Now I have to frantically plan a 1200-mile move and find housing from six states away. But in a couple of months, if everything goes well, I’ll be a brand new Masshole!
I’d done my best to move up from being a Clerical Chick by getting a project management certification during the pandemic. Admin work is important and I don’t mind it, but it’s often very low-paid relative to its actual value. Executive assistant jobs weren’t right for me and I was underqualified for the good ones, but working with project documentation is a perfect fit. There will be more certification to come and hopefully an actual future.
I had a great temp job last summer at a nice office with terrific people. I would have gladly taken a permanent role with them if one had been offered. But I’m glad to be leaving here. The state legislature is well on its way to giving Florida a run for its money and I’m done with all the tornadoes.
Coordinator roles are like admins on steroids; instead of managing phone calls and visitors, or taking care of an executive, you get to wrangle project schedules, documents, vendors, and other fun things. I did some of it at my old job, which gave me some selling points for landing this one.
As far as this blog is concerned, I’m not sure if I’ll transition it or leave it. I do need to finish writing the last book of my trilogy, and all the fun of Beantown awaits. But I’m sure there will be something new to talk about workwise. Maybe I’ll change it to Coordinator Chick.
If you’re job hunting and getting discouraged, I feel you, but don’t give up. Just don’t. Keep trying. Someone out there needs exactly what you have to offer. And they’ll be smart enough to realize how lucky they are to get you.
This will likely be my last post about job hunting. Because I’m sick of it. Sick of the repetition, sick of the constant criticism, sick of being blamed for factors that are out of my control. I’m sure I’m not the only one in this pickle.
I had interviews that led to second interviews and went very well (I thought), only to not get hired. At least two companies where this was the case, one here and one in my target state, ghosted me. Getting a job out of state is hard. Getting one out of state if you’re unemployed is nearly impossible. The only thing I know to do is keep trying.
I can’t control the job market in my current state, where austere and even vicious legislative policies have supressed wages and development. I’m not responsible for a global pandemic. I’m also not responsible for the ridiculous notion that unemployed people are unemployable.
The last one is especially pernicious. I’ve freelanced, published three books by myself under my own imprint that I created, and earned a project management certification. I’m actually more qualified than before all this started, and I’ve been more productive. But because I’m not sitting at a desk answering someone’s phone for $11 an hour or cutting up lettuce in a kitchen, jobs that while valuable in themselves are below my actual skill and experience level, apparently I don’t pass some kind of mystical worthiness test.
Did I apply for those jobs as subsistence? Of course! Guess what? No one hired me. They probably assumed I wouldn’t stay long. While they weren’t wrong, we’re talking entry-level jobs with very high turnover anyway. Receptionists and food service workers might stay longer if they weren’t treated (and paid) like serfs, because that is hard work.
I’ve received so much criticism during this job search. The fiction some people make up in their minds is breathtaking. I’m doing everything I know to do within the confines of my specific situation as best I can. If something new comes along that fits, I try it. But I can’t make it work or force someone to hire me.
If someone in your life is job hunting, you may be tempted to offer advice or suggestions. Please, just don’t. Don’t do this unless they specifically ask for help. If you want to support them, here’s what you can do.
Let them vent if they need to
Looking for work is frustrating even if it’s going well. They might need to blow off steam but that doesn’t mean they want advice. If you’re not sure, ask them: “Are you looking for suggestions, or do you just want to vent?” If the answer is “vent,” listen without judgment.
You’re not obligated to be a sounding board if it’s stressful for you. It’s okay to tell someone “I’m sorry I’m not the best person to confide in right now because [cat’s operation, dying relative, whatever]. But I’m hoping for the best for you.”
Help, but only if they ask
No need to pepper them with job listings and suggestions. “Have you tried…” is the last thing people who have tried everything want to hear. You can offer to connect them with employers in your network if you know they’re hiring for the kind of work your friend or family member is seeking, but make sure you know what that is first.
Make your offers specific, and ask before plowing in like a bull in a china shop. It should also be something you can actually help with.
Ask them about other things, not just the job search
Don’t force them to tell you they don’t want to talk about it. Did your person start a class or amp up participation in a favorite hobby? Ask about that instead. Job seekers are not just job seekers. They’re worthy for reasons other than employment status. If you only ask about the work search, it feels like you don’t care about them as humans.
Unemployed job seekers operate on a greatly reduced budget. They won’t have the cash to do all the social things they enjoyed before that unexpected layoff, termination, or shutdown. As a result, they can easily become isolated, which only exacerbates depression and loneliness. You don’t have to buy them lunch every day, but they will appreciate a meetup for coffee (your treat, or something they can afford), going for a walk, and a message or call to see how they’re doing.
They may also be embarrassed to ask for necessary help, especially since our society treats people in poverty as though it’s their fault (it’s not). If you notice a situation like food insecurity or a health issue developing, you can help them access resources.
For any job hunters who come across this post, keep at it. The landscape of employment is changing; in fact, a lot of things are changing. That’s down to the pandemic but also to the fact that people are tired of putting up with crap and they’re demanding those changes—remote work, unionizing, and more.
I’ve been temping this past week (yay!) and I’ve been too tired to look at job posts when I get home. So I’m taking advantage of today’s holiday to spend some time combing through the usual online job boards.
You would expect the last two years to usher in some real change in the world of work, but alas, it appears that is not the case. It’s my opinion that many employers don’t truly understand the Great Resignation and I despair that they ever will.
Those struggling to find gainful work have always been urged to bolster their skills — going back to school, earning certifications, or taking advantage of cross-training if their current job allows it, which many don’t. I myself earned a project management certificate in 2021 thanks to the state department of Workforce Development (hey, Missouri doesn’t ALWAYS bork everything up!). Now they’re offering free Coursera classes, but honestly, I’m not sure there’s any point.
I’m not seeing much change in job posts from before the pandemic. Particularly in support positions, which is where I’ve spent most of my career. I don’t know if they haven’t bothered to update them or if they’re really this clueless. The posts are chock-a-block with the same tired elements.
1. Jobs posted as entry-level but requiring 3-5 years of experience. In different industries your mileage may vary, but for administrative jobs, that is NOT entry-level. I know why they’re doing it—it’s because of number 2.
2. If they class a job as entry-level, then they can pay at the lowest possible end of the pay range. If they’ve even bothered to share what that is. Employers still can’t seem to force themselves into even the most basic transparency.
3. Free food, ping-pong tables, gyms, etc. in lieu of market-rate pay. These perks lifted from start-ups and tech firms are designed to make you more comfortable in the office. Why? Because you’ll be there for hours and hours and hours every day.
4. Ads that say REMOTE WORK but aren’t really remote, as in, “You must be onsite at least two days per week.” Or the job is work from home but says “Local candidates only.” By all means, don’t consider anyone out of state who could be a terrific employee and really wants to move. This is the only one that has changed even a little bit, but it’s still not enough.
5. The old saw that anyone who’s unemployed must be unemployable, an attitude that has grown even more pernicious after many people lost their jobs during the (still-ongoing) pandemic through no fault of their own or quit due to untenable and even dangerous working conditions. No, they must be lazy or entitled, because
As I said earlier, I’m not sure there is any use in spending time completing yet another course or credential when a B.S., an A.S., and a CompTIA Project+ certification aren’t enough to get me off the front desk. I’d rather use that time to write the third book of my trilogy, both so I can offer a box set and because a ton of people won’t start a series until it’s finished.
I’m grateful the staffing agency reached out to me for my current assignment. Not only is the client company a fairly decent place to work, with nice people, but it’s a great way to ease myself back into an office routine again. It will be interesting to see whether it helps me find something. I’d love to see if they can handle the challenge of placing me in a direct-hire position in my target state.
The only advice I can offer if you’re looking for work is this: don’t give up. I’m certainly not planning to. [Edit 7/19: I’m about to give up. 😦 ]
A recruiter in my target area (Massachusetts) contacted me on LinkedIn recently for a job that unfortunately turned out to be here (Hell) and ultimately didn’t sound like a good fit for me. She told me that recruiters often search by location and suggested I highlight my intent to move far, far away a bit more prominently. I changed my location and moved the paragraph that refers to relocation closer to the top of my summary.
I was already tweaking my profile before this happened and because I am a massive Marvel geek, I had a little fun. I also have a portfolio site, but I decided not to post my nerd revisions there or on LinkedIn in case it made the situation worse (though I don’t see how it could, to be honest).
But since this is my blog and I can post whatever I want, BEHOLD.
You need someone to assist with your mission. I need money. Let me introduce myself.
I’m a writer, editor, and administrative coordinator with experience in substantive editing and document control, basic project management, content and creative writing, and desktop publishing. I hold a B.S. in English and an A.S. in Criminal Justice from XYZ University. For a short time in 2013-2014, I studied technical writing at STATE University.
Based on my career trajectory, I earned a CompTIA® Project+ certification in June 2021, thanks to the STATE Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development. They offered training to workers displaced by the COVID Infinity Stone—oh sorry, I mean the COVID-19 pandemic.
Think of me like Spider-Man—I do a lot of helpful things around the neighborhood.
I can’t fly or take the full force of a star.
Numbers are my Thanos. Payroll or complex financial work would pass to Pepper Potts, but I’m a whiz at careful data entry. I can write SOPs and checklists other people can use if I’m off on a secret mission. I can manage a simple budget or at least let you know if we need more of Tony Stark’s cash.
Writing! Books, instructions, and informational content flow out of my fingers like webbing.
I’m really great at process improvement and thinking up new and more efficient ways to streamline your operations on Earth or across the galaxy.
I can edit your documents, especially for clarity and consistency. Your grammatical errors will fade into the distant past. Need to put together reports and e-books? Lay(out) it on me!
I can make really nice PowerPoint presentations and even interactive quizzes suitable for a touchscreen—I’m enormously proud of the Infinity War quiz I created for a friend’s birthday.
I can also make videos in PowerPoint (meh), HD Movie Maker Pro (better), and HitFilm Express (best, though I’m new at this one). I can edit music (Audacity) thanks to operatic training and fifteen years of figure skating.
Need an informational flyer with a fun graphic? I got you. I taught myself how to use GIMP to make e-book and paperback covers for my own publications. It’s similar to Photoshop but free since being a fledgling superhero isn’t very lucrative.
With my considerable experience, I can bring order to chaos, assist a client, and help save your world. I look forward to a new opportunity and I welcome the chance to expand both my creative and technical knowledge.
You could be Nick Fury and guide me into a more specialized role as a true Avenger!
This article by Suzanne Lucas, aka Evil HR Lady, dropped into my inbox this morning. I started to write a comment, but as sometimes happens, it turned into a blog post.
Go ahead, read it. I’ll wait.
Unfortunately, situations like this one are very common. I was unemployed before the pandemic, and it’s like running the gauntlet. I’ve filled out hundreds of applications and written a stack of cover letters.
Even without factoring in COVID, I’ve run into companies that do the following:
Make candidates go through an entire process only to reveal at the end that the salary isn’t livable. Just tell us up front what the job pays, please.
Want someone who will stay forever at $10 an hour (bahaha!).
Ask for 3-5 years of experience for an entry-level job—at entry-level pay. I even saw one post expecting a fully certified PMP for $18 an hour. Good luck with that.
Demand a degree for a job that doesn’t require one. This is a form of gatekeeping that disproportionately affects lower-income and minority candidates.
Want candidates who have extensive experience with one particular software; nothing even remotely related will do even if the functions are exactly the same.
Expect 24-hour availability for a part-time job, thus preventing you from getting another part-time job to make ends meet (retail and food service do this a lot).
Refuse to consider anyone who’s unemployed. Hello, if I were employed, I wouldn’t NEED a job.
Refuse to implement pandemic safety protocols for their employees and/or customers. One manager ranted at me when I showed up to the interview wearing a mask.
Finally, one of the worst: expecting candidates to prepare for an interview, sometimes more than one, and then ghosting them. And no, you don’t get a pass for sending me a rejection email five months later.
Candidates should not ghost employers, either; it’s rude no matter what. If you don’t want the job or you change your mind after being hired, let the manager know like a damn adult. But I would bet money this is not anywhere near as prevalent as employers blowing off candidates. The pandemic pulled back the curtain on the many flaws and deep-seated inequities in how hiring and labor works in the U.S.
It’s not totally hopeless. People do find jobs after long periods of unemployment. Good employers exist. For the rest, the pressure is on to improve. To get and keep good employees, companies are going to have to step up their game.
Part of that includes looking out for the health and safety of their employees. The Biden administration has implemented a vaccine mandate (pending as of this writing) for employers with 100 or more workers. A smaller company would be wise to do this too, as well as keeping remote accommodations in place for disabled workers, particularly those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.
Because yes, we are judging you. Viruses aren’t capable of caring to which party you pledge your allegiance. They’re only interested in getting into your nose.
The only thing we can do is keep trying. It helps that I’ve earned a project management certification and indie published three books. This shows I haven’t been idle. Fiction writing is work, and I’ve had to learn how to use graphics and video editing software on my own. Even if you haven’t done these things, you deserve a good job with an employer who will treat you with dignity and fairness.
It may be rough, but even a bad storm will pass. We’ll get through it. Hang in there.
Comments are turned off for this post because I don’t want to get into a vaccine debate with y’all. Go somewhere else for that.
I’ve had three different staffing companies tell me they can’t place me because I’ve been out of work too long. COVID-19 is making that worse; no one is hiring, the jobs available aren’t a great fit for me (because accounting and bookkeeping), and if I work in food service or retail, not only will I be forced to run the cash register, but I will get sick. I can’t afford to get sick, nor can the relative with whom I’m staying (who thinks she already had it, but there is no guarantee you can’t get it again, and it can be worse on a second round).
Plus, I tried that in OldCity, and no one hired me; I guess they (rightly) assumed I would bail when something better came along, since nearly everyone in food service with any other experience at all does this exact thing.
Recently, my state’s career center posted a news item stating that they were offering free CompTIA training for workers displaced by COVID. CompTIA issues professional certifications for all kinds of IT jobs, a field that will only grow in future. Since the Plaguepocalypse has derailed my job search, I took a chance and filled out the application.
And someone called me!
Part of my old job duties entailed basic project and workflow tracking. Dyscalculia doesn’t exactly lend itself to computer programming and I’m not well-versed in hardware maintenance, so I figured the project management course would be the best fit for me.
They checked to ensure I was eligible (as a long-term unemployed person, I was), and then the blow fell: I would have to take the Wonderlic test to qualify. As in, that timed, pre-employment screening quiz with a lot of math on it.
This led to a crazy-go-round of accommodation requests, but when the paperwork finally settled, Wonderlic agreed to overnight a paper copy to the career center, where I was allowed to take the test in person with a calculator. No timers. Thanks to these ADA accommodations, I passed!
Today, I received the links to take the course, at my own pace (which will probably be at the speed of light). I don’t think I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo this year. No worries; I’m still working on the second book in my trilogy. It’s with my editor and we’ve got a long slog before it’s ready to send out into the world. Book Three can wait a bit. Besides, I could still get a job.
I don’t know how this will play out or if it will help, but I think it will. I’ve already seen several job listings where the project management training and certification would have given me a leg up. A pandemic won’t stop me; I have extensive experience with working remotely, plus I might even find a role that would finally get me out of here.
If you’re interested in similar assistance, it wouldn’t hurt to check out resources in your area. You can find a lot of information at careeronestop.org. I would not have thought my very red dumbstate would offer such a thing (and I wish they’d done it earlier), but I’m really glad I took a chance on it. We’ll see how it turns out.
I’m off to give blood today. In the meantime, stay safe, wear your mask, and wash your hands. And don’t forget to vote!