Putting in the work

I’ve had the “getting a job” conversation with several people lately.

  • My step mom on Sunday after learning that the grant allowing her to work wasn’t renewed under the administration talking about job creation. What… wait?
  • A friend who recently didn’t have her contract renewed and is looking for work.
  • My dad almost every Sunday night, just to catch him up on the exciting life of an unemployed son.
  • Another friend who I help kill time at her job during the day. Shhh!
  • My mom after I print off another job application… or get a phone call… or when I’m sitting in front of my computer… or not sitting in front of it… or any waking moment really 😉

The reason it’s been coming up lately is both good and bad. The good being that I’m actually hearing back from companies instead of just getting automated rejection emails. The bad being that I’m finally seeing what type of job market is currently chewing people up and spitting them back out.

A couple of weeks ago, I went up to Raleigh for an on-site interview. I thought it went well. It was good conversation that was formal enough to be an interview but informal enough that the hiring manager asked what my favorite video game is (it’s under interests on my resume… don’t ask. Unless you’re hiring… then I’ll be more than happy to email you my resume). I wasn’t crazy about the job because part of the position seemed to be phone-based customer support for databases. I’m not what most would call a people-person but in all honesty, I wouldn’t have a problem being on the phone. The issue is that it was half of the job. I have no intentions of ever being in customer support long term. So why spend roughly half of my working day doing something that won’t benefit me in the long run?

But I smiled, shook hands, and gladly answered any question they had. That is… until they started talking about hours.

I was informed that because the position was a essentially a help-desk, the team members rotated a weekly on-call responsibility. Bluntly put, you’re given a phone and if there’s an issue, no matter what time or day, you’re on the line for the problem. The manager also asked me if I had a problem with working long hours or days that were more than eight hours long.

Interview answer: “If the situation called for extended hours, such as a project or a looming deadline, I have no problem putting in the time to complete the task at hand.”

Honest answer: “I’m sorry. You want me to do what? I enjoy my free time, thank you very much. Good luck in your search.”

On top of that, he suggested that they have a policy of their employees “volunteering” to work one holiday per calendar year. You know how those voluntary programs work, right? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. I mean… Labor Day is for celebrating working… might as well celebrate in the office.

So I grit my teeth, smiled, put on the song-and-dance routine, and headed back to my brother’s place bummed at the circumstances. As luck would have it, his landlord had connections at another company I had spoken with earlier in the week. Introductions were made, emails were swapped, phone calls made. And before I knew it, I had a lunch date with the hiring manager and his boss on Friday. Hooray, right?

Only not so much…

The same questions and statements came up:

  • How do I feel about working extended hours?
  • What if a Vice President calls you at midnight and needs a report on their desk in the morning?
  • I’m asking my team to work until 8PM this week at the end of the quarter. Do you have a problem with that?
  • We provide laptops so that our people can sign in from home to work on projects.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against working an honest day’s work (I’m sure plenty of you would love to point out that I’ve been out of work for over a year…). But the outlook companies give current and potential employees is brutally honest and not encouraging. All I see is the underlying message of “We know the economy is bad. We know we’re overworking our employees. We know we have unrealistically high expectations. But we also know that you need a job and if you don’t want to put in extra work, there’s someone else waiting to take your place.”

Not cool, economy. Not cool.

I understand the position. I just don’t agree with it.

Even though I don’t have an offer in hand from anyone and I’m still applying for jobs (53 open applications out in the wild right now), being the planner that I am, I’ve come to the realization that when I do get an offer, I’ll have to choose a path.

  • Do I compromise my stance because I don’t have a job at the moment? People already ask about the gap in employment. I’ll eventually need a steady income again. I’m almost 29 with only 3+ years of solid professional experience under my belt.
  • Or do I stick to my guns and turn an offer down in hopes of a better opportunity? I would be much happier with an employer who didn’t overwork their people. It’s important to me to enjoy my life instead of working for the all not-so-mighty dollar.

Luckily (or unluckily?), I haven’t had to make that call just quite yet. As I said before, something will come open for me. Until then, all I can do is keep applying, applying, applying!

Oh… and voting Republican 😉

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4 Responses to Putting in the work

  1. Shyanne says:

    It is SHAMEFUL the way companies are putting extra work on people and expecting them to work overtime and “volunteer” on holidays because they know there is not much of a choice out there. Personally, I was not accepting jobs that treated their employees that way. I’ve been out of work over a year. I am trying to make it writing but moneywise I am not there. However, my last job almost lost me my SOUL and I refuse to go back to that also. I gave up looking for work about 6 months ago. My family is helping and I do make some money writing and working side jobs such as cleaning or babysitting. I have learned to live on very little. But you know what? I am happier than I was at my last prison sentence (job)….LOL..

    I hope people (esp. parents) are giving you some slack. My son lived with me for a while during him searching. He is now in CA searching while his girlfriend is seaching. They work temp to make ti while they find what they want. They are your age. It may seem like your unemployment has gone on a long time but it hasn’t been that long. And especially not long enough to sell your soul to a corporate devil. I can be dramatic…LOL. You will find your place, it just may take some time. Hang in there.

    • I’m not worried. Not yet, anyways.

      My parents are good natured about it all. Of course they want me to work (I’m tired of not having something myself…) but they’re fair and understanding. I didn’t mean to make it out to seem like they’re riding me about it.

      Keep searching. We all find our way sooner or later!

  2. Karen says:

    One piece of unsolicited advice- find a goal. Find something you really want to work towards and then you will find a way to get there. If you want to climb Mt. Everest- great! You may have to take a not so wonderful job to help reach that goal, but it will be much better knowing that the job is helping you to reach your goal.

    That’s my 2 cents. Good luck!

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