I never thought I’d be writing this post. It’s been nine months now. At the end of August I began tracking my job applications. Despite press reports that claim that anyone who wants a job merely has to go looking for one, in nine months of daily searching I’ve received one job interview and that was for a part time job which stipulated that I couldn’t apply for a full time job. (Want to know more? Check my Bio for resumes.) The media talks about statistics and abstractions. I guess one thing this blog can provide is one real life example. I share it because I know that I am not alone.
The country needs aerospace engineers. Glad to hear it. I have a Masters in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering and worked at Boeing for 18 years. Companies need people who can exercise both halves of their brains. Great. I’ve written five books and produced series of photo series. Everyone can use hard workers. OK. I’ve been working hard enough that my friends don’t see me as much as they’d like. I’m scrambling – no doubt about it.
And yet, tomorrow my house goes on the market. It’s the prudent thing to do. My house, the only house that has ever felt like home, is going on the market to generate living expenses. If my finances don’t improve then money has to come from somewhere. I’ll check my lottery ticket later.
I’ll get to the optimism in a few more lines, but first I want to point out that my situation is better than others but they may not have a voice. I know people that have been looking longer, across a broader range, who are in houses that they can’t sell, and who have commitments that are significant. Kids and pets aren’t cheap and can’t just be ignored. After months of living like that, they are not very likely to speak up. I guess that telling my story in lieu of theirs is one thing that I get to do for all of us. They aren’t looking for a welfare state. They want to contribute and they need to be paid. Yet they haven’t found jobs either.
My job search has a regular schedule. Every day I check for jobs within about an hour and a half commute. Every week I look for jobs across the country. Every month I browse for jobs in various corners of the remnants of the British Empire. I’ll look at almost any job on the island, and as I reach farther I narrow my scope to my key technical skills and experience. It makes for an interesting job list, everything from secretary to analyst to engineer to manager to director, with offshoots into unique jobs. I’m sure everyone has their own approach. Sometimes I think luck is as important as effort.
Despite the theoretical appeal of diversity, almost every job application wants an expert within a very narrow field. Of course they do. What company would turn down someone who exactly fits their most stringent requirements and was passionate about working for them? They want perfection. They ask for it. Sometimes the job ads read like, “We have a job opening because Fred left. We want someone exactly like Fred, but better. And we want the new person to be named Fred.”
Welcome back to the optimism. I have some opportunities. One job might open up in a few weeks if everything works out. It isn’t a salaried job. It would be like a franchise, a business that will be solely dependent on me. If it makes money, I make money. Maybe it will pay my bills. Any money would help. There’s another job that is sweeter yet. They’ve asked for me personally, and it promises to pay a comfortable salary, but it won’t be available for months and until funding is available. Those two combined could do very well for me and my bills. And of course, I continue to work on my books, my photos, my classes, my consultations, and several (~twelve) other projects. If they succeed I don’t have to move. There’s even a game in development. Imagine that. I’ve built a scoreboard to track my progress on each of my efforts. It’s a big sheet of paper with post-it notes stepping their way along. Such a simple tool has kept me from being overwhelmed as I tried to keep track of my life.
A friend who had a struggling business, which is now such a busy business that he has a rough time taking a break, told me that the more an applicant expected to make in salary, the longer they’d have to search. As a rule of thumb, each $20,000 per year took an extra month’s search. Okay, I’m at nine months now. Nine months times $20,000/year is a $180,000/year job. That’s optimistic. Yeah. I know it doesn’t necessarily work that way; but it is a fun idea to play with.
None of us know how our lives will turn out. That’s always been the case and yet I’ve never had this many “if’s” in my life. If my portfolio returns me to thriving life, or doesn’t. If my business improves, or doesn’t. If my house sells, or doesn’t. If I get a job, or don’t. Those four simple if’s map into sixteen broad scenarios – and they aren’t the only if’s. The mathematician and logistician in me can handle the complexity by putting them into boxes, but even that is with the recognition that each scenario contains an infinity of real world subtlety. The emotional side of me sees the infinity and realizes that the best response is to be optimistic and not tied to any particular outcome. I’m trusting the universe, and working as hard as I can without hurting myself too much.
Realizing the odds within some of those scenarios puts the lottery in perspective. I’ll continue to buy tickets. The dream is worth the price of a dollar, and the jackpot seems about as likely.
To people who are in a similar situation, I sympathize with you. There are no guarantees. But I keep in mind how many of my friends went from dire to relieved within a month or even the space of a phone call. And that my most powerful investment available is time and my most available resource is me. I’ve invested a lot of time in me, and I’ve used me extensively. The time I’ve invested in me has been my most ambitious job, and that’s an investment that can positively benefit me in ways that exceed my expectations.
Pardon the lack of a closing pithy, but I have a few jobs to do. Well, maybe that is one. It is interesting how things work out.
PS: I just got a phone call from the garage. There goes another grand. Ouch.