Thursday, August 11, 2011

Highly Educated, Well Versed and....Homeless?

With the economy the way it is, hearing stories like these are beginning to become the norm. Certainly not posted to dampen anyone's mood and foster any feelings of discouragement as you wade through your job search, but just thought I would share this story...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Check these links out...

Here are some links to articles that some have found to have pretty helpful tips:

"Listen Up! Silence Speaks Volumes in an Interview"

"Ten Ways to Score that Job Offer"

“You gotta start somewhere right? But is that "somewhere" always a crappy job? Check out this article about being an assistant, interesting piece…

"Before You Take an Assistant Job, Read This: An Interview with Lilit Marcus"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

...There's something wrong with my phone!...

New Edition - Mr. Telephone Man
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Oh New Edition…and I thought I didn’t have much in common with these guys. But we do, the feeling of rejection…

Rejection is something I’ve always had a hard time dealing with…in all aspects of my life…guys, family, friends…so its no wonder why I often feel a little “salty” about the job search process, more specifically the lack of communication from employers. In my opinion, it only seems right that once you have applied for a position, you should receive some sort of notification letting you know your application or resume was received and then, once you have been denied (*side eye*), someone sends you a little email stating that someone with “better qualifications” was chosen for the position. I mean, I have, in the past, received those letters, however, I have NOT received more than I HAVE received. And I must be honest, it doesn’t do much for the self-esteem…

But even worse than that, is a “no call back” from an interview. SMH. I’ve had this conversation many times with fellow job hunters and it is pretty much a consensus that yes, it happens frequently and yes, it’s rather frustrating. Multiple questions and regrets arise:

“Did I say something wrong?”

“I should have answered that question differently!”

“Was it my outfit?!”

“Was last night's dinner stuck in my teeth?”

“Do I remind him of his psychotic ex-girlfriend?”

A friend and I once described it as feeling like a one night stand…the kind where you did not know you were a one night stand. You know, the kind where you thought you were going to get a call back, maybe not the next day, but eventually…And maybe you were planning on being the “rejecter” and the one to decide that whatever it was that you two (or three, I don’t judge…) had was going to cease. However, you didn’t even get a chance to reject that person, or in this case, decline their job offer.

I do not have expert advice on how to deal with this feeling (although I may in the future), but I do know that in my own experiences I have made it my duty to remain positive. It’s the best option. Don't dwell on it, but keep moving forward. Do not let it serve as a hindrance but a motivation (soooo cliché, I know. But it’s true!)…becoming disgruntled about why you haven’t been called back only occupies mental space that you need to figure out how you are going to bum your next meal, I mean, for real…

Oh…and its NOT your phone, no need to call Verizon…

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Interview or Interrogation?

Let me start by saying that I am broke right now. I have enough money to pay my rent and enough left over to think about eating. I've been sending my resume out, filling out applications and praying for financial deliverance (let the church say "times is hard!"). Ok, so, let me tell you about the most ridiculous interview that ever was.

I came across a description of the position in a posting online and the firm was accepting résumés and cover letters via email; I submitted my résumé and cover letter. Within a week, the firm replied to my submission saying that they were "impressed" with my résumé and that they would like for me to come in and interview. As quick as 1-2-3 we had set up a date and time for me to come in.

I live on Long Island, the firm is located in NYC. I took the Long Island Rail Road and the good ol' MTA subway system to get there. It cost me 2 hours in travel time, $29.07 in expenses and it was about 233 degrees outside, but I arrived at the office 20 minutes ahead of time. The receptionist showed me to the office of the attorney with whom I would be interviewing, we shook hands, introduced ourselves and took our respective seats.

The first thing he asked, after the introductory conversation was, "So, you're the one who's been to law school already?" It sounded like a friendly question so, I gleefully answered, "yes!" *pleasant smile* He went on to say that he really liked my résumé, everything looked good and that he "had" to meet me! Then he told me a little more about himself and his practice, explained what the position required on a daily basis and asked me if I had any questions for him. Everything was going so well that I didn't want to seem unenthusiastic by not asking any questions, so I asked him what he values most about his career. He said "blah-blah-blah, whomp-whomp-whomp" and I just knew he was going to ask me my availability next because what more was there to say??

"Yeah…I don't think this is going to work out...because you've already been to law school. It wouldn't make sense for me to hire you since you're just going to look for a job somewhere else eventually." That's what he had to add to the conversation. I assured him that it was not my intention to leave immediately or even within a few months. I told him that I was looking for a firm where I could learn and grow. That as much as I love my current job, I have been hoping to gain more experience. "Yeah…I don't think this is going to work out because, I mean, you don't have any experience working in a law firm, right?" This is what he asked me next…I was so confused! It's the first listed experience on my résumé, which I politely reminded him…he did read at my résumé, right? Then he asked me the kind of firm I worked at and I told him that it was an entertainment firm. "Oh, really? Well then why didn't they hire you?" Something about his tone was calling me a liar and I didn't like it one bit. I explained that I currently work there but it is only a part-time position and I am seeking full-time employment. He continued to tell me that the position was "really secretarial" and that there were "so many things" I would have to know how to do like request documents from people, talk to people on the phone and mail things, he asked me if I thought that was something I could handle. I told him that those were only some of the things that I do at my current job. So then he asks, again, "What kind of firm is it?" I told him, again and this time is response was "oh, huh, well, I used to do some entertainment work…had some pretty high-profile clients too. Basically, what I did was, if they were looking to buy or rent property or had any wills, trusts & estate matters, I would handle those things for them." That isn't entertainment work at all, that is real estate and wills, trusts & estates work. So, he fibbed to me for the sake of one-upping me? I don't even know how the interview made such a tragic turn, but it still hadn't reached its destination of ridiculousness. "I mean…like I said, I don't know if this is going to work out because this job is really secretarial. I mean, there are a lot of secretarial things I would need you to do and if you're not competent you wouldn't even be able to stay here. I don't like to do a lot of things myself, I like to stay busy with other things so I would need you to answer the phone, file things, type things. Can you even type?" Was he serious with this question? I'm really asking, could he have possibly been serious?


There was an awkward silence on my end filled with confusion and slight offense. I was shocked that he even thought to ask me that question. Who can't type in 2010? Who's been through college and law school and cannot type…and I don't want to hear anything about 80-90 year old people, people who've never used or owned computers, people with no fingers, none of that; you know what I'm saying…in 2010, you don't ask someone if they can type unless you're trying to say something, rude.

"….Yes….i can type, "I answered .

"How fast can you type?"

"About 65-70 words per minute, about 80 on a good day," was my insufficient response.

"So...about 55?" he asked in an a corrective tone and practically accusing me of dishonesty.

"No, not 55 at all. I type 65-70 words per minute."

"well, again, I don't know if this is going to work out but would you mind taking a typing test?"

"*Side eye* Sure."...I took the test, I was upset I only typed 65 wpm. At the end of it all, I smiled, thanked him for his time, and hoped he didn't call me. What was the point of that? Everything he asked about me was in my résumé. Everything he incorrectly assumed about me was accurately represented in my résumé. Everything that he decided to be impressed by in my résumé is exactly why he didn't want to hire me? I don't know what his issue was or what became his issue when I arrived for the interview, but I'm not going to worry myself trying to figure it out. I was so annoyed that I was tempted to write him a lengthy e-mail explaining to him that his conduct was unprofessional and inconsiderate, closing with an underlined "don't have me waste my money so that you can waste my time, sir!" I didn't do that though, I just settled for fussing about it to my mother, my best friend, four other people and writing this blog post. :- /

"So, tell me why I should recommend you..."

I'm not a very helpful person. I can admit that I am generally pretty self-absorbed and, in the same respect, pretty self-sufficient. I hate to ask for favors because I simply do not like the position it puts me in; waiting, dependent and assumedly indebted to the person providing the favor. I hate being asked for favors because I don't know how to say no. It's not what you think. I do not struggle, at all, with turning someone down--I believe that "saying 'no' to someone else, is saying 'yes' to myself" (I cannot remember where I picked up that bejeweled little trinket but I keep it with me always). What I struggle with is my tone. Rather than simply saying "I don't think I'll be able to do that" or "Sorry, I can't help you", I generally opt for "Hell, no", "Are you serious? No" or some hybrid of the two…typically involving laughter.

Ok, so I am exaggerating a little, but only a little. It is true that I hate to ask for favors but I am not completely adverse to lending a helping hand. I-can't-find-my-cell-phone-can-you-call-it-for-me or I'm-going-out-of-town-for-two-weeks-can-you-come-by-and-feed-my-cat favors are practically the cornerstones of the Good Samaritan Handbook; those barely even count as "favors". What I am reluctant to do is extend myself in ways that require me to take on additional obligations in my daily life and/or assume accountability for the yielded situation. However, no matter how hard I try to resist, I do fall victim to bouts of generosity and the occasional "good mood". Sometimes I just feel like being nice and helping, but I've learned that in the professional world being nice is not always helping.

Case in point: giving recommendations.

I don't know why I did it; she didn't even ask me, I was just feeling generous. I knew she was looking for an internship and I was leaving for a while to study for the bar exam. My employer asked me to let him know if I knew of anyone who was interested in filling in. So, I told her--Abby Applebottom--about the opportunity (yes, I know that's a cheesy pseudonym).

I let Abby know that it was not a typical internship and that she would not get the same experience as other interns but, if she was attentive to the things going on around her, that she could learn a lot--as I have. I briefly explained some of the things I did for my employer and Abby was enthusiastic about the opportunity. Abby interviewed, she was chosen for the position and we (Abby, Employer and I) collectively worked toward the transition from me being to intern to Abby being the intern.

After being there for a few weeks, I ran into Abby and she let me know that she had a few concerns about the position and that sometimes she felt that she wasn't doing that well, she was concerned that Employer didn't like her and she said that she was disappointed because she thought the internship was gong to be different. I encouraged her to take her time and work at it, she was new to the position and she still needed to adjust and find her rhythm; Abby agreed and said she felt a little better. Not shortly after that I received an e-mail from Abby letting me know that she decided to leave the internship.

I was horrified. The office can be very busy; if there is no intern in the office then that can only lead to mayhem. Employer travels a lot so, often times, it isn't even feasible for him to be in the office. Without an intern things simply don't work well at all. "What is Employer going to do? How is Employer going to find a new intern on such short notice? Employer is probably upset with me for recommending Abby!" Those were only some of the thoughts that ran (in place) through my mind. I also thought back on the conversation I had with Abby not long before I'd received the e-mail. What did she mean she thought the internship was going to be different? I told her exactly what it was going to be like. I wonder if she told Employer she was leaving because I didn't explain the position to her. Not only was I concerned about the inconvenient position in which Employer had been placed, I was nervous that Abby leaving was going to have a negative affect on my professional relationship with Employer, which I highly valued.

Fortunately, the dust settled rather quickly; things at the office were back in order in no time and my professional relationship with Employer is still intact. So, what's the moral of this story? For me, it is to never give another recommendation again. Or, to be a little less dramatic about the matter, I think it would be helpful to give more reliable recommendations in the future.

Now, it isn't that I didn't know Abby or that I had reason to believe that she would leave so suddenly but I still feel that I could have prevented the difficulty that resulted from the employer/intern mismatch had I only taken the time to learn more about her expectations, her availability and even the type of work environment she prefers. Employer isn't you're everyday Chatty Cathy so perhaps that's why Abby felt like he didn't like her. Maybe that small detail could have changed the way things worked out or maybe it's dicta; either way, it couldn’t have made things any worse.

In the future, I think I may conduct pseudo interviews with anyone I consider recommending for anything else. I know it may seem like a bit much for some but in situations where your professional relationship with the employer is important to you, doing so has the potential to help more than it can hurt. In addition to considering the obvious (how well you know the person and/or what you know about the person's work ethic), it is important to consider everyone's expectations. Of course, the employer is looking for someone to fill the position who will do the job well but is the recommended person just looking for a job or are they looking for something more (whether it be particular experience or an opportunity for professional growth)? Consider what is at stake; for yourself and the employer. Giving a "bad" recommendation may be detrimental for the person giving the recommendation and, further, if things don't work out it could leave the employer in a tough spot (cost in time or money, diminished quality of work product and/or lack of organization). There are a lot of things to take into consideration but I'm not saying that I would conduct full, professional, extensive, have-references-available type of interviews. I just mean that I would certainly get to know more about a potential "recommendee" than I did in this case, and I would give a recommendee as much useful information as I could.

I never recommended anyone for anything before and it will probably be a while before I do it again; I definitely learned a valuable lesson from this experience.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Resource for Young, Educated Professionals...

The vision for this blog is that it will evolve into a highly valuable resource for young, educated professionals (not just the young, educated, and unemployed!). Of course, there will be discussion topics and questions, as well as, our stories and experiences. However, the blog will also include job postings, informational articles, career advice, and networking information that can help us all in our professional development. So, look out for this information as we will be updating the page regularly!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Welcome to the Voice of the Well Educated, Well Versed and Unemployed...

So, you’ve added another degree on your wall. Great! I bet you smiled as you finally received your diploma in the mail. You felt a sense of pride looking at YOUR name on that fancy piece of paper or as I like to call it, a fancy “receipt”. Or maybe your name was the only recognizable set of words on your diploma because everything else was in Latin, but really all that mattered was that it was indeed your name that was on that diploma. Ahhh, bliss…

So, now what…get a job, right? Of course. You worked for it…you suffered sleep deprivation because you stayed up perfecting orating skills working on those infamous group projects AND you sat in class ravenous because you chose “Thirsty Thursdays” instead of groceries AND you re-wrote your thesis seven times and sacrificed your sanity in its place. But this was all temporary, of course. Jobs awaited you because you were soon to be among an elite group of people with degrees, riiiight…

So you have a degree! So what!

You’re getting that vibe too? The vibe that employers aren’t really moved by the list of schools on your resume. You are not alone. This blog was created to allow a space for those who are well educated, well versed, and unemployed who want to share their experiences. Whether a crazy temp job stint, an inspirational rags to riches story, or networking information, all are welcome. Hey, and for the brazen individuals, how about a plea for employment! I encourage all to contribute to this space, employed or not, send me your stories!!

…In the meantime, I shall return to find a cure to this disease I call unemployment…