A Day In the Life

June 6, 2011: A day in the life of an unmeployed person that is, at least this one.  

Today is Monday. On the one hand, you employed folks might think how great it would be to not got to work on a Monday. However, when you have had two years worth of no-work Mondays, and no paychecks, Mondays takes on a whole new meaning! It’s yet another week when you hope this just might be the week you find a job, or yet another week that you won’t. 

Many mornings I start my day by going to one of the job networking groups that meet nearby. These groups are often held in churches and follow a similar format. The job seeking attendees take turns introducing themselves and giving their “elevator speech” – a bit about their work background and their current job search. A moderator keeps things moving along. Sometimes a speaker might speak about various topics related to job hunting, such as interviewing or resumes or using social media, such as LinkedIn, to find a job. People that have been out of the job hunting loop for quite some time – 10 to 20 years – are often puzzled by all the changes in the job seeking world. Gone are the days when you cracked open the Sunday paper, circled some want ads and snail mailed off a couple of resumes!

However, I am not going to a job group this Monday morning, because I have a job interview (yay!) at 10:00 am via the phone with a company I sent my resume to while I was still in ND. I sit down at Job Hunting Central, which is my desk/office area in the second bedroom of my apartment. It’s not the tidiest area of my apartment. I once had a boss in an employment review criticize me for my messy desk. I wanted to tell him if my desk wasn’t messy, it meant I wasn’t working! He was the same boss who criticized me for chewing gum on the bullet train during a business trip to Tokyo. Ok so maybe that wasn’t the best thing to do on a trade mission with high-end Japanese Muckety-Mucks, but I was only 23 years old!

I first peruse several job boards that post jobs in my field of public relations. Many job seeking experts say most jobs are found through networking or word-of-mouth. I have found jobs that way, but have had the most success applying for jobs from career specific job boards, or by targeting companies that I thought would be a good fit for both me and the target company.

All of this – networking, searching for jobs, researching companies, applying for jobs, etc., takes time. Since I have been out of work, one of the first questions I am asked in an interview is “what are you doing now” or what have you been doing since your last job?” Anyone who has spent more than a short time out of work knows that serious job hunting takes time – a lot of it. Most employment experts say you should treat job hunting as “a” job and devote as much time to it as a regular job. And they are right.

I find a couple of jobs that sound interesting and crank out some cover letters and resumes. These days it’s common thinking that you tailor your resume for each position – no mass mailing of the same resume. However even though I’m a writer, I am not a fan of writing cover letters. Maybe because they can be so repetitive or sound a bit false. 

To keep me company in my search are my cats Jenny and Cinder, who are as opposite in personality and temperament as they are in their coloring! (Note to non-cat/animal lovers – you might want to skip the next paragraph!)

My cat Jenny taking a break from planning my next road trip.

I have had Jenny, a calico, since she was a kitten. When I was living in Washington DC, a friend brought her from a farm in West Virginia. Cinder, who is grey, came from an all cat shelter as an adult cat. I think Cinder spent some tough days as a street kitty and maybe got in one too many alley brawls, because she sometimes doesn’t seem all there! Lately, she has started hissing into the air for no apparent reason (ghosts maybe?) Jenny, on the other hand, is one feisty, rather haughty little kitty, who can be a bit of a bully. I had a dog once, Sammy, who was afraid of Jenny, even though Sammy was four times her size!

Ok, so enough animal talk! But really they do keep my company! It’s approaching the time for the phone interview, so I read over the job description again and review the company. I also review answers to questions such as ‘what are your long-term career goals?”and “why do we think we should hire you” and I think most job seekers’  least favorite question “what is your biggest weakness?”

The phone rings promptly at 10:00 am. Here we go! The interview lasts about a half hour, and I think it goes well. It’s hard to tell with phone interviews since there is no face-to-face interaction. A couple of questions throw me for a loop. This is when my experience being interviewed by reporters comes into play. You have to think fast, and I think I come up with satisfactory answers!

With the interview finished, I compose some thank you emails. Then it’s time to move on to the next job application. Job seeking and interviewing is kind of odd in that you have to completely embrace a possible job, research the heck out of the company, write a killer cover letter, tailor your resume, put your heart and soul into the interview, express your deep desire for the job, and then, let it go.  Because after the interview, your resume might go in the round file, and you might never hear from the employer again. I once flew to Chicago, at my own expense, for an interview. I sent follow-up thank you emails. And then I waited. And waited. And never from them again. Not a single peep.

Or the employer might call you back with a job offer or a request for a second interview. You just never know.

So there’s a little insight into A Day In The Life.


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