Unemployment is a lot like Being Single

Several years ago, I spent about six months unemployed. Collecting unemployment from the state of Illinois is something of a joke, in my opinion. I know a lot of people who collect and don’t do a damn thing to find a job. I even had a recruiter ask me if I was collecting, and if I would still be interested in part time or freelance work if it would mess up the unemployment check. Really? I thought that the point was to REEMPLOY yourself!

Of course, as someone who spent many hours a day, five days a week, for six months searching, I’m a little jaded. I had to go to a state mandated “re-employment” workshop, something that people who had been collecting UI for years had never been to…and still, no full-time employment for Chrissy.

I’ve also had my fair share of singleton experiences. I spent the better portion of my adult life single and made the rounds of dating–online and otherwise.

So having spent a lot of time job hunting, and a lot of time dating…I realized that job hunting is a lot like dating. More specifically, job hunting is a lot like online dating.

Online dating and job hunting

How to find a job…or how to find a date

Step one
Build your online profile. You need to make yourself marketable to your target audience. Whether it’s a future boss or a future boyfriend, you need to know what they want and give yourself the appearance that you have it. The more you write, the more interesting (or boring) you become. You’ve got to have a perfectly written cover letter or dating profile that stands out in a crowd of other single or unemployed persons. Not only that, it has to stand out to the particular type of person or company that you’re trying to snag.

Step two
Search. Search for the forever employer. Search for the forever boyfriend or girlfriend. Search for a right-now date or the right-now job. You’ve got your information posted for them to find you; now, you have to try to find them. With a plethora of websites and apps available for you to find your perfect match, you can spend hours filling out forms with all of your information, writing about yourself, and so much more. This step is where desperation can often come into play. Whether you’re sending out 500 job applications on CareerBuilder, or sending messages to 500 different people on Match.com, you’ve got to make sure to limit the sound of despondency in your tone. Keep it confident. Simple.

Step three
Make contact. Once you’ve found a potential match, you’ve got to get in touch with them in the hopes that they will respond to your inquiry. If they’ve found you first, you need to take it from virtual communication to real communication. Email, phone, and then in-person communication. It’s a process

Step four
The first date or the interview. From the pre-meeting anxiety to the sigh of relief upon its completion, these two are incredibly similar. You make yourself look your absolute best–a best that you almost never look in real life. A brand new outfit, coiffed tresses, flawless make-up, and whatever else you can think of. You’re showcasing a part of yourself that almost never makes it out into the real world. Because ain’t nobody got time for that every day.

Step five
Wait. Hope they call. Whether it’s the second interview or the second date, you can only wait for them to make the decision that they’ll call. Of course, you can be proactive and make the first move, but even then, it’s always a waiting game. Are they going to answer? Are they going to turn down your request for a second date or meeting?

Basically, you’re trying to fit personalities into a functional relationship that will become mutually beneficial. Dating or job-hunting–the questions are all the same. Are you personable? Are you a hard-worker? Are you intelligent? Can you keep up? Do you mesh well together?

Eventually, you’ll find the right one at the right time, and things, hopefully, work out well.

Have you ever been unemployed? What comparisons would you make about dating and job hunting?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A Letter to Recruiting Agencies

Dear recruiter,

It has come to my attention that you don’t all seem to quite understand how the job market works. I have discovered the following issues with you and your respective companies, and I would like to help you out.

1. Do just a little bit of research

I’m not asking you to discover my life story. I’m not asking you to read all of my writing samples. I’m definitely not asking you to seek out this blog (as it is obviously not intended to use for full time employment). I’m merely asking you to do a tiny speck of research.

Just because I live in Illinois, does not mean that any job in Illinois is within close proximity to me. In fact, just because I live in a Chicago suburb, does not mean that I live within close proximity to the job you are trying to bid at $15/hour. I would spend more in time and gas getting there every day. So, look at my resume, copy the town I live in, and Google map it for crying out loud. 3 seconds will save you a lot more time than it takes to call me.

2. Speak English. Well.

It’s very hard for me to understand you when you don’t even know how to pronounce Christine. It’s very easy. Say it with me, now, “K-ris-tee-n.” If I can’t understand your pronunciation of my name, how will I know the job details? How are we going to negotiate my rate of pay? How will I know what YOUR name is?

3. Double and Triple Check Appointments

If you set up an interview for me, please for the love of God, double check on both ends that it is a go. I’ve missed out on some great opportunities because of a recruiter’s mistake. When a high profile job goes live, I get 3-5 phone calls from various recruiters around the country. I’ll remember that the next time you call.

This is a short letter, but an honest one. I appreciate that you are there to “help” me, but I also understand that the “sale” is your bottom line. If you work with me, I’ll certainly work with you. I am GOOD at what I do. All you have to do is get me the interview.

Sincerely,

Me.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

My Year as a Professional Contest Winner

The end of 2012 is near, and it’s time to reflect on the year. Each year is dubbed with a theme. 2010 was the experimental year… 2011 was the year I found Mr. Wonderful AND the career of my dreams.

2012 was my year as a professional contest winner. With the loss of my job in  January, I spent the majority of the year searching. And searching. And searching. I worked a summer position teaching reading comprehension (SO COOL!) I worked some freelance jobs and short term gigs, but still haven’t found my home in the copywriting world.

While I was waiting. And writing. And searching. I found myself winning contest after contest. $50 gift cards here. $50 gift cards there. A furniture set that was later yoinked from under me (I don’t really dig the Mix. Their communication wasn’t exactly stellar. I faxed them their paperwork…and yet they never managed to “receive” it. PSHA I say. They gave the set to the runner up. Whatever. It wasn’t the greatest set anyways. Our couch is WAY better.)

sweet couch

This is me testing out our sweet couch before we bought it.

In total I won the following this year:

  • Free food and stuff from McDonald’s
  • $50 Gift Card to Ultra Foods
  • $100 Gift Card to Victoria’s Secret
  • A Hair Flat Iron
  • $50 Carson’s Gift Card
  • 2-$10 Von Maur Gift Cards
  • 4-$20 Yorktown Mall Gift Cards
  • $80 in Certificates for JC Penney from their amazing Merry Christmas promotion

I think I did alright. I mean…Really…who wins that much shit in a year? It’s like I won the lottery…but instead of wasting money on lottery tickets, I ate a lot of Egg McMuffins on a biscuit instead of a muffin.

The Many Faces of a Professional Winner

this is what a winner looks like

this is what a winner looks like this is what a winner looks like

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Interviewing Bloopers

So, I’ve been meeting with recruiters and HR people and managers galore in the wonderful world of job hunting lately. One of the things that I have found frustrating is the number of rules that one is supposed to follow, and the number of rules that recruiters and HR people and managers change on a regular basis. So I’ve decided to offer you some of my job hunting highlights.

One of my first interviews was at a small firm in The Loop on Good Friday. Located inside the building connected to Ogilvie Train Station by an overpass, I planned to take the train down early, have some lunch, and wait patiently for my interview time. The morning started with a wardrobe malfunction due to my brand new suit skirt slit ripping up the back. Luckily, I had planned to stop over at Toyota to visit my mom and get her opinion of my ensemble. She quickly sewed the skirt for me, and I proceeded downtown in a different skirt, so that I didn’t wrinkle the suit.

I opted to take the earlier train, as the next one would give me approximately 15 minutes to get to my interview. I figured early is better. So I got downtown in one piece, and made my way over to The Corner Bakery for lunch. I had some tasty treats and then went in the bathroom to change into my suit. Of course, problem number one was going to the bathroom. Wearing scary stomach holding in body suit dealie over pantyhose meant that I had to basically strip down to my skivvies, and readjust everything, which I did. THEN, I got myself in one piece.

So the recruiter who set up the interview had informed me of some pointers when I made my way down for the interview. “Don’t wear your sun glasses on your head. Make sure that you send thank you notes. Arrive early. Allow extra time to get through security.”

I had brought a very small purse, my portfolio, a book, and my sunglasses. I also had that backup skirt in tow. So when I was ready to head toward to location of the interview, I had the pressing question, “What do I do with the book, the sunglasses, and the skirt?”

I thought about my options, and where I was. I decided to go with the most trustworthy person that I could think of: The bartender. Knowing that the Newsroom was conveniently located inside of Ogilvie, I figured that the man running the bar would be my best bet. When I asked him to hold onto my stuff, he laughed but agreed. I thanked him profusely, and made my way to the interview. When I got through security and officially arrived, it had only taken about 3 minutes. I was 35 minutes early.

Crap.


And I had left my book with the bartender. So I waited. And waited. It was Good Friday, and people were rushing to get out of the office. I thought maybe they’d get me in a few minutes early and I could jump on a train home. Nope. 10 minutes after my scheduled interview time, the interviewer finally arrived. We briefly chatted in a stiffened conversation, that at the time, I should have known meant it was like a bad first date that was never going anywhere. But I remained hopeful. Upon leaving, the bartender had kept my goodies safe and I left him a tip as I jetted to the train.

I didn’t get that job…

A few weeks later, I met with the owner of a very small firm. She was fun. She said “fuck” like 15 times in the interview. And called one of her big name clients assholes. Twice. But she lectured me for being 20 minutes early. I wasn’t very good at this interviewing game… I always thought that you were supposed to arrive early. And that they counted on you being early. Apparently it has to be 5-10 minutes only.

I didn’t get that job either…

Then at another interview, I arrived with 10 minutes to spare, STILL had to wait for 25 minutes, and managed to stash my sunglasses on top of a toilet paper holder in the handicap bathroom stall. I thought that one stood a chance too…but alas, no dice for me.

But just like when several first dates don’t go so well, I remain optimistic that it’s all going to work out the way it’s supposed to. Besides, I got to go back to working with the kiddos for another summer.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Interview and Questions 101

In honor of my upcoming interview this Tuesday, I’ve composed my own version of the dreaded interview. Seriously, if I owned a company, this is the type of interview I would hold. When I was a catering manager, I did often interview potential employees, and while I was still pretty green and used some of the same old questions, I came up with a few of my own. Really the interview is about matching personalities with the company and the other employees.

Pre-Interview Test (AKA: The Idiot Test)

This one’s important. It basically questions the integrity of the person who is applying for a job with your company. Before you bring them in, make them take this short 10-20 multiple guess question “test” asking about hypothetical situations and how they would handle them.

Interview Questions

I think that many interview questions are absolutely trite and pointless. What is your biggest strength? What is your biggest weakness? How do you overcome it? Come on! Think outside the box. Make the interview a little more interesting. Make your potential employees answer questions on the spot that they HAVEN’T prepared for. Dig deep and get creative. Also, positivity is way better than negativity. Even it’s an attempt to see the “humble” side of your future worker bee.

1. What makes you awesome?

2. What was the best thing about your last job?

3. Tell me about a time that you did something that you were incredibly proud of.

4. Tell me about your best friend, and why they are your number one.

5.What do you do better than anyone else?

6. What are three excusable reasons for not coming into work?

7. Follow up to number 6–have you ever used them?

Interview Writing Test

In order to 1) gauge their ability to communicate to the world and 2) assess the amount of creativity/spontaneity that they possess, I would then sit the interviewee down in front of a computer without access to the internet and ask them to type the answer to two of the following questions in Word.

1. Name and describe one character from Punky Brewster other than the title character.
2. Tell me something fabulous about Bridget Jones.
3. Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?
4. What are the three rules in caring for mogwai (aka Gremlins)?
5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Why?
6. If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, why did the chicken cross the road?
7. What is the worst state in the union? Why?
8. Best thing about USA’s Up All Night? Why?
9. What is your opinion of flip flops?
10. Santa or the Easter Bunny? and a good reason why?

And Finally…

A Day in the Life

Or even just an hour…I would ask the employee to demonstrate their ability by completing a short one hour sample of their potential job duties. Whether it’s teaching, writing, editing, designing, computer programming, serving, managing, bartending, accounting, customer service, or any job under the sun…this one’s important. Can. They. Do. The. Job?

A vigorous interview process like this would probably send some people running. Good. I wouldn’t want lazy unimaginative people working for me, anyways.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!