Long Overdue Job Search Update and A Request for Assistance

A lot has been going on in the months since my last posting…I hope everyone has been well and everyone is doing okay during these difficult times.

Even if you don’t read the rest if this entry, please check out the end and help if possible and even if you cannot, please pass it on to others who might be able to…I truly appreciate it and the help.

I am so sorry this has to be my first entry back as it is far from me at my peak and I do have a request, a plea. at the end. It is something that embarrasses me to even ask about and something that is not like me at all to usual make requests on, but I’ve reached the point I have no choice. Anyway, on to my job search struggles…which I hope no one else is facing or if you are and want to share your stories, please let me know…I’m always interested to hear what issue others are facing and help if I can.

Well first some good news, two new kittens have moved in with me, expanding my feline family a bit. One kept charging me when I went out to take out trash, not sure where he came from but was seemingly abandoned, I took him in, had the vet check him and he’s doing fine…so little Maverick has joined my feline family, photos to come.

I’ve had some leads, some interviews and enough recommendations on how to redo my resume and LinkedIn page that if any of them actually merited money, I’d have enough in my bank account to buy the Biltmore Estate, hire someone to ghostwrite weekly entries for me about my job search experiences and the spare change left over to try for a real life ‘Jurassic Park’…slightly less, or is it more, sarcastically but directly said, if I used each one of the changes I was told to make and an MTA Pass, I could get one roundtrip ticket from Woodhaven to JFK.

Into this mix of fun resume changes, enter my former company, who, rather belatedly, said they had paid for a free month with a local job search/coaching agency I’ll call Jones Smith Sanders (JSS), for all laid off in July.

The only kind things I can think to say about JSS are that they certainly have a high opinion of themselves and their procedure.

To JSS the procedure is their deity… seriously, I thought some of the better known “employment agencies” were fixated on procedure, on form over substances, but JSS puts them to shame.

My first meeting with my JSS career counselor was revealing. It was also a fight to get that meeting on the first day the monthly clock started running as they had the idea it could be a week or two in as I would have access to their website, resume redesigns (no comment) and webinars on interviewing and job searching (again, no comment).

I was and still am getting the feeling they are trying to do enough to look good, but not enough to actually get anyone a job as they are looking for more money by bringing someone close and feeling if they only extended the program by another month…but I digress.

Well, in my first JSS Career Counselor meeting, I found just who wedded they are to their system when I was asked what I precisely hoped to gain from their services.

To paraphrase myself, I said that I’d been through a lot of resume revisions, had paid to have my LinkedIn page changed several times, had been applying for sometime for work, tried my own network to get my foot in the door but to no avail as they are mostly in the same boat as me and that I’ve also had my share of job agencies that have me take assessments but are appalled I ask for something that is near or above industry average for the position (often 7 dollars more than what most places are willing to pay and 8 dollars under what I should be making) and promise to call if anything comes up, only never to call.

Therefore, what I needed from JSS was not a job agency that would take my name, number and keep me in mind for something in the future with no intention to ever call, but someone to kick a few doors open for me through their industry knowledge or contacts and get me in for an interview, since I know if I get in the door, I stand my best chance at getting a job through the interview.

I stand the best chance because I’ve bypassed all that computer screening, needless steps of proving I can do what I’ve proved I can do and because I interview well.

It’s no secret that I can b.s. with the best of them and I come across as very personable in interviews…or so I’ve been repeatedly told…oddly, even by my JSS career counselor, when listing off what I might be able to get help with, told me that I seem like I would be strong in interviews…however, I slightly digress.

My response to what I expected out of JSS merited a shocked silence, long enough I thought the phone line had dropped.

I did eventually get a response that basically amounted to, “We have our system and if you follow it, you might have a job offer or two within a month…but if you don’t…well we wash our hands of you and don’t you dare darken our doorstep again”.

It was phrased much nicer, but I’m on of those people who actually picks up on nuances and got the threat clearly…I follow their system and they might help me, I don’t and well they won’t help.

Part of that came when my JSS career counselor mentioned several people they worked with that within a week or two already had job offers but dodged the topics of “in what industries”, “Full-time/Part-time/Temporary/Contract/etc.” and “what general salary range”…merely stressing these people followed the system and got offers. Actually, each time I speak with them, they mention someone they know and worked with that got job offers.

So for about a week, I’ve been following their system, playing the game, as it were, had another resume redo, learned about the SOAR system and again about networking.

I tired to shortcut that lecture by saying I am networking and it isn’t working. That only led me to being provided with a list of sights to try networking through and the thought that even if my contact doesn’t directly know anything, they might know someone who then in turn knows a person that has knowledge of an open position…

Okay, at that point I did somewhat shortcut the lecture by replying, “That’s very true. It is possible that they might know a guy that knows a guy.”. Truthfully, I don’t think my JSS Career Counselor got it, only that I was making a statement that wasn’t pure agreement and praise of how great an idea they offered.

As to SOAR, or one of the several dozen other acronyms that exist on this idea…you basically look at what you’ve done for each position and come up with a good story.

You have several ready to tell in your interview of how you did what no one else could, the problems you encountered along the way, how you overcame them and how your success benefited the company in a concrete way (numbers if possible) and then make that story a concise bullet point for your resume starting with action words and with added percentages if possible, because everyone (but me it seems) loves metrics and those work better than saying “I solved a problem and my solution is still in use after 7 years, at the company.”.

Of course, even with these stories, you need to tweak them slightly, not to mention your entire resume bullet points of these stories, for each job you apply to as to pass the automated screening systems.

It was also recommended that you should have about 60 or so SOAR stories on hand to make sure your retelling stays fresh for each person you talk to and it never reaches the point it is obvious you are reading from a script…

I sometimes wonder what someone like James T. Kirk would do with these silly interview ideas and processes…

Kirk: “I saved humanity from its own shortsightedness by returning the extinct species of whales to the planet, whales who told that probe vaporizing our atmosphere what to go do with itself.”

Starfleet Command: “Yes, but you stole and blew up the Enterprise first, sabotaged another Starfleet vessel and then lost a Klingon vessel and thereby our ability to study their cloaking technology.

So, how did your saving humanity from its own shortsightedness actually overcome those problems you caused?

We need numbers, Kirk, percentages of the people saved versus those that would have been lost if you hadn’t interviewed and screwed up other things. Also I must add your solution violated about 30 Temporal Regulations.

So, citing precise numbers and examples, how did such violations actually benefit humanity as you unquestionably changed the course of history? How do those things show the value you’d bring to our organization?”

Kirk: “Because if I hadn’t. you and I wouldn’t be here to have this conversation, is that justification and value enough?”

I know I couldn’t get away with comments like that last one, but sometimes there are not reasons behind why something happens or numbers to justify things…I’ll be honest, my SOAR stories are true, but the numbers I’m putting with them have been pulled out of thin air and if anyone tries to confirm them, they will be unable…however, they will also be unable to disprove them, so that is a bit to my advantage.

Anyway, next week I have another discussion with my JSS Career Counselor when I again press them on what contacts they have, since for a full week I’ve been the good one following their systems to the letter…and so far it’s gotten me no further than I was before I started with their program…oh, one last thought on JSS, the job search system that was so vaunted to me, it’s a catch all system that draws from several others and doesn’t actually have any original or unique jobs on it…

Oh, it has a few bells and whistles other sites lack, but it’s a catch all warehouse…think of it as a Superstore that in the era of the Malls dominance. It’s a place that would have carried Kenmore and other Sears, J.C. Penney, Strawbridge’s and Clothiers, Macy’s, Profit’s and other once huge anchor names items under one roof. It’s convenient one-stop shopping, but isn’t really anything new or exciting that offers greater opportunities or leads and in fact might offer a few less since it is combining them all in one location.

So even that is not as impressive as advertised…but so far JSS has been merely form, form and more form and not even a whiff of substances…about the only positive I can think of is, I’m not paying for these services…especially now when I can’t afford them, I’d be really upset this is what I was getting in return.

Now for my plea and my request for assistance.

It’s a story that goes back to February when I was driving into work and unexpectedly had a seizure. My car was totaled and I was in the hospital…thankfully I had health insurance with absorbed some of the costs, but debt was still incurred a lot of debt…then as you aware back in July I was laid off and have been out of work since…I’ve worked some deals to pay minimums on some of my debt but there is still a lot out there and as it is increasingly obvious I might not have work for some time and am trying my hardest to keep a roof over my head and food on the table, I’ve reached the embarrassing moment of having to reach out and ask for help in paying off the debt.

Well, as said, it’s been a while since I’ve talked about my job search, but that is not because I’ve been gainfully employed, but in part because I have been frantically searching for work and the USB I had which contained my notes and drafts of what was being posted here got fried and I lost so much that so far has been unrecoverable…I’ve been trying to rewrite and get my notes back both to help in my search and post here but thought it best to start from the present before going back in time again to the past and my last few days of work back in late June…

Even if you cannot help, please pass the word to those that might be able too help. I truly dislike being the one asking for help rather then the one offering help, but I’ve reached the point where my debt is such that without income I can’t help but ask for help in clearing the decks of debt so if, when, I finally get work, even if it is for just minimum wage, it can go to ensuring rent is paid and food is on the table.

Thank you again for whatever help can be provided during this difficult times, even if it is just passing the word along. I am truly grateful.

Everyone, please take care out there…I will update the next blog entry hopefully a lot sooner then the last one.

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