Friday, September 24, 2010

The Interview

Ugh.  That did not go well.  Being in a leasing office again made me realize that I'm not meant to be in a leasing office.  I was extremely nervous going into my interview and, I discovered, completely unprepared to answer some key questions asked by the district manager.  Two years is a long time to be away from an industry.  My lack of confidence was evident during the entire process, and I left the office knowing I would not be offered the job.

That said, I'm going to approach the whole mess as a learning experience.  Here's what I learned:

Do
  • Brush up on your numbers.  I couldn't recall my closing ratio, income goals, or anything more detailed than the number of apartments we had on property and average occupancy.  Employers like statistics; you should provide some relevant to your work.
  • Research the company.  I managed to poke around looking at floorplans and the like, but I didn't learn much about the management company itself.  I should have.
  • Remain confident.  Though I'm certain I would be great as an assistant manager, that certainty didn't come through in my interview.  I was hesitant when answering several questions and became easily flustered when I couldn't provide detail.
Don't
  • Focus on the negative.  Looking back at some of my responses, I'm pretty certain my distaste for aspects of the apartment industry was evident.  If you don't enjoy what you do (or are interviewing to do), it shows.
  • Forget to ask questions.  Asking relevant questions shows you are invested in the company and the outcome of your interview with them.  This is key.
So there you have it.  Here's to hoping for better things to come.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week Two

Sorry for the lack of postings, but there hasn't been much news to relay.  I lost a bit of steam.  I realized this week that I haven't been approaching the whole job thing in the most practical way.  I've been applying for jobs without really thinking through what would happen if I actually landed one of them.  For example, I contacted a former employer the day I lost my job telling him I'd be willing to relocate anywhere within the company.  Turns out, I'm not.  He was very kind and he and one of the regional managers found a spot for me in South Carolina, so I excitedly relayed this news to David. 

One of the things I love about my husband is his ability to think rationally in those moments when I cannot.  He pointed out that the salary being offered wasn't much different from his currently and he would be unable to collect unemployment in SC if we were to move.  Also, we don't have much in savings and moving would deplete our funds entirely.  As much as I love my former company and all of the people in it, it didn't make sense for me to accept their offer.  That was not a fun email to write.

I did manage to land an interview here in Birmingham for this Friday, but otherwise this has been a week chock full of rejections.  So let's focus on the positive: Interview = YAY!  Interview also = slightly terrifying.  I find it difficult to present myself as a commodity and have an intense fear of disappointing people.  This fear is so strong, I once forgot to breathe during my annual review and very nearly passed out.  Thankfully, my review was good.

So I have a few questions for you, dear readers:
  1. How do you market yourself without feeling cocky or boastful?
  2. How do you shake off the nervousness to appear confident?
  3. Am I the only person who thinks the five most hurtful words in the world are "I'm very disappointed in you"?
And finally, I'm in the process of coming up with both a plan of action and a budget.  I'm the kind of person who can't function without a to-do list and a rough outline of what to expect.  Also, unemployment still hasn't quite kicked in and this month's round of bills is fast approaching.  In summation:  I'm a bit less chipper this week than the last, but I'll take thoughtful realism over blind optimism any day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Prospects

Things are not so bleak.  I have a few leads on jobs that came from completely unexpected sources, nevermind that the dream job is a total half-court-shot-at-the-buzzer sort of chance.  It just goes to show that it really pays to network your little heart out.  Now, I am fully aware that it is highly possible none of these leads will pan out.  At the very least they've given me hope, and that's all I can really ask for at the moment.

Things I've learned in the week since IT happened:
  • Remember that district manager/owner/boss/co-worker that you really got along with at that job three years ago?  Yeah, go ahead and send that person an email.
  • Even the co-worker you were convinced never really liked you (though you secretly really wanted to be great friends) can surprise you and write a stellar recommendation.
  • Ask your friends for job leads and then ask their parents.  They've been out in the real world so much longer than you have and therefore have connections you could never dream of.
  • If you aren't exactly thrilled with the city where you live, don't be afraid to consider relocation!  You never know what opportunities you would have if you were willing to pack a few boxes.
  • Even if you know you won't leave the house, get dressed, brush your teeth and hair, and put on your makeup.  You'll feel better.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Three Days Later

Well, I've had a bit of a breakdown.  I was fine!  I even managed to crack a joke with my husband as I told him about what happened.  I entered the apartment and said, "well, I have good news: I'm home for the rest of the day!  The bad news is I'm unemployed."  He didn't find the joke amusing.

For three days he marveled at how well I was handling the blow to my ego/income/obsessive need for a plan.  This morning he went back to work and I sat down to play Bejeweled Blitz before making another attempt to find something worth an application on the job-search sites.  After a few games I noticed my vision getting a bit blurry and my face getting wet.  By the time I was able to ask myself, "am I crying?" I was in full-blown hysterics.  *Note:  If you've never had a panic attack, let me warn you:  they're TERRIFYING*  Though I knew rationally that everything was fine--we have some (meager) savings, I still had a paycheck and severance and PTO time due to come in, and it had only been THREE DAYS for Pete's sake--I couldn't shake the overwhelming fear, sadness, and completely irrational shame. 

After scaring the bejeesus out of my eldest cat (and most likely, my neighbors) with my bizarre and guttural sobs, I opted for a cold shower and a dose of Benadryl to calm me the frak down.  Forty-five minutes later I was fine again.

Okay then.  Moral of the story:  If you panic, don't panic.  It'll pass.

Friday, September 3, 2010

How I Became Unemployed

There were warning signs that my job was not guaranteed for a while before it happened:
  1. I was the only Editorial Assistant/Proofreader in a company of thousands with offices all over the world. If none of the other offices needed someone like me, it stood to reason I was expendable.
  2. My department wasn't performing to the company standard (though there were so many reasons for this that had nothing to do with the staff, I could write another post on this subject alone).
  3. Quite a few people had been seen leaving the building with boxes over the last several months.
  4. There was rumor that nearly every department's budget would be cut by 20% by the end of the year.
Knowing all of this, I had been keeping an eye on the big two job-search websites and working on building my network on LinkedIn. I thought I had at least a few months before the inevitable happened. I was wrong.
On Thursday, September 2nd, my supervisor's boss poked his head around my cubicle wall and asked, "Can you come to the conference room with me if you have a minute?" Certain that nobody was throwing me a surprise party, I followed him expecting bad news. This expectation was met when I saw the HR representative in the conference room. I nodded at her and tried to steel myself for the next few minutes. I nearly made it out of the room without crying.
I couldn't have asked for a nicer person to break the news, and I felt awful knowing that he was forced to do it three times in one day: once for me, once for my supervisor, and once for my graphic design co-worker/kindred spirit. Because of the kind messenger it was easier to understand that I had done nothing wrong, my position was simply being eliminated.
The tricky thing is, even though I know there is nothing I could have done to prevent this situation, I can't help but feel some amount of guilt and SHAME over being let go. From the time I was fifteen and legally able to work I have had a job. I've never left a job not knowing where my next paycheck would come from. But worse than losing an income, it feels like I've lost an identity. That sounds strange even to me considering I never felt like I fit in with most of my co-workers, but it feels true when I say it. It's easy to feel a little lost when you don't know how to answer the simple question, "so what do you do?" when being introduced to someone.
So I'm trying to shake the shame and banish the guilt so I can focus on what's next. I've registered for unemployment and put myself out there on every website I can think of. There are so many possibilities out there and different roads I can take. Who knows? This could even be exciting.