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Archive for June, 2009

Well, here I am on the cusp of a new day and a new month that represents one year of my unemployment.

Friday, June 27, 2008, was the last day I reported for work at my former job. I did that on purpose so that I could start my new life on Monday, June 30, 2008. Here it is June 30, 2009, and I’m still waiting …

It’s been a hard year, and I have the notebook full of letters to prove it. They used to say that you would be unemployed approximately one month for each $10,000 of income you earned in a year. Well, folks, that puts me at six figures! Wowsa … Would that it were true. LOL  — It would be worth the wait!

In any case, though I am in much better shape than many — emotionally, financially, psychologically, and spiritually (not to mention familialy – to coin a word), this one-year mark is certainly no cause for celebration.

I never thought finding a job would be so hard and take so long.

Here’s hoping to “raise a glass” some time soon.

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In the last couple of weeks, I’ve applied for or inquired about an assortment of jobs from one as a trainer for a local company to one as a part-time grant writer about 35 miles away to two part-time teaching positions at private schools. So far, except for the “NO” I got when I asked about the possibility of telecommuting as the grant writer, I haven’t heard anything definitive even after following up with the organizations.

It’s so depressing as there is absolutely no question that I could do the jobs and would bring lots of experience and enthusiasm to the organizations and along with my strong work ethic and sense of humor.

With so many people applying for jobs, I have gotten over expecting to receive an acknowledgment for my mailed and hand-carried applications. My technology head wonders, though, how companies that require applying online can’t have an automated response letting you know your info has been received. (Gee, maybe I could help in that area.)

My big frustration (and, yes, annoyance) is when you don’t hear anything from the interview committee. It’s bad enough not to be offered a position, but it’s inconsiderate (dare I say “rude”?) not to be informed that another person was selected when you have taken the time to prepare, spent gas driving to the location, come in, bared your soul, and written thank you notes to everyone on the committee.

Is it too much to ask to be contacted about the results? That has nothing to do with one’s worthiness for the position. It has to do with manners, something missing from so many places these days. I wish more committees would be like my former boss who would stay after everyone had gone so he could call each person interviewed who was not moving to the next level. Greg would personally thank them for taking their time to come in and wish them well in their future endeavors. The letter from the Superintendent might not be generated for many weeks, and he felt very strongly that people needed to get on with their lives that didn’t include a place with our company. I wish more companies had folks like him.

So, if there’s any HR folks or interview committee heads reading this blog, when you are finished interviewing and deliberating, put yourselves in the moccasins of the interviewees for just a moment. That uncomfortable experience should be enough to encourage you to make that follow up contact.

Don’t keep us hanging on and trying repeatedly to contact you. Get back to us in a timely manner. You don’t even have to do it on the phone or spend the time and expense of producing an individual letter that has to be mailed. Send an email advising that someone else got the job. (It’s so easy now that you can do a blind email to ALL the unselected interviewees at once. If you don’t know how to do that, I’d be glad to show you.)

Oh, and while you are at it, do a good job with what you say. I received a letter that said I was “unqualified” for the position for which I had applied. I was more than qualified for the positions advertised (I teach the skills!), but even if I hadn’t been; was that verbiage necessary? Be kind and say that someone else’s qualifications and experience more closely matched the requirements of the position and wish the person well in the job search. (I can help you write that letter, too.)

I’m sorry if this particular blog has taken more the tone of a vent, but these thoughts have been going around for months and have little to do with me per se, but good manners and being kind to one another which are much bigger issues that touch many places in our lives.

That “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” phrase takes us from the playground to the grave and every place in between.

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On July 8, 1994, my family got to watch a shuttle launch. We stood in Titusville across the Banana River and had a great view of the launch site some seven miles away. We saw the flames and the launch and watched Columbia rise into the summer sky. While it rose higher and higher and was soon far from view, another event was occurring much closer to us. We noticed movement coming across the water. No, the water wasn’t moving but the heat waves were radiating from the pad and coming our way. So, too, was the sound as the sonic boom hit our ears. Neither of those events was the shuttle itself but the after effects of its blast into space. Most of the world watching the launch would not experience the heat and noise that we did. They would not have those additional visuals and physical sensations to call forth years later when remembering that awesome experience.

Why do I share this with you? Because there are often things that happen long after an event occurs that are much closer to home. We may be in one of those rippling sessions right now with our economy.

I was on the exercise bike at the gym the other day and heard that a strategist for Barclays Capital tell us that the longest U.S. recession since the Great Depression may have ended last month.

“We appear to be in the sweet spot of a recovery,” Barry Knapp of Barclays wrote in a weekly report on May 8. For those of you not familiar with Barclays Capital beyond the fact that it now owns Lehman Brothers, it is (according to wikipedia) a leading global investment bank that provides financing and risk management services to large companies, institutions, and government clients. It is a primary dealer in U.S. Treasury securities and various European Government bonds.

Barclays says the recession is over. It was reported on Bloomberg.com and on Morningstar (you know the company that rates all our mutual funds). So I guess that means it must be true.

“I sure hope so,” I thought as I peddled merrily along.

But just as the noise of the shuttle breaking the sound barrier and the waves of heat came across the river even while Columbia was barely a dot in the heavens, the recession will not go away over night. We know those “waves” are going to mean continuing lost jobs as companies catch up to the businesses losses they have already experienced. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, creativity, and struggle on everyone’s part to move ahead.

There have been some examples of that grit and determination even while the gloom continues in my own little corner of the world.

For example, the day after Barclays made its announcement, the headline in our local paper talked about Goss Manufacturing, one of our larger employers, unfortunately laying off workers. The company also proposed two-week furloughs for its staff this summer as one way to help save jobs.

I did a lot of driving over the last few weeks on roads in NH, VT, MA, and NY that I don’t normally traverse. I noticed signs saying that road improvements being made were part of ARRA (stimulus) programs. Jobs are being created and our roads are being repaired which will translate into more money in the marketplace which will hopefully stimulate the local economies which will stimulate their suppliers and so on and so on.

A vital school project in Somersworth, NH, will receive an interest free bond as part of the stimulus. The principle will have to repaid, of course, but how many millions of dollars will be saved over the life of that bond to maintain programs, expand offerings, increase salaries and benefits?

And in my own town of Dover as budgets are still being deliberated, most of the city administrators took voluntary pay cuts as a way of helping save programs and other jobs. Yes, I know some of those folks make very nice incomes; but I don’t remember hearing too many of the CEO’s of the banks and other huge corporations do much about giving back some of their excessive “packages.”

Though it’s probably something I should have done months ago, I am starting an un(under) employed support group as a way to help others. I’m not sure what all we will do or how successful it will be, but I’m hoping at the very least it will be a place where people can learn a few things and also be able to celebrate the good things in their lives. Our first meeting is scheduled for June 10.

There are many of you who have been busy helping others long before we hit our current economic situation. There are many of you who, though the wolf is right at the door of the house you may lose to foreclosure, you share what you have with others.

I don’t know if it’s because spring has come, tax returns have been received, stimulus checks have shown up for those on Social Security, or what; but I am feeling an awakening around me, a feeling that we WILL get through this somehow. And maybe it’s the “we” that’s the operative term — each of us doing a little to make a big difference. That “think globally, act locally” phrase has so many implications.

I encourage you to do your part to brighten the corner where you are.

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