Here's my vent. And let me warn you, it's likely to be long and ranting with a liberal dose of self-pity so read at your own risk. I'm writing this as much for my own need to just vent as for your edification. So if you're the "cry-me-a-river-you-whiner" type, skip my post and go read something else.
My career has been a less than satisfying aspect of my life. I am blessed (or lucky, depending on your point of view) in many areas of my life. I grew up in, and still enjoy a loving family, most of whom live close to me. It ain't perfect, but we all get along and love each other. I have a wonderful family of my own, an amazing wife and beautiful son. I have many things for which I am thankful. But as much as my parents loved me, they took a somewhat laissez-faire attitude toward their children's career paths. I'm not saying we never talked about it, but more often than not their stance was "Find something you enjoy and do it."
The school system here in Florida, where I spent my senior high school and college years wasn't much better. I remember taking some sort of personality test in high school that provided career suggestions, but that was about it (other than visits by military recruiters). College was a little better since one has a wider choice of field, and while I admit it was interesting to learn more about a variety of careers, my finances were limited and I could only do that for so long before I needed to choose a field and get cracking on a degree. Looking back, I also realize that I wasn't particularly aggressive in seeking out help in this part of my life, but I also can't help feeling some disappointment that the groups I had grown up in (my family, my friends, my schools) hadn't provided me (and presumably others) with more than meager assistance with this important decision. After all, we spend an enormous percentage of our life at work, doing the tasks that allow us to put food on our tables, a roof over our heads, clothes on our bodies. Not to mention the fact that a great deal of our identity, our purpose if you will, is tied up in what we do for that 40+ hours per week.
After a couple of semesters of general education courses and some dabbling in various fields, I chose to earn a degree in mass communications and seek a career in advertising. I had interest and talent in writing and art, so I figured between the two I could pursue some sort of creative career path. I earned my degree and already had a job lined up. Woohoo!
To be brief, I had embarked on a roller coaster ride of layoffs, evil bosses, good-paying bad jobs, bad-paying good jobs, etc. After 13 years in the business, I had worked my way up to management level, working as production manager of a business newspaper, making decent money and enjoying some nice perks that came with the job. Unfortunately, my boss was a drunken prick and, it turns out, a completely ineffective manager and adulterous embezzler too. Go figure. After five years of working for this guy, I had had enough. A good friend had just started a business and it was going gangbusters. It was in a totally new field for me, a complete departure from advertising, but the outlook for the business seemed good. He needed help and I was burned out from all the ups and downs of the advertising business, and all to eager for a way out of my situation with my boss, so I took the leap. That was two years ago.
All went well until late last year. We relied heavily on residential construction for the success of our business and Florida has been hit particularly hard in this industry. Builders literally went from an all out orgy of construction to nothing in the space of a few weeks. And I am now unemployed. Well, semi-employed. I've been doing some freelance work here and there, and my friend continues to bring in the occasional project, but I'm not drawing a steady paycheck and I've been on the job hunt since November. I don't know how many of you are going through this experience right now, but if you are I'm sure you'll agree that it sucks. Common courtesy in the recruitment, interviewing and hiring process no longer exists. Finding a job has become a totally impersonal and frustrating experience.
One recent experience: A member of the church my parents started and still attend happened to ask about me. My mom told her I was doing well but looking for work. The lady said the non-profit she works for was looking for someone in my field and that I should contact the business manager of the organization and send my resume. I was excited about this possibility. It was a non-profit fine arts organization, something near and dear to me. It was close to my house. I could've ridden my bicycle to work! I sent my resume and eagerly waited to hear from them. Weeks went by. I sent follow-up emails and left voice mails. No response. I chalked it up to the holidays. Sure enough, a week into January I received an email. From the woman's assistant. Saying that my qualifications were excellent, but not what they were looking for.
I had an acquaintance at this organization! Didn't that merit an interview? Or at least a phone call? No. A rejection email from her assistant. It gets better. Three weeks later, I get a voicemail from her assistant, saying that she'd like to do a preliminary telephone interview with me. Huh?
I called her back to do the interview. She told me a bit about the job (mid $30s for a manager responsible for eight full and part time employees!) and asked me a few questions, which she was obviously reading from a page. I gave her what I felt to be thoughtful and reasonably good answers. Then she got to the good one. "Describe your management style in two words." Why do people insist on asking such asinine questions during an interview? Am I engaged in a job interview or am I on a gameshow? I basically ignored her two-word rule by choosing two words and expounding upon them. At the end of the interview, she thanked me and said I'd hear from them soon.
Two weeks later, another rejection email from her assistant.
Most of the resumes I send out are not even given the courtesy of a reply. If you do get a reply, it's a computer-generated one with a no-reply address. No follow ups allowed! In short, I am just fed up right now and totally frustrated and disappointed with the process of trying to find work. I'm not afraid of it. In fact I enjoy it, whether it's working at computer or digging the proverbial ditch. But the pressure of needing income puts so much urgency on the search, and the searching process is slow and inefficient. I just don't understand why finding meaningful employment is made to be so difficult and leaves so much to chance.