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Showing posts from March, 2014

A New Low

Today I received a rejection email for a position I don't even recall applying for. As if that in itself weren't bad enough, as it means I'm either senile or this company is taking a proactive approach to ensure they're not forced to read my ubiquitous cover letter, the whole thing brought back painful memories.

When I had only one child, who, on certain days, took pity on me and napped, I would write essays in an attempt to become the next Joel Stein or Anna Quindlan. I'd print them out and force my then-2 year old to listen to them during Wiggles commercials. Next, I would send them off to Newsweek, hoping that mine would be the 1 out of 1,000 selected to appear in the weekly mag's "My Turn" column.

How'd that go, you ask?  Oh, could I wallpaper my half-bath with the rejection letters!

As an English major, I was well-acquainted with the stories of all the heartbreaking rejections Hemingway and Joyce faced, and while I certainly wasn't com…

What's Your Theme Song? (A.k.a.: The "Eye of the Tiger" Fight)

So, my husband, who initially was skipping from room to room at the excitement of being released from his job in November, is beginning to grow despondent. While he really only began his search in earnest last month, he's garnered little interest thus far.

Earlier in my career, when I worked as a bond broker, enormous men with hair plugs and $5,000 watches would clap us rookies on the back and attempt to lift our spirits as we disturbed people during the dinner hour with our cold calls.

"It's a numbers game; just keep smilin' and dialin'," they'd say on their way to their mistress-and-martini-filled evenings. "Throw enough shit against a wall, some of it's gonna stick!" they advised before waddling off to their Jaguars.

Taking their words of wisdom to heart, I have turned my attention to helping my man send out as many resumes as humanly possible. (In other words, he needs to get out of the house before I put the money we have left toward…

This Week's Breadwinner

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I'd like to give a shout out to our family's breadwinner this week: our 8 year old, who, as president, founder and chief dog walker at "Ruff With Me," earned a cool $100 by caring for our neighbors' Shih Tzu.

It's a comfort to know we can count on his entrepreneurial spirit as my husband and I enter months five and three, respectively, without employment.

Another reason we're grateful our boy has this periodic gig is that in case things turn really dire, we can always "borrow" some of Oreo's food. If I hadn't seen it for myself, I would've supposed only Emeril's hound was served such a bounty. Like most dog owners, our neighbor believes nothing is too good for her pooch and, as such, this friendly furball feasts on a lovingly-rendered mixture of kibble and vegetables topped with a blend of shredded cheeses, moistened with a splash of chicken broth.

Now the kibble he can keep but if things continue down this path, I've alre…

Rejected!

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So, on second thought, maybe Tom Petty was wrong. Waiting isn't the hardest part, rejection is.

Phil sent me a brief email last evening that began with "Unfortunately...," pulling the plug on my tech startup fantasies. Though I'm not devastated, I'd be lying if I didn't admit it stings a bit - kind of like getting dumped by a boyfriend you knew wasn't "the one." It shouldn't feel like a loss, and yet...

It did take all my will power not to go all Bachelor-reject weepy on him and write back "Why? Why didn't they like me? I thought it was going really well?!?" I did inquire if they offered any feedback that might be helpful as I forge ahead. (Like maybe don't lead with, "Where'd you get that sweater?" when the interviewer says, "Anything you'd like to ask me?") He politely ignored that question and told me he'll be in touch if anything else comes along.

I did have a revelation on the train hom…

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

As my doppelganger Tom Petty likes to say, the waiting is the hardest part. While I'm relieved yesterday's interview is over, and not just because I was forced to shimmy across Manhattan like a geisha as my tights were, ironically, too tight, the truly most-anxiety producing part starts now: the wait. Will they make me an offer? If so, will it be a good one? And then, even more agonizing, the debate over whether it's the right fit begins.

So, while I sit on my couch, ears pricked like a German Shepherd, listening for Phil's call, let's review yesterday's events. First: the office itself. The elevator opened into the tightly-packed work space. I'm still thanking God I resisted the urge to tug my tights, with the crotch quickly descending to near-knee level, back into position just as I was deposited directly into the action.

While everyone was friendly and helpful, the actual d├ęcor made my attic, long on my to-be-cleaned list, look ready for a spread in Arc…

Why I'll Take This Job No Matter What

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I made a decision this morning - even if the job I'm interviewing for today turns out to be for the position of office shoe-shine girl, I'm taking it. (Phil, the recruiter, was a bit vague on what exactly I might be doing there, but have I mentioned we're desperate?)

Maybe it was a weekend filled with continuous, machine-gun-like blasts of coughing from my three children that helped me see that it's imperative I leave the house for the sake of my sanity. Or perhaps it's the fact that the longer I'm home, the more my living room couch has become like quicksand, sucking me into a paralytic stupor. But most likely it was the recently-released and incredibly depressing Princeton study, quoted far and wide, revealing that a mere 1 in 10 people who have been unemployed for six months or longer are hired annually. If that's the case, I have about three months before I have better odds of making my fortune at a dog track than of finding gainful employment.

While …

The Interview: Turning the Tables

Naturally, I've been thinking a lot about this upcoming interview as the list of things we need but probably shouldn't buy (gas grill, new lattice for under the porch and deck, refrigerator made sometime this century) is growing faster than the national debt.

My recruiter, Phil, said because this company "moves quickly" I should go in prepared, ready to ask any question I could think of that would help me make a decision should I receive an offer. I liked his way of thinking. Typically, the interviewee stresses about the things that could be asked of him/her. It probably doesn't help that I just read Glassdoor's List of the Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions of 2014. So I started to think, beyond the hours, salary and benefits, what are the things I'd really like to know. Here's the short list:
Can I wear Birkenstocks? I have toddler-sized bunions and it would really make my days a lot more comfortable, unless you're prepared to offer me a foot-rub…

Tech Startup or Elaborate Hoax?

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The recruiter and I have connected. Going into our 1 p.m. call yesterday, I still had reservations. First, his name is "Phil" - is anyone under 50 still named Phil? (Since I started watching "The Americans" last week, I'm convinced everyone is a spy with the fighting skills of an Olympic Judo champion, thus making it hard for me to remain open minded. And, wait a second, one of the show's main characters is named Philip! Coincidence? I think not.)

He sounded pleasant enough and he had the just the right amount of enthusiasm in his voice to make the whole thing seem perfectly plausible... until he used the phrase "tech startup." Throughout my career, my experience with writing and editing has been basically filling in a template or CMS (Content Management System-again with the acronyms!) as the young folks call 'em, created by someone sitting in another part of the building where they kept all the smart people. My feelings about technological a…

Unsolicited (and Really Bad!) Advice

When my husband lost his job in November, a few people (whom I'd like to see mauled by bears) suggested that he "take a few months off" to "process" this life event.

Unfortunately, this was just the kind of advice he'd been longing to hear. I, on the other hand, when he called from Penn Station to break the news before boarding his final commuter train of 2013, was more like, "Let's update your resume the split second after you file for unemployment!"

Oh, he was having none of that. I figured, ok, let him take a few days to enjoy his new-found freedom. As I've mentioned, he hadn't been happy at his job in a long time so I tried to play it cool while my blood pressure soared to near-stroke levels each time I heard him tell people, "What a blessing!" or "I just watched Letterman for the first time in two decades. It's incredible."

I was hoping a brief respite was all he needed before he came out of the attic, wh…

Knock Knock... Opportunity, Is That You?

After I finished loading the dishwasher last night, (yay, another rollicking St. Paddy's Day!) I checked my email, which is normally a giant letdown as my inbox generally overflows with Old Navy alerts and messages from class mothers seeking volunteers, (until I volunteer and they then write back to tell me they have enough volunteers - how many times should this occur before I take it personally?) only to discover a recruiter had reached out to me via LinkedIn.

I was a little leery as the subject line read: "I have an incredible opportunity for you." But I felt he showed sufficient restraint by not peppering that statement with exclamation points - definitely a red flag. And as I was equal parts desperate for "opportunity" and grateful that it wasn't another Nigerian money laundering scam or an ad assuring me there's still time to enlarge my penis, I opened it excitedly.

Skimming the email and his accompanying photo, this headhunter didn't look at…

(Not So) Great Expectations

While I try to begin each day with fresh hope and excitement, believing an amazing new career is just a few clicks away, as I scroll through countless job boards, those emotions are continually replaced by feelings of depression and inadequacy.

When did one single employee need to wear so many hats? I'm all for multi-tasking, heck, I've been known to unlock doors with my feet during a conference call while icing two dozen cupcakes. But as my job search continues, companies seem to keep upping the ante and I'm left wondering whose expectations are so unrealistic: the potential employers' or my own?

It is hard to keep one's spirits up when job descriptions are filled with seemingly-impossible-to-meet requirements such as:

Key skills should include (but are not limited to!) the following:
Must be prepared to spay and neuter C-level executives' petsIdeal candidate will welcome harsh, at-times blistering criticism Should be available evenings, weekends, holidays …

Offer Me Solutions, Offer Me Alternatives, and I Decline...

It's the end of my career as I know it and I feel strange...

So, after hours of repositioning paragraphs and plumbing the recesses of my brain to recall how many stocks are in the Dow, I received the call I'd been anxiously awaiting. I was offered the job I'd interviewed for last week.

Accepting it would be, in dating terms, the equivalent of getting dumped by Lenny or Squiggy in late January and then marrying George Clooney six weeks later. It was shocking in a way that made me want to put the phone down and look over each shoulder in "Who? Me? Really?" disbelief.

But the offer, with a well-respected, leading national news organization that would give me instant street cred, was not without its drawbacks (which is why I'm writing this and not busy gnawing corks out of champagne bottles with my teeth right now).

Going into the interview I knew that it was a "freelance contractor" position. In other words, don't expect any benefits, and when I s…

For My Next Trick...

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While we've been unemployed, my husband and I have had lots of time to mull a veritable cornucopia of potential career options. Though we were both in media, our experience now seems about as common as a finger tattoo and as relevant as a Sony Walkman.

So the question is: What do we do next?

When you have a job and a steady income, it's easy to fantasize about all you could accomplish if you weren't being "kept down by the man." But when faced with the terrifying freedom to make a fresh start, where do you begin?

I started by scrolling through my mental list of talents and interests. I had enjoyed gardening until I unearthed an underground bee colony last August. Several of these pests found their way into my bra, leaving me gyrating on my front lawn and whipping off my t-shirt in a weird Deadhead-meets-Brandi-Chastain-like dance. My neighbor, mowing his lawn, kept his head down, probably assuming I was having a heat-related seizure and it was best to let it ru…

Morrissey - My Unexpected Lifecoach

"I was looking for a job, And then I found a job and heaven knows I'm miserable now." -- Morrissey

On the heels of a recent job interview, I began thinking this: what if I were offered this job, would I take it, and if so, would I be happy there?

Yes, they served Starbucks in the cafeteria and the salad bar boasted sunflower seeds, yet I still wasn't sure I could see myself there.

Before I had a chance to really examine all possible scenarios, I heard the voice of former Smiths front man and consummate poet of desperation, Morrissey, say sotto voce: "I was looking for a job, And then I found a job and heaven knows I'm miserable now." He crooned in a continuous loop until I had to bring in my secret weapon of head-clearing, the "Happy Days" theme song (try it, it really works!) to eradicate it. Still, I couldn't shake the feeling that this might not be the right move for me. It would give me a reason to get dressed before noon, something I …

The Interview... (Subtitled: Yet Another Reason to Consider Anti-depressants)

So I arrived at the interview unscathed, narrowly escaping an errant crossing of the George Washington Bridge at the hands of that merry prankster, my GPS. (I've come to believe Ashton Kutcher is on the other side of that app recording everything as I swear like a rapper and dig through my cavernous purse to find the double-digit toll money while careening toward the "Last Exit Before Toll" sign with Maps man screaming, "Rerouting!!")

I was greeted by an affable security guard who looked a bit like a weathered Conan O'Brien and before long I was delivered to the testing area - a lonely cubicle with reams of paper, three No. 2 pencils and a fat pink eraser. Uh-oh.

Going into this whole affair, I was a bit apprehensive. I had a vision of my prospective boss laughing as I left the building. "She could list all the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills but she couldn't name the chair of the Fed!" He'd slap his knee before placing the inevitable c…

The Interview Outfit...(Subtitled: Another Reason to Consider Anti-depressants)

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With an interview looming, I decided it was time to finally brush my teeth, hair and cobwebs off my brain and try to find an outfit that doesn't scream, "We're on the verge of food stamps!"

Off to the mall I went, though I knew I had a better chance of seeing Jesus in the shoe department than finding an ensemble that convinced potential employers that I was competent and bore no resemblance to the woman who'd just sat on her couch for the past four weeks debating which "Family Feud" host was best (Richard Dawson, duh) and wondering if and when VH1's "Behind the Music" would be airing.

I'm sure everyone has faced this familiar irony: when you have nowhere to go, stores are teeming with clothing that is not only on sale but also makes your buttocks look like two, firm cantaloupes. But... when you need something even remotely passable to wear in fewer than18 hours, the only thing you can find makes you look like the Bee Girl from that Bli…

The Dreaded Dinner Party

Before losing my job, I never would've said that I was someone who found her identity through her career. In fact, when people asked what I did (writing, editing) I often wanted to tell them something else instead. Being a writer sounds more glamorous than it actually is and when people find out I've covered energy markets and town council meetings, their eyes typically glaze over faster than if I were detailing new Roth IRA restrictions.

Still, when someone asks, "Where do you work?" or "What do you do?" it's nice to have an answer. I guess I hadn't realized how often these questions popped up until I attended a friend's birthday party a week after I was let go.

Basking in the sympathetic glow, I answered each new acquaintance's inquiry this way: "Work? Oh, I was just laid off last week."

Unfortunately, their compassion was quickly replaced by full-scale interrogations worthy of a district attorney. "What will you do next?&…