Monica Luchak

work, work, work, work …

Month: August, 2012

Is Half an Opportunity Really an Opportunity?

Here we are a mere 3 days away from the official end of summer, meteorological summer has another three weeks. However, for this writer and every school child, teacher, and working person Labor Day marks the end of those “hazy, lazy days of summer.”

When I worked for my previous employer the end of summer always brought panic, punctuated with sheer desperation. It was generally final preparations for the annual conference, budgeting, and trying to bring in enough revenue so they could make those numbers that were projected 10 months earlier. I’d be lying if I said I miss that. Not that I didn’t get energized with the hectic pace but weeks of hectic was just plain insane.  Weeks and weeks of 12-15 hour days before the conference and then 18 hour days during the conference. Ekkkkkk. Dirty little secret, I use to enjoy the actual conference, talking and interacting with the attendees, exhibitors, and speakers. It was all the bull before that was horrible. I’d always be to tired to enjoy myself and the people.

This time I’m looking at Labor Day differently. I’m actually looking forward to the upcoming weeks. Days that are warm not hot and humid and evenings that are cool and comfortable.

As it turns out I have something else to look forward to. The temp agency I interviewed with 3 weeks ago, the agency where I totally botched the audition (see Performance Anxiety post), well they called. They have an assignment for me. It’s only for two weeks, but hey it’s a job. It’ll get me out of the house and keep my skills sharp, I’m over tutorials. I start tomorrow and work for 3 hours. Seems they’re only working half a day and the person I’m taking over for wants to give me the run down.

Seems this job is a temp to hire position. Now comes the really strange part, the assignment is with an organization I applied to 3 weeks ago. How odd is that? All afternoon I’ve been asking myself, “Self, is this an opportunity, or half an opportunity, and does it really matter?” If they like me can they hire me? If they can hire me will they have to pay the temp agency a “finder’s fee” even though I applied to them before I applied to the temp agency? I’ve the temp agency aware of my status and they still want me to go through with the assignment. I bet I’m the only person they could get on such notice. I had hoped a freelance gig would come through from a friend of mine but this will be good too.

Sooooooo, I guess I’ll color my hair, iron a pair of pants and blouse, and go off to work tomorrow, for 3 hours at least.  Feeling like a half opportunity.

“Make Money in Your PJs?”

I knew it would only be a matter of time before the spammers would find my email address.  In some respects I’m a little surprised it took them this long.

Before my job search adventure I have always been extremely careful whom I gave my email address to.  When a cashier asked for my zip code or email address I always declined, even if they offered a discount to get the information.  Unfortunately that has now all been for naught. In the world of job search, without exception, everything is done via email.  I have not snail mailed a resume at all.  Even if I had snail mailed my resume, I have my email address in the header. I know, I should have used a phantom email address but I admit it, was naïve. I thought the job search sites would not publish my email. Live and learn.

This morning when I opened my email I had 19 emails caught in my spam folder.  There were the usual MacMall, Lands End, and Amazon eblasts but mixed in those legitimate solicitations were more than a half a dozen get-rich quick scheme emails. This is the first time I’ve received anything of that nature. These solicitations ran the gamut from obvious pyramid schemes, to offers to use my website for hosting “adult content” aka porn, for a fee of course. It’s mind-boggling. Do people really respond to that junk? Below is one of the more benign solicitations.

Hello there,
I am Scott and I wish to show you how I greatly improved my standard of living. Now, I bring in a lot more than in the past, all at home, and work no more than a number of hours weekly! I spent a lot of time online, trying to discover an online offer that will bring in stable income. I kept on wasting my saving until I came across this program. I have access to all the information and the step by step guidance once I signed up. The kit educated me how to use my PC at home to generate a living. All you need is an online connection, that’s it. Zero former knowledge required. I took 48 hrs to check out all the facts and started out seeing earnings came in. It is so easy to do!

I can’t wait for tomorrow, to see what sort of ridiculous offers I get. If past experience is any indication they’ll get more and more outrageous.  In no time I’ll be able to sit in my bathtub and make a small fortune. In my life I’ve accepted one thing as a basic truth, “If it seems to good to be true, it more than likely is.”

Sumthin’ fur Nuthin’

As I do most weekday mornings I sat down at my handy dandy, trusty computer to do some job mining.  Over the weekend my ever-efficient hubby had sent me job postings he had found. As fate would have it the very first posting I looked at had already been pulled. Goes to show you, miss one day, and the world just zings right by.

Over the last weeks that same ever-efficient hubby has periodically sent me postings for part time jobs. Up until today I’ve not taken them to seriously. Most of these opportunities were/are from Craigslist, not generally the most reliable resource. That’s why I hadn’t taken them to seriously. However, this was another morning and with one job gone even before I could apply, I thought I’d give part time a shot. I applied to the posting. I sent a nicely composed email with my resume attached into the Craigslist void. The guy who posted that opportunity must have been sitting at his computer, because I got a response almost right away. He reminded me it was a part time job and how much would I work for? His exact words, “What is your hourly rate and for now this is a part time position 5 hrs. a day, 5 days a week.” I had to responded to such an eloquent email. I informed him I was good with part time and told him what my rate was, but that I was willing to negotiate. I even gave him a discount on my rate. So what did I get for my well thought out response? Nada, zip, bupkus. You’d think the guy could say, “thanks but no thanks.”

I’m starting to believe employers are looking for something for nothing. Hell, in this current economic climate PhDs are willing to work for minimum wage.  Mark my words, one day in the not to distant future, the worm will turn, and employers need to pay a fair wage for a fair days work. However for now, “I got plenty of nothing and nothing’s plenty for me.”  —George & Ira Gershwin

Off Day or Just a Day Off

I had a feeling this was going to be an off day even before the alarm.

You know that place between wake and sleep? That place where ideas and warnings come to you? It’s that place where  “you see dead people.”  (Twilight Zone theme song playing) Not really, but I do wonder what my father must be thinking in the hereafter about my self-inflicted unemployment. Dad was always about work. Being idle was bad and being bored was unheard of. (Hear a German accent) “You must work. You must think of your old age.”  Pop that’s all I’ve been doing, is thinking of my old age. Pop, I’m doing everything I can think of to find a job, I swear.

This morning as usual I did some job searching and to my disappointment found absolutely nothing new, it was a total void. That made me a little nervous, alright a lot nervous, and I started thinking the worse. Are the employers pulling back? Is this the beginning of the double dip recession they keep talking about? What if I never get another job again? Want to talk about some really wild thoughts? I took those insecurities everyone has and ratcheted them up 10 fold. There came a point when I realized it was time to step away from the computer, and divert my attentions to other things, mindless things, like the morning newspaper.

So I to sat down on our sway back sofa and started to read the paper. I say started because at some point I fell dead asleep. I awoke with a start when the dog was going nuts for who knows what reason. I had slept for almost 2 hours.  Holy moley! I jumped straight up and started those chores I had slotted for today.  Afterall, I have to earn my keep some how.

Now my dear sweet husband has never said otherwise and has been nothing but supportive in my unemployment but I have the feeling I’m not pulling my weight in our household. When I was working I earned my keep by bringing money into the house. Now that I’m not earning money I need to pay my way in kind. All those chores I just never got around to for one reason or another are on that “to do” list I spoke of in a previous posting. If I don’t have a job that contributes to the household with currency, I’ll contribute to the household with my labor. I don’t know what I’ll do when I run out of maintenance jobs. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, but for now when I have an off day or want to take a day off I just take a look at my list.

Digital Black Holes

This is ridiculous; I’ve been at my desk for most of the day. I know, you’ve heard me say it before, but it’s worth say it again, job hunting is definitely not for sissies. You drop resume after resume into various HR blind mailboxes, aka black holes and never hear anything back. It’s enough to make even an optimistic person feel down in the dumps. Good thing I had a little something to break the monotony of day. That lady I got the email from yesterday, called, and we had a mini interview. It was nice to hear a human voice, and she was very complimentary of my skills and demeanor. I can’t lie it felt pretty good, even if I never hear from her again. She said she would call next week, like I haven’t heard that before, but hope springs eternal.

Just a short while ago an email came across from the temp agency I signed up with, the one were the audition went so badly. Seems they may have a two-week assignment next week. Another wait and see. I remember the military being a lot like this, hurry up and wait.

Outside of job searching, I did take a little time today to photograph an old desk and baker’s rack I want to sell on craigslist.org. I had to download the software for our camera and go through all sorts of gyrations to get the photos to uploaded, but I have it now. If I’m lucky, maybe, I’ll never have to use it again. There must be more than 100 images on the thing. My husband would kill me if I accidentally deleted something.

Anyway, I got the pictures uploaded to my computer and then attached to their respective ads on craigslist. I sure hope they sell and this is not another digital black hole. These are great pieces of furniture. I just don’t have a use for them any more. You never know unless you try. The last time I used craigslist was to sell our 1996 BMW and it sold right quickly.

If this craigslist experience goes well, maybe I’ll try to sell some of the other things I have piled up and never use.  My basement and closets are not unlike the Island of Misfit Toys. It would be nice to find a home for them. No, I’m not going around the bend. I’ve not assigned human characteristics to inanimate objects, but it was a little spooky when the closet door in my office opened up all by it’s self and a stuffed cow fell out. Coincidence maybe, maybe not.

Busy, busy, busy

I love it when I’m busy. It makes the day go by that much faster. You turn around and it’s 2:00 pm and you still haven’t had lunch, that’s busy. I remember when almost every workday was like that, however now my activity is of my own making or self-inflected if you like. In the late afternoon, as the day winds down I often reflect on what sort of day it was. I find myself wondering, was I really busy or was it just busy work? The longer I’m on my own, the more that line seems to blur.

I still haven’t finished my home office entirely. The last several days it’s been to damp to paint, but the organization of my stuff is almost complete. I’ve tossed the majority of the superfluous junk I’ve been holding onto. An interesting find were zip disks I had been saving from more than 15 years ago.  They held a cornucopia of files, pictures of my father, daughter, husbands, husband’s parents, and work projects I’d done. I also had a couple disks with some of my personal art on it. Good thing I had the foresight to take pictures, before I destroyed the originals. (Don’t ask, it’s an artist’s thing.)

Don’t get me wrong, there are still things that need to be culled out but that will have to be phase two.  Today, right now, at this very moment, that stuff still has sentimental value. Who knows maybe tomorrow I’ll feel different? I can see a time in the not to distant future when I wake up feeling angry or frustrated watch out. The rest of that  stuff will go. I only hope that feeling comes over me the day before garbage day. I’d hate to have “pitcher’s remorse” and have to dig through the trash.

I had the time, get me. I had some time this afternoon to apply to posting but noticed the duplications seem to be… duplicating. They’re like rabbits. Some I applied to more than 2 or 3 weeks ago. It’s a good thing I have my spread sheet on who I’ve applied to, or I could be sending my resume to the same organizations, over and over and over again. Although that might be a bad strategy, bombard a poster with my resume. Who knows maybe after the 12th or 13th they may just give me an interview. I’m bound to get a nibble that way. Cast a reeeeeeeeeeeeeally wide net.

No joke, just as I wrote the above sentence I got a nibble. It was a posting from craigslist. Someone wants to set up an appointment to have a phone interview. They wrote, “I would like to talk with you more about your experience. If you are interested.” If I’m interested? Really? Of course I’m interested.

Game on! (rubbing hands together.)

Some Assembly Required…

 …words that strike terror into the heart of most people over the age of 12. 

Yesterday and today I spent my day, in exclusion of everything, trying to assemble a workable office. Why assemble? I made the mistake of started tidying up and things got a little out of hand.

The room that is my office is an oversized closet with a closet, barely 9 feet by 12 feet. It has not been painted or really cleaned in years. I hate to guess how many years. Over that time it has become a sort of dumping ground for… well for just about everything, and the 9 x 12 has become even smaller. I should have taken a before picture. It sort of looked like one of those hoarder’s room, from that show Buried Alive. Just to give you an idea of the junk in here, I have pay stubs from 3 jobs ago, a couple of broken light timer, and lead type for a name I no longer use.

You get the picture now.  So Tuesday as I was sitting in those surroundings of my office/junk heap, I got the brilliant idea that if this office were organized, fresh, clean, and “feng shui” the job of job searching might not be so unpleasant. I would be more inclined to spend time here and if I get some freelance work it’ll be nice to hang out here. In theory this all just seemed like an easy project, now into the second day, I may have bit off more than I can chew.

Pitching the junk is harder than you might think. It all has sentimental value. If it didn’t, why would I have moved it 3 times? So I moved one more time, into the guest room. I’ll sort more brutally this weekend.

Yesterday I painted 3 walls before I ran out of time/energy. This morning I went to Ikea and got a bunch of storage, and desk, and have spent hours assembling it. My hands ache. After it’s been assembled, I sat at what is my new desk and looked out the window and realized this was a good idea. I see trees, birds, and the sky no matter if I’m at my computer or drafting table. I have nature to inspire me. I already feel better.

I wonder should I add to my resume that I capable of assembling Ikea furniture like fiend. I’m sure there’s a demand for that skill somewhere.

A Month Gone

It’s been a month since I was thrust into this new life, the life of an unemployed professional. I shouldn’t complain. I’m one of the lucky ones. I live in a nice house, have plenty to eat and my husband loves and supports me. Why then do I feel so … restless?

I have a laundry list as long as my arm with things to do over an above job-hunting, yet I can’t seem to get started. I’ve even entertained giving up this blog. How many times can I write, I went on line and applied to job posts, not exactly riveting stuff.

My first week and a half seemed to go by productively. I had a couple meetings, an interview, and a handful of inquiries but I think I may have hit a dry patch. It’s rather apropos considering the country is in a drought too.

This Sunday when I called my mother, and after she told me about her week, she asked me her usual question, “What did you do this week?” I’ve always answer the same way, nothing, and then add, “Ich erleib nichts.” (I experience nothing) I’ve used that line for more than 10 years to deflect her enquiries and she has seldom pressed. Who would have thought those 3 little words would become so prophetic.

I spend my days putzing around, doing nothing and doing everything. In the quiet of my days, I listen to sounds that are unique to my home. Even now, I hear the dog vocalizing in her sleep. She’s probably chasing that elusive rabbit, or some squirrel that tormented her from a tree, I hear the rhythmic whirling of the dishwasher, and the gentle whisper of the ceiling fan above me. A peaceful environment for self-reflection and reflect I do. Good thing I know how to be alone. Those months in a guard tower in the Arizona desert were excellent training for this experience.

I believe I can understand how people who are laid off slide into a funk. Each day I must be vigilant and not go down that path of self-doubt and questioning myself. It takes a lot of energy and each morning I remind myself that I need to rededicate to the journey and that tomorrow is another day.

Insights

Is that an opportunity I see on the horizon or just a dust storm? After the fiasco of last Friday my money is on a dust storm. I’m still mortified at my performance on that stupid test. Early this morning I actually wrote them an apology. This has to be a first, a candidate writing an apology email. Folks, I’m starting a new craze. Instead of a thank you notes, I’ll start send apology notes.  I’m sure that will instill confidence into a prospective employer. Then again maybe not!

This weekend I got together with my inner circle of friends. We usually play a few hands of Mah Jong but this weekend we just talked. They gave me some wonderful perspectives on being unemployed and bless their hearts offered me work. Yes ladies, I would definitely paint your living room, dining room, and hall and organize your basement. Only thing, I won’t take money. They are my good friends and while I’m off I’d be glad to lend a hand.

This AM I devoted some extra time looking for freelance gigs. I’ve said this before, but I need to be busy. If I can’t find a full time job at least I can try to get some freelance gigs so I don’t feel so unproductive. I’m a layout machine. I’ve wonder should I back pedal and approach my former employer about doing some layout work for them? I know that work like the back of my hand. I did it for almost 8 years. When I left I told myself, I didn’t want to do that, work for them, but… We’ll see. Who knows maybe they don’t even want me to do work for them. That’s quite possible with the way my boss felt about me.

I’ve been working on this blog for well over an hour now, and I’ve read, and reread what I’ve written. My brain does not appear to be working in a linear fashion today. Time to redirect. I’ve spent enough time on this job hunting thing and this blogging thing for one day. It’s time do some things around the house that will be productive. However, before I can earn that feeling of accomplishment I really should do some physical torture. I don’t know. I don’t feel like it. It’s still early. Maybe a nap instead and then some ice cream. Nothing says accomplishment like a nap on a lumpy couch, and refrozen ice cream. I’m sold!

Performance Anxiety

in·ter·view (noun), [ íntər vy ], meeting for asking questions

au·di·tion (noun), [ aw dísh’n ], test performance by candidate

These two simple words when used in context with a job search can strike fear even in the bravest and stoic of applicant. Yes, I had an interview/audition today. It was with a temp/contract agency. At first I was excited at getting a call. Then as I had more time to think about it, hesitation set in. However, being a woman of honor, I confirmed the appointment, and I was damn well going to keep the appointment, despite my nerves. If I were a superstitious person, I would say this was just not meant to be.

I gave myself 45 minutes more than I needed to get there. I figured I could sit in my car and kill time, if I got there early. As things turned out, I was 5 minutes late for the appointment. Some yahoo had flipped their car on the beltway and traffic was backed up for miles. My entire buffer, plus, was eaten up crawling in traffic.  When I finally arrived for the “interview”, I was given a fist full of paperwork to complete, and given a cursory introduction to an employee packet. Not like any interview I’ve ever been on.  I was then asked to do an “audition”, lay out three pages with text and art. I do this sort of thing all the time, and I’m ashamed to say, I choked. I only got about half way thru before time was up. I struggled with the machine, I struggled with the directions, but mostly I struggled with myself. I was so nervous my hands actually shook. When the time was up I was asked if I wanted more time but I declined. It wasn’t going to get any better. I was just to frustrated to go on. I thanked them for their time, and left with what little dignity I had. Bottom line, 5 hours of my life, including travel, and I choke. I’m so angry with myself. If this isn’t classic performance anxiety I don’t know what is.  I wonder how often actors have the same problem, just totally flub an entire audition. I seriously doubt they will be contacting me for any work.

After I finally got home from that humiliation, I didn’t have the heart to face that torture machine, aka elliptical. I think I’ll just lick my wounds, write an email of apology to the agency, and start new next week.

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