Posts Tagged jobs

Numbers

So here’s the deal: I still have thoughts – sometimes even multiple ones a day – but I fell out of the habit of turning them into blog posts.  I’d like to correct that, but I make no promises.  At this very moment though, I feel like I should be able to start cranking these out again more frequently than a couple of times a year.  Sound good?

Last week, I was grabbing an iced coffee from the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf across the street from my office.  On my way out, I saw an acquaintance who works in the same area sitting with someone, and we exchanged pleasant smiles and waves.  The next day, she called me on my work phone.  “It was so funny that I saw you there yesterday,” she began.  “I was sitting with (insert name), and he just left his position as (title) at (company) and asked if I knew of anyone who would be a good fit for it.  I looked up, and you were standing right there!”  I thanked her for that and asked to hear more about the company and the position.  She gave me a little info, and it didn’t sound like a good fit based on the location or the actual job duties, but I said, “Ya know, it never hurts to talk to people, so sure, I’d be interested in learning more.”

She said that it would probably be better (or more impactful) if it came from her recommending me instead of me seeking it out myself, so I said I’d email her my resume.  Then she asked, “Ok, so what’s your salary – what’s your best number?”  I immediately had two thoughts: first, that’s kind of forward of her to ask, but I guess she wants to see if it even makes sense to make the introduction.  And second, that was an interesting way to ask that particular question.  But I went for it and said something like, “Well, I’m currently making X but expect to be at around Y in the coming weeks, plus an annual bonus.  I say ‘coming weeks’ but it should certainly be no later than the end of the calendar year.  That said, I view flexibility, location, and benefits packages all as forms of compensation, so that number could fluctuate a little.  That’s why I’m interested to learn more about what they’re offering, what the day-to-day responsibilities are, etc.”  I may have rambled on for longer, but I don’t recall.

What I do recall, however, is her response: “(chuckle) Uh, I, uh, asked for your cell phone number.”  Oh.  I played her original question back in my head and found my mistake.  She had actually asked, “What’s your cell – er, uh – what’s your best number?”  “Cell – er uh” sounds an awful lot like “salary” when talking about job duties and responsibilities, especially if you’re a moron.  So I responded the only way I could: “Well, I guess I’m feeling pretty open with you.  My CELL PHONE NUMBER is…”  She chuckled again, and we said we’d be in touch.

I was telling this story to a friend at work, and she said, “Why didn’t you ask her to repeat it before answering?”  “Because I thought I heard her just fine!  You don’t ask people to repeat things when you already know what they asked!” I replied.  She understood.  “But why didn’t she cut you off and save you from your whole salary speech?”  She had me there.  “I guess,” I said, “she just wanted to sit back and see how far I’d go.”  Well, she certainly learned her lesson: when it comes to erroneously running with misinformation based on hearing something incorrectly, I’m practically Flo Jo.

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The new guy blues

When starting a new job, everyone wants to put their best feet forward and make the most favorable initial impressions possible.  A lot of these things are within one’s control: eye contact, displaying a genuine interest in the company/co-workers, not blasting gangsta rap, etc.  Then there are things outside of one’s control that crop up.  Unsurprisingly, I have a story from the latter category.

It was my second week on the job, and though I’m super shitty with directions, I was finding my way around the office pretty well.  It’s many times larger than my last working environment, plus there’s a bunch of construction going on that’s caused some wings to shape-shift from one day to the next.  Regardless, I was getting my bearings and feeling good about that.  I’d even settled on a bathrooming routing.  (Yes, bathrooming.  Look for it in the 2032 Olympics.)  There’s the main, multi-stall/multi-urinal bathroom by the elevators (about 85 steps from my workspace), and a small, single-user, unisex one about a third of that distance away.  My plan is simple: don’t shit in the small one.  Makes sense, right?

On this particular day, I walked over to the smaller bathroom to do my lesser business.  I went inside, locked the door, and then turned to see splashes of urine on the unlifted toilet seat.  It was already too late for me to remove myself from the situation.  Even quickly unlocking the door and leaving would still make it seem like I had been the last one to use the facility, so I was firmly entrenched in this predicament.  My options were clear: have people think that I rudely pissed on the toilet seat with no regard for others or clean up a stranger’s urine.  I kicked the seat up with my foot and thought about my options while I let loose my liquid.  I finished up and knew what I had to do.  I grabbed some toilet paper, lowered the seat, quickly wiped the inconsiderate stranger’s mess off of the seat (that never should’ve been left down in the first place), flushed my pee, his pee, and the t.p. down the toilet, and thoroughly washed my hands.  It sucked, but it’s what I had to do unless I wanted to risk having some female see me leave the bathroom, assume the rudely left urine was mine, and tell others about the asshole new guy.  I couldn’t let that happen, but the forced clean-up of some douchebag’s errant stream still left me (wait for it) a little pissed.

p.s. It only occurred to me while writing this that there was a third option I didn’t consider.  I could have put the toilet seat up, done my thing, and then left it up.  The next person might have thought I was rude for not lowering the seat, but upon lowering it herself, she would’ve known that I hadn’t been the errant pee-r.  I wouldn’t have ultimately settled on that option because I still end up looking like a minor jerk, and I’m trying to avoid that until completely necessary.

p.p.s. I couldn’t help but think of David Serdaris’ story “Big Boy” while I was in there.  If you’re familiar with that story, you probably already thought about it during this post.  If you’re not, you should be.  It’s good shit.

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Job hunting and the apparent scarcity of optimism

As I walked out of the drama classroom one morning during my senior year of high school, I noticed that the weather had changed during the preceding 50 minutes.  “Cool, it’s raining,” I said aloud.   “You’re an optimist,” I heard someone say.  I looked, and it was my friend Pam.  “Everyone else who came out was upset about the rain, but you said it was cool,” she reasoned.  “Maybe I just like the rain more than other people,” I countered.  She accepted that as a possibility, but said that I was still an optimist because I didn’t immediately jump to be upset by the change in the weather and its repercussions.  I thought (and still think) that she was giving me too much credit, but the question remains: is optimism so scarce that even glimpses of it stand out as rarities?  My experiences over the past couple of weeks have told me that the answer is a resounding yes.

As of a few days before Thanksgiving, I am looking for a new job.  Even though my boss views it as some kind of unpaid, immediate, temporary yet indefinite furlough that will end sometime soon and restore order to things, I see it as being laid off.  My first reaction (once the initial stupification wore off) was to hit the ground running and go get something else as quickly as possible.  I started calling and emailing the contacts I had made over the past several years and got to work (trying to find work).  I couldn’t imagine another course of action, but apparently others can since I was commended for the way I jumped into the daunting task.   In an email to a few friends, I wrote that this was also an opportunity for me to really think about what I wanted to do and possibly find something better and/or closer to home.  I was met again with warm responses lauding me for my optimism and attitude.  While it felt good to read those emails from some of my closest friends in the world, I couldn’t shake my follow-up question: “Well what else would I do?”

It was just one day later that I was sitting in traffic on the way to “my” office.  As many of you know (or should know by now), I like looking at bumper stickers and license plate frames.  Going zero miles-per-hour in front of me was a car with this frame: “If you feel sad – Don’t.  Be awesome instead.”  I saw that and said aloud in my car, “Fuck yeah!”  Of course I know it’s not that easy, but I love that mindset.  I don’t see any value in dwelling on frustrations when I can proactively try to change things, and trying to be awesome might just be the best way to go about that.  Not just good, better, or even great.  Awesome.  “You got it, stranger’s car!” I thought to myself, and I readied myself for the task ahead of me.

I began sending out cover letters and applications to a wide range of job openings.  During that process, something occurred to me.  For the first time in my life, I wasn’t selling myself as the bright, young professional with a ton of potential who employers should snag now before he lands somewhere else.  Instead, based on the level of the positions I was seeking, I had to be the confident, experienced professional who can bring the lessons he learned from his past successes to help grow their companies.  I’d never played that role before, and though it felt a bit artificial, I got behind it and adopted an extra level of fake confidence to accompany that persona.

Here’s the thing: it’s a super shitty time to be looking for a job.  I’ve received very little feedback to date, and though I’ve had two good interviews so far for a company that’s bringing me back tomorrow, I know that there are 25+ jobs that haven’t even acknowledged my application.  So I press on because, again, “Well what else would I do?”  I’ve told clients in the past that my philosophy is to be simultaneously as prepared and as flexible as possible.  Now it’s time to prove that I actually operate in that manner.  In the meantime, I’ll do what I would ask of anyone else in a trying situation: work hard, be honest with myself and others, and be confident that those things will pay off in the end.  I acknowledge the craptastic situation I’m in, and it is definitely frustrating to be met with so much silence, but I’m trying to be awesome instead.  That’s as good as any place to start, right?

 

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