So, kids are mostly raised & I've just gone back to work…

Archive for the ‘job search’

Responding to your inner slacker: two options

December 02, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: James Dean, Janet Fitch, NaNoWriMo, Uncategorized, creativity, job search, korrektiv, slacker, slackers, unemployment, writing 10 Comments →

Ever feel like this guy?

I am tired. Tired of my life and tired of my mind. I am an intelligent guy; I have a degree and should be making more of life. But, to be honest, I don’t have a clue what I want. In fact, I almost feel like I don’t want anything.

Last month, some of my friends participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) — including Korrektiv’s Rufus McCain, who recently quoted one of the little “pep-talk emails [he] received from famous writers encouraging [him] to finish [his] novel, which is stuck on page 2.”

The letter Rufus reprinted in his Nov 20th post is from Janet Fitch, who wrote about hitting a creative wall while writing White Oleander.

Luckily I was seeing an amazing therapist at the time. I explained I was afraid that if I chose route 6, then I would be eliminating all the other possible routes. What if route 15 was better? Or 3 1/2 ? So I hedged. I couldn’t commit. I was stuck. And she gave me the piece of advice which has saved my writing life over and over again, and I will give it to you, absolutely free of charge. She said, ‘I know it feels like you have all these options and when you make a decision, you lose a world of possibilities. But the reality is, until you make a decision, you have nothing at all.

Ah yes, the Amazing Therapist.  The butt-kicking amazing therapist, who saves people’s lives even, by giving the same sensible advice that Every Wise Person you ever met also gives you, advice which you know perfectly well already but which, sadly, hasn’t helped you at all.

Because you’ve made a lot of decisions already, and too many of them have been wrong.

Enter Cary Tennis, who addresses our Poor Tired Guy quite differently:

To me you simply sound like the philosophical rebel — what we term these days a slacker.

Ah now.  Here it comes –  more butt-kicking.  Right?  But no…

Do you not realize that you are a member of the cultural opposition? … Perhaps that makes you the true misfit — one who does not even recognize it and would disavow it if asked.

… You are the solitary man without a country, without a home, wondering what’s wrong with you — because your protest is yet an inchoate thing, innate and unfocused. Your plight is thickened because your context is so thin — today you’re a rebel without a context! Is there still a Greenwich Village to flee to? Is there still a San Francisco where one can rent a cheap room above a bookstore without becoming a real estate agent or a software change agent or an FBI agent?

This is entirely wrong, Mr. Tennis.  Celebrating the Slacker?  What kind of crazy American work ethic is this?!? 

What should be you doing if you are not on the job and have nowhere to be? Should you pick your toenails or eat some lasagna? Should you read an edifying book or stroll through the park? What should you do? …  You live within this matrix [of who works, who doesn't, who gets paid a lot, who doesn't] and may wish for it to mean something, and indeed rules can be deduced …but at times, to the individual man caught in the tornado, the only thing it seems to be is random and insane.

That is why the philosophical rebel is so dear to us — because he alone has the courage to say, “I have no clue what this shit is.”

Good heavens.  Is that courage or laziness?  What possible value to society is such a stance?

Of what value to society is such a stance? … Most important, he is anathema to hoo-ha — he does not swallow the Kool-Aid or follow the company line; he does not jump when the Man says jump — he scarcely moves; he hardly hears the Man; he can hardly even see him; he has to squint. It’s his constitution to be cautious and to ask the relevant question Why? Which in our current situation we could use more of — if we in the West had been more skeptical, if there were among us more bantams in pine woods, we might not be so deep in shit as we are. …

Could it be that the voice of what you want is God’s voice? Could it be that what you want is what God wants? Could it be that you are eating and sleeping and fucking for God?

Erm, beg pardon… eating and WHAT?

Give yourself a break, my man. If you are depressed and have a drug problem or have a metabolic imbalance, then that’s some serious stuff and you need medical care. But if you simply lack ambition, I take my hat off to you. The world is way too full already of overly ambitious fucks elbowing us out of the way on the streetcar.

Oops! Let me just get something to clean up the milk coming out of my nose. 

Almostgotit honestly doesn’t know what to make of this, and can’t say she’s quite as lacking in ambition as all of that.  But she loves a good iconoclast and wonders if Cary Tennis might be on to something.  What do you think, readers?


I’m Scattered and Have No Ambition By Cary Tennis (


Introvert, with surprises

November 05, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Uncategorized, feminism, humor, introvert, job search 6 Comments →


What a pleasant set of interviews I had this morning, with some very good people who do very important work.

And boy, do I not want that job.

I left those gentle souls today feeling too big and loud for the rooms we were in, which is pretty amazing considering I’m barely 5’3” and mostly an introvert, besides. Wow.

At one point I was introduced to someone I’d be working with, and the supervisor all but shushed me when I said “Hello, there!”

Using my OUTSIDE voice, apparently.

Once I caught on to the fact that the job was all about being smaller, I started playing the game where you give the right answers that make the person nod approvingly and write things down. “I like being concise,” I said, then giving an example of how concise I could be.

Yes, yes, the woman nodded, writing “concise” on her notes.

She was a shy person, and had carefully typed her list of interview questions ahead of time, with 2 inches of white space between each to write things in.   “Nugget,” she wrote, nodding. “Summary.”

Under “Are you an Extrovert or an  Introvert?”  she noted  “Introvert, with surprises.”  (I quite liked that one!)

This is a research job as opposed to a clerical job, and much better paid as well. But while I was hoping it might be a way to get in the job door for future things, it seems I’d be sitting in a basement cubicle embedded in a labyrinth of offices carved out of what used to be the “bargain basement” of a vast (and long-defunct) department store. Where I’d hardly ever see anyone else at all, let alone any natural light.

Where I’d spend 8 hours a day looking stuff up on computers and whispering a lot.

I called my husband from the parking lot afterwards, and told him that I hoped he wouldn’t tell me I wasn’t trying hard enough if I actually was offered this job and then  said “no” to it.

I also told him I was going to go home now and look up some information on my computer about getting another degree.

As one job door closes, Almostgotit spots a window

October 31, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Uncategorized, employment, humor, job relocation, job search 5 Comments →

Dear Assistant Dean of Fun Stuff,

Thank you so very much for meeting with me last week and introducing me to a few of your partners in crime. What a great group. While we won’t be coming to Utah after all (TITSNOB actually pulled out a decent counter offer for my dh– the rats) I wanted to let you know how exciting it was to get a glimpse of the many possibilities for *me* that are there. I wish you every success and fully expect to see your campus innovations written up in The Chronicle very soon.

With all good wishes,


Almostgotit – it was so fun to meet you, even briefly. And I’m so sorry you won’t be coming here; we were all beginning to get excited about the possibilities, both for the XX Center and for other efforts on campus we could drag you into :-)

Very best of luck there at TITSNOB!

Assistant Dean of Fun Stuff

Dear Unit Supervisor at TITSNOB with the crappy job on offer,

Thank you for your kind email.  Yes, I would very much appreciate a meeting with you about the job in your unit that I have no intention of taking, and if you could get TITSNOB Hiring  Big Cheese in the room too as you’ve suggested, that would be grand. I’d be willing to come by at your convenience, including this afternoon if you are still available.



Dear TITSNOB Hiring Big Cheese,

Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with Unit Supervisor and me today.  It was a pleasure to finally meet you after you’ve already rejected so many of my applications.

Your attention input was very helpful, and I especially appreciated your flattery frankness.  I agree with you that the particular vacancy we were discussing would be a total travesty probably isn’t a good fit for me right now, and appreciate your offer to consider me for future TITSNOB positions that may be much better jobs more suitable.   If I get a sex-change operation, will you marry me?!?!  Attached is another copy of my resume: I’m also grateful for your offer to circulate it.

Thanking you again,


The one where Almostgotit blogs like Penelope Trunk

October 29, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: TITSNOB, Uncategorized, failure, family, job relocation, job search, rejection, relocation 12 Comments →

My husband and I finally had an argument over this whole job thing last night… sort of remarkable, really, that it took us this long.

We are supposed to make our final decision about the new job today, and The Mid-Level Guy (T.M.L.G.) was supposed to get back to us yesterday morning with his counter-offer.

By 9 pm. last night we’d not heard a word, and began making plans about how to handle his silence.  Tensions were a wee bit high.

We finally got T.M.L.G’s email at about 11 pm… no, he hadn’t heard yet from his superiors with the money part, but hey, before? When he said pretty dismissively that he couldn’t do anything for The Wife? Turns out maybe he could get Almostgotit a very low level, very poorly paid secretarial job in his own Development office after all, which could be a great entree into Development in general, which we all know is a growing and lucrative field.

Yes I do know, says I, to Mr. Almostgotit. And I’m trying very hard to appreciate his efforts.

But might I point out,  says I additionally, That it’s the other city’s highest level Development/Advancement people (among others) who are calling me directly, on the phone (not just sending emails via my husband) and talking to me about writing and PR jobs in Development — instead of ignoring my updated resume altogether and offering an entry-level clerical job instead, citing my frackingorganizational skills?!?”

All else being truly equal, we both would rather stay in Tennessee, but

No one will ever just hand you a job, says Mr. A. You’ve got to try harder, or get another degree.

Maybe, counters I. But lots of people, especially those not occupying your own particular little part of the world, would say instead that the best way to get jobs is though connections, And how crazy am I to turn my back on this only time, ever, that so many people are going to bat for me, in the other city, right now??

(Besides, I add, much later. Besides. How can you say I haven’t tried??)

The man here is trying, says Mr. A. We should consider his offer. He’s right about it being an entree…

No, says I. If I wanted that kind of job, I could get one on my own. There are a million of them at The Institution that Shall not Be Named ( TITSNOB. *) Thank T.M.L.G for me, of course, but I am a terrible, terrible secretary. And I know exactly the job he’s talking about… I used to bring my paperwork to that person, buried in a basement office in a sea of filing cabinets and paperwork. That’s all she did. I’d die there. I’d DIE.

If you could get one of those jobs on your own, why haven’t you, says Mr. A.

Because I haven’t applied for any of those jobs, says I, a wee bit too loudly. And if I did want to be a secretary, I’d certainly not be one at TITSNOB, as the standard pay elsewhere in Knoxville is almost twice as much. I know, because I’ve looked into it, several times.

If we want to stay here, we need to find out more about the job, at least, says Mr. A.  Do you even KNOW what you want?

Some, says I, voice stupid and wobbly.  I know some of what I want.  And I know I don’t want to be a secretary.

This isn’t just any secretarial job, says Mr. A., but could lead to higher things…

No it won’t,  says I. It won’t. Name one secretary at TITSNOB who has ever gone on to other things, beyond more responsible secretarial jobs? Besides, there is so much paperwork at that place that I’d never have time for anything else. The world needs paperwork people, TITSNOB needs more than most, and some people are satisfied being paperwork people.  Many paperwork people are delightful, but for me those jobs are a DISASTER. 

Slight rolling of the eyes from Mr. A.

I’m not just being dramatic, or snotty, says I.   I’ve failed in four clerical jobs, remember, and grown past them in any case? I keep wanting to push the envelope. I find the work-arounds that work better. I get in trouble in clerical jobs. I’m one of those people that OTHER job ads ask for: “A self-starter,” and that is exactly what TITSNOB does not want in its secretaries. I know that better than anyone else — remember?!?

We both have very mixed feelings, and clearly we are both a little whacky. But how I would love to thumb my nose at TITSNOB and ride the hell out of town without looking back. And how delicious it would be for everyone here to know that the deciding factor in our leaving was the great job someone else just gave to his wife — the formerly-known-pain-in-the-butt we call ”Almostgotit.”


*Re TITSNOB:  No, the acronym doesn’t really work, but that’s okay because TITSNOB doesn’t really work either.


** Re Penelope Trunk:  This post isn’t, strictly, like one of Penelope Trunk’s, because (a) I got my husband’s permission to talk about our argument and (b) I did not mention anyone’s genitalia, shaved or otherwise.

It’s like making babies, Mom

October 28, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Uncategorized, adult parents, family, humor, job search, parenting, switching jobs 5 Comments →

I got a message on my voicemail last night. Turns out my folks are reading my blog ..

Hi Mom, Hi Dad.

Why didn’t we tell you? Because all of this job stuff is a little like making babies… how soon do you have to tell everyone about a baby? When you’re safely past the first trimester? Immediately after seeing the little pink thingie on the stick?

Blow by blow while you’re still TRYING?

Besides, we weren’t really “trying,” it just sort of happened during a rash moment last spring. Margaritas may or may not have been involved. And now we’re smack in the middle of what is turning out to be a very difficult decision, and we have to make it without being too distracted by the folks (as loving and supportive as they are) sitting in the bleachers.

Don’t worry, I feel for you.  I’ve got the same nosy parental deal, going the other way, with my son’s Facebook page.  Some people think it’s icky that I even have access to my son’s Facebook page.  Other people think I should not only read his page but report all his Facebooking friends to their parents. 

I’m just saying!

Be a freak

July 24, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Career Transitioning, Freak factor, Uncategorized, affirmations, employment, humor, inspiration, job search, success, weaknesses 9 Comments →

  1. There is nothing wrong with you. Weaknesses are important clues to your strengths.
  2. You find success when you find the right fit. You need to match your unique characteristics to situations that reward those qualities.
  3. Your weaknesses make you different. They make you a freak and it’s good to be a freak.

So says David Rendall in his online manifesto, The Freak Factor: Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness.    

How do I love this man? Let me count the ways.

Rejection letters should not be emailed

July 21, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Uncategorized, bad bosses, employment, hiring, job search, rejection letters 7 Comments →

Ask A Manager wrote a nice post about rejection letters yesterday, and gives several examples of truly stupid ways that rejected applicants respond to them.

I still don’t like emailed rejection letters, though, and here’s why.

Email feels hasty and is too provocative

An email is too sudden and surprising. It even raises my hopes up, just a minute, when I first see it in my inbox… a request for more information, perhaps? The memo-like nature of email lacks a certain sense of closure, too. If it says “no,” is that REALLY their final answer??

Email also is more provocative than a letter, and therefore much more likely to invite a response from the recipient.  As AAM points out, this is rarely a good thing.

Email shows how cheap you are

The cost of postage and paper may be rising, but it’s foolish to quibble over 45 cents when your company’s public image is on the line. Nor does it require much more staff time to use mail-merge to semi-personalize a form letter than it does to correctly enter a bunch of email addresses.

Job searches cost money, and they should. They are one of the most important thing any organization does. The real cost of job searches are retraining costs, particularly if a company did a poor job of hiring and retaining good employees to begin with. Appearances matter here, so don’t make your company look like it can’t even afford stamps, let alone decent salaries for its employees.

Email feels disrespectful

I am never hasty, cheap, or disrespectful when I apply for a job, and I think I deserve at least a tiny bit of time in return for my own investment. You asked for my application, after all, and your rejection is painful enough.

Bridges can burn in either direction: “Employ” is a transitive verb

I’ve been beating this point half to death lately, but I need to make it one more time.  Ann Bares at Compensation Force has made it even better than I by pointing out that it is not the bad employees but the good ones who will leave a company if they are unhappy. The costs of a poorly-run job search will only multiply.  To keep good employees, you need to attract them in the first place. 

Word gets out.  Just as employers and recruiters share information with each other, you can be sure that employees and job applicants do as well.

At least the best ones do, and those are the ones you want.  Right?

I am willing to concede a few exceptions to my no-email rule.  Among them:

  • The company is receiving unsolicited applications
  • The application process is an online one, or
  • The applicants are informed upfront that they will be updated via email.

Please send me a letter.  I want to see it and touch it. I will know what it is right away, but I want to be able to decide when to open it, and how to digest it.

And then I want to be able to crumple it up with great flourish and throw it away.
Related posts:
Employers: It’s Your Turn to be Fabulous
Un-Fabulous Employers: Asking for Too Much Upfront
Blind Box Ads: Bad-Ass, or just Bad?

Trust Your Nose

July 17, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Career Transitioning, Uncategorized, employment, goals, instincts, job search, jobless, jobs, polyvore, umemployment, vocation, working 4 Comments →

And another thing.

I’ve developed a pretty keen sense of smell in my old age, and it’s nearly always “right on the nose.”  Last year I turned down a management job at one company just months before the entire company went under; seven months ago I resigned my directorship of another and have watched them lose acres of ground since — as I’d warned them they would.  Nor have the latter found anyone willing to be my replacement. 

Many years ago, I ignored an “icky” smell at another job, until I had to leave that position when we moved to Canada.  I later found out that my boss had sexually assaulted my predecessor. 

My nose knows.

I don’t really want the news my nose is bringing me now, because it’s making me too picky.  I need a job.  I could persevere and take one of these stinky jobs anyway, but I already know the likely outcome: been there, done that.  So for now,  I’m sticking with the schnozz.

Related posts:
Employers: It’s Your Turn to be Fabulous
Un-Fabulous Employers: Asking for Too Much Upfront
Blind Box Ads: Bad-Ass, or just Bad?