Do we have to do this yet again? Evidently. If you start telling a story, you have to be willing to finish it. I’ll continue posting about my job search until I don’t have to search. The search continues, but has changed in style and expectations.
For twenty two months, since the dramatic falls in AMSC and DNDN and the lack of counterbalancing news from GERN, GIG, and MVIS I’ve been looking for a job. (Here’s last month’s report.) The search has gone on so long that some assume that I must have a job by now. I certainly expected to have found at least one bad full-time position, but in twenty two months I’ve only had one interview for a full-time position. The half-dozen or so other interviews were for part-time or temporary work, and I didn’t receive any offers from them either. Most of the rejections have been highly complimentary. I expected in those months that those stocks would’ve recovered, I’d find a full-time job that sustained my frugal lifestyle, my house would sell, and that my business would grow enough to add the extra that made for more than enough. Even if all of those things didn’t happen, one happening would be a major improvement. Two happening would probably be sustainable. Three happening would allow some comfort, ease, and enough growth to plan and dream and maybe do – something. Oh well. Not so.
And yet, here I sit at 3pm with a dozen items on my to-do list, not including looking for a job.
In numerous news reports I read aspects of the same story. Unemployment is low for people over 50, but if they lose their jobs it is difficult to find another. Entrepreneurship is more successful than employment. It has to be. Seen from this side of the financial fence, the rich do get richer and the poor do get poorer. The penalties I’ve witnessed, the retracted opportunities, the judgment of a person’s worth based on their wealth can explain the sharp distinction between rich and poor that recently was a smoother transition called the middle class. I’ve been busy, whether you want to imagine it as “pulling myself up by my bootstraps” or “rapidly weaving my own safety net while falling” my own actions were a better bet than conventional responses.
Those dozen to do items are almost all directly business related. Eight of them have direct or indirect income. The rest are maintenance and a bit of marketing. Before I go further, allow me to disabuse the notion of the self-made man. A business does not exist without customers. A consultant needs clients. An artist needs patrons. Thanks to everyone who pays for my services and buys my books and photos. In the conventional definitions, none of the tasks are jobs because none of them involve paychecks and Form W-2. Income comes in from invoices, handshake agreements, and reported on Form 1099. And yet, I’m making half of what I need and until recently have been working twelve hour days.
Twelve tasks and only less than half of what I need is partly explained by the fact that only one of the jobs contracts me for as much as ten hours a week. The rest are less. The majority are temporary. As is typical for any contractor, the number of billable hours is about a third of the required hours. If I’m working twelve, I’m lucky to be getting paid for four. And yet, this is better, much better, than the way things were six months ago.
I chastised myself for not looking for jobs recently. There hasn’t been enough time. The average job application can take an hour, and I have to eat sometime. Sleep has not been easy, but it’s worth the try. A few weeks of that though and I came to realize what hadn’t been working with my job search and what had been working with my business progress. It even entails a bit of conventional wisdom. The best job opportunities were from personal recommendations, and even though they have been unsuccessful so far, they’ve been much better than sending in job applications with the hundreds or thousands of others who are doing the same. Similarly, my best business tasks have all been unsolicited. Someone calls me up, or interjects into a conversation that, “Hey, you could probably do that. Do you want to?” “Yep.” Ads aren’t nearly as successful.
So, my best results come from directions I don’t expect. It is difficult to plan for the unexpected, but I can at least point out that the doors are open, I’m very willing to talk; and that, at some level, I must rely on faith, hope, and trust. Not exactly the sort of progress to report to a financial bureau, but if it results in a job, or enough well paying clients then I can skip the report and deliver the ultimate financial communique: money.
There are reasons for optimism. Two of the small tasks could pay enough if made full-time. Another job possibility has been hinted at that would more than suffice. I found a job opening that was being kept quiet, and quietly got my name on the list. I’ve even rented an office in downtown Langley (pop. ~ 1045, so downtown is relative),
which has brought me into contact with another possible job, and more potential clients. There are lots of possibles and potentials.
An actual is that my phase of twelve hour days is being curtailed. Bicycling or busing to the office takes an hour each way. The drive is only twenty minutes, but I avoid it because it costs about $5 per day – making the commute costs higher than the office rent. Besides, working twelve hour days in town is inevitably more expensive because of food. I eat cheap at home. I can brown-bag it at the office, but I’ll eventually forget and leave lunch on the counter at home, or realize there isn’t time to make anything and still catch the bus. I also don’t want to damage my already cracked laptop, so it stays in the office. My iPad is handy, but it can’t handle my client’s tasks. My life is giving me the hint to back off to roughly eight hour days by bus, ten hours by bicycle, and only use the truck for longer shifts or days with more stops than just my desk.
A few more hours off each day means adjusting my work style and dropping a few personal tasks, but it also means possibly spending more time with friends and more time with me. Because, as my book title (Dream. Invest. Live.) alludes, Dreaming and Living are important too. Besides, a friend may suddenly say, “Hey, you could probably do that. Do you want to?”
In the meantime, stay tuned for my semi-annual portfolio review that I will somehow accomplish by midnight June 30th. Maybe I won’t need a job if the market believes in the value of even a few of my stocks as much as I do.