Month: February 2013

From Then To Now, In 50 Blog Posts

I started my first blog post with a picture of the statue called "Business Man". It's only fitting my last blog post comes full circle with this statue. Picture by David Alan Gay, with permission to use provided credit is given to the author.
Yes, it was THAT cold outside when I took this picture. I started my first blog post with a picture of the statue called “Business Man”. It’s only fitting my last blog post comes full circle with this statue. Picture by David Alan Gay, with permission to use provided credit is given to the author. 

There comes a time when you are faced with a moment that signals a major turning point in your life. Sometimes that moment heralds brighter days ahead, and other times it serves as a harbinger of stormy weather and trials to come. I wish I can say my “moment” is an example of the former, but unfortunately it is of the latter. My moment came when I could no longer remove the red appearing on a spreadsheet.

I have a spreadsheet that keeps track of my expenses and how many months of money I have left to spend. This spreadsheet also has macros programmed into the columns to make the text bright red and the columns dark red to show at what point I will run out of money. It’s a valuable tool to have as a job seeker because, after all, you have to watch what you spend if you have no income.

Each time that red appeared, I take an hour or so to go over what I spend to see what expenses can be trimmed or cut out entirely. I cancelled my cable a while back, so that’s $50 Canadian per month back into the budget. I re-negotiated my land line and Internet costs a year ago last fall, so that’s $38 per month saved. Whenever there was a McDonald’s or Burger King coupon that offered a meal for only $3.00, I rationalized one day a week of junk food for dinner was not going to give me a heart attack and saved a few dollars a week there as well. Instead of going into a regular clothing store for shoes, jeans, or shirts, I tried Goodwill and saved money on a good deal. Once my analysis was done, the red would disappear.

Not this time, however. The red did not go away. I have cut all I could, and pulled my last rabbit of the fiscal hat. This is my moment I am talking about. By my calculations, I only have a few months left before I run out of cash and am forced to move out of my home.

This is the nightmare scenario job seekers have to prepare for in case it does happen. This is the day everything around you comes crashing down and you better have a plan to land on your feet when the floor gives out from under you. As a job seeker, I have considered and prepared for the possibility that day, that moment, would come. For the past year I’ve been going through my home and either selling, putting into storage, or outright pitching things that I needed to get rid of to lighten my load. I refer to it in my discussions with my employment assistance centre contacts as the Plan Z or “Oh S-” scenario. Most people have a Plan A or B in how to deal with things. I’m a planner’s planner in both my professional and personal life. My plan letters run from A to Z.

Despite the planning, my life is still going to undergo a very significant change. If I move out of my home, I either have to stay in temporary residence with a friend, a family member, social housing if I qualify, or a men’s shelter. Either of the choices means I lose my independence and become a person of no fixed address. There’s also the consideration of my retirement that I have painstakingly built up over time. Do I cash it now to give myself breathing room but at the cost of a tax hit and living in poverty during my retirement years, or hope that I get through the rough patch now so I can enjoy my golden years in financial comfort?

I now face decisions to be made that make my past job search planning seem like child’s play in comparison. I need to reallocate a bulk of my time to prepare for what will come and what steps I will take to handle it. This will affect my job search. This certainly affects this blog’s future.

I loved doing this blog. When I started the blog in March 2012, it began as a “thing-to-do” as part of a massive job search machine. It never was selected as a “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress, but that’s okay: that’s not what I was shooting for. It was not the most popular blog around, but again, that wasn’t what this blog was about.

The purpose of this blog was to draw attention to my job search, to help me return to employment. For the past 50 posts, I shared with those who followed my efforts what it was like to be a job-seeker in this jobless recovery. In those posts, I wrote about the catch-22’s of experience, the failure of employment centres, government, and business to recognize the serious nature of unemployment and its impact on our society. I showed how I stepped out of my comfort zone as a shy person by embracing social media as part of my job search that showcased my willingnes to work. I stressed that being unemployed does not mean you are lazy or should be treated like some sort of social misfit. I shared with the reader my good and bad job search moments, my depression,  and my rock bottom moments that made me wonder if it was even worth carrying on, yet in the end I found a way, thanks to supportive comments from people, some even coming from fellow bloggers. I touched on the personal introspection the job search gave me and my willingness to adapt and consider new alternatives . I also discovered, despite being out of work for so long,  that I have reason to be grateful for the things I have while still being humble enough to admit my failings. Most importantly, I shared all of this under the uncompromising glare of public scrutiny.

It’s only fitting that I end the blog the way it started, with the picture of the “Business Man” statue near the St. Clair subway station. No matter what happens to me, I still want to be like this statue. I want to go to work, and by thunder I’m somehow going to find a way to do it!

I’m not deleting the blog, though. The blog will stay up for as long as I maintain an account on WordPress. It needs to stay up. It tells a story that is very important to read. We have a serious unemployment problem. It is my hope someone, like a captain of industry, a member of government, or a social activist with clout will read this and do something to make things better for people like myself who who have the desire…the right…to work.

Until then, as I’ve always ended in each post, “Thanks for Reading”


Don’t Shoot The Messenger

Source: 680 News. All reporting content and the image are copyrighted by 680 News Radio. The images and link are provided for sake of forwarding this job-search related article

I usually prefer writing my own blog posts rather than repost another web site’s content, but this bit of news is important. This news article is why one should never take the unemployment rate at face value. I added my two cents worth (heh, a saying that will no longer have meaning once Canada cycles out the penny) in the comments section.

Thanks for reading!


Fit To A T

Comments on my RoE from a place I worked at in October 2012. Couldn't agree more: they were not a good fit for me.
Comments on my RoE from a place I worked at in October 2012. Couldn’t agree more: they were not a good fit for me.

Someone once said to me that we spend over two-thirds of our waking hours at work, and he’s right. We see our boss more than we see our parents and we spend more time with our co-workers than friends and family members. He also added that we should like the work we do if we are going to spend so much time there.

He’s right. I’ve seen people take jobs for the money, even at the companies I’ve worked for, and they did not stay for long. In the case of my past employment, it was never about the money, but the fact I enjoyed working at the job. The fact my last full time position ran for 17 years showed I really liked working there.

I’ve had other jobs in the past that were not about I.T. but were just as enjoyable. In one of my blog posts I mentioned I worked at the Eglinton Theatre when I was younger, and though it had nothing to do with computers and paid minimum wage per hour, I enjoyed working there as well. The management and co-workers were great, the theatre was clean and had a classy art deco design to it, and it was close to where I lived. When I was asked by one of the assistant managers to clean vomit from a customer off the staircase, I did it without reservation because I liked my job THAT much to be willing to carry out that request.

I made the mistake of quitting that job to work for another assistant manager when he quit to become the new manager of another theatre. He offered me more money per hour, which I thought was a good reason to quit. What a bad move that was. The theatre, though newer and more modern, was ugly, the commute was horrible, and I soon found out what an absolute pig my new boss was. When he screamed at me during a staff meeting in front of the other co-workers because I brought up a suggestion counter to one of his ideas, I quit right then and there. Clearly not an enjoyable place to be.

I gave up a fantastic job for the wrong reason, but I never forgot the lesson learned that day. That lesson is still my #1 requirement even now as I struggle to find a job in this tough jobless economy. I know I said I’m willing to do any type of work, but if the job is going to be at a workplace where I’m going to be miserable, I won’t take it.

That above point segues nicely into the image embedded in this blog post. Some of you may remember the time I wrote about the job that broke my 1000+ days of unemployment, yet I quit it anyways. The image is a scan from my Record Of Employment with the company that had that awful training course that was quite literally a pain in the neck. I knew I wasn’t going to be happy working there  as the training course served as a harbinger of how the company treated it’s employees

I hope you fellow job-seekers who are reading this will remember this lesson as well.  I know you all have bills to pay and food to put on the table, but I implore you to be true first to yourself and not the wallet. If you end up forgetting that, you won’t stay long at that job and you’ll be right back looking for work. After all, the effort to find a job includes making sure you don’t have to do so again, at least not for a long time if you can help it.

Thanks for reading!


Blinding Glare

(Source: Public Domain, Gallery of the Agricultural Research Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture, uploaded by joanjoc on Wikicommons)
(Source: Public Domain, Gallery of the Agricultural Research Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture, uploaded by joanjoc on Wikicommons)

Before recording my Google+ “Looking For Work” videos as part of my job search initiative, I did some reading up on how to make such videos. This included what NOT to do, an example of which is the video done by Aleksey Vayner.

If you are not familiar with the name, Vayner was a Yale student who sent a video resume to UBS for an investment banking position. The video resume, entitled, “Impossible Is Nothing”, was so bizarre, an unknown contact at UBS circulated the video to other banking firms as a joke. The video soon found itself an infamous hit on various blogs and YouTube and Vayner became a laughing-stock in front of millions.

This blog post is not about Vayner, who regrettably died of a drug overdose at the age of 29 on January 23th, 2013, or even the video he produced. It’s about a concern that I have, as a job seeker, of just how far we’re forced to go in order to get a job. This video is an extreme example of brand name promotion favoured over qualifications, flash over substance. If you view the video shown here (the link includes the report about Vayner’s death), not once does it mention his ability to do the job as an investment banker. Articulate, athletic, confident, a wonderful dancer and tennis player, quite the Superman when compared to someone like myself, but not one mention of what he could do for the company he was applying to. Superman could have had feet of kryptonite once hired.

The trend towards such sensational self-promotion as part of the job search reveals a story more ominous than just a young man who went a bit too far buttering his bread for a job. How many people have we heard about who handled positions of responsibility so badly that people were hurt, even died? These people clearly got into power not because of what they were qualified to do, but because of who they knew or how they sold themselves to get the job at the expense of a more qualified candidate.

This is why I did the videos on Google+ and later YouTube the way I did. No flashy graphics, no soaring crescendo of music, just a fellow in a three-piece suit reading off proven accomplishments he was proud of and are the cold hard facts. This approach may come across as dull and boring as Clark Kent’s personality, but I’d like to think I did a great job selling myself as a man who did a super  job at his last employment.

Thanks for reading!