On Tuesday, I spoke with the lady I assist at work and she accused me of being a doormat. This is right after I had apologized to a company for emailing them too much (after she had just told me they had complained to her about me emailing them too much). There’s a lot of things I am, but being a doormat, is not one of them.
This was the final straw. This was on top of crying at least twice a week and my whole Thanksgiving being ruined because she had reamed me out over a mistake I made. She has no understanding or patience and the expectation for perfection has made me want to tear my hair out.
On December 4th (my birthday), I decided to stand up for myself. I spoke to my boss and told her I wasn’t interested in being an assistant anymore. She asked whether I felt this way in general about the job duties or whether or not I wanted to assist this one lady. I explained it was a mix of both. She asked what career path I would be interested in.
That’s when I said it…
I said my true passion is writing and if I could somehow find a position in the creative department, that would be more in line with what I want to do.
So, long story short, I will no longer be working in a department I don’t have any feelings for and I won’t be assisting a woman that has made my work experience a living hell. (And I’m not the only one, she went through four assistants before me).
I don’t know what will happen on Monday (I have worked from home Thursday and Friday because I was “sick.” Although mostly, because I wanted to avoid going in when they told her). But no matter what, I am proud of myself.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. I hope you are enjoying time with family and friends and pleasant company.
I know so many are dealing with unemployment today. It does make for a rough holiday, but hopefully you can reflect on blessings today. And keep fighting the good fight
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I have been unemployed for almost three years. I am 50 years old, college educated and professionally certified (HR). I have applied for positions with hundreds of employers in the past three years. In that span of time I have been contacted for four interviews, and had no offers of employment. This is the longest I have been unemployed in my life (for a little perspective when I started my 1st job at age 16, Jimmy Carter was president). How did I get to this place?
My husband accepted a new position with his employer in 2009 and relocated to Georgia. When I say “accepted” I am being kind, this was not an offer he could refuse, if you know what I mean. At the time I was working as a Human Resource Analyst and my daughter was a junior in high school. My son, the oldest, was a senior in college. Our family had relocated a few times in the past 20 years or so, and I had always been able to “land on my feet”. By landing on my feet I mean, find a job! I stayed behind and focused on preparing our home for sale, taking care of my sick boxer and enjoying a little “me” time.
When I arrived in Georgia in December 2010, searching for a new job became my full-time job. I scoured the internet for opportunities, attended careers fairs and applied for jobs ranging from “dishwasher” to “CEO”. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but I think you get the point. About one year ago I returned to school, thanks to a Workforce Investment Act grant (WIA), and completed my Society of Human Resources Professionals certification in an effort to make myself a more attractive candidate. This has not improved my job search results, yet?
Aside from the obvious challenges of unemployment (lack of income), there are more insidious ones that are not discussed publicly nearly enough. The impact on your self-confidence and self-perception is devastating. The best way I can describe it would be to compare it to the time I was a 13 year old girl attending my first school dance, and seeing all my friends being asked to dance while I watched from an uncomfortable position leaning against the gymnasium wall. If not being called for interviews was not reason enough to be pessimistic, the longer I remain unemployed makes the prospect of a future job even less likely. Some employers have gone as far as to recommend that you not apply if you are not currently employed. And you thought you cleared a hurdle if you were not a convicted felon. Think again?
Following a particularly difficult day recently I decided to start blogging about my unemployment experience. account4gaps.com is a play on that phrase that sends chills up the spine of anyone who belongs to the community of the long-term unemployed, “account for all gaps in employment”. Easier said than done. It’s been extremely helpful because it has given me a reason to get out of bed some days. Through the blogging process I have been able to reach out to others with similar experiences, follow news and policy makers and last but not least VENT!
I encourage all of my readers to share their experiences with unemployment, job searching and anything else that you feel may be a match for this blog. Please email me at email@example.com. A special thank you to Antoinette for writing this post.
Should trouble be fun for anyone?
So, last week I witnessed a coworker get in trouble who subsequently saw me get in trouble later on in the week.
Neither one of us had much sympathy for the other and I witnessed him smirking at me while I got in trouble. And I’d be lying if I said I felt bad he was in trouble.
Is this a sign of a toxic work environment? Bad coworker relations?
I haven’t been in a lot of situations where people took pleasure in each other’s difficulties at work (usually if you have a friend in the trenches, it helps make the day go by). But this is the first job I’ve had, really, where coworkers actively back bite, throw each other under the bus, and take pleasure when the other is on the shit end of the stick with their boss.
I decided to look up signs your workplace is toxic and a good many of the signs I found on this AOL article matched my company.
How do you survive the toxic workplace?
I am in the state of decision making. You know, that thing you have to do as a grown up that can change the course of things for you. The little decisions that can become big decisions. The big decisions that can turn into even bigger decisions.
Okay, I’m rambling.
I am considering a job that allows me to work from home. In fact, everyone who works for this particular company, works from home. It is a permanent, full time job with benefits. The pay is about the same (a little more, in fact) than what I’m making now, too.
The big thing is do I want to work from home?
To be honest, I’m not sure.
I wrote out the positives and negatives. The negative is the isolation and the potential for stir crazy. Not to mention, I’d get sick of my apartment.
The positives? Well, no commute. I commute right now about an hour and forty five minutes to work all total each day. I’d be giving myself….nearly 9 to 10 hours more of my life back.
Also, no office politics. I deal with the regular backbiting, snarky, misunderstandings that go on
in the office day in and day out. Some days it makes me want to tear my hair out, other days I enjoy the comaradarie. This, by the way, inspires a lot of this blog’s content.
Other benefits? Creative energy. Working from home will alow me to relax a little bit and not feel the pressure of not doing enough for my job (right now I get a lot of pressure to work overtime and a lot of my coworkers work up to 45 to 50 hours a week). I can’t say I will ever be willing to devote that many hours to a company, because my real dream and goal is to write and be published. In terms of my career, that will come first. If I can get some of my creative energy back that I lost after taking my current job, I will be much happier.
Another downside that I forgot to mention less exposure to potential guys to date. But here’s the thing, I’ve never dated someone from work. I got close once, but it sort of fell apart, and I really wanted to leave the company soon after. My lack of a dating life though may or may not be extremely affected by working from home because aside from going to work, I’m not really a social butterfly type of girl.
Oh, and another downside is lack of a reason to go shopping. The thing is though I don’t go shopping now because my credit sucks and I’m in debt. So, no real love lost there. The thing is though I may feel silly getting dressy to go sit in my bedroom.
Another downside is that the person I’m assisting right now at work has finally gotten comfortable with me and happy with my work for the first time since I started. She has struggled getting an assistant (went through four before me) and knows she can work with me. If I take this new job, I’ll be disappointing her. I know I shouldn’t make a decision based on whether or not I will make someone feel bad, but that is a factor I’m weighing here.
Another positive? Moveability. I’m a restless spirit and I hate the idea of staying in one place for any lengthy period. If I do have a work at home job, this will allow me to consider moving out of the state or city I’m in, without the worry of needing a job first.
To throw in one final positive, I think I’d like what I’d be doing there more than what I’m doing now. I’d be doing a job involving talking with customers throughout the day and I like that type of work. No, it isn’t the flashy title I have now, but I do love customer service related jobs and I’m good at it too.
With all of that swirling around in my head, I want to get feedback from you guys. Do you work from home or know someone who does? I’d love feedback and insight into this decision.
My mom recently got a letter from the unemployment department explaining that she wouldn’t be receiving any benefits. She can qualify for an extension, but the thing is…the unemployment department doesn’t soften that blow in the slightest.
They say if you need food or shelter, call such-and-such a number. Nothing cheery or supportive about that at all.
I think the Unemployment Department needs a lesson in humanity and even in inspiring other people.
So for that, I invite you to watch this link to the Rolling Stone’s song, “She’s So Cold” in honor of the Unemployment Department.
I love when people take a leap of faith and write me about their thoughts of unemployment. If you would like to write a post for my blog, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It can remain anonymous. The rest of this post is written by an anonymous submitter.
Unemployment can affect individuals in a way that is much more profound than many people may realise. Of course, not having a job means not earning money, and consequently there are many practical and economic problems which are not to be under-estimated.
However, it is the way it can affect you mentally that I feel needs to be highlighted. This is the hidden part of the unemployment=unhappiness equation that is not helped with a £71 government cheque. It is a insidious black cloud that can hang over people who are looking for work, and it often goes unnoticed. It affects each person differently but can be both subtle and debilitating.
Personally, for someone whose self-image was linked strongly to my job and career, it was easy to start to lose sight of my identity. I thought ‘If I am not working as a designer, then am I still a designer? Or creative? What am I now?’ If you are in this position then you have to re-structure your way of looking at yourself and the world. You have to re-program the way you perceive not only yourself, but others, in a world where society puts people into boxes – ‘Professional’, ‘Blue Collar’, ‘Creative’. You have to remind yourself that you are an individual made up of an un-definable number of unique traits and characteristics, and are not just a label. You have so many talents and idiosyncrasies; you are not just defined by your job. However it can be hard to move the focus away from your career when you live in a world where the second question people tend to ask is ‘What do you do?’. We all know they don’t mean ‘what do you do for fun?’ but really ‘what do you do for WORK?’. This leads you to ask yourself –
What DO I do?
If I was a designer before but haven’t done it in a year, is that still what I am?
Or can I be something different?
Or, am I nothing because nobody seems to want to employ me?
The answer to the last question is obviously no, you are not nothing, but I am demonstrating how easy it can be to think that way when you are confronted with that question for the 100th time. After many months of job hunting, it can get harder and harder to tough it out. It is quite easy at first, but each time the question ‘What do you do?’ is asked it becomes more meaningful, each time you doubt yourself a little more.
Most people would find it easy to understand how someone who has been out of work can lose some self-esteem when it comes to their career. But I think that what a lot of people don’t realise is that it can also affect your self-esteem throughout the other areas of your life as well. The self-doubt goes beyond the workplace, and seeps into how you feel about yourself in general.
If you can break through the darkness however, I think that there is some healthy self-exploration that can be made in this time. You can take advantage of the negatives and actually get a step ahead of everyone else. Being in this position can help you to break free from the boxes that people love to put you in. It stops you asking the same question of ‘what do you do?’ when you meet someone new, and pushes you to be more inventive with your small talk – maybe you will learn something about who the person really is and not just how they earn money. I don’t want to discount people who really do live for their jobs, these people are defined by what they do for a living, and want it this way. Though equally, the same argument can still be made – a musician might have a lot more too them than their music. They might have a passion for silent movies, love skiing, and volunteer with old people every week….
When I talked to someone about the things I had been struggling with, he asked me what I thought my intrinsic qualities were. I was at a loss. All I could think of was the list of key skills on my CV, but this wasn’t what he meant. He meant the unique and special qualities that I have as a person, and which speak about who I really am, and make me, well….me. It scared me that I wasn’t really sure. I had become so caught up in trying to sell myself to employers, that I had lost sight of the truth of who I was. It made me realise how easy it is to forget the qualities that you don’t put on your resume - ’Always writes something nice in birthday cards’, ‘Dances the robot really badly’, ‘Shows what she is thinking through the expressions on her face’. These are some of the silly little things that make me who I am. And just because I won’t be publicising them to potential employers, doesn’t mean I should forget them, or be any less proud of them, or think that they are any less part of me than having ‘a good attention to detail’. Hell, I’d rather be known for an hilariously bad robot than for meeting deadlines anyway….
Employers – don’t employ people because you feel sorry for them, but do open your mind and give people a chance. If someone has the appropriate transferable skills but hasn’t worked in that industry before, think ‘do they have they passion?’ ‘Do they really want it?’, maybe they could actually bring something new to the table and provide fresh insights.
Friends and family, your role here isn’t so much about helping with the job hunt, or paying the rent (although no doubt this help will be needed!). You are there to support the person – the real person that is inside of this situation. They may be lost, or just at a loss. They might have forgotten who they are, or what they are trying to achieve. You need to remind them of the things that make them unique, and I am not just referring to the traits that make them attractive to potential employers. I am talking about the reasons why you love them, why they are in your life, and why they couldn’t be replaced. Because sometimes it can be as simple as that to help us remember who we
My company holds weekly meetings to go over account reviews and other updates. It’s usually boring and I daydream throughout the entire hour.
And yet, this past week I noticed something missing in the meeting room.
Bagels were a regular part of the meetings and something that probably sweetened the pot a little bit for many of my coworkers. I never indulged too much so their absence didn’t affect me so bad.
I asked and someone said, “Oh they’re cutting them out. Trying to cut back on costs.”
Hmm. Really? No meeting bagels really makes that much of a difference?
This leaves me wondering – what will be next? No coffee?
Wednesday has come to a swift close and I haven’t received a single call about my resume. Neither has two other family members who are looking for work as well.
I am lucky in that I am looking while employed but it still leaves me disappointed and with a little less hope and energy that I started the day with. I also fear the rest of this week will be like this – for me, and for my mom and brother.
All of this leaves me with the question -
What the hell can get that phone to ring? If you happen to come across this and you are a job hunting or cover letter writing expert, I would love your take on how job seekers can get that call for an interview.
As for me, my scowl has deepened, my shoulders are more slumped and a heavy sigh and a glass of wine will be my tonic for tonight.
My mom said, “Unemployment is the only thing you can’t just get rid of – if this was a man, I would have broken up him already.”
And my mom is right! She’s been out of work six moths now and if this was a relationship, it would have been a rotten one.
If you think of it, when you are unemployed, you are basically begging someone to like you, getting very little in return, having plans and hopes dashed and taken away, and constantly having to look and be your best without any promise of a good outcome.
Unemployment makes for a bad relationship and it’s time that we all had “the talk” with unemployment.