possum

While out walking the dog this morning, a friend drove by in her car and stopped to ask briefly how I was doing. “Life,” I told her, “was sucking.”

“Oh, it can’t be that bad” she said. “You’re so talented!”

yea, well…. so much for “talent,” I say.

Apparently, talent gets you nowhere in this economy, unless you are under 35.

Since my position in the upscale grocery store has been downgraded to part-time (see prior posts regarding talent and movin’ on up) and I am no longer eligible for health benefits, I have upped the job search. I am considering everything from totally career appropriate to “I can absolutely do that!”

In the past 2 weeks I have sent out roughly 12 applications and scored “0” (zero) interviews. This does not exactly surprise me since I have only managed 2 interviews in the past 12 months.

What I am finding interesting is the language used in rejection emails:

  • Although we are unable to further your candidacy for this specific position at this time, we appreciate your interest in …
  • As you may be aware, we had an enormous number of qualified applicants from which to choose and hired one of them today.
  • We found you to be a most talented and interesting person. While we did select another candidate, it was a most difficult decision.
  • Although your experience and background are quite impressive, we did not choose your resume to be included among those who will be interviewed.
  • We will review your pdf based on the requirements of this position’s profile.  If we do not reach out to you for this position, we will keep your resume on file for future opportunities.
  • [resume]  has been reviewed against our job criteria and we did not find a match at this time.

and finally~

  • This email is to let you know that we have closed the position.

I can only think that this repeated rejection and consequent soul-searching is “happening for a reason.” The stars are aligning and will eventually bring forth justice and a new life.

…which brings me to my “southern horoscope”. (Forwarded to me by my dear father-in-law)

According to the occurrence of my birth under the stars of the southern sky, I would be a “Possum”.

POSSUM (Apr 21 – May 21)
When confronted with life’s difficulties, possums have a marked tendency to withdraw and develop a don’t-bother-me-about-it attitude. Sometimes you become so withdrawn, people actually think you’re dead. This strategy is probably not psychologically healthy, but seems to work for you. One day, however, it won’t work and you may find your problems actually running you over.

Enough said.

head in vice

Today is my one year anniversary of “Plan B.” Given where this has taken me: the birth of this blog and my state of mind at the moment, I don’t think it’s going to work. So, I am now back to brainstorming.

Did I learn anything? Yes, most definitely.

I learned a lot about myself:

  1. I am without a doubt a “creative” person.
    One night one of my co-workers remarked to me that she is constantly blown away at how I always come up with lots of ideas. Tons of ideas. Ways of doing things; Ways of re-doing things; Thinking of things to do.
  2. My mundane tolerance is approximately 3 months.
    I cannot “hold my breath” longer than that without getting frustrated. It occurred to me that the only time I have had to take a job that required only that you smile, be nice and wait on people, was when I was in high-school and college. These jobs were only summer-seasonal. I only had to tread water for 3 months while I worked to save money for school. A steady diet of this makes me crazy!
  3. I am a person of character and find it difficult to show up at one of these jobs without my “A” game.
    I always bring my brain to work which makes it exceedingly difficult to function consistently at such a low level – without creative or educational challenges.

I need to make a move before I sink to the depths of depression. There, I said it out loud. Depression.

My friends and co-workers see anger and frustration, but it’s depression for real. I feel terrible about it. I hate being a person who doesn’t laugh as often as they used to, and seems always “on the verge” of tears.

Hopefully, I’ll get through this.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed that all people seek to satisfy five basic kinds of needs: physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness needs, esteem needs and self-actualization needs. He suggested that these needs constitute a hierarchy of needs, with the most basic or compelling needs—physiological and safety needs—at the bottom.

Maslow argued that the lowest-level needs must be met before a person will try to satisfy needs higher up in the hierarchy, such as self-esteem needs. According to the theory, the lowest level of unmet needs in the hierarchy is the prime motivator of behavior. If and when this level is satisfied, needs at the next level in the hierarchy will begin to motivate behavior.

Under this theory, individual growth is key to an organization’s success. Supervisors must attempt to identify individual employee needs and foster employee job satisfaction. If they do so, employees will progress toward self-actualization, and will improve the organization in the process. Following is a partial list of the various rewards, practices, and programs that supervisors and their organizations may use to satisfy employee needs.

Physiological (Basic) Needs

  • Furnish a pleasant and comfortable environment
  • Provide for a “comfortable” salary

Security Needs

  • Adhere to safety rules and regulations
  • Minimize layoffs and downsizing
  • Provide well-defined job descriptions
  • Minimize negative stroking and threatening behavior
  • Provide information about the firm’s financial status and projections
  • Provide “just” compensation and supportive fringe benefits

Social Needs

  • Encourage the team concept to execute projects
  • Systematically use job satisfaction surveys
  • Sponsor office business and social meetings
  • Provide close personal leadership
  • Encourage participation in professional and community groups
  • Compensate on the basis of total team performance

Self-Esteem Needs

  • Include employees in goal-setting and decision-making processes
  • Provide opportunities to display skills and talents
  • Provide recognition symbols—for example, print names on stationery
  • Provide opportunities for coaching and development
  • Use a positive reinforcement program
  • Pay attention to office size, office location, parking spaces, and other perks
  • Institute a mentor system
  • Compensate as a recognition of growth


Self-Actualization Needs

  • Provide for participation in goal-setting and decision-making processes
  • Provide opportunities and support for a career-development plan
  • Provide job rotation to broaden experience and exposure
  • Offer optimal innovative and risk-taking opportunities
  • Encourage direct-access communication with clients, customers, suppliers, and vendors
  • Provide challenging internal and external professional development opportunities
  • Provide supportive leadership that encourages a high degree of self-control
  • Compensate as a reward for exceptional performance

This installment of FM Check List is adapted from BOMI Institute’s Administration, (www.bomi-edu.org/12121.html), a course in BOMI Institute’s Systems Maintenance Administrator (SMA) program.

v. rail·road·ed, rail·road·ing, rail·roads
v.tr.
1. To transport by railroad.
2. To supply (an area) with railroads.
3. Informal:

  1. To rush or push (something) through quickly in order to prevent careful consideration and possible criticism or obstruction: railroad a special-interest bill through Congress.
  2. To convict (an accused person) without a fair trial or on trumped-up charges.

If you are unfortunate enough to be blindsided by a train, you undoubtedly did not plan the event. It was not a pleasant occurence. And somebody (usually you) does not make it out unscathed.

Seems I have been so desperate to ‘make a go’ of a new career, that I [obviously] caused my own train wreck.

In my effort to get ahead, I actually got behind… and then worse.

After I finished updating a friend on my most recent round of corporate BS she said to me, “you were railroaded.”

Bingo! Slammed full-on!

Why didn’t I see it coming? I  think it may have been because I really did want to succeed. I believed that this actually could be a new beginning. AND, I wanted to believe what the HR department said the day I signed on board, “with your background and experience, you’ll have no problem moving right on up.”

I believed HR. I believed in myself.

And now I believe– I’ve been RAILROADED.

Here’s the short story. That lateral move I wrote about…. finally took place after 1 1/2 months. I have seen these kids (excuse me, “team-members”)  fly up the ladder in 3 month increments. Moving around from store to store. Moving around from department to department. So, the fact that it took 6 weeks for me to be basically transferred to another department within the same store should have been my first tip off that I was being set up. (see “Cancel That”) THEN, there’s that juvenile job-review (see “Just Like High School”) which put the black mark on my permanent record and is haunting me like the scarlet letter.

So, in all actuality, I should have seen the train coming. The lights were flashing and the gate was down. I was NOT> by any means< TO CROSS THE TRACKS!

But, I did.

My first day in the new department was a disaster. I was met by my new team leader who was apparently recovering from the fact that “someone had just dropped a house on her sister” (“Wizard of OZ”). Our first interaction was for her to insinuate that I was lying to her. This got my hackles up big time.

And it went downhill from there.

I had every right to be angry about her launching into an age-ist tirade while explaining my daily tasks. She was mean, condescending, completely out of line and unprofessional, BUT when I brought this to the attention of management in the form of a well written and  throughly thought out detail of events, instead of a conversation I was met with a “document”.

I gave them the ammunition to shoot me!

This document said  something to the effect that I had “resigned” my position in the new department (I never resigned – I just said I would refuse to work under those conditions), and it was now MY responsibility to find another position within the company – within 2 weeks – or I would be resigning from the company in general.

Did I sign it? Of course I did. There were 3 of them in the office – and one of me.

Was I able to find another position in the company within the two-week grace period? Hell, no! Oh, there are plenty of jobs available, but I’m a marked employee. No one wants me anymore. I’m a whistle-blower. I scream, “play fair or I’m not playing.”

…and now?

I’m crawling from the wreckage.

Today I have to re-group. Re-organize my head. Look in the mirror and see someone else.

I confess, I bought that mantra: “You are what you do.” So, if you are underemployed… or worse yet, unemployed; who are you?

My chosen career: advertising, has taken a huge hit. The 30 years that I put into it are virtually gone. I worked in print, and print is just not where it’s at today. A former colleague remarked at the quality and quantity of true talent now walking the streets. Sad, really.

I continue to fling resumes to undisclosed companies. My goal is one daily. No more than 3. It can be too disheartening when you consider the input vs response ratio. In the past year I had two interviews –neither of which was in advertising.

Yesterday, at the second of my 2 interviews this year, I found myself defending the reason for all my interests.  The prospective employer said they would be hesitant to hire me because it looks like “you’re all over the place.”

OK. Maybe I forgot. Administrative positions require disinterested parties with boring lives. They just want someone to come in; get the job done; and go home.

Maybe I wouldn’t be a good fit.

It has been haunting me though… why was I chosen to come in for an interview if I didn’t look the part on paper? Were they just curious to see what an interesting person looks like?

Me.

It’s amazing that I am still (well, barely) employed.

I’m mere days away from my 1 year anniversary and if this blog started out with me at the bottom… I can honestly say, I am now even lower in rank.

Yessireee. Lower. As in now “part-time”. Benefit-less.

You see, that’s what you get when you try to get ahead. (See “Don’t cut the line”)

I was thinking today, whatever gave me such drive to try to move ahead so quickly? Well, the economy, for one. I have basic needs that have to me met and these all require the “almighty dollar.” I am an adult and I have a family, mortgage, and bills. And yes, due to some last-minute optimism, I dug myself into credit card debt.

One of my first mentors at work suggested that I get ahead by learning more about the company. “Take our Company University Classes,” he said. So I did. 15 of them. That idea apparently backfired though. Many of the classes I watched were by players in the company who preached how “open” things were. “We want your opinion. We need your input. Your ideas are valuable.” Right.

As I drank the cool-aid, I felt empowered to say more; to do more; to bring ideas to the table. Little did I realize that, let’s face it, NO ONE TAKES THOSE DARN CLASSES! Well, certainly not the kids running the place, anyway. Not only was I now empowered; I now had KNOWLEDGE. I was learning things about the company – faster – without doing time. Depending on which side of the desk you are on when it comes time for the job dialogue believe me, it is not always a good thing.

My most recent review was a mess! Horribly juvenile. It was so off-base that I had my jaw in my lap astonished at what I was hearing. Little did I know I was being set up… to lose. My job dialogue; my “permanent record” is now haunting my ability to even transfer laterally because it is so professionally damaging.

What the heck did I do that was so bad you might ask? Well, being an adult –with experience –who was told they would have no problem moving right on up –I let out the gas, too fast. And then stepped on the brakes.

Here’s what happened. I’m in a department where creativity is somewhat necessary. (It doesn’t take much to repeat actions to produce a product, but I was actually coming up with new products. Regularly. I was praised and encouraged to do more (of course). But after my first review, when I was told that I would not be moving anywhere– let alone up– I will admit, I pulled my creative production WAY back. You see, if you are constantly being asked to create, but you do not get paid for it, to me –that’s exploitation.

So, to make a very long story short, I was told you have to be careful what you do: “this place is like high school”. It is only now that I see what she meant. Try as I might to move ahead, or even sideways, my PERMANENT RECORD is now following me around. Issues that should not have been put there without a warning, or at the very least prior discussion, are now haunting me.

It is horrible –just like high school.

So, this is how it works…

  1. You interview for the bottom-dweller job. (See post 1)
  2. You come on board with a college degree and a resume full of experience and are told that “you should have no problem moving right on up.”
  3. It’s one year later and you haven’t moved anywhere.

Hmmm, something’s not right.

You plan “the move” carefully:

  • You take 15 of those ridiculous “corporate university” classes.
  • You write scripts and teach seminars for the staff.
  • You start “acting” like a manager.

You apply for an open position and …!POW! you’re shot down.

Another open position….. !!POW!! !!POW!! you don’t even make it to the interview (and all you are trying to do is “transfer within the company”)

Another open position….!!!Pow!!! !!!POW!!! !!!POW!!! This time you are told that you are WAY out of your league. How could you possibly become an ASSISTANT LEADER of ANYTHING at this point?! I mean, you just got here!

Oh, yea. Right. I forgot. That resume? and that college education? and all those additional certificates and diplomas in various other fields of interest? That doesn’t count for anything because: It didn’t happen while you were on staff.

So basically, there is no way in hell you can figure out how to be an assistant ANYTHING because you haven’t done time in a grocery store.

Why can’t you read the writing on the wall? The sign says ” DO NOT CUT IN LINE”