Category Archives: Work

Employment – The adventure begins…again

Three cheers and a tiger for me!!! I’ve gotten a job offer from Cutco and have accepted. I start work on June 1 and I couldn’t be happier. By all accounts, Cutco is a great place to work – privately held company, good bennies, family oriented, community aware. Plus I’ll be working in IT again. Sure sounds good to me.

It’ll be good to be working again. And yes, I realize how lucky I am to have found a job given the current state of the economy. The thing is, there are jobs out there. Tami and I were discussing a former boss of mine. He was laid off shortly after he laid me off over a year ago. Tami heard recently that he’s still looking for work.

In that same time, I’ve looked for work, taken a contracting job that lasted a year, looked for work again and found a good job with a good company doing what I love. Taking the contracting job was a no brainer for me. It was for considerably less money than I’d been making. It would be considered an ‘Admin’ job when I was an ‘Engineer’ before. None of that mattered to me. It was a paycheck and would allow me to support my family albeit at a reduced level. My sole criteria was did it pay more than my unemployment?

The thing is, I don’t think that my former boss – and a lot of other “Professional” people out there – would have even considered that job. It would have been beneath them or it would have been a blot on their resume or something equally silly. Interestingly enough, that contracting job actually helped me. It allowed me to expand my skills, introduced me to another whole group of people (can you say networking) and, because I actually tried to do a good job, it garnered me another good recommendation.

It also looked good in interviews. Everything I’ve ever read about the interview process says that prospective employers like go-getters and this experience has proved that point. When people asked me about that job I them the absolute truth – that I took it because I have a family to feed and bills to pay – and that answer got a good response. I wasn’t waiting for something to be given to me, I was going out and getting what I needed. In this case, a paycheck.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not trying to blow my own horn. I’m trying to make a case for doing what’s necessary to get through tough times. If I hadn’t been offered that job I would have applied at MacDonalds and the local grocery store and anywhere else I could find – not because I’m some paragon of virtue but because I’m a practical realist. It’s practical and realistic to take the job you can get if it helps you support your family. It’s impractical and unrealistic to pass on jobs that don’t pay what you used to make or that are ‘beneath you’ especially when the economy is tanking.

You do what you need to do whether it’s taking a lesser job or maybe taking two lesser jobs. You do what you need to do so that you can still look at your children and your spouse with pride. You do what you need to do so that you can still look at yourself in the mirror. Anything less is just not good enough.

Unemployment – The adventure continues…

Three weeks gone and maybe an end in sight. I’ve had three interviews for one company and it’s down to me and one other person. Now we wait. They told me that they plan to have a decision this coming week. Hope they weren’t kidding. I don’t mind the time off – sleeping late, keeping the house up, learning JavaScript and cooking are all fun…except for the keeping the house up part (dishes and laundry suck) – but I really want a job.

I’m one of those people that’s just wired that way. I need gainful employment. I don’t need it from a self-worth standpoint. I don’t define myself by what I do for a living. I need it to keep my mind busy. I need it for the challenge. And, on a less personal level, I need it to pay the bills.

I’d probably still work even if I hit the lottery…and I do play the lottery. Tami and I once talked about it – you know, one of those what if conversations couples have. We both decided that after we paid off everything, took care of our families, got new cars, built a new house, etc. we’d either still work or, even better, become perpetual students. That would be fun. Not having to worry about bills or anything and able to take whatever classes caught your fancy. Not because you’re necessarily working on a degree but just because it sounds interesting. That’d be a blast.

Of course, given the odds of my picking the winning numbers a job sounds like a much more reasonable goal. So I wait for a call and hope it’s the right one. The one that says, “Can you start on Monday?” And even though I’m really hoping this job comes through, I’m not counting on it. There is another candidate. The coin could land ‘tails’ instead of ‘heads’.

So I’m still working the job market. I’ve got an immediate fall back job that I stand a good chance for but it doesn’t really pay enough to take care of the bills, groceries, etc. plus braces for one kid and college tuition for the other. I’ll take it if I have to but it would just be a temporary job until something better came along…and I don’t want to do that to the people I’d be working for and with. They deserve better.

And there’s good news on the job front. Sean found a job. The plan was for him to come home over the summer and work to save up money for his Junior year. We made that plan before the economy went bust but it worked out even so. He starts on Tuesday in a Call Center. It’s going to be a bit of an odd schedule, especially if I get this job I’m hoping for. It’ll be interesting getting three people to their jobs with two cars. But we’ll manage. And maybe one of us can carpool with someone. Luckily, James doesn’t need a car yet. The High School is within walking distance. I wonder if they need a resident computer guy?

Back to the ranks of the unemployed

Here we go again. My contract with Level 3 ran out this past Wednesday so once again I’m looking for work. Frankly, this doesn’t worry me. I’ve been unemployed before and no doubt will be again. Even the current condition of the economy doesn’t really worry me that much. The area I live in has been economically depressed for the last several years so we’re all old hands at dealing with the kind of economy that the rest of the country (world?) is still getting used to.

Truth to tell, I’ve been working the local job market for months in anticipation of this so it’s not like I’m unprepared. And though I haven’t really had any nibbles for a while, I do have an interview setup for next week. With luck, I’ll soon be employed again.

But what happens if I don’t get lucky? In the short term, it means unemployment until I find work. Not my favorite way of paying the bills but doable – if only barely. Unemployment holds no stigma for me. I don’t feel ‘less of a man’ if I’m collecting unemployment. It’s something that I’ve paid into so why not use it. I think of it more as insurance against job loss. It’s not something that you ever want to use but it’s sure nice to have when the gas bill comes due.

In the long term unemployment would probably mean that I’d have to move my family. This is not something I really want to do. First, Tami and I really like this area. We are big fans of small town living and the climate here is great – actual winters with snow and everything, gorgeous springs with everything in bloom, warm summers with cool evenings (great for sitting around a bonfire in the back yard while you talk, roast marshmallows and watch the stars) and finally, breathtakingly beautiful Autumns where the surrounding mountains look like they’re on fire with all the color.

The second reason I don’t want to move is my youngest son, James. He’s still in High School and I really want him to be able to finish up with his friends. I moved 5 days before Christmas my Junior year of High School and it sucked! I’ve not become an axe murderer or anything but moving away from your friends does make a difference – especially when you’re a teenager.

I switched Elementary Schools (and States) the summer between 4th and 5th grade and frankly, it didn’t hit me that hard. At that age, you accept change easily. Moving during my Junior year, though…that was tough. I left behind friends that I had known (Teen Angst to Warp Factor 10, Mr. Sulu) most of my life!!! I also left behind (Warp Factor Zillion, Mr. Sulu with a side helping of hormones, please) my first serious girlfriend. This plus moving just before Christmas was more than a little trauma inducing to a 16 year old. I’d prefer if James didn’t have to go through it.

So…what are my options if I don’t get this job I’m interviewing for? What’s my strategy for finding gainful employment in Information Technology in a depressed economy in a depressed mostly rural area with a limited number of jobs period, much less IT jobs? Simple. Look for work where I can find it and be prepared to adjust my plans and desires to fit reality.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it. I even said it was simple. And it is…in a Zen kind of ‘simple is complex, complex is simple’ kind of way. There are two parts to this: “look for work where I can find it” and “be prepared to adjust my plans and desires to fit reality”. Lets take a look at both parts seperately.

When I say “look for work where I can find it”, the first question that comes to mind is where can I find it? There’s precious little employment available around here and I’ll apply for any of it that’s available. But what if nothing comes through? At the same time I’m applying for local jobs, I’m applying for jobs in surrounding cities with the idea that I can work there during the week and come home on weekends – not my first choice but still very doable and it still allows James to finish High School with his friends. Great, but what if nothing comes from that? That’s where my third group of applications comes into play.

You may have heard of a town called Morgantown, WV. It’s been mentioned in the news lately because it has the lowest unemployment in the nation. Morgantown is my Ace in the Hole – not because I saw it on the news but because I have family there. Morgantown is where I moved to my Junior year of High School. Tami was born there. So was my oldest son, Sean. I lived there for over 20 years. Paradoxically, Tami and I moved from Morgantown because I couldn’t find work. Things were different in the late 90’s than they are today. The thing is, working in Morgantown would almost require that I move my family. It’s just a little outside “go home on the weekend” range…which is there the ‘be prepared to adjust my plans and desires to fit reality” part comes into play.

If that’s where I can find work, that’s where I’ll work. We’ve talked to James about it and, while he’s not real happy about the possibiltiy of moving, he’s willing and able to accept it. And Morgantown is tops on his list of places to move to since, aside from having family there, he also wants to attend WVU. So even my “bad” possibilities aren’t that bad.

But we’re not there yet. I’ve still got an interview to do on Monday. And who knows, maybe I’ll get the job and we can stay right here. I hope so. It’d be nice if reality would work with me on this. But if we have to move, that’ll be good, too. Just in a different way. I mean, traumatic as it was to move during High School, if I hadn’t moved I never would have met Tami. And she’s about the best thing that’s ever happend to me. Love ya, Hon.