My Blog

This here, this is my blog. It’s new. I’ve never done this before. Welcome to 2023, eh? Today has been a crash course in WordPress. And organization of a site. And learning…lots of learning. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Web designers are amazing. This is hard. There are too many decisions to be made – hosting, email addresses, what to publish, what parts of which pages go where, which theme to use (and what is a theme anyhow and why don’t my pages look like the theme pages?), post or page, and so much more. I just wanted a simple place to put my thoughts, my resume, and document my projects. Is that too much to ask?

I lost my job this past Tuesday. Another round of layoffs. I’ve never gone through this before and the last time I was asked to leave a company was sometime in 1982. I’m out of work for the first time since then. That’s a lot of years of daily schedules and attending to others. I’m new to the world of real job hunting. I looked around for a few years before going to JumpCloud, but not with any real effort. And I was recruited into JumpCloud…I didn’t go looking for that job.

It was a great two years. I had a wonderful experience, I learned a lot, I worked with an incredible team, filled with people I truly admire and respect. They are all, to a one, special people to me. I will miss my team deeply. It was a wonderful time. I wish it could have continued.

Now it’s on to the next adventure. I’m filled with fear, nay terror, and a healthy dose of Imposter Syndrome as I worry about all the things that come with being out of work.

This site is not perfect. It will get better over time. Don’t judge me, k? I’m doing the best I can.

In the meantime, take a look at my most recent speaking engagement from PSU MacAdmins 2023. I had a blast.

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Self Care (and other friggin platitudes)

Gratitude is an attitude.

Think happy thoughts.

The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.

Be healthy and take care of yourself, but be happy with the beautiful things that make you, you.

Happiness is a choice.

Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.

When it rains, look for rainbows. When it’s dark, look for stars.

The purpose of our lives is to be happy.

OMFG Enough Already!

These platitudes make me want to scream. They are not, to me, expressions of resilience and encouragement. Instead, they feel (for me and many others) more like expectations. What happens when we’re not happy? Nobody is happy all the time! For some of us, when we’re not happy that feeling is compounded by feelings of failing at “don’t worry, be happy” and that leads to despair and depression.

Look, in spite of how it might look, I am not actually a curmudgeon.

These “positive thinking” or “positive mental attitude” platitudes just don’t work for everyone. And all the positive mental attitude in the world is not going to work when the working world ignores you, when you get told no dozens or hundreds of time, when you get ghosted time and again, when you can’t even get that first interview.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you lack resilience and it doesn’t mean that you put out less effort than our friends who are all sunshine and unicorns.

Resilience Defined

Resilience is the capacity to bounce back, to recover quickly from adversity. It’s toughness and internal fortitude in the face of disparagement or disappointment. It is every single job-seeker out there.

Resilience doesn’t mean we are happy all the time. Most of the time, frankly, we’re frustrated.

So how do we convince ourselves to stand tall and keep on keeping on when it feels like everything is falling apart? Hooboy, I don’t have the answer for you. I barely have the answer for me.

I know that, for me, I feel better when I’m busy. Yeah, maybe it’s a distraction, but I try to keep it a healthy distraction by doing things that move my life in a forward motion toward better times. I give myself assignments (apply to 3 jobs today, rework my resume, learn a new skill, whatever). I meet new people and I write blog posts like this one.

I try to acknowledge the bad feelings without letting them overtake me. They’re not going to magically disappear so I guess I accept that they’re here and just breathe through them…like getting a tooth filled.

I do find that when I let my brain run amok in the bad feelings, I tend to get panic attacks. In those cases I do the 5-4-3-2-1 “trick”:

  • Name 5 things I see around me
  • Name 4 things I hear around me
  • Name 3 things I smell around me
  • Name 2 things I touch around me
  • Name 1 thing I can taste

This trick works surprisingly well for me. Maybe it can work for you. It doesn’t fix the problem, but it relieves the panic attack. I’ll take whatever bits of relief I can get. I guess that is resilience.

I’ll tell ya, resilience is overrated.

I’m Practical

I guess I’m just a practical person. I like solving problems. I like strategizing and creating plans. Don’t expect me to be sunshine and unicorns when the chips are down, though. Happy is not a goal. Joy is a goal. Accomplishment and satisfaction are goals. Perseverance – a goal.

I can live with all that.

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A Difference of Opinion

This is probably a post better suited for LinkedIn, but I like keeping my thoughts here in one place. Probably my way of keeping a bit of control over my public presence…just a small bit. And with the state of my job hunt, any control is helpful.

First, The Feelings

I feel definitely not in control of my life. Not that I’m “out of control,” but more that I can’t make things happen that I need to happen. I can’t move forward with my continuing education until others get around to giving me permission. I’m not getting any interviews. I’m waiting for the results of some health tests. My allergies are clogging up my right ear and nothing will fix it but time (it happens for about 6 weeks twice a year – delightful). I can’t seem to get a resume that works in spite of paying $$ for someone to write it in a way that gets past the ATS (and I’m pissed).

All The Experts

The last time I looked for a job I paid someone a hefty amount of money to redo my resume. What I got back was super-impressive. I mean, it had ALL the words in it. It looked beautiful with all the boxed-in items and heavy lines between sections and such. And you know how many interviews I got with it? Zero. A big fat zero. The job I got was not because of my resume, but because of networking. Someone I knew inside the company approached me with a job that matched beautifully. In other words, networking.

So this time I knew I needed to fix that disaster of a resume, if for no other reason than I needed to add the last job to it. Also, I needed to fix the format. And the words (I didn’t know what 70% of the phrases on my resume even meant!). And the skills. And the organization. Gosh, what the hell did I pay for?

This time, I got a recommendation from a talent recruiter for a service. It wasn’t a ton of money, but it was still a cash outlay. i was to get a resume “template”, a cover letter, and a LinkedIn zhuzh. And the woman I met with repeatedly told me how her resume template would be done in a way that would beat the ATS systems. And their “ATS checker” gave me 100% on all my resumes. And checking them against job descriptions also garnered me 100% match.

So why have I gotten zero traction on any of my resumes? I dunno honestly. What I do know is that I feel like I’ve spent a lot of money on resumes that haven’t done squat.

Did I Learn My Lesson?

No, not really. But sort of. After a slew of “no’s” and being ignored, I realized that I’m floundering. I’m lost as to what the right thing to do is. I don’t know how to get some human to read my stuff and take me seriously.

I don’t typically like to mix business and friendships – too often it leads to hard feelings along the way. I treasure the friends I have. Good friends are hard to come by, y’know? But he told me about his business in a way that I don’t believe can mess up our friendship. No money is transacted unless I get a job. That’s actually a brilliant way to work. That way we both have an interest in getting me landed somewhere great.

The Frustration

Every fiber of my being says I need to have all the right keywords to beat these ATS systems. But friend is saying I don’t. Who to believe? Everyone has their own opinion on how to write a resume/cover letter. Everyone is an expert. But who is an expert in a process that is so prone to opinion and gut, a process that employers are trying to streamline by using AI instead of people?

The key, it seems, is finding someone inside the company to champion for you, rather than applying online along with 3500 other desperate people. Maybe. So far that hasn’t worked very well for me either.

I get his point. But I’ve seen this in action. I would bring in someone’s resume who was truly suited to a job and they would still get refused because their resume was still run through an ATS and lacked the phrases and keywords.

This is why I never did cold calling. I’m so bad at it.

I don’t know what the right answer is. I know that what I’ve been doing isn’t working so something needs to change. We changed my resume to something more classic, rather than trying to game the AI system. And I’ll change up the actual application process and try to find someone to bring in my resume directly instead of applying online.

Changing the way I approach a company is as good a change as any I suppose. I’ll give it a few months to see if I can even get a first interview. I feel like if I can get the first one, I am talented and knowledgable and delightful enough to keep moving forward.

I guess we’ll see. It’s been 44 days and I’m bored. I need to get back to work.

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Lessons from LinkedIn

I worked very hard in and on my business when the kids were young. Too hard. Yes, of course I regret how much time I spent running my business. Yes I sometimes wished that I had someone at home to pick up the parenting and housework chores like my male colleagues had. Yes, too, that hard work gave my kids a decent life. And, really, that was the point. I worked hard so they could have what they needed – a roof over their head, food in their bellies, and clothes on their backs – and much of what they wanted. Everything else was a bonus. But it doesn’t mean I feel guiltless.

And because I was responsible for everything in the business, I was too often distracted. I didn’t have a business partner to share the load. Everything was my job and I was where the buck stopped. Customers depended on me to keep their businesses running and employees depended on me to provide them a paycheck and guidance and mentoring. And I worked that way until I went to work for someone else.

It was exhausting. I learned that those 80-hour weeks are toxic and stressful.

I had employees. I paid them generously. I gave them time off when they needed it. I only had to fire one person and it was because they weren’t doing their job. I never let someone go for the purpose of increasing my profits – in fact I took a pay cut at one point to make sure my employee at the time could continue working for me.

Not My Decision

Working for someone else is a different animal. Make no mistake – I was thrilled to be able to go to work for someone else, where my knowledge was valued, where I was respected, where my experience was trusted, and where my time away from work was protected. I would not have closed down my business and taken that job had that not been made very clear to me during the interview process. And so my stress level dropped dramatically.

Until I got laid off. No, until HR transitioned to a new organization that was barely recognizable. That was a few months before the layoff.

I understand that startup growth works one way and at some point strategies need to change. I get that. It would be great if organizations that claim the “family” moniker would be straight up and open with their employees. Explain that things are rough and let them know that you’ll have to be trimming some edges. Give them a freakin’ chance to find something else and lighten your load. Give them a chance to move to another job without having to deal with the stress of unemployment. Give them some respect.

I realized that bad times were headed our way when we went from a 4-point evaluation system to a 5-point evaluation system. It seems like a tiny thing if you’re not tuned in. After all, what’s 1 point? Here’s the difference – in a four point system you’re either learning, meeting, excelling, or ready for the next great thing. With a 5-point system it takes much more effort to reach the next great thing. Not that effort isn’t good – it is. But when the goalpost is moved, when the reward is pushed further away…..

With a 5-point system, you are meeting expectations at a 3 instead of a 4. You are two levels away from advancement or a raise instead of just 1. Put another way, you can be doing amazing work at a 4 in a 4-point scale. But in a 5-pointer, you have to be doing your promotion’s level of work in order to get that 5 rating (even though that work is outside your jd and your pay range).

Let’s look at this numerically. On a 4-point scale, if your review is a 4 (doing everything in your jd really well), you’ve got a 100% review. But on a 5-point scale, that same 4 is now only a mere 80%. The only way to move up, is to do someone else’s work – work that is outside of your job description; work that is (quite literally) above your pay grade.

And when you combine a change in the “grading” system with new leadership, you can plainly see that HR is driving the money train. Remember, HR’s purpose is to protect the company and find ways to have people do more work without having to pay them more. It is never to work for the benefit of the employee.

Regarding reviews, let me just say this: two reviews ago, I was happy with my review. Last time, I wasn’t. I’m not so obtuse as to not know how well I’m performing. I was absolutely doing more than my review “number” showed. In all my adult life I have never overestimated the quality of my work or service – me being me, more often I underestimate the quality or value of my work.

Just Sour Grapes?

I suppose it’s possible that I’m just feeling sour grapes at the layoff at the moment. It’s also possible that I’m feeling down because I can’t get past the stupid ATS even though I paid for resume help that was supposed to get me through the ATS. Or, maybe my eyes are just open more.

And, possibly, I shouldn’t even be publishing this. But I am who I am and today I’m feeling rather surly.

What I see in LinkedIn

I am doing a LOT of reading about jobs and employers and resume writing and job hunting, of course. Things are not good “out there.” Too many employees are unhappy – employed but unhappy (ok, that’s not new). People are realizing that work is not life. I’ve learned that an employer pays me for 40 hours of my week, the rest is my time and I should guard that “my time” ferociously – ESPECIALLY if they’re not paying me to do more.

There is one resume writer/coach (Robynn Storey) who I follow on LinkedIn who has all the right ideas, but is speaking to the wrong segment. She writes things like:

“It’s enough to just do your job. Nothing more, nothing less”

“Take your lunch break. Take those vacation days. Work your 9 to 5. Shut off your computer when your day is over. It’s okay to say NO to extra work without extra pay. Take a sick day when you are sick. Plan that vacation.”

But she’s speaking to the wrong people! Employees and job hunters already understand this.

I wonder what exactly she expects job hunters to do with that knowledge. I may ask her. Heck, I’ll probably tag her.

She’s really smart – she should be speaking with employers. She should be consulting with their HR departments to put the Human back in HR.

And she is, of course, right. I loved my job. My team loved me. My cross-functional teams loved me. The WIT group loved me. The Generative AI team loved me. I showed up to meetups after hours even though it wasn’t even remotely part of my job. I was asked to mentor not 1, but 2 women this cycle – people who are just average aren’t asked to do that. I could go on and on.

When push came to shove, laying off myself and my 6 colleagues was a function of some HR magic formula. It certainly wasn’t the choice of any of my compatriots and, in my heart of hearts, I don’t believe my manager thought any of us on our team should be let go.

The sad thing is that I was so happy there that I lost sight of the fact that employers don’t care how much you do or how much you work. Or maybe I just really wanted to believe that it was be different where I was, that this company was special; not like the others I read about. I didn’t want to believe that they have no emotional ties to keeping you employed. Truth is, they’re not in the business to make the world a better place for people, they’re in the business of making money. Us employees…we are a means to that end.

It all feels grossly unfair and dishonorable. Maybe I’m just lashing out. Doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

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Laziness, It’s a Feature!

One of the things that used to bug me as an employee was how quickly I would complete my work. Not that anyone else was slow, I just work fast. I’ve always been like this. I finished homework quickly. I finished in-school work quickly. I finished tests quickly. I get to the airport two hours before my flight. I drive too fast. I don’t know how to be fashionably late.

You see, I’m impatient, I’m smart, my brain is always on overdrive, I don’t know how to shut off, and I’m rather – shall we say – competitive. I know, it was hard to tell.

None of that is a problem, of course. Until it is.

This “working quickly” super power worked against me in the beginning of my career life. At my first job I worked as an editor, editing radio advertisement scripts. I would get giant stacks of these ads in the morning and would be done by mid-day. And with nothing on my desk, I looked like I was slacking off. Everyone else was still working on them the next day.

I ended up in the computer room (yes, we had a computer room) to fill the time and, ultimately, ended up managing the system.

Later on I moved into the tech space at a telephony company where I ended up in a support role. I was responsible for a geographic area of customers and had a queue of tickets that were always cleared by mid-day. Sadly, that was not an accomplishment that got rewarded. My manager told me to slow down or find something else to do. So in spite of the fact that my customers loved me and I placed #1 in all of my tech trainings, my boss thought I was lazy because, well, I finished quickly and had nothing to do for a few hours each day. It made for a toxic corporate work experience.

Everything changed for the better when I went into business for myself. Working quickly benefitted my customers and they loved it. When you’re billing for time and competing for business, being able to say “yes, I charge more, but I will be done faster and you won’t have to call me back because I fix it right the first time” was a big boon to business. Also, it was true. I had mastered the knowledge and skills that my customer base needed and wanted.

Then I realized that charging by the hours wasn’t doing the trick for me so I charged for my knowledge instead of for my time.

I wasn’t being lazy. I had mastered the skills that were required of me to efficiently take care of my work and my customers. Thankfully, my customers recognized mastery as mastery. I recognize it too. But I still feel like I’m being lazy if I’m not busy.

I need to remember that mastery is not laziness. Mastery should be rewarded with time to relax.

It should. But, then, this is me and I like being busy. I like the feeling of accomplishment. I like signing off on a project. I like to tick the items off my list. I like to beat my deadline dates (competitive, remember?) – it drives me. I believe in underpromising and overdelivering in all things. It’s no surprise that I feel a strong sense of guilt if I’m not busy. I find it nearly impossible to waste time. I also find it nearly impossible to say in 500 words what should take 10 (term papers were a nightmare for me).

I have to remind myself regularly that just because I finish a task early, it doesn’t mean that I have to fill that freed up time with more work. Mastery is the answer, not more work. I need to internalize that and recognize that downtime is healthy. Time spent not working is something to be treasured and protected. Not working is NOT being lazy.

Downtime is healthy. Downtime is necessary. Downtime gives my brain the rest it needs to shift gears and learn new things. Downtime is good. Maybe if I say it enough I’ll actually believe it. 😊

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Today is a lesson in patience.
The world doesn’t move at my pace.
Practice my breath work while waiting.
My strategy’s nearly in place.

It’s been 3 weeks. No bites. Not even a nibble. Just disappointment and waiting. And then waiting again. Then waiting some more.

I’m not good at waiting, I’ll be honest. Some potential employer is going to read this and promptly scratch my name off their list. But they’ll love reading it and tell me what a great piece this is. Sigh.

I’ve seen a lot of strategies for finding a job. But do I really want to simply “find” a “job” or do I want to do something that is enjoyable, that makes a difference in the world, and that doesn’t make me hate getting up in the morning.

Truth be told, my last gig was like that. Alas…

I want to find a job that doesn’t stress me. And that will take time. I know it. I don’t like it, but I know it. While I have associates who have applied to dozens or even hundreds of jobs, I have applied to 8. I have good reasons for this strategy but at least once a day I find myself thinking “just apply for everything, it’s a numbers game.” No. No no no. Desperation is a terrible place to negotiate from. It means you give up too much.

At some point in my earlier life, I could see applying for 10’s or 100’s of jobs. I would have applied for everything that’s even remotely near my skillset. But now I know better. Would I actually take any of those jobs if they were offered? Likely not. Either the money isn’t there or there is a preponderance of red flags (”must be willing to subordinate oneself to the mission and to work long hours” for example) or pizza as a bonus or the job isn’t remote or whatever other reasons one doesn’t accept a job offer.

Taking a job just to take a job – at least at this stage of my unemployment – seems wrong. Earlier in my life I took whatever I was offered at whatever wage they offered. That was a symptom of my having no real skills to speak of, my low self-esteem, a culture that placed women as receptionists or secretaries, and/or my having been unbelievably naive and sheltered. I was miserable at all of those early jobs. I was WAY smarter than my bosses and they had no interest in helping someone grow their career.

Today I know better. There is no reason that we have to be miserable at work. Seriously. I saw a job posting where the hiring company put their values into their post. I love when people tell you who they are right up front. In it, they said that success comes from grit and resilience. <cough> Wut?

These days, we spend so much of our lives having to be “resilient” and, frankly, I’m tired of it. My friends in the Black community are tired of having to be resilient, my women friends are tired of having to be resilient, my LGBTQ+ friends are tired of having to be resilient. Our patience is wearing thin.

Resiliency doesn’t make you successful. Suffering doesn’t make you successful. Doing the next right thing, treating people well, being a good human – THAT is what makes us successful. My business didn’t grow because I was ruthless and had grit. It’s because I made good decisions (most of the time) that were thoughtful and kind, that treated my customers with respect, and because I had trusted advisors who encouraged me and taught me. And I brought this traits with me when it was time for me to work for someone else.

We should be rewarding trustworthiness, honesty, and ethics so that our co-workers and employees don’t have to feel like they’re always fighting for their share of the pie. People cannot survive being under a Sword of Damocles all the time. Something has to give.

And, so, I have to practice patience until the right job comes along. It will happen. In the meantime, I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing the next right thing.


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What’s Important – Really

I haven’t done any job search tasks for a couple days. I’ve had other things on my mind.

I know, I know…job hunting is a full time job (and more in some cases) and that should be where all my focus is – blahblahblah. But, like with any job, family still comes first. And so it is with my week.

You see, my granddaughter has been in the hospital for 4 days. She’s been pretty sick. It’s treatable and she’ll be home soon. But in the meantime, the range of emotions is incredible and all-consuming.

Disclaimer: I know that the following is painting parenthood with a broad, sweeping brush and that there are certainly parents who don’t experience this, but in my little corner of the world I only speak for me and my experience as a parent.

I have always been sympathetic and, often, empathetic. Being a mom is like an electrical current, a cord, a connection that is so deep that when my child hurts, I hurt. When my grandchild hurts, I hurt double – once for the grandchild and the pile-on hurt for my child. I physically feel it. My heart clenches, my chest constricts, it’s hard to breathe.

This was my day Thursday. As I was on the phone with my son, I felt his pain acutely. And when he spoke of how scary it is, how helpless he felt watching his daughter as she had a seizure, I felt all of what he was describing – helpless listening to his pain and helpless hearing about her difficulty.

Lemme tell you – it sucked. Big time.

But, also, there was good that came out of it. I felt my heart swell that he felt safe enough to let go with me. And that I felt safe enough to let go with him. We offered each other comfort and understanding – connection. We connected in a way we hadn’t in a while.

And I was so very proud of him and impressed that he could be scared and could cry in front of his son…showing the child that parents are human and experience all the human feelings. He and my DIL are such good, solid parents. I am both proud of them and envious of their parenting skills.

It is impossible for me to clearly and fully explain to my kids, the depth of my feelings for them. How their pain is my pain, their joy is my joy. I just want them to have more happiness than sadness, more peace than anxiety, more of all the good stuff and less of the bad stuff. I think it’s that way for all of us – until our kids become parents themselves.

And, so, this week it has been important to put aside my need to find a job in order to be available for my children and grandchildren. Nothing is more important to me.

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Job Hunting is a (Crummy) Job

I’ve spent more time on this computer in the last 2 weeks than I did in the entire last month! OK fine, I’m exaggerating. I may be prone to bouts of exaggeration when I’m frustrated, but who isn’t?

I have spent 75% of every waking hour working on this new “job”. This is hard work. And I know I am not the only one doing this. Us unemployed folks are working our little fingers to the bone.

My mind is occupied non-stop with thoughts about how to search, where to search, rewriting my resume, writing cover letters, fixing up my LinkedIn, making the right connections, redefining myself and what job I want to look for, assessing how long I can go without employment, touching base with everyone I know, setting up (and reading through) job searches, researching companies, looking at Master degree programs, reading through certification programs, reading executive coaching materials, and a thousand other related tasks. And catastrophizing.

It’s exhausting, friends. No wonder I can’t sleep at night (Harper the Puppy Artist laying on my legs notwithstanding).

I don’t know about you, but I put a lot of pressure on myself. I’m not sure why i thought I’d have gotten callbacks already – I’ve only applied to 3 jobs and those were panic-driven applications. I shouldn’t be applying to anything until I have my tools in order. But, alas, I feel like I cannot afford to waste missing even one job opportunity.

I want patience and I want it right now! Not hearing from these companies drives me up the wall. I mean, it’s been a whole day and I’ve heard nothing! WTF? <grin>

I hear you all chuckling…I know exactly how ridiculous that statement is. I know it in my logical brain. The part of my brain that operates the Imposter Syndrome part of me is completely unaware of the logical fallacy however. I regularly have to beat that part down with a large emotional stick. And I know there are many of you, dear readers, who are in exactly the same place. I see you. I hear you. I feel you.

I am envious of my friends and ex-co-workers who can “take time off” so they can recharge and rejuvenate themselves. Friends, I do not know how to not work. I don’t know how to not do some kind of forward motion.

I think the most painful questions I get asked are: “what do you do” or “what do you want to do next”? How do you put nearly 30 years of varied tech-business experiences into a succinct, 30-second, answer that muggles will understand? That’s actually a very big, very real dilemma that I will have to work out because most people have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to listening to someone describe their work. Interestingly, I have no problem answering these questions, btw, when I’m talking with people in the tech industry.

Side note: y’know what’s been really bizarre? Nobody assumes I’m executive material. I don’t know why. Is it because I’m a woman? Is it because I’m older and unemployed? Is it because I don’t dress in designer clothing? It makes no sense. I ran a business for 25 years…I have skillz, yo. Do you other out of work executive types experience this too?

That said, I am having an internal battle trying to decide what I want to do next. One of the problems of not having spent the last 2 decades in corporate life is that I lack the language, the corporate-speak that others have. And I haven’t had need for the tools that corporate environments use. So while I do have skills, I will need to train up on the practical tools.

With such varied experiences, I fit into a bunch of management and executive roles: customer success, professional services, managed services, and chief of staff come to mind first. I fit them all very well. I do know that I’m a helper type. That’s my nature. That will have to factor in to whatever I look for. My next task will probably be to augment the job search with some process and leadership certification classes so that I have something “official” to bring to interviews. Anything I can do to stack the deck, right?

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It’s been 10 Days

It’s Friday. I’ve been out of work 10 days now. It seems like 10 years and 10 minutes all at the same time. I have no frame of reference. I thought it was Thursday on Wednesday and Friday on Thursday. I have worked 12-14 hours every day for 10 days now. What kind of work, you ask? Great question. I’d love to tell you.

I have reworked my budget and have returned purchased items. I have worked on my resume and gotten input from others. I have set up a job search spreadsheet and applied for unemployment. I have donated 10 boxes of books (Books4Cause) and reconstructed my bookcase. I have taken care of legal matters and investigated what ISOs are and how they could impact me. And I spun up this website.

I cancelled future back-related PT appointments. And I’ll be done with mental health therapy as well. Even though I suspect I’ll have some kind of insurance, my provider is out of network and when money is tight – I have 6 weeks of severance – I stop spending on anything that doesn’t directly help me bring in money. Put another way, my health comes last when money gets tight. I know that this is the same for pretty much everyone. Why is healthcare tied to employment anyhow? That’s a topic for another day.

Today I feel the urge to talk about job hunting. I don’t know the correct way to do this new to me experience. I haven’t had to look for work since like 1983 or so. Things have changed. ::eyeroll::

I have pals who have applied to 50+ jobs in the last 10 days. I have other friends who applied for 250 jobs before landing. I’ve heard that it’s a numbers game…increase your chances by applying to as many jobs as possible. But I have to wonder: are they all jobs these folks really want? Do people truly apply for everything instead of what they really want? Do people feel hopeless? Do they feel their worth is less because they were laid off? I don’t know the answer to this and I suspect I’ll get as many different views as there are people out of work.

I have very dear, non-IT friends who do not understand what I do or what I’ve done. And so, in trying to be helpful, they’ve sent me advice on how to get a minimum wage job in retail. I’m not sure why anyone would think I would want to (or physically could) work at <retail shop>. Or, my “local” friends know that I knit so they suggest selling hand-knit items on <social marketplace>. I love my friends madly. They love me back. But it’s interesting to me that I’ve never taken the time to share with them what I know and what I have done in my work life. That’s on me.

I don’t want to come across as ungrateful. I am beyond grateful for all the love and support they lavish on me. I have never felt more supported than I have this past week. So I thank them and ask if I can send them a copy of my resume in case they run across something more appropriate. Hopefully that will give them a better idea of what I’m looking to do. And I have to start talking about myself in ways that highlight me, rather than poopoo my talents. This is NOT the time for me to be humble.

Thankfully, my IT pals get it and I have a very large network of dear dear friends. Thank the heavens for These people are my lifeblood. In very few words I can tell them what I’m looking for. I have found LinkedIn to be a valuable resource as well. While I do have to zhuzh mine up (that’s a task for next week), my network has expanded manyfold and I search it regularly for contacts inside companies I’m interested in working for.

I do have some advice for you when you have a friend who’s lost their job:
– Let them know right away that you’re available to talk when they’re ready. Then give them some space to grieve. I couldn’t speak for 2 days. I didn’t eat for over 24 hours. I still haven’t slept a full night. This is about them.
– Touch base a week or so after initial contact. Just let them know you’re thinking of them and you’re still available.
– When they’re ready, ask if they want your advice or just an ear to listen?
– Ask them if they are eating and sleeping? Offer to bring them food or cook for them. They’re grieving. They may not be able to even make a decision like what to eat for <meal>.
– Offer to look over their resume if you have those skills.
– Offer to practice interviewing with them.
– Ask them if they’re ready to start looking again – give this question some time before you ask.
– Please don’t assume desperation. Most folks in tech layoffs have received a severance of some sort. Don’t assume “something is better than nothing.” It’s really not. Center your friend’s needs: ask them what they’re looking for in a job and salary range before you tell them about that part time retail job.
– How can I help and who can I introduce you to are probably two of the most valuable offers you can make to your unemployed friend.

I can say that today – at least for now – I do not feel worthless or even less worthy than I did 2 weeks ago. I do feel scared, that’s for sure. I’m very afraid, for dozens of reasons, that I won’t find another job. But I do not feel desperate. And I feel some gratitude. This has shown me how many people I have in my life who really do care about me. I had no idea. I am both stunned and oh so grateful.

Until next time…

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My Job Search As An Older Woman & Caregiver

My Fears & Perspective In This New Timeline

I hesitated to put all that in the title because I didn’t want to risk some potential employer doing their internet search on me and finding out my age or my marital status or that I have caregiving restrictions that keep me close to home. But, then I realized that this is the internet and if they really want to know about me, it’s not exactly hard to find out anything they want. The internet is forever, as we know.

I feel like I’ve been out of work for forever. In reality it’s been a week (go read my series on Time: A Social Construct). What a week it’s been. I’ve been very busy – some may say I’ve been avoiding the emotions, I say I’ve been putting them to good use. I’ve cleared out my office. I’ve rearranged furniture. I’ve torn down a book case and fixed some flooring. I reworked my budget, built this website, and have been working on my resume. I finished watching and taking notes on a mental health program I started 6 weeks ago and I’m taking care of the “legal” and “financial” items that need to be looked at by month’s end.

I have set up a spreadsheet to track my job search and I have even applied for one job already (even without a perfect resume) and have made contact on another job (still looking for a contact in that company).

Phew! I have been busy!

Next week I will start the job hunt in earnest. As they say, looking for a job is a job. Which brings me to the topic at hand. I wonder how much my marital status, age, and position in life will impact my hunt.

Being my age is going to be a struggle to overcome. I know this. I have a ton of life and work experience that is hard to put into a resume. As an example, I set up my account at the unemployment job search site. They wanted me to put in the job titles I want to search for. But they don’t have the things I do and have done: content writer, customer success director, community strategist (not the city planner type of community but in the online tech community type of community), manager – professional services implementation, and other assorted titles that are apparently made up according to my state’s job listing site.

I can’t hide my age. No matter what, I can’t pass for 40. Not in person and not in resume.

Add to that the fact that I really need to work remotely so that I can be here when mom’s caregiver is done with her shift. She works 9-5 Monday through Friday. And mom lives with me so I am the defacto caregiver. Just last Friday we had an incident where I had to make decisions and get her to the ER at 4 in the afternoon. If I was working in office, that would have been untenable. Yes, the caregiver could have called the ambulance (and she did), but she’s done at 5 unless we pre-arrange things. It’s my responsibility to meet the ambulance at the hospital. I take my role as POA very seriously.

So let’s look at job requirements (and “culture” statements) and decipher how they’re written. HR departments have strict laws that they have to follow when setting down requirements. They put their preferences into their statements about what kind of “attitude” or “qualities” they see as valuable in order to not violate employment law. I gave a session at PSU MacAdmins on this topic. Putting my potty mouth aside, I speak to this and many other DEI issues. We had a great time talking about a very serious topic.

Once we get past the age problem, then there’s the issue of being a caregiver. This one has me worried a lot, I won’t lie. I have spent the last few years listening to employers talk about how “nobody wants to work” or “people only want to work from home because they’re lazy” when what they mean is “we don’t want to pay people enough to come into the office.” The research shows that workers are absolutely more productive at home than at work. Additionally, they’re happier and have higher job satisfaction than their in-office counterparts. Workers who are happy with their job, are….yep, you guess it….more productive. In fact, they are 33% more productive.

All that said, that I have to worry about balancing taking a job in an office and adequately caring for my mother is wrong. When I look at it from a lifelong perspective, my income suffered in my younger years because I was caring for my children and now because I’m caring for my mother. Hybrid and in-office scenarios penalize women and caregiving adults.

This is a systemic issue and I, for one, would like to see it solved.

Today, August 15, is Moms Equal Pay Day. My gosh. This should NOT be necessary, for cryin’ out loud. Close the gender pay gap. Normalize work from home wherever possible. Hire the best people for the job. Don’t throw away valuable resources based on a couple of wrinkles and hair color.

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A Video

It’s finally up. Last month (July 2023) I spoke at my favorite conference – PSU MacAdmins.

I used to speak on tech topics but discovered that I’m not very good at taking tech principles and operations from my brain and teaching them to audiences. I can translate tech-speak to muggle-speak, however. I just can’t do it tech to tech. I suspect it’s a case of Imposter Syndrome more than anything, to be honest.

But I *am* very good at soft skills presentations. And, so, I’ve done a number of them. The most recent one was a lot of fun: Ageism in Tech, revisited. I talk about ageism, racism, and sexism in tech. I’ll post it here. I hope you enjoy it.

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