Monica Luchak

work, work, work, work …

Month: July, 2012

Posting, posting and more posting

I’ve just completed a marathon session of answering job postings. This morning at 1:00 I responded to a position that took me almost an hour to complete. It wasn’t even a government job. It was what I would call a glamor gig. The application process was a combination of my life story, Iowa IQ testing, and Meyers & Briggs personality assessment. I would have abandoned if, it wasn’t for my curiosity of what came next. I’m almost tempted to call them to see how I did on the IQ portion. I know what I am with the Meyers Briggs.

After that posting I did another that had a glitch. After completing the entire application (20 minutes) it wouldn’t let me submit because it said my electronic signature didn’t match my name. I went back in the process to confirm I didn’t make a mistake; yes I got my name right.  I played around with it for another 20 minutes before I ultimately abandoned the entire thing. I don’t want to work for a place that can’t get the digital application right. I wonder if others have had the same problem, and if they have, when will the HR person start to wonder why they haven’t received any applications. Hmmmmm?

The applying process is so often frustrating and discouraging. I know I’ve overlooked jobs because I’m being extremely critical of myself. I consciously bypassed posting I know I can do standing on my head for one no good reason or another. It wasn’t until this morning when I read a post on a dear friend of mine’s blog, informedgrad. The topic was Bullying. It’s a must read for those of us that have been bullied and those that continue to be.   http://informedgrad.com/gossip-girlguy/ I’ve come to realize my hyper critical eye is a side effect of the bullying I endured in the workplace.

It’s sadly amusing how bullies never think they bully. These abusers rationalize their behavior, and convince themselves that their attempts at improving someone are just misunderstood.  Better yet, some of these small people think, either the world is out to get them and they have to get the world first, or everyone is jealous of there great, talent, beauty, status… It’s all just one horrible cycle affects way to many people they touch.

After reading that post, I’m dedicating myself to not allow anyone to ever bully me again. In my next position I will look to find the one thing that can make any work environment bearable, decency and civility. I hope it’s gone the way of the hanky.

And now to bully that elliptical into submission. I shall prevail. I hope.

Doing More With Less

When a woman becomes “a woman of a certain age” the prospect of job hunting can be overwhelming. The mere thought of going up against people significantly younger than you, willing to work for pennies just to get experience, can be daunting. I remember when I was in their shoes. I envied the experienced senior staffer and thought one day that’ll be me. Well fast forward (faster than I thought) it is me.

I’ve been really lucky, and have had the opportunity to come up the ranks. I was able to make all those bull_ _ _t mistakes early in my career. Businesses were willing to push the envelope when it came to design and printing. The best part is I learned things you never learn in school. I wasn’t above getting dirty press side, or at the paper mill. I learned PH makes all the difference in the print process. Most important, I learned how far to far is.

It was a fascinating time, the switch from the physical art world to the digital. It opened up possibilities to do amazing things and I got to do them and still do

During this recent downturn I feel uniquely positioned to bring all this knowledge I’ve amassed to make a difference. I learned how to “do more with less.”  Yeah, yeah, I know in reality it’s a silly saying. “Do more with less.” No such thing, no one does more with less, you do less with less. It’s kind of unfortunate that a simple statement meant to exalt the benefits of frugality should be twisted to mean cheap and maybe even cheating.

Many many years ago I needed an impressive interview suit but didn’t have impressive money to buy one. Being the ever bargain shopper, I was browsing a thrift store and came across an amazing Oscar de la Renta suit. The fabric was in excellent shape, cashmere before cashmere was dumbed down, and a cut classic. Who knows some woman may have just outgrown it. I bought it for $5.00 and tailored it to fit. It took a little while to get it just right but when I was done it became my “go to” suit and I wore it to death. I got my fair share of jobs wearing that suit and I impressed some important clients wearing that suit. That was not a one shot find. Over the years I’ve figured out others ways of doing more, much more, with less.

Slow Summer Day

Did some research this morning to see if maybe I could sell some of the things my, hubby and I have been saving for years. Things like old records, china, silver, old sewing patterns, stuff we haven’t looked at in years. We could make a few bucks while clearing out the house. 

The job search today has been kind of lean today. Nothing new has popped up. There are a couple of government jobs I could apply for, but applying for a government job requires patience and I’m a little restless for that today.

It may sound as if I don’t have any motivation today, that’s because I don’t. It has all seeped from me. The outside temperature is reaching the level of the dark side of the sun. Even the poor dog doesn’t want to go out to relieve herself.

Before I came to Virginia more than 15 years ago I had a more romantic view of what summer in the south would be like. I had visions of porches and porch swings and everyone moving slowly. I suspect Harper Lee had a big influence on me to shape that impression.

“Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.

People moved slowly then. They ambled across the square, shuffled in and out of the stores around it, took their time about everything. A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself. “ —To Kill a Mockingbird

Those two paragraphs say it all for today.

Go web. Fly. Up, up, and away web

I’m caught in a web. Not a spider web, although I seem to keep walking into them when I take the dog out, and my garden is covered in them. No I mean the internet (aka: world wide web). I’ve been playing around with my website for days, ever since I realized I didn’t have an active site.

I’m mortified that I’ve been sending potential employers to an incomplete site. I can almost hear what they must have been saying to themselves when they clicked the link.  “Why am I bothering with this hamster?” “Yeah right she can do design.” “What a loser website.” Do I need to go on? I don’t think so. Everyone gets the picture. So, this morning I sat down to cleaned up the mess I made. It’s still not perfect but a damn site (pun intended) better. I read a quote some time ago by Leonardo da Vinci, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.“  Not that my portfolio website is a masterpiece, but if a master like da Vinci can have a down to earth viewpoint then who am I to torture over silliness. Eventually you just have to let go.

Not much activity on the resume-blasting front.  I wonder if I should do an E-promo?  Send it to every organization I want to work for. Hell, I use to create and blast out E-promos for significantly less important objectives than my finding a job. I think securing employment is a worthy objective for an E-promo.  Maybe not. I can just see all the organizations I want to work for labeling my email spam. Talk about making an impression, not a good impression.

I’ve been going back and forth as to whether I should incorporate my blog into my website.  On the one hand, employers that go to my site can see my writing style. On the other hand, do I want potential employers seeing my on going narrative about the job search? On the other hand, it’s not like I’m naming names or defaming individuals. On the other hand…  Enough with the hands, I’m going to have think about this a little more. I don’t want to introduce a chilling effect on these posts. I don’t have to make a decision now. It’s not like people are clamoring to read my posts, yet.

Those who has read my posts will notice I’ve not mentioned the elliptical or giant red ball, in today or yesterday’s posts. That’s not an oversight. We are not speaking. I’m waiting for an apology.

Employment See Saw

I knew a day like yesterday would eventually come. A day that makes you wonder why you make the choices you do and what the future might hold for “a woman of a certain age.  

When I was younger employment was simple. Employers put an opening in the paper with an address, the applicant goes to the location, fills out an application, and talks to the hiring person. You either got hired or you didn’t. Today the dance is subtle. You troll the internet for “opportunities” and then drop your resume into the abyss. It’s humbling. 20 years ago I was under qualified and now I’m over qualified. Does anyone win on that see saw? I’m a fighter. I won’t allow doubt to undermine the progress I’ve made. I’m making myself a deal. I’ll allow myself one blue Tuesday once a month. Maybe I won’t need it, but I’ll allow it to myself, but no banking blue days.

Today is a new day. Got an early start on the search, and answered several postings. Of those a couple are promising.  I’m becoming a regular little blood hound, sniffing out postings.

Because I got an early start, I took the time to go get the truck’s state inspection. Now that was a waste of time and money.  It makes me insane to have to pay to have my vehicle inspected and if it doesn’t pass have the same mechanic repair it. Call me weird but that sounds like a conflict of interest.

(Deep sigh) Tomorrow is another day and there will be another post.

Bull

Monday and I’m into my second week of being unemployed. Vacation days are gone now and I’m on my own. I’m not liking this.

I’ve been chained to my computer for hours redoing my website. I started Sunday afternoon. It went into the evening, night, early early morning, up until just now. Normally this would not have been such an emergency, but I realized Saturday that I did not have a place where job prospects could see some of the work I’ve done. Weeks ago I deleted my original website because I thought I would do something more “whiz bang” but I never got around to. What makes this even more interesting is that since that original site was laid to waste, “Just Host”, my hosting company updated and the original skin is gone. So I had to start from scratch using Word Press. After I get a job I may role this blog into that site. Anyway, I’m done for now but will be tweaking for weeks. It’s not sexy but it’ll do what I need it to do.

As far as job leads are concerned, this week is starting out slow, really slow. Of the phone interviews I had last week the one on Friday went reasonably well. Interesting company, but I don’t have a good read on what they’re really looking for. Leads me to think that maybe they don’t have a read on what they want either. Those kind of jobs are tough, but with the right company you can make the job your own.

Earlier today I took a break from the website to face my nemesis, the elliptical. I swear I can hear that thing laughing at me when I go to use it. Today I figured I’d take the bull by the horns, I stare it down, approach with confidence, climbed on, and the damn thing threw me off. Yes, I know it’s an inanimate object but I stepped on the pedal and it lurch forward, lost my footing, and I fell off. That thing is like the mechanical bull in the movie Urban Cowboy. Only difference is there’s no John Travolta cheering me on.

Took a by on the giant red ball. Two humiliations in one day is more than I can stand.

Great news for me, I’m down another pound and a half. Stepping off the scale I was feeling pretty good about myself until I realized the reason I’m loosing weight is because the, ever full candy dish on a coworker’s desk is now 12 miles away and not just down the hall. God, I miss Pam! Not just for the candy either, but the candy alone would be a good enough reason.

Well, I think I should figure out what I’m going to give my sweet hubby for dinner tonight. I’m thinking something fattening. Then I’ll look even slimmer when I stand next to him. Waaaaaaaahaha (evil laugh)

Holy Guacamole

First week unemployed.

Lets review, shall we?

Did a freelance gig, had two phone interviews, did in person interview, had a consulting meeting, sent out at least 10 resumes, and got a response to one government job I applied for weeks ago, in Norfolk, go figure. I’m going to have to investigate that.

I’m still struggling with that damn elliptical and the giant red exercise ball is really close to becoming a giant chew toy, I swear. We have a friend with a German Shepherd coming by and it might just be her size.

My husband is accusing me of undermining his weight loss goals by cooking every night. It’s not my fault that when I was working, dinner was whatever I could throw together in 20 minutes. I guess I’ll have to pull back next week.

I’ve stopped biting my fingernails, for now. Don’t get to excited mom. First sign of stress they go back into the grinder. (chomp chomp)

Unemployment may turn out to be good for my waistline. I’m down 4 pounds.  Hee Ha! Only time will tell about that.

Went bargain grocery shopping today and only bought what was on special at 3 different stores, Giant, Shoppers, and Safeway. I may have gotten a little carried away with the avocados. They were on super special. I wonder how fast we’ll be able to eat the vat of guacamole I have in the refrigerator?

I hope I’ll be able to keep the momentum going. I know there will be good weeks and not so good weeks, but this week, I’m pretty satisfied was good week. I’ll keep pumping out those resumes while looking for freelance gigs to hold me over.

Holy Guacamole, there is life after BoardSource.

Nerves

I don’t believe it. I’ve had my first telephone interview this afternoon. It took everything I had to sound calm and collected while in my head I’m screaming you picked me to call. Yes, I know this does not a job offer, it’s a phone interview, but it’s just nice to know that at least on paper someone saw my value.

When I send my resume out into the ether, waiting for a call back is very much like when I was a teenager waiting for a boy I liked to call. You wait, and wait, and wait some more and at last you get a call. Might not be the boy you had hoped but it was a call. After the call you ask yourself, “I sure hope I didn’t sound desperate, over anxious, or worse cocky”. This is ridiculous. I’m flash backing adolescence. If I get zits I’m going to be really annoyed.

What’s with all these nerves? I’m a grown mature woman. It’s not like I’m not qualified. I’m not applying to be a brain surgeon or anything. I’ve been doing this sort of work for many, many, many years and I’ve earned and I’m proud of each and every one of those manys.

I wonder if I’m so nervous about interviewing because for the last year I’ve been berated and insulted. I’ve been told I don’t measure up and can’t do anything right. To this day I don’t know what I could have done to measure up. The bar kept changing. Even though I’ve have years of exemplary reviews along with employee of the month certificates, I allowed a small person to whittle away my self-confidence. That’s right allowed. I allowed it. I’d forgotten, no one can make you feel bad about yourself unless you let them. That relationship that had all the earmarks of abuse. Well, my abuser does not have control over me any more. I got “mad as hell and I didn’t take it any more.” (Peter Finch, Network) I’m shaking those toxic thoughts out of my head and moving forward. “Living well is the best revenge.”

Here fishy fishy

I do not foresee the demon elliptical and I ever being friends. I spent half an hour on that hunk of junk and thought I was going to keel over. I never realized I had let myself go so far.

After the humiliation of the elliptical I thought I would keep up the momentum and do some floor exercised with a giant red rubber ball. Yes, a giant red rubber ball?  I’ve seen them used at the gym and always thought they looked goofy and the people that used them awkward. This is the first time I’ve ever used one and it’s as awkward as it looks. We’ll see if it gives results. It not I’m donating it to the dog to play with.

Yesterday when I asked if Karma was listening, I knew Karma is not fate, but free will, where I control my own destiny; however, you can never underestimate a little bit of luck and today I had a bit of it.

I actually got a nibble on my resume. Felt good. Will I get an interview? Maybe. Do they want a mature, over achiever? Anyone’s guess. At least I got someone’s attention. I look at the search for a job like fishing. You drop your lure in a lake or stream and see what bites. You just never know what the fish will bite on. It all depends on weather and water conditions. (Kiki would be proud of that metaphor) By customizing each resume and cover letter to the posting, it’s like using the right rod, and lure for the water and weather conditions.

I guess I’ll continue tying my flies and hoping I can tease something or someone to bite.

Day 1

The first day of my forced unemployment, felt a lot like being on vacation. Might feel that way because technically I am on vacation. When I left, I had a week of accrued leave which they will be paying me out for at the end of the month. Pretty sad state of affairs that what I did today was pretty much what I did when I would be burning up vacation days. Only difference, I know I’m not going back.

To start the day off right my kind hubby offered to let me sleep in while he drives himself to the slug line. (Those not from northern Virginia, don’t ask about the “slug line” it’s hard to explain, and even harder to understand) I thanked him for his thoughtfulness but I told him I needed to find a routine. Something that gives me a reason to get up, and taking him to the slug line is as good as any reason to get up, for starts.

It’s been an entire day of looking at job ads and responding.  Now that was productive. Actually it would be productive if I get a nibble. I think tomorrow I’ll add half an hour on the elliptical to my day. I could make that one of my reasons for getting up in the morning. Rediscover my thin self.  Then my hubby can call me his “Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul” I really love that rock and roll.  All right, I couldn’t help it. I love the sound track of Rocky Horror.

This afternoon had a couple of calls from people who like to refer to themselves as my friends. (I’m going to have to revisit that) They thought I might need cheering up. Tip to friends, stories about acquaintances who have been out of work for over a year and just found a job at half salary is not cheering up. Might feel like cheering up from the inside of your frigid offices but for those of use who have just looked at their 20th job ad, not so much.

Karma are you listening? I’m willing to give up my cosmic lottery winnings to find a satisfying job.

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