back saying my email could not be sent. I attempted to pare down my samples but still had no luck.

Finally, I emailed the address and asked how large a file I was able to send them and I received an email today from a live person saying I could send the information directly to her! You have no idea how exciting this is and yet I refuse to allow myself to get too ramped up.

I also found another position today which I’m going to apply for. After days and weeks of no leads, I am very grateful for the activity the last few days.

They say that “You’ve gotta play to win”. I wanna win for sure, but more than anything I want a chance to play.

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