Please Choose Me

This is my unemployment journal. I have never been unemployed before - so, this is a new/frustrating experience for me and my Cleveland-based family. I will write -- not wallow.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

You will be fortunate in the opportunities presented to you

... that was my fortune on Excite.com today.

Writing from the Albany International Airport at the moment where I had to PAY for Internet access in TECH VALLEY!!! I had access to free Wifi in the weirdest, most unlikely places for the past two days - places where my mobile phone couldn't find signals I was still able to log in free. [Including Mrs K's Kitchen yesterday morning where two blocks away cows crossed the road in front of my car - I'm NOT kidding!] But, in the airport the meter is running and I had to do because my flight is delayed for who knows how long because of severe weather conditions in Cleveland. Go figure the gateway to Tech Valley dinging me for a $5 setup and and $2.99 an hour.

I had a lovely day of interviews. The Chairman, President, VP Sales, and three members of the management team interviewed me. My face hurts from smiling so much. But then, the ultimate in affirmation "Y'now Mel, John doesn't understand why you want this job. He thinks you are overqualified and you should be making much more than this job pays." [Even though it pays $30K more than my last job...] "Well, the economic conditions in Cleveland aren't conducive to blah, blah, blah. And, my husband and I have come to the conclusion that other markets present us with many more opportunities than northeast Ohio at this time. We are secure in this decision and prepared to do whatever it takes to gain full employment." "Well everyone can't believe our good fortune in finding you among the mountain of applicants."

I spent the rest of my time looking for the hidden cameras. Man, I might actually get an offer...which would in many ways, save the day.

Wow. Wish you could see all of the unhappy faces trying to get back to Cleveland in the midst of severe weather [and economic] conditions. And me, still paying for wifi TECH VALLEY... oh, the irony ...still not recovering from that one!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

New rag in town

After last night's swimming lessons we decided to carry out from one of our favorite local spots: El Tango Taqueria - fresh Latin & Mexican grill. Fish (red snapper) tacos, tequilla lime sweet potatoes and baked vegetable burritos. (I'm grateful that my kids are open-minded and willing to try just about anything because I would really miss this place if we had to go to McDonald's for happy meals to satisfy after-swimming starvation...)

While waiting for our order to be prepared we found an issue of the Lakewood Observer - a new independent source for local news and opinion dated June 28, 2005. You can also read it online at www.lakewoodobserver.com

Monday, June 27, 2005

It's just not going to happen for us in Cleveland

My stomach has been in a constant state of upset these past few months. I've been waking up around 3-3:30am consistently since February in a state of panic. When I woke up this morning at 3:22am with my usual esophageal burning while scrambling for a Zantac I realized that I'm not anxious - just very sad.

So I welcomed the new day on my front porch thinking about how much our lives have changed because of my unemployment and how much more change I might have to foist on my family because it just not going to happen for us in Cleveland anymore.

I thought about how much my kids are going to miss going to the westside market early Saturday mornings, the Asian Plaza whenever the whim strikes us or just strolling Coventry. Or going to our favorite "joints" for weekend family breakfasts: John's Diner, the Borderline and the Highlander - where the white-haired men fresh from their lap swimming at Lakewood Y would order a side of bacon for just for my son (as a toddler) when he would join them in the corner booth while the blue-haired ladies would braid my (as an older toddler) daughter's long hair and flirt with the buff guys in the corner booth.

Playing with our lab at Rocky River beach, community parades and festivals. And spending many afternoons in amazing libraries. Will our next community have amazing libraries? Will I be able to take a van-load of teenagers to see Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight? Will we find a place like Malley's to celebrate every school concert and science fair?

These are only a small handful of things we take for granted as a family. Now I struggle to find ways to make my family excited about the "possiblities" of forging new favorites and memories. I received a relocation kit in FedEx last week which freaked out my older kids - as if to say "I'm not bluffing about this move thing..." Needless to say they really freaked out. I was awe-struck by how attractive it makes Tech Valley in New York seem. With the kit came an invitation for my husband and I to join the Executive Institute - a kind of mini Leadership Cleveland for new transplants so they are plugged in to the community shortly upon arrival. They have everyone meet for three hours, every other week for eight sessions where they introduce you to the Chamber membership, the arts, civic volunteer opportunities, the neighborhoods, etc. Not to mention the the "trailing spouse" programs to help connect them to the employment market, member recruiters and and network with other trailing spouses. They have organized in such an impressive manner that makes a prospective transfer feel very welcome. This is a very smart approach.

This is going to be a very long and emotional week. I fear this may be the week we choose to leave Cleveland as a family.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Seven days to a new job

I found this on MSN's website this morning. While this isn't necessary new information, I thought it was presented in a concise manner. In fact, I might give this approach a try if I don't receive a job offer in New York this week.

http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Custom/MSN/CareerAdvice/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=392&sc_cmp1=js_392_jshub_more7

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Let's just throw a dart at a map

Serious, serious discussions in our house this morning about acceptable and unacceptable employment markets. Specifically locations to which we would/would not agree to relocate. The winners are:

  • Cincinnati
  • Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky
  • Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, Tennessee
  • All Atlantic coastal states except Florida
  • Illinois, Wisconsin and select parts of Michigan
  • Pennsylvania, I suppose...if I have to...
I know this doesn't appear to be a very targeted/narrowed list but we felt as if we accomplished a lot by ruling out the locations that were just not feasible because of the distance from our family and friends. It also makes my search feel like a foregone conclusion that it just isn't going to happen for us in Cleveland anymore.

So now I move on to regional employment boards...

Coping with job loss

MSN posts advice on what to do if you lose your job. Its an easy read and not really ground-breaking. Sometimes it's just nice to know you've covered all the bases.

http://special.msn.com/careers/reinventyourcareer.armx?GT1=6617

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Practice round...

I have to say that the work I've done with my coach in the last three months has been the most rewarding of my career. Seriously. It's very liberating to have an opportunity to practice tough interview questions and then have some assistance in re-framing a response to really hit the target.

I'm convinced this is the reason my first round of interviews went so well and why I am feeling so relaxed in preparing for my second round next week.

It is an amazing and humbling experience to have someone who cares about your success - not about sparing your feelings - pull you aside and redirect your inclinations in content, context, attire, etc. etc. I think I'm a much stronger candidate for having experienced this and promise to share the wisdom in my new career wherever I happen to land.

Everyone should have access to this in life. [That, and a hair template so you never leave a salon with a stupid- looking, unflattering or ridiculously trendy haircut.]

Whoa Nelly!

Earlier this morning I stumbled across a really disturbing blog: http://uglyohio.modblog.com/ It seems as if John had a false-start in his blogging career but, I must say, some of these statistics are stupefying.

I sit here hoping that this is the by-product of bitterness over a forced relocation...

But why is Ohio at the top of every bad list and the bottom of every good list??

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Cautiously optimistic....

So, here it is.

First, the good news. I'm not a sociopath - I passed the psychological battery with flying colors. I'm also not vocationally deviant...my work-style, communications-style and values all match nicely with members of the firm. It would seem that I am a good fit. And, because we all still have warm and fuzzy feelings about our last meeting, I have been invited to return to New York to meet with the remaining partners/principals of the firm next week for round two of interviews. I must say that this news is quite a relief.

Still coming up empty-handed in northeast Ohio. I spent the last two days blitzing. I had to stop around 4:00 p.m. today because my eyes refused to focus clearly. Have many more opportunities to respond to/follow-up on tomorrow. So far, only three were located in Cleveland.

While it's exciting (and a minor ego boost) to be sought after...it's a bittersweet victory knowing that an offer will have us packing our Cleveland-centric lives to head to allegedly greener pastures.

Monday, June 20, 2005

These are classic!

Never could resist a good prank. Check these out:
http://www.pocket-lint.co.uk/newsimage.php?newsId=1318&image=5

Working with my head down. Writing like a maniac. More to follow....

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I'm just humoring him...

So, I spent my Saturday in Lowes and Home Depot shopping for materials to, in my dear husband's words: "get the house ready for a move at the drop of a hat. Wherever you find a great opportunity - we go!"

Right.

New carpeting. New laminate flooring in the kitchen. Ceramic tiles in the two bathrooms and back entry. Let's choose paint chips for every room in the house...

I love watching the home improvement shows but my husband's brain is having a violent reaction to the exposure. He has an urge to make everything neutral before the end of June. [I don't exagerate when I say not every project happens this quickly in our home. My oldest lived with nursery wallpaper until two years ago...] It would have been nice to actually have lived in the house that looks like our end of day plan.

My unemployment has freaked my husband out to such an extent he's actually working on the house. Not that it's a BAD thing!

Still not interested in relocating....

Friday, June 17, 2005

Marathon Woman

I have decided I am going to do a non-stop blitz of mailing for a 48-hour period responding to every posting that matches my criteria/skills/background in every area of the country I believe my family could tolerate. I plan to lock myself in the home office only stopping for the necessities.

I am also going to re-contact every lead I've received this year.

I will launch this quest on Monday.

Let's see what feedback this effort brings.

In the meantime, I will prepare to celebrate my husband as father with my children - garden like a wild woman in the cooler temperatures annnnnnddd sleep. Yeah, that's it. Sleep.

Come Monday, look out.

What would I have done differently?

I remind myself - frequently - that I want to live my life without regret because of the amount energy wasted by the unproductive emotions and frame of mind. So, it is with enormous guilt I occasionally wallow in my "shoulda-woulda-coulda" episodes followed by flashes of blinding anger. I don't want to be bitter.

I find that I replay the script of the past ten years in my mind as I slog through another day's pile of position postings - again, all outside of Ohio's borders. Would I still have a job if, instead of staying laser-focused on my responsibilities and results, I had become Cleveland's greatest suck-up? Would I have been less expendable? I find myself looking over my shoulder trying to figure out "why me?" and not obvious dead-wood, high-maintenance/trouble-making or luxury hires. [Honestly, how many administrative assistants does one really need?] What do I do to be staff reduction-proof in the future?

What a different world I would be in at the moment if everyone was measured by the results of their contributions and willingness to be held accountable.

This is who I choose to be. These are the values I pray have been imbedded my children's psyche's.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Consider this fair warning

After months of responding to hundreds of online job postings, my coach thinks I ready to e-mail, call and generally harass people in my rolodex. My elevator speech is honed. My verbal resume has been practiced. I'm in general good form as a result of my last successful round of interviews. She tells me that, for the first time in this business, she's finding that her clients are having equal success from every possible means of entry/introduction: print ads, online postings, networking, recruiters, etc. In the past success was heavily weighted toward networking which I have been putting off in hopes of going it alone.

I'm doing the print and online. I've had some good results with my recruiter contacts. Now I have to go bug people I like.

Maybe I'll clean the attic instead.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Some good - Some not so good

I have to say I am really impressed with my subscription to Upladder.com. For $25 a month, I receive a weekly listing of jobs in the $100K+ market - that don't pop up on every job board in America - deposited into my email box. Right now the only problem is staying on top of response to the new opportunities.

Well, one of the problems.

The other concern, of course, is how few opportunities appear in my home market. So each response represents a request to relocate. Please hire me so I can leave the place where my husband and I grew up; where we were educated; where we have been raising our children; and, where we play as a family. Unfortunately it's also the place from which 5 out of 6 of our best "couple" friends have moved.

I'm not in search of a decadent, fancy, extravagant lifestyle. I'm looking for a quiet, happy life which allows me to provide for my children and their education, take an occasional quiet, relaxing vacation. Replace or repair the things that need attention in our home. Not worry about our cars' state of repair.

I was told if I did well in school, worked hard, pleased my employer and played well with others - these things (and more!) would always within reach. It doesn't feel that way right now.

Sorry, I'm having a pity party which I promised myself I'd avoid.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Oh, and for the record...

Resume Rabbit sucks. All I've received since ponying up $60 is a constant barrage of other resume distribution services, career "marketing experts" to teach me how to present myself to the employer market, resume writing services and pyramid marketers with life-altering sales opportunities. In a nutshell, people who are hoping to own a piece of my checkbook because clearly - I'm a Rube. I pay for spam.

Don't fall prey. You can post your resume free of charge on every job board in the nation and get better response.

Again and Again and Again...

Today I responded to the same position for the third time. I'm not exagerating. First, posted on Monster.com by the company. Then again to an anonymous address via UpLadder. Now with the Management Recruiters International office in Raleigh-Durham. Same job. All inside one week. Wonder if anyone will actually follow-through.

For the first time since 1990-ish someone asked if I thought response was low because I'm female. Huh??? Man. I hope not. It never even occured to me that it might be a possibility. My coach has worked with me for a long time to get me to the right frame of mind for this search.

  • "Mel, you've paid your dues ten times over. I want to see you land in a great job with a great salary."
  • "Mel, you've got to stop apologizing for the fact you have such depth and breadth of experience. The problem is that most men look at a position and say, 'let's see, I have about 40% of the qualifications this employer is looking for so I'm eminently qualified.' While most women will say, 'I have 80% of what this employer is looking for...I'll check back in a year or two when I've acquired the rest of the skills they want.'
Somewhere around 25% of my energy is spent staying upbeat, energized and planning to do something every day to return to full employment. The remaining 75% is spent pounding through and responding to job postings; following up on leads from my circle of pals; and writing thank you notes.

Exactly how much of my energy should I devote to masking my gender?


Saturday, June 11, 2005

What was I thinking?

Scratch that last post. I must have been sleep-blogging. She is SO grounded.

Networking After Hours

Just sent my daughter's friend home. They had apparently been talking in the backyard since around 1am. Now I know I'm supposed to be outraged that she snuck out of the house without our knowledge and was outside long after she should have been in bed BUT I remain impressed by how supportive her friends are of one another. Seriously. Someone has a problem - they IM each other right away. Collect the advice of their trusted advisors and then deal with it. When things are really sticky they seek out the support and wisdom of a trusted advisor in person. Sometimes just for a hug to be reassured they are doing the right thing. How can I be upset with this methodology? Okay I'm NOT thrilled with the fact we had no idea she was not tucked safely in her bed but I am in awe of how her network of friends cope with upheaval and stress.

In the meantime, here I sit unable to pick up the phone to tell people I've worked with/confided in and helped in the past that I am actively seeking a new position because I was a victim of a post-merger corporate downsizing.

Maybe I'll sneak out tonight. I need a hug.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Brain Drain?? More like a flush.

Just learned that a friend's position at CWRU was eliminated today. That makes five of us. Five friends. Five different organizations. How did five people with exemplary work histories, solid track records with measurable accomplishment and twenty years of civic volunteerism end up on the streets of NEO?

I teeter on the verge of hating this place.

Now what?

I believe the stars have conspired to prevent me from working on my job search this week. First, the heat wave: my children are miserable and unbelievably in need of coaxing, ideas and a continuous stream of popsicles. Second, some of my community commitments are - well, not doing so well and need a lot of extra attention and time. And now this. My younger brother in law died in his sleep after a long illness exacerbated by years of reckless choices and a complete disregard for his health.

I surrender.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Random Rant

The following has absolutely nothing to do with my quest.

Is nothing is sacred? In this case, specifically the English language. I'm at the end of my rope with most Cleveland area newscasts. Exactly when did it become acceptable to pronounce "str" > "shtr"? Shtreet. Shtrong. Shtrep. Shtripe. Shtrom Thurmond. etc. etc. One of the local newsreaders on Channel 19 actually said "shniper" during the Columbus sniper scare. Okay, to be fair, she did cringe when she said it so it may have been an innocent shlip. But, she said it. I think it may have been the naked one...

News anchors used to be the gold standard for impeccable use of language and speech. People used to actually aspire to be like them by emulating speech patterns and pronunciation. Apparently we now apsire to be shtreet. (or is it ashpire?)

In my house we do the "shtr" count by repeating the offending word in front of our kids so we can share in a good laugh over their ignorance. Then we change the channel. You know things are really getting bad when you witness Wilma doing it... We choose to vote with our remote. So far, Channel 3 evening news is winning. (Not WKYC's morning news...even though they have the best chemistry and delivery...Chandler has fallen victim to the trend.)

Listen for it - you won't believe how many times it happens in a half-hour news cast. Then it will drive you nuts.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

In a nutshell

I'm coming the conclusion that when you are unemployed you are poison. The ultimate persona non grata.

It's true. No one likes to admit it but when you are faced with a friend or family member who is unemployed you have a physical reaction to the news. You try hard to not be horrified. Secretly you think "thank God it's not me". You offer your help with a convincing "let me know if there is anything I can do". And, then gradually, you drift out of that person's life. I know this because I now recognize I have, too.

However, what I've recently learned is that this is also the time when you learn the identities of your real friends. You learn the composition of your spouse's true moral fiber. You find out if you've trained your children well. And, you gradually uncover new strengths and abilities you never attributed to yourself.

This has been a season of soul-searching and fear for me. I've allowed myself to be weak in the presence of others. I've had to be blunt with my children. I don't regret a minute of it.

I just really want to get back to work. And, if possible, soon.

If not Cleveland...

I found this really cool site to help you identify markets based on your personal preferences. As it turns out, many of the opportunities I am responding to already match my www.FindYourSpot.com cities. Before this assessment, I was using SWAG methodology. To validate my findings, I had my husband take the quiz so we could do an overlay of our results. We only had a two market variance! You've got to check this out.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

It went "very nicely"

On Friday I received a call from the recruiter who told me that the CEO thought our interview went "very nicely" and they would like to "take the next step" by having me complete a battery of psychological tests. Apparently they've not asked any of the recent candidates to move on so this is a good sign.

They are actually work style-values-communication style questions. Which is interesting. The questions are repetitive and odd. You are discouraged from taking a middle-of-the-road stance in your response forcing you to always agree or disagree.

The other odd challenge will be coming to consensus with my family on whether or not they REALLY want to move 400 miles away. I'm getting a weird vibe I can't sort out.

I want to be excited because someone is finally showing interest in my skill set.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Hello? Hello?

Day 3 - post interview. The mind games are sure to begin. This is where I convince myself that I'm not worthy of a good opportunity and should just settle for any offer from anyone who will hire me at any salary.

Now at the conclusion of the interview the president did tell me not to be offended if I don't hear from them right away. He interviewed in April and came on board in October. The recruiter confirmed the slowness of their deliberation.

The lack of feedback is excruciating. The lack of feedback in life is hard enough but to put on your best "love me, love me" show, answer questions with great care and skill and smile until your face feels like it's going to fall off and not get a follow-up, "they really liked you" or "they want to go in a different direction" is enough to drive you mad.

I've got to devise a plan for channeling my frustration into healthy avenues. Maybe I will re-do my garden or paint all of the bedrooms OR empty my basement and attic of all of the unnecessary stuff clogging my life.

Anything but moping. Although moping is all I really feel like doing right now.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

And Now I Wait...

I had a very good day yesterday. The flight to New York. THE interview. Flight home was a bit frustrating - two hour delay.

So, the interview went pretty well. The people were really nice. The office was beautiful. The town was beautiful. And, I think I clicked with the President - to whom the position reports. But now I have to wait for the feedback and any possible notification of next steps. Thank you notes are in process. I spent some time this morning speaking to the recruiter to recap the discussion. He agreed that it sounds as if I had a successful day.

Of course, now I'll spend the time second-guessing myself. Did I misread the non-verbals? Am I being overly optimistic? Am I so desperate that I will believe every meeting is the meeting to my next job?

And now I wait to hear the feedback. Whenever that happens.