Sunday, November 16, 2008

Misadventures along the way...

Sometimes, I don't even have to be working to have a calamity to add to my resume. In the moment, these things were NOT funny... in retrospect, though, some of them are.

I was on my way to an interview. I was in the heart of downtown. I was crossing a street. It was a particularly windy day and I had on a rather billowy skirt. A gust of wind came along and blew my skirt right up into my face. Yep. Undergarments exposed to the world (yes, they were clean) but as I batted the skirt back down I saw the absolutely horrified businessman who had been crossing the street slightly behind me. He muttered "disGUSting" as he scurried past. It wasn't as if I flashed downtown on purpose, ok? It was a "wardrobe malfunction".

I got to the building I was looking for, rode the elevator up, hit the ladies room to make sure I wasn't looking too "wind tunnel" and went down the hall to my interview. The receptionist ushered me into the posh corner office of... that's right... the disGUSted businessman. Who looked at me and said "I think we both know we have nothing to discuss", stood up and ushered me out the door.

That, my friends, was the shortest interview I've ever had. But, let's face it, who wants to work for someone who blames you for an act of nature?

My second interview that day, which I had the ability to access via the skyway system, thus saving me from having to brave the elements once again, went off without a hitch. I didn't get the job, but at least I didn't have to face someone who'd seen my underwear!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Let's say you're the district manager for a retail chain.

You supervise 6 stores.

You have a store that is not doing well and everyone from Grunt #1 to the Manager has given notice, so now you have to re-staff the store.

Staff at this store complained that they were not trained to do their jobs.

The Manager is quitting because she is "burned out" and has just done everything herself rather than delegating things and having them done incorrectly.

Would you stick with the management style you've been using, which is telling employees to "figure it out" if they ask you a question? Would you stick with that management style when you have new employees telling you that at 2 weeks they don't feel they've really had the training they need and feel like they SHOULD know things but don't?

Your company's policy is that everyone is trained to do every job. I applaud this. But is "figure it out" training? Just because that was YOUR training doesn't make it CORRECT training.

Am I wrong to look at this situation and think there is a "disconnect" happening somewhere?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Looking for a good time? Try Craigslist Employment Ads!

As you might imagine, I am getting in a bit of a panic about my impending unemployment situation. (Because no income = no Ebay and that's a sad, sad thing, dear Internet)

I've gone to the Job Bank site (great if I want a $7 an hour job), (great if I want to sell insurance), Careerbuilder (great if I want to buy a franchise or want a job where I have to make a "minimal financial investment"), the local newspaper (great if I want to work at a part-time job for an entry-level wage), Hotjobs (great if I were a nurse) and, finally, Craigslist.

I find a plethora of jobs on Craigslist that offer $25-$35 per hour. None of them list a company name. If you send an inquiry to the anonymized email the autoresponder sends you a link to a site where I've filled out about 100 identical applications which, in about 3 days, send another link to yet another cookie-cutter website asking for references. Then they send emails to the people I listed as references and then... I never hear another peep. Except from my references who are now all screaming "WTF??? Don't use me as a reference anymore!!" which is not so good when a real, legitimate job calls them wanting a reference.

Even better are the replies that say this "Hi, thanks for the interest in the XYZ Agency LTD. Asskisser job. It is a fun position, and we already have quite a few people wanting
To apply. We only need 3 people so if you’re interested try to get you self Applied today.{sic}

You've probably seen our promos (or promos just like them) all over the Internet. Sometimes they look like little quizzes, like current event type of stuff, other times they promote specific products or companies.

We picked Craigslist and backpage to look for people because the people who use
these sites are obviously smarter then the average person in regards to using the Internet. At least that is our gut feeling. And since this job has a lot to do with surfing the net and research, it just seemed to make sense.

But, the bad thing about Craigslist is the number of computer viruses and spam that people send. So, we came up with a simple two step process to prove you are a real person, and not some automated robot used to collect email addresses or send spyware.

The first step will help us verify your email address. We can use one of our regular promos like this one to confirm you are a real person....." and then there's a link that sends you to a site where you enter your email and then have to complete (1) Gold offer (2) Silver offers and (2) Platinum offers... And strangely, the promised link to upload your resume never appears. Maybe because I'm a cynic who won't provide my credit card number for the "nominal shipping charge" (that then enrolls you in an autoship program that charges your card $69.95 per month for the rest of eternity) and if I JUST had a little more faith, I'd get to the promised resume upload link.

Since I started applying for these jobs on Craigslist, I get some very interesting email, though...

"Overcome your Alcoholism today" (interesting that unemployment = alcoholism)

"Let the Debt Warrior Save You from Recession" (Does he look like Conan the Barbarian?)

"Find a great job with a Radiology-Degree" (Yay! More radiation!!)

"The Government Is Giving Away Money Come See!" (Homeland Security Agents standing by!)

See the excitement and good times y'all are missing out on?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dear Hiring Manager

Dear Potential Employer,

Please do not advertise for a job you want to fill two months from now. Most people looking for jobs need a new job pretty quickly. Haven't you ever noticed that by the time you offer the job to the person you REALLY want, they've already gotten a job? And yes, we can tell when we weren't your first choice.

Please do not tell me you "want to get someone hired as soon as possible" and then not contact me for a month.

Please don't tell me that the job doesn't hinge on the psych tests you've given me to take. I know better.

Please don't have me take a bunch of tests when you really aren't interested in me. Please understand that the testing makes me nervous and how I do on a typing test is not reflective of my typing skill. I've typed nearly every work day for the past 20 years and for at least the last 15 or so, I've typed copiously on my computer at home every night. Also, stop using tests that ask me to do things I would never do in a real job.

Please have the courtesy to at least send me a form letter when you aren't going to give me the job. I've submitted about 115 applications to a local employer for 115 different positions and have 115 rejection, I know it can't take much time to whip one out. Heck, email me a form notice... at least then I won't be waiting for you to make a decision.

Please don't have an internal candidate all picked out and use me to fill some stupid HR quota. Give the job to the person you were going to give the job to anyways. That'll also save your internal candidate weeks of agonizing over whether they are going to get the new position.

Please don't ask for a recounting of every single job I've ever had. I'm like a mutual fund... past performance is not an adequate measure of potential future performance. My personality has changed alot in the last 6 months, nevermind from a decade and a half ago.

Please don't automatically assume the worst about me. I've been laid off alot. Not fired, not terminated for cause, not quit because I just felt like it. There are many companies I've worked for that don't even exist anymore, so you won't be able to call them for a reference.

Please, for the love of God, don't make me sign a release that says you can talk to anyone you want about anything you want. I generally get along well with people, but you are always going to find SOMEONE who didn't think I was the greatest thing since they put rootbeer in bottles. Stop looking so hard for that person, ok? Additionally, people tend to remember bad things more easily because they had an emotional response to it.

Realize that you get what you pay for. Just because you CAN hire someone right out of high school for $8 an hour doesn't mean that you SHOULD. Yes, those kids do need jobs, but you are going to end up going through six or eight of them before you finally realize that you need someone with experience and people with experience can't work for $8 an hour (we don't live with our parents anymore... we have bills to pay)

Please don't think that you can call a job "receptionist" and expect to pay "receptionist" wages when what you really want is an Executive Assistant (who does about 3 times the work of a "receptionist")

Don't think that just because someone has a degree that they're smarter than someone with 15+ years of experience. A degree just means they could pay for college and remember things long enough to pass tests. And, think about it, how intelligent is it to take out $50, 000 in student loans and then go to work as an Administrative Assistant? With what Admins are paid, it will take their entire working life to pay off those student loans.

Don't have a policy that new hires don't get any paid time off for a year. Especially when someone has been out of work for a while, we'll take the job anyhow and then, six months later when we catch the flu, we'll come to work and get everyone sick because we don't have any paid time off to take and went into debt when we were out of work so can't afford to take an unpaid day off. Honestly, it really is more cost effective to give people PTO in that first year (you will have much more loyal employees and ones who are able to be more considerate of their co-workers and keep their germs at home).

Lastly, please always give an employee their birthday off as a paid holiday. Trust me. This is a GOOD idea.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Your potential new employee

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Debate that makes my head hurt

Once upon a time, Miss Cleo worked for someone we will call The Walrus. The Walrus was an unscrupulous man. Not just by Miss Cleo's standards, either.

The Walrus had a girlfriend who lived with him. And he had a girlfriend who lived a few states away who he denied being involved with, but everyone, including his Live-In Girlfriend knew the real score. Miss Cleo liked the LIG and felt bad that the Walrus was an asshole to her.

One day, the Walrus went on a road trip. He had the LIG's cell phone with him. He knew he couldn't call the other girlfriend directly from the cell phone because then his LIG would know he'd been a bad, bad Walrus. So, he called Miss Cleo at the office and had her conference in TOG. Miss Cleo felt very, very unethical doing this. But she knew she'd lose her job if she didn't. This was, however, the last straw and it was what pushed Miss Cleo to start looking for another job.

One day, Miss Cleo was on the phone with Ms. Pushypants, someone who was a minor acquaintance of Miss Cleo's and a good friend of the Lawyerdude. Ms. Pushypants was prodding Miss Cleo about why she was looking for another job. Miss Cleo explained the lack of ethics and morals of the Walrus and Ms. Pushypants asserted that when you are "on the clock" you MUST do WHATEVER your employer asks of you, no matter if it is against your morals or not.

For the record, Miss Cleo is vehemently against this point of view. Your boss has a reasonable expectation that you will perform the job you were hired to do. My job for the Walrus was "Secretary" and never in any job description Ms. Cleo has ever seen has it said "and the Secretary will assist the Boss with cheating on his Girlfriend". I hear you saying "But, Miss Cleo, couldn't that fall under "other tasks as assigned"" and Ms. Cleo would have to admit that it might but will assert that you, as an employee, have the right to not do things that are unethical, and this is where I believe the legal term "reasonable person" comes into play (The reasonable person standard is often used legal term that originated in the development of the common law. The "reasonable person" is a legal fiction which represents a reasoned outlook on a legal question. The perspective of the reasonable man is intentionally distinct from that of an "average" person; contrary to popular misconception, the reasonable man is not necessarily average. The question of how a reasonable person might act, or what judgment they might make under the circumstances performs a critical role in legal reasoning . For example, the crime of sexual harassment is deemed to have occurred in some legal jurisdictions when the conduct is unwelcome and when a reasonable person would have considered such conduct sexual.) Miss Cleo would argue that per the reasonable person standard, being asked to help one's boss cheat on their LIG would be out of the scope of a secretary's duties. If you argue that ANYTHING can fall under the "other tasks as assigned" clause, then I submit to you that you would be beholden to commit murder if you were "on the clock" and your boss asked you to do so and, really, how many people would actually DO that? If you walked in to work tomorrow and your boss said "I have the person you love the most in the whole world in the conference room tied to a chair, here's a gun, you will go kill him/her now" would you actually do it? What if you were told "you will be fired and likely shot yourself if you don't do it." Does that change anything?

My point in all of this is that we all have free will and I exercised mine in deciding to look for another job. I was being asked to do things I was not comfortable doing. I didn't ask to not do those tasks, I chose to seek other employment.

The reason this came up again was someone in a forum I read asked if it was wrong to refuse to serve alcohol to an obviously pregnant woman. I'd say that a wait person should have to right to refuse to do so. There are probably other people on staff who would not have a problem doing so, so the customer could still be reasonably accommodated. If you are told by your superior "you are never to refuse alcohol service to a patron", you then have the decision to make as to whether you want to continue doing the job. I know that there was an issue at some grocery stores where Muslim cashiers would not handle/ring up pork products and I believe they made accommodations for those folks.

So, does your boss have the right to ask you to do whatever he wants when you're on the clock? I'd say that sexual harrassment laws point at "no". So, is it only ok for him to ask you to do anything UP TO actually breaking a law? Well, I know that once upon a time there weren't any sexual harrassment laws and that they came into being somehow. More than likely due to someone not liking behaviour they were expected to put up with. Is cheating on your girlfriend illegal? Certainly not. But it's not something I want to have to be party to at MY workplace and I have the right to that opinion. Ms. Pushypants, I disagree with your assertion and make a mental note to never work for you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Interviews are exhausting!

I am very happy I don't have to go to interviews every day. I would be dead of stress/ exhaustion before the first 2 weeks were up.

I had an interview this evening. I did extensive research about the company, which allowed me to ask an absolutely STUNNINGLY CLEVER question of my interviewer. It's for what boils down to an assistant manager position working for a manager who has never really run a business before. Sadly, this means that while I have never held the TITLE of manager before, I seem to have more working knowledge of how businesses run than the person who would be my boss. She did admit that she's not so much for the whole "computer thing" and "paperwork things" which are both my strengths. However, I am also capable of being Ms. Saleswoman and don't need to call the manager if I have to deal with a pissy client, either. I may have to go to the bathroom and cry after dealing with a pissy client but I've lived through actual psychotic episodes (THE CLIENT'S EPISODES, for the record... not my own...)

Now I must go wash off the makeup and play the waiting game. I do not like the waiting game. I want the potential employer to fall in love with me and cancel all the other interviews because they know they will not find anyone as wonderful as I am. That never seems to happen, though... and I am starting to take it personally. I need to find a job working for one of the people who either a) reads my blog or b) writes a blog that I dig. Or I need to win the lottery. Either way, I need a new gig and I need it soon, so wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Joys of Being a Contractor

I had planned to bring you gently forward from those first work-related experiences to the present day. However, given news I received today, I will yank you all forward in time to the present!

I'm currently working as a contractor for Medico Mecca. This was to be a six-month contract but Jolly J kept saying that they were going to keep us until the end of the year. Did you know September has now become the end of the year? I say that because to say otherwise, at this point, would be to imply that Jolly J is a liar.

Jolly J is not exactly "supportive" of my tenure at Medico Mecca. She frequently gets her panties in a wad and does her best to get me similarly hysterical over things that the managers at the Mecca sortve derisively snort at because while they certainly love to CREATE drama, they don't particularly seem to like resolving drama. I can pretty much sum up the management style as "If we just ignore it, it will go away".

Jolly J also was very pushy about me doing my part to make sure I got my 6 month review. I was nagged daily to do this "completely voluntary" paperwork which I finally submitted under duress. Yeahhhh, ummmm, guess who hasn't had a review yet (which is fine with me).

Anyhoozle... Jolly J emailed me today to let me know that my contract is ending in a couple of weeks, for budget reasons, not because of performance. Oh yay. So, I was told that I'd have a job through the end of the year and now here it is, if I am reading my calendar correctly, only September. She'll be by on Thursday with my paperwork.

I did negotiate a couple of points with the Medico Mecca Manager (ahhhh, alitteration). First, there will be no announcement to the group of my imminent departure (so they don't get a treat day out of the deal). I head you gasping at my heartlessness. Hear me out. There were 5 contractors to begin with. 1 got fired, one just left to take a better job, two got hired on (I was told that because I don't have a degree, I will NEVER get hired by Medico Mecca because the doctors insist on being supported by EDUCATED people). So, yeah, I was good enough to come and do the work every day, but didn't make the cut when they were hiring. That makes the old ego just burst with pride, let me tell you. Secondly, my co-workers have gone out of their way to make sure that the CONTRACTORS were reminded at every opportunity that they were CONTRACTORS. (As in, "oh, we would have invited you to happy hour... but that's for EMPLOYEES"). My second negotiation was that on my second to last day there is a 7:30AM meeting and I am working 9-6 that week. I will NOT be going in early for that 7:30AM meeting because I love my sleepin'! I will stop short, however, of stamping my feet about all of the money I've donated to the Holiday Committee towards the Holiday Party (because, in reality, it's less than $20) because I knew in my heart, right from the start, that Jolly J was bullshitting me about the contract going until the end of the year.

Monday, September 1, 2008

In the beginning...

I think it's only fair to start this blog about work at the beginning... not my first "for pay" job, but back further than that. Because I think so much of my attitude about work was shaped by that early work experience.

I refer, of course, to "chores". I'm providing a definition here:

chore //
(chôr, chōr) n.
  1. A routine or minor duty or task. See Synonyms at task.
  2. chores Daily or routine domestic tasks, especially a farmer's routine morning and evening tasks, such as feeding livestock.
  3. An unpleasant or burdensome task.
Chores, the "character building" tasks given to children by parents. One of my earliest chores, and one that I think set the tone for much of my working life, was picking up sticks in the yard so the lawnmower (a nasty non-mechanized push mower which could probably be the topic of at least one 50 minute therapy session) could get through the yard without having to chew through sticks. We had many trees in our yard and there were always PLENTY of sticks.

I would be rousted out of bed at about 7:30 on a summer Saturday morning by the hideous morning person my stepfather was by him yanking off my covers, ripping open my curtains and having him fairly SHOUT in a sing-song tone "It's getty uppy time" (the only time you were allowed to be in bed past 8AM ANY day of the week was if you were running a fever of AT LEAST 102). NOT. a. morning. person. I never was. I never will be. And weekends are MADE for sleeping in, ESPECIALLY summer weekends. So, this early rousing to an unpleasantly cheerful morning person did NOT start my day off right.

I'd go out and pick up the big sticks. The really obvious ones. I'd go back in and announce I was done. An inspection would follow. I'd receive a lecture about how if he did a half-assed job like that where he worked he'd be fired (keep in mind here, I was under the age of 10 at the time this was happening). I'd go out and pick up most of the smaller sticks. Go back in and re-announce I was done. An inspection would follow. This time I would be dragged around the yard and SHOWN every single missed stick. More lecturing about half assed work, poor work ethic with a great deal of "back in my day" thrown in and threats to use the biggest stick that could be found to give me a proper "lesson" in doing the job right the first time.

With this setting the stage for me as to what "work" was like, is it really any wonder that I have issues with authority figures? Is it really any wonder that I absolutely DREAD performance reviews?

I promise that future entries will be less trauma-inducing. It may interest you that I resolved early on in life to live in apartments so I would never have to take care of a lawn. When I got older I figured I would at least have to be the level of rich to be able to hire people to do my yard work (I am informed that I got an early start on that, saving up my meager allowance and paying a younger neighborhood kid to do the work for me...I don't remember doing that, but it really sounds like something I would do...)