Spokane Regional Networking, Social Media, Professional and Business Development
I’ve heard this question in 12 step programs… “How would you describe your rock bottom?”
First of all I feel like just saying that owes a disclaimer. I once went through and served in Celebrate Recovery, a well known Christian 12 Step program by John Baker out of Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. Personal beliefs aside the reason I went through it in full disclosure, was an attempt to deal with the after affects of what had all ready been professionally diagnosed as illnesses resultant from child abuse… I went through a lot of therapy and they felt the group method might help. Wish I could say it did, but it was nice.
At any rate I do think that applies to the job search, because what is your rock bottom? Is it that place where you become so desperate for work you’ll take a job flipping burgers (which I’ve tried and they actually told me I was overqualified… ironic as in my 7 years as a fast food manager doing HR only once did I interview a guy with my level of qualifications, because I was curious why he had stooped so low with a degree in IT Management… it was for a girl believe it or not) or is it the point where you’ve simply burned all your options and the only thing seemingly available is to up and move someplace where your skills are in demand, but you don’t have the resources to do so?
I ask because I can’t help but wonder if I’ve reached that point. Now please don’t get me wrong, I don’t want your pity, I’m not looking for it, I know the vast majority of my situation is my own doing but I’d like to acknowledge that I in no way know everything and perhaps someone might read this and see that my view is so utterly skewed, or that I’m just missing something, or that I’m just completely pathetic and why did I bother writing this. Ok the last one would hurt only in that my fingers are about as fat as sausages today and I’m in a tremendous amount of pain just writing it. But I do recognize all of the above are valid questions.
And I think we have to come to the realization that everyone’s rock bottom is different, there are always different circumstances or perceived barriers standing in the way of someone becoming and remaining unemployed. A universal one I’m sure is attitude. I will grant that mine sucks. I think from an employer standpoint, I don’t care why your attitude sucks I just don’t want to hire you. There’s really no personal interest in knowing that a person has lost their medical benefits and at one time was a fully interacting, engaging, and productive employee but is now in the full throws of fibromyalgia, which if you don’t know what that is you can look it up out of curiosity. But there are numerous causes, numerous things to make it flare up, and essentially it’s where the spinal cord produces too much of something called substance P, which is a pain receptor and can cause effects similar to rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, poor circulation and loss of feeling in the limbs on a good day, on a bad day the kind of pain that makes you want to go out and commit death by cop… And in my instance there is no private insurance company that will cover the medication (which while I was under, I experienced no symptoms), the company that makes it offers a free drug help program but combined with my wife we make too much money and she has no prescription drug benefit, and to cover myself would be about $500 a month. And you might say why don’t I pay for a months supply and then make the best go I can at landing a job that provides insurance that covers this… 1) my doctor graciously gave me 6 months worth of samples during which time I made my “best go” of becoming employed and obviously failed, and 2) a lot of insurance companies are simply not covering this medication at all anymore because they claim there is a generic equivalent. What they won’t tell you but the FDA will is that the generic equivalent is Gabapentin, a seizure medication known to cause (if you can believe this) hallucinations of the patient committing suicide. I tried the drug and when it that happened let me tell you, it was bizarre, and my doctor ordered me to immediately stop taking it. And it had no benefit what so ever.
Another medical hurdle is my testosterone level. Many people don’t know this but as you sit around getting fat in your chair, or if you walk through the mall and see a guy with considerable man-boobs (my doctors words) you can know that this person has stored enough fat in their body to produce more estrogen than testosterone. There are many harmful effects to this but one of the main ones is the inability to stay awake on a job. I know that job owners love to hear that. In fact I’m especially betting my pastors appreciate how I manage to fall asleep during all their sermons now, no matter how interesting they are. Now you would think that since a lot of doctors simply give out estrogen to women for free the same might be true about testosterone. Not so, as you see there is this huge market for body builders to take testosterone to “bulk up” without getting into steroids. In fact Androgel, really the only product on the market is a couple hundred bucks and I’m working on the company that makes it for that. Though if you know of a pharmacy that does compounding you can have a similar substance made for about $75. It’s a nasty cream you put on your arms, and amongst the benefits of not falling asleep at work or church is your wife gets much happier, and I’m not going to explain that any further.
But that brings me to a third glaring issue standing between me and employment… I own “a” working car. This is the car my wife uses to get to work every day. Technically I own three, because it’s always good to have a backup in case of emergency, but the other two are broken down. One needs two cylinders reworked which I’m told parts alone will cost $550. (need I get into the ability to do my own car repair with fibromyalgia in full swing) The other car is a Suzuki Samurai, and I don’t know what’s wrong with it. Traditionally it’s been that the car’s idle speed is too high to go through emissions, which can be remedied with a strategically placed spring, but it also leaks oil from a place I cannot locate, and the last time I drove it I was stranded out in the middle of nowhere, the car wouldn’t start until four hours later. I have no explanation for this. Except to say that if I’m offered an interview, I can work out an arraignment with my wife to borrow the car to go to the interview, and have many times. But what happens if I actually land the job? There are only so many scenarios where sharing a vehicle works in the long term.
And then there’s the manner of skills. I’m told I have a tremendous number of soft skills, I know on my own I have a tremendous amount of technical skills but I’m told in any given area my soft skills should translate to a job to such a degree that any area I’m lacking, the WIA program will cover with OJT reimbursement. I have used that in over a dozen interviews in the last few months, and granted maybe I’m saying it wrong. Maybe I’m targeting the wrong employers. But in every incidence the answer is “Sorry but I’m not looking to train someone, I need someone who can hit the ground running.” I dunno if they missed the part where I mentioned most of my jobs I didn’t even know anything about the field, much less what software they were using, and in less than a year was regarded as the company expert. Maybe they thought those companies had faulty points of view, but I didn’t need OJT to make my case to them. I almost think it’s worse bringing it up than to just lay out “I dunno what you’re doing but I have a proven track record of performing well in that instance and I can assure you this would be a decision you will have no regrets about.” But then it’s a different economy, perhaps employers don’t see that they have the ability to take those kinds of chances.
I’ll also throw in my hand in the deal. My resume reflects a person seeking employment as a civil drafting/design engineer. The only people hiring those people are the companies slowly recovering from the recession and bringing their laid off employees back as they can. I can and have hit up my former employer, and received no response back. I suspect because I butted heads with the CAD manager over his policy of “upgrade on demand” versus “the new software is so different and complex if we don’t train at least one team on it by the time demand comes we’re not going to be able to compete with companies that are using the new software, which drastically cuts drafting and design time.” And yes there were costs involved to the latter opinion, I presented numerous case studies showing the timeline and payoff of transition and the only people interested were oddly enough the engineers they argued would never be interested in investing their own personal time in learning these products. But that is neither here nor there, I occasionally see a posting that fits my qualifications perfectly and I do everything I can to try and get it but the job is located in Seattle, Portland, Modesto, Phoenix, Alaska… Which makes a solid argument that I need to relocate, but given the compensation involved there’s a real question of whether or not it’s worth it. In all cases it’s better to have a job, but perhaps it’s better to have a job in a parallel field available at home. Mechanical drafters and engineers are in high demand in Spokane and I vigorously pursue these opportunities, but there has been a long stigma that once trained in one CAD discipline you are ruined to all others. Which Worksource argues is where OJT comes in handy… But just consider this, we have one school in ITT Tech that is renowned, not just as an institution but our campus in Spokane as being the greatest source of the brightest and most capable drafters, and in a good turnabout they are putting 15 fully capable drafters into the field about four times a year (maybe more). That’s not counting all the other schools in the area offering degrees in this. You have to know the amount of applicants in this field is staggering. And ITT almost specializes in mechanical engineering, I know because that’s where I got my degree. And to compete with someone who knows the rules of mechanical drafting in 2011 compared to 2005 and has all sorts of issues, but gee I can offer you money to compensate for how much I suck, who would you hire?
Not to mention that I have been since I was employed working on a bachelors degree in Religious Studies with a Minor in Christian Family Counseling. And what does that have to do with drafting or engineering you ask. Not much, if anything, other than my commitment to continue my education, to learn better people skills and if I may be so bold as to suggest, learn the value of context and methodology of research and approaching data with a detached world view as presented by the work itself, perhaps through comparative analysis. Things most people don’t realize you learn in that degree. Though the honest truth is I am looking to eventually gain a Masters in Pastoral Counseling and transition into the ministry field. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that but I can see why no one would hire a person with a goal of working in your company for about five years, maybe a little more, and then moving into something that pays considerably less. Entrepreneurs especially really understand why a person would go about doing such a thing.
Are these all excuses? Yes. Are they my fault? 99.9999% I’d say yes. (I can’t give myself fibromyalgia and I’m having a very difficult time getting medicated for it… because once medicated it’s not even an issue. In fact then I can work out and the testosterone thing becomes less of an issue) Are they irrelevant? That’s a good question because while these are just my barriers to employment, everyone has different ones they need to be aware of and figure out how to break down. In my case I feel like I need Ronald Reagan. “Mr. Gorbechov, tear down this wall!” That guy was like a modern day Moses.
I’m sure as an employer you can look at this and say “what a looser, why would he even post this?” Which in my head I’m wondering how well you’d do as an employer with a chronic disease… I know chronic back pain is almost universal in men these days. Sympathy really has no place in the workplace, especially with regard to hiring those with issues that they arguably brought upon themselves.
On the other hand I can sit in this room as I have for months, do the exact same thing trying to get a job and accomplish nothing… isn’t that the definition of insanity? I suppose at issue is that I need help. I don’t want your help. I might think I don’t even need your help, I might even go so far as to say you’re not qualified to offer me help. But I need help. I don’t know if I’m at rock bottom, but everything I try fails, and I’ve really got nothing except my own contempt. And that contempt is primarily directed towards myself, not for your benefit in me thinking I need your pity to solve my issues, your pity couldn’t solve anything. This is me standing in a crowd of witnesses, tired of shouting, tired of asking, tired of rejection, just throwing up my hands and saying “You know what, I don’t know. I know I need help. I know I have talents but I don’t know how to translate into value that you’ll find acceptable. I just don’t understand any of this.”
I know I’m not the only one with a problem like that. The problem that you’ve locked yourself in a room with no doors, no options and from an employer’s perspective, why should they take a chance on you. You don’t even sound like you want out of that room.
Now as I try and find a solution to why my fingers are so swollen, the question is, how many identify with that, and how many just think that’s a lame excuse.