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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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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