Eighteen months. My job search has gone from regrettable but an opportunity to dive into old passions (before regular job reports), to surprise it was taking so long (at nine months) and putting my home on the market, to temporary hope that was dashed (at twelve months) , to habitual searches with lowered expectations (at fifteen months) and the departure from paying my mortgage, to today’s familiarity with the process and an expectation that the answer lies outside the job ads. It was somewhat reassuring to hear a radio report of confirmation of others in a similar plight. Of my various backup plans, getting a job is Plan C. I’ll continue to pursue it, but more energy is going into the rest of the alphabet. There’s some good news there.
I rarely listen to radio, unless I’m in the car. Unfortunately, that means I don’t have a link to the key piece of data that helps explain my situation. Unemployment is down. Yeah! Unemployment is below average for middle-aged workers. Yeah, again! But the length of time required to find a new job is much higher than average (~55 weeks?) for people fifty and older. I’m 54. Oops. And the likelihood of finding a job drops considerably for people that have been looking for over a year. We might have a problem here. The odds aren’t zero though, so I’ll continue looking and applying.
Many of the job postings and I are acquaintances now. I have a list of forty job sites I regularly visit. Most of the jobs I see and know I can do sit there. I know I can do the job, but can I get the job? My resumes are updated. My applications are in. On rare occasions companies actually send emails telling me I’m not qualified, even when I’ve done the exact job listed. It somewhat limits the search. By the way, regular readers can appreciate the irony considering the other most likely response I get is that I am over-qualified. I’d be more disheartened, but the job packages I deliver for consulting clients continue to generate uplifting testimonials. When I finally get to work, I get compliments – and encouragements to charge more.
I may not have an official job, but at least I have a title: Interim Project Manager for HCLE. HCLE is the History of Computing for Learning and Education Virtual Museum Project. I’m Project Manager thanks to the founder, Liza Loop, who knows me from our mutual work on New Road Map Foundation. The title is Interim because the funding is interim, and possibly about to run out. Expect to see indiegogo and other funding proposals. (Of course, if you want to help preserve that critical time in history when computers entered the classroom, give us a call, send us a donation, or drop by and help scan some of the ten thousand documents in the collection. It’s a big job.)
Thanks to the donor who contributed the interim funding, and to the founder, I’ve had my largest client work package, was paid for it expediently, and have enough money in the bank to pay the next few weeks of bills – except, of course, the mortgage bill.
Of all of the entrepreneurial collaborations I’ve accepted invitations to, HCLE has the most traction and is making the most progress. My role could change from consultant to interim manager to part time manager. That would cover almost all of my bills – except, of course, the mortgage bill. Full time can be good, but other part time positions can be just as good. Most of those collaborations are created by collaborators in situations similar to mine. They are definitely past their twenties and thirties, though their attitudes and acuity haven’t changed; they want or need to embark upon work that benefits them and others; and the conventional avenues are being redefined for “internship”, “recent graduate”, or “entry-level”. Ah, but there are no age requirements, nor do employers discriminate based upon age. (For those that have a hard time recognizing sarcasm, that last sentence is an example of the type I produce.)
The exciting thing is (and yes, even through all of these eighteen months excitement remains) many of the other collaborations are as viable as HCLE but merely lack the funding. If even two, three, or four of the dozens found funds and included me in some paid position, I might be able to pay back the mortgage company, get out of credit card debt, un-dam dammed plans, and begin rebuilding my savings. Those collaborators, like HCLE, have some great ideas. Instead of diving into old passions, we are launching ourselves into new passions. This could be fun!
There is additional good news. It hasn’t resulted in cash yet, but it is heading that way. A few of my investments in small companies are quietly continuing their recoveries. Within the last few weeks I’ve gone from a negative financial net worth to a positive financial net worth. It’s a squeak over the line, but it is the right side of the line. In my opinion, those companies are undervalued. Now that they are attracting at least some attention, their proper valuations may finally be reflected in rising stock prices and I may have regained an emergency buffer and more.
All of those efforts, whether looking for jobs or working with collaborators, require logistical coordination and strategic consensus. They take time, and almost all take money. Much waiting is involved.
While I wait, I work. I am working on things that only require me and my resources. This week’s main task has been producing the paperback version of my most recent book, Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland. The e-book has been selling well (though the speaking gigs pay better) with encouraging reviews.
“It is a story about finding happiness and joy in the new “rut” he was learning to love.” – Patricia Gross
To everyone I’ve helped with self-publishing, No, it never goes flawlessly. But it is getting better each time.
Eighteen months. Eighteen months of people praying for my success, of networking in person and through social media, of diligently perusing ads and applying for jobs. Eighteen months of you literally listening to (i.e. reading) the process. (You’ve done a good job.) As I’ve said before, maybe the universe is giving me a hint and that a regular job is not the answer; and that new solutions may be a bit irregular and take a bit more time. Until we know, I’ll continue reporting and remaining open to new passions. That’s probably the best way to have good and interesting news to report in month 19.