Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tales from Unemployment (Installment 1)

I haven't been sleeping well - well, I never sleep well - but I've been waking at 3 am every night and every night I throw my hands up in the air and screech, "Are you kidding me?!"  I gave Matt permission to sleep in the guest bedroom because I can't imagine it's fun to share a bed with an incessant insomniac, especially one who screeches.

There are no good things about insomnia, but today it did get me out of the house at dawn and down to the river trail with Penny.  We walk it often: it's a minute drive from my house and closely hugs the Schuylkill River for three beautiful miles of woods and water.  It's busy on the weekends but near empty at dusk and dawn, so I took her off the leash and we strolled, inhaling the crisp morning dew.  Everything was glistening and I could see the puffs of Penny's breath as she trotted before me, looking back every minute or so in puzzlement as to why her two-legged owner was so darn slow.

And the bluebells are out.  Their periwinkle bonnets are glorious and carpet the forest floor.  Earlier this week, on Monday when it was 80 degrees, we saw turtles, so many of them, basking on logs in the river, their flat shells shiny and smooth  When Penny would leap and bound toward them they hulled themselves into the water and, with their heads peeking out, looked at us wearily.  We also spot a mysterious swan occasionally.  There are tens of geese, with their bothersome honking and bickering, but amidst all that cacophony is a lonely swan floating slowly down the river.  I didn't know swans lived in rivers.  I'm not sure where I thought they lived - parks? 

It's good to have these moments so I can unwind from the truly awful interviews I've had.  I'm not sure when being antagonistic became an interviewing style, but I've had the displeasure of going to two interviews where I felt a bit berated and where I was constantly prepping for the next sneering question.  I work in the recruiting field and I've always made my interviewees feel comfortable and welcomed, and our interviews were lively conversations sprinkled with laughs and puppies (okay; no puppies).  Now I feel like I have to down a drink before walking through the front doors.  To be fair, it was one interviewer at each company out of several and the big wig, and perhaps intimidation was their game.  But they both came off as pricks and left a severe distaste in my mouth for them and their organization.  And that's saying a lot for a girl who's desperate for a gig.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Singin' the Unemployment Blues

I have been unemployed a month.  A month isn't so long when you think about it, and I still punch out "Determined to enjoy this time off!!!" with three exclamation points in emails to friends and former colleagues and chirp "It is what it is!" when asked, but, when at home applying to jobs and watching Dr. Oz, it's apparent: I am officially down and out.  My special talent is getting an interview, even sometimes a second, and then never the offer.  Last week, while on Linkedin, I saw someone update their profile with their new title: a job I interviewed for.  Three interviews, really.  Usually when you are dismissed and rejected, you don't know who they opted for over you: it's a glorious ignorance.  This time I stared at the accepted woman's profile.  For ten minutes.  I read her accomplishments.   My failure was staring me in the face - a rather vibrant face with long chocolate hair and a smug smile (maybe I was reading into this a bit).  With my nose stuffy and my cheeks wet, I typed to Matt, "No one wants me!"  But he immediately responded with, "I want you."  and then "you'll find your match" which made me cry more. Because with every declination, I am disappointed in myself.  I'm embarrassed I'm not pulling my household weight. 

This post has taken so long to write because I get upset whenever I sit down to talk about my unemployment.  I've now had several interviews in which I was declined, and after each "thanks but no thanks" email my ego deflates just a bit more.  I've had poor luck, too: even when offered a contract position it was put on indefinite hold due to budgetary constraints.  After I told everyone.  And when I do interview it's invariably at a company that recently had lay-offs (you know, "strategic reductions") and their staff is over-worked to the tune of 11-hour days and constant travel and I think, "I just can't do this."  That happened last week at a company that boasts $12 billion in annual profit, but to what end?  

Maybe there are people who milk unemployment, but let me say this: there are many, many more of us who would take a drastic pay cut just to get out of the house and do something.  To contribute.  To feel like we add value again.