Unemployment is a full time job.

It’s 6 am Monday, and I’m already dreading the day. I have three interviews scheduled before noon and an appointment with the idiots at the unemployment office. I’ve been accused of not actively seeking employment. I stumbled out of bed and head for the shower, mentally going over my notes on the companies I will meet with today and attempt to impress upon them their need for my experience. I’m an analyst, everyone needs an analyst. Right? Who do you think makes sense of all the data? It doesn’t matter whether my title is “Budget Analyst”, “Management Analyst”, “Financial Analyst” or “Business Analyst”; it’s all the same – data, information, numbers, etc – analogous to one another. Some would argue that’s its ambiguous, perhaps – right now I don’t care.
I suck down a cup of coffee and chew on some toast, while browsing through Sunday’s Help Wanted ads. I find a couple of possibilities and notate them on my yellow pad. I check my email, still no responses to the fifty or so resumes I sent out the previous week. There’s an email from the resume mailing service I subscribe to, they sent out my resume to 138 companies. I browse the list, most are companies I’ve never heard of, some I recognize as employment agencies that I’ve already contacted. What a waste of forty bucks.
My first interview is at 8 am. I grab my portfolio, double checking that I have additional copies of my resume, the CD of database samples, a small stack of thank you cards and the list of the companies I’ve sent my resume to, as well as the list of interviews that I have had with phone numbers and contacts. I also make sure I have the form letters. You know the ones: “Dear Mr. So and So, We regret to inform you…” I need this so I can shove it down the throats of the smug-ass Unemployment reps. I snatch my suit jacket and tie and head out.
I get to the company thirty minutes early, put my tie and jacket on in the parking garage. I don’t like ties; they’re a piece of useless fashion that refuses to die. There’s a receptionist sitting at the front desk. She’s pleasant and offers me a cup of coffee while I wait. I decline and open my portfolio, reviewing my notes from their annual report, specifically their operating costs and profits. I check the salary report I obtained from www.salary.com pertaining to this position, my bargaining chip. I’ve been getting lowball offers when it comes to salaries. I find it disconcerting, when a company wants an MBA and only offers $24,000 a year. My previous employer paid me $36,000. I sometimes regret leaving, but it was time to move on after four years of going nowhere. It happens sometimes when you work for the military. But I really had no choice; my position required me to be a member of the National Guard in order to gain employment as a civilian. It’s a weird policy, but it’s allowable. And since I chose not to reenlist – I’m out of a job.
A short heavy-set blond bearded guy comes out, wearing a short overcoat. Is this good or bad I wonder. He introduces himself as Hugh, I shake his hand firmly and he escorts me back to his office. I begin to understand why he’s wearing the overcoat. His office is freezing. After the obligatory small talk, he explains the Finance Analyst position in detail. He wants to know if I have any experience with People Soft, I don’t and tell him so. The ad didn’t state anything about having that particular software experience. He said not to worry about it; he wanted someone with MS Access experience, which I have. I pull out the CD and offered to show him some of the databases I’ve created, he declines. I wonder why, but push it aside as the interview continues. He wants to know what I like, dislike and says “Tell me about yourself” I hate this question, but tell him something about me anyway, stuff I don’t mind sharing and enough to peak his interest in hiring me. The interview ends with him telling me he’ll make a decision within the next few days. He doesn’t mention salary and I leave it at that, thanking him for his time and head out thinking I’ll discuss salary if I’m offered the job.
My next interview is at 9:30 and I have forty-five minutes to get across town. I get to my car and scratch out a thank you on one of the cards, address and stamp the envelope. I’ll get to the post office later today I think. I loosen the noose around my neck and check my cell phone for any messages. I have one from an insurance company wanting to interview me for an agent/owner opportunity. Get real. I’m not a sales person, never was and never wanted to be and I don’t have the money to buy a franchise. I pull out of the garage, cell phone to my ear talking with Gary, telling him thank you but I’m not interested. He insists that this is a great opportunity to be my own boss. I tell him if I want to be my own boss, I’ll start my own company.
I arrive with fifteen minutes to spare. I’m met by an unhappy security guard. I inform him that I have an interview and he instructs me to have a seat. I do so and review my notes. I’m not too sure about this interview; I got it through one of the employment agencies I registered with, but figured what do I have to lose. Twenty-minutes later a woman appears, dressed in a business suit, her hair pulled back tightly and in a bun. It looked painful.
“Hello David,” she says, “I’m Heather.”
There was no hint of emotion or enthusiasm in her introduction. Her voice was flat. I begin to wonder if this company had a morale problem. She escorted me back to her office, after the rent-a-cop grunted something about signing in and tossed me a badge with “VISITOR” embossed in red on it. He ordered me to wear it at all times. I’m tempted to ask what would happen if I didn’t, but get the feeling that humor isn’t appreciated.
Heather briefly explains the position to me. The company is looking for an Inventory Analyst. She pulls out this large stack of paper, it’s an Excel spreadsheet. I’m told that their inventory is tracked in Excel. I ask why the information isn’t stored in Access or Oracle or some other database, though you would’ve thought I just asked her to blow me.
“We don’t use Access.” she hissed. Translation: “We don’t know how to use it”
I began to get the feeling that I wouldn’t fit here. I’m not one that settles for the status quo and refuse to accept the excuse of “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” People fear change and the only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper, so I’m told. She continued explaining to me how they track their inventory and I began to see a lot of redundancies and potential problems. I offered some suggestions and to show the Access databases I had created. She glared at me; her eyes saying how dare you question our procedures. I got the feeling that this company was looking for an automaton, someone who doesn’t look for challenges and has no ambition. She tells me that she doesn’t believe that I would fit into the company’s culture. I asked her what culture and leave her sitting there stunned. I head pass the security guard, tossing my visitor badge on the counter. He mutters something about not having an escort. I ignore him and head for the parking lot, while dialing the employment agency’s phone number on my cell.
Mike answers and I proceed to chew his ass for wasting my time with this company and tell him that the people are the zombies from the “Night of the Living Dead.” I ask him why he believed I was a match for this position. He doesn’t have an explanation. Most of these “recruiters” are paid by how many people they place. It doesn’t matter how much experience or education you have, it always comes down to the dollars. I make a mental note not to accept any more interview offers from this agency. It’s what I get for going with a lesser known company.
It’s a little after ten and my next interview is schedule for eleven. I check my messages. Gary called again informing me how I’m missing out. I call and tell him I’m not interested. He’s persistent and I give in and schedule an “interview” for tomorrow. I phone my home number and check my voice mail; three companies have called and want to schedule interviews. I jot down the numbers and points of contacts. I head off toward interview number three, wishing to God that I hadn’t left my previous job.
I arrive with about twenty-minutes to spare. I enter the front area and once again am met by a security guard, though this one is a bit more pleasant and prettier. I tell her that I’m here for an interview and ink my signature on the sign in roster. I don’t get the chance to sit and review my notes and am escorted to the human resources office. I meet with Pam, a petite woman who strikes me as a snob. She tells about the Quality Assurance position. They want somebody to track customer complaints and look for ways to improve customer service. I’m game. The position requires Six Sigma experience which I don’t have, but am well versed in its theory and have been itching to get involved in Six Sigma projects.
Pam doubts this, which strikes me as odd, since she’s an HR assistant who probably couldn’t tell you who Phillip Crosby or William Deming were or the differences between the theory of constraints and Six Sigma or any other process improvement methodologies. I decide to test my theory and asked her what current metrics are utilized to measure customer service. She looked at me dumbfounded and asked me to repeat my question, so I do. She’s quiet for a moment. I feel a smirk coming, but push it back and ask her if I was going to be interviewed by the person whom I’d be directly reporting to, I’m told no. She glances at my resume and proceeds to tell that she doesn’t believe that I’m qualified for this position. I ask why and she tells me they’re looking for someone with a Masters degree in a business related field. The resume I had submitted for this position did not disclose my MBA; I found that I wasn’t getting as many responses with it on the resume and took it off, depending on the position.
I smiled and pulled out my resume with the MBA on it, as well as the job announcement showing the requirements. I hand over my resume, telling her that it was recently updated and ask her if an MBA was business related enough. She doesn’t smile, I didn’t expect her to. Once again, she’s quiet and I ask her if she didn’t believe that I was qualified, then why schedule an interview. I’m told this is a pre-screening interview. I point out that the job announcement doesn’t state that a master’s in a business related field is preferred and ask if this had been a recent development. She ignores my question. Perhaps it was something I said.
I head out and stop at the security desk to sign out. The cute security guard is there, all smiles. I ask her if she knows about the available positions. She does, so I ask her who is directly responsible for hiring the Quality Assurance Analyst she tells me it’s Rob and gives me his office number and email address. I smile, thank her and head out. I dial Rob’s number and am surprised that it is he who answers the phone. I tell him who I am and explain what had transpired. He curses Pam and asks me if I had the time to talk to him in person. I do and tell him I can be at his office in minutes. I turn around and head back, talking to the female security guard, whose name I learned was Sue. I tell her that I just spoke to Rob and he wants to talk with me. I sign in once again and head toward the elevator. Pam is standing there and is surprised to see me. She doesn’t say a word.
We rode up to the twenty-fourth floor in silence and exit together. Pam looks at me puzzled, but still doesn’t say anything. I am wearing the distinct orange visitor’s badge. I head toward the receptionist, who is talking with a balding, slightly over-weight man. He turns and sees me coming with Pam walking briskly ahead of me. Pam starts to say something to him but he brushes her off and heads my way.
“You must be David,” he says extending his hand, “I’m Rob”
“I am. Nice to meet you” I replied grasping his hand and shaking firmly.
Pam is aghast. I look over Rob’s shoulder and can see her pissed off face. I really dislike HR people, especially those that pretend to know something about the positions they try to fill. Rob escorts me to his office, grabbing a folder from Pam and we leave her standing there stunned.
Our conversation lasts about an hour or so. I tell Rob what I know and don’t know which he appreciates and says so. We discuss various process improvement methodologies and he presents me with some scenarios, which I answer as best I can. We discuss salary, he doesn’t think he can get me the $45,000 I’m asking, but believes that he could hire me in at $40,000. I tell him that I can accept that and ask him when could I expect a decision and that I’d like to be notified if I’m not offered the position. He said he would call me either way and to expect a call by the end of the week. I thank him and leave.
I stop by the security desk, and thank Sue for her assistance. I head out, checking messages once again. I have a job offer from a company. I call them and ask what the offer is and am told by the guy it’s for the job. I repeat it again, this time asking what are they offering salary wise. He hesitates, which sets the warning bells off, and he tells me $11.00 per hour. I politely decline the offer, though inside I’m cursing up a storm at the ridiculous salary offer. I call home and check my voice mail, I have a message from a financial service company looking for financial advisors, in other words – sales reps. I debate whether or not to call and decide to check it out. I take off my jacket and tie, tossing them into the backseat of the car.
It’s one o’clock and I still need to go argue with unemployment idiots. I call and see if I can reschedule. The customer service rep tells me that I didn’t need to physically come down and that they could do the interview over the phone. Why I wasn’t told this initially escapes me. I agree and proceed to tell her that their accusations are inaccurate and that I can produce the names of companies and interviewers should they require it. Naturally, she said they did so I get the fax number and tell her I would fax the info by the close of business today. She tells me that my unemployment benefits were temporarily postponed until the outcome of the investigation. I asked how long it would take. A week at most I’m told. This sucks. My rent and car payment are due soon, which means I’m using the charge card for a cash advance, creating more unnecessary debt.
I contact the three companies that left messages for me earlier and schedule two interviews for the following day and the other for Thursday. I scratch out a thank you note for Rob toss is next to Hugh’s. My phone rings and it’s a Deanna calling in response to my resume posted on monster. She briefly tells me about the Funds Compliance Analyst position with her organization, a securities firm. I’m interested and schedule an interview for Wednesday.
I decide to stop by one of the employment agencies I had signed on with. I speak with Amber for a few minutes and get some information about a couple of positions that interest me, hoping to schedule a couple more interviews. It’s close to three and I head home trying to figure out how to pay the bills and debate whether or not I should once again tap into my IRA. I stop in at the local Walgreen’s and chat with the manager about a part-time position. He gives me an application and I thank him. I head over to Blockbuster’s and do the same. I’m told they have no positions currently available. I begin to think maybe I should’ve taken the $11.00 an hour job.
I get in and check my email, five responses out of fifty something letters sent. I call the companies to schedule couple of interview for tomorrow and the remaining three for next Monday. I call Gary and tell him I need to reschedule our interview for later Tuesday, which he does readily and I spend the next couple hours or so checking the various job boards and applying for jobs on-line. I’m already dreading tomorrow. How much longer I wonder?

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