Cranking ’em out and checking the numbers

February 24, 2010

You’ve got to love being able to apply for jobs on the Internet.

I got six resumes out in two hours yesterday morning. The only thing I find that you have to be really careful with is editing the cover letters so that your cover letter for a marketing position doesn’t have a final paragraph that says, “I would love the chance to work at your school.”

That’s even more important when applying for an editing job.

I am spreading things out more now, looking for part-time positions and really examining some of the jobs that want writers and editors to work from home. Yes, my eyes are open, and I am not going to shell out $100 for a “How to work from home” booklet. To paraphrase the Olympic announcer from last night, “This ain’t my first rodeo.”

The primary goal, though is a full-time job, and I am working on that.

But while I really want to get hired, I have to say I truly appreciate places like Hudson Valley Community College, that send you a letter saying that they appreciated your application but hired someone else. The HVCC job was the first one I applied for in this job hunt. That letter went out Feb. 1 and I got the “No thanks” letter” earlier this week. I also got a “No thanks” letter from a school system near Syracuse.

Going into this week, I had applied for 12 positions. I’ve got the two “No” responses and had an interview then a turn-down at a non-profit in Albany. I have got a call back for more information from the Census Bureau, but no interview yet.

I also sent out six “query” letters to folks in the newspaper business who were not advertising for positions, and I have gotten, but no offers yet. In addition, I have contacted at least one other person with a “fishing” letter, someone I have worked closely with, but again, no response.

No bitterness here. Just observations and appreciation from those I have heard back from.

As I said, six more resumes out yesterday, and a couple to go over the transom today.

These are definitely interesting times.


Testing, testing . . .

February 24, 2010

Any job search has short-term plans and long-term plans.

The short-term plan is to find a job that I’d enjoy that meshes with my skills and can help me pay. (That may change as time goes on. Right now, I am hoping for a call from the Census Bureau.

I took that test last week and got 26 of 28. I really thought I had gotten all of them. Not a very hard test at all, considering passing is 10. They called back for details on my supervisory experience.

I also know that seasonal employment will pick up in March or April (although the heavy snow outside does not hold a lot of hope for Spring).

The two longer-term goals involve the Internet and the classroom.

I’m trying to use the time to do a lot more writing — including this blog — and I hope to get more freelance gigs.

The other plan, which has always been the plan, is to get back into the classroom. In order to do that, I need to pass all three NYS teaching tests. (You get two years to pass the tests, but I just didn’t have time before.

I took two Saturday, the teaching-focused one and the general Liberal Arts and Science Test. They were each 80 questions and an essay of 300-600 words.

Fortunately, I believe I am a good test-taker. I did feel really, really old, because many of the several hundred people there were fresh out of college.

I still need to take the Social Studies-specific test, and that won’t be until June, so I will not get the results until July.

But it’s not uncommon to get hired with the certification pending one test.

The best outcome of all this would be getting my freelance writing and blogging going better *and* getting a local teaching job. We’ll have to see. It’s all part of the adventure.

Catching up is hard to do

February 24, 2010

No job, yet, but that doesn’t mean life hasn’t been full of fun and excitement on the job-search trail.

Well, that depends a lot on your definition of “fun and excitement.”

Perhaps the highlight of the last 10 days was getting to go into the local One-Stop to be the customer instead of the counselor. While I was at One-Stop, I would do somewhere between six and 10 of these meetings a week.

But in this case, I was on the other side of the table. I know a couple of people at the other office, including a former boss. But I drew someone I had never met, who was very polite and really prepared for the meeting.

The interviewer was a little thrown when I told her what I had been doing prior to my layoff, and she offered to just give me the information packet.

But I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, so we went over it. It was very similar to what we’d been doing, which made me feel pretty good.  I didn’t really learn anything new, but it’s comforting to know there’s a place I can go and call if I need help.

The other part of this story is that the New York State Department of Labor gets a tip of the hat from “Working” Press.

One of the other common tasks I dealt with at the old job was helping people who were not getting their Unemployment Insurance. This could be pretty hard at times, because as is the case in many large state and commercial organizations, it’s tough to get a real person on the phone. (It got easier when we as counselors got a special number we could call and put the customers on the line with someone).

But I haven’t needed that. The system has worked exactly as it is supposed to. I signed up, did my waiting period and certified once a week. As I check the DoL web site, I can see that the money is indeed coming into my bank account. I do love direct deposit. (The other choice is a bank card).

For what it’s worth, I do get just over half of what I made when I was working. Right now, because of the severance package, I have actually made a little more in February than I would have if I had been working.

That’s not going to last after this week or so. Time to get back to the search.

End of the week . . .

February 12, 2010

One of my main duties when I was working at the One-Stop Center was to conduct 15-minute meetings with people who were collecting Unemployment Insurance and had received a letter from the State Department of Labor instructing them to come in for the meeting.

Late last week, I got my own letter and the accompanying paperwork. I’ve got to be at the Warren County One-Stop at 2 p.m., next Tuesday. Now, it’s important to note that if we hadn’t moved to Glens Falls in October, my appointment would have been at the office where I used to work. That would have been fascinating.

Still, I know the drill. I am expected to be there for the meeting or I get another letter, and if I miss two meetings, they will suspend my unemployment payments. That’s called the dreaded “Failure to Report” (or FTR) hold. It requires finally going in and having the meeting.

Thing is, meeting is fairly painless, or about as painless as anything can be when you’re unemployed. I am just waiting to find out how different it’s going to be in another office, because I know that each of us in my old office did it a little differently. This office I am going to operates a little differently from ours.

It’s really not a lot to do. They want to see that you are alive and make sure you’re applying for a minimum of three jobs a week. I have done that in the course of a morning. Then they tell you about the One-Stop Centers, how they can help you find a job and what services they offer. Of course, I know all this already.

Despite that, I am trying to look at my navigation of the New York Department of Labor through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know the system. I know that’s probably not possible, but I have to say that so far, it’s going well.

Knock on wood.

Well, that’s the first bad news of the search . . .

February 11, 2010

It’s always easy to say, “Well, that might be for the better,” when you don’t get a job, but in this case, the potential boss and I both had the same concerns. I was really trying to decide whether I would take the job I interviewed for a week ago, but the boss made the decision for me.

It would have been teaching job skills and helping in the job hunt for released felons and folks with substance abuse issues.

No doubt I could have done it, but it was in Albany (an hour commute) and was a very intense job requiring a fair amount of travel outside the office.

That was really the only sticking point during the interview. I could have coped and probably would have crashed down there a couple nights a week. She even talked about a four-day week.

In the end, she went with someone local, and honestly, that was probably the best call.

Working on a “Sick Day”

February 9, 2010

Things get better and better here in the Irony Dept.

So I get laid off from the Unemployment Office on the day the president says jobs are the most important thing for the nation. If you have been reading here (and I greatly appreciate that), you knew that already.

Now it’s early Tuesday morning, almost two weeks later, and I am into the fourth day of a raging sinus headache and some nasty asthma-maybe-bronchitis. And I cannot call in sick to work! Nope, just have to deal and try to accomplish what I can.  far, the coffee is working a little, but not enough.

I know this seems kind of silly, pointing out that I would have been home yesterday and today even if I had not been laid off. But it’s one of those things you don’t think about when you’re working. I am picking up a lot of those lately. A friend is without a car because of a traffic stop, and I can ferry him around town if need be. Another friend may need some errands run for work. I can do that. Get the car inspected? Not a problem, if I get off my computer chair.

Underneath it all is the need to keep moving on funding a job. I am a little less than halfway through my severance period, and I have gotten in the habit of checking the two local papers, craigslist,, and the state Department of Labor jobs before doing much of anything on the computer.

I did turn up a good one yesterday, a Journalism instructor position at a state university a couple hours north of here. It’s got fair pay, and it’s something I have always wanted to do. The job doesn’t start until the Fall, but I am going after it hard.

There was another good one this morning, working in the career office at the local community college. It was be a great job and allow me to use the recently developed skills from my last job, and it pays well. Trouble is, when this school had a public relations/marketing position open, it drew more than 150 applications. I’m still going after it.

I am hoping to make it a busy day on the job-application front. I think, maybe, the two cups of coffee have knocked down the headache. I’ll keep you posted.

Sixteen minutes later . . .

February 7, 2010

Internet job searches don’t follow the pre-Internet schedule.

Not that long ago, Sunday was the key job search day. You trundled out to the newsstand (we used to have those) and picked up two or three local papers. The classified sections came out of the paper first and with pen in hand, and a pair of scissors on the table, you went through them line-by-line.

This morning, my job search took 16 minutes, and not in a good way. I found one possible lead — and honestly it would make all this recent hassle well worth it, but more about that later.

The first stop was the Glens Fall Post-Star, the local daily paper, which produced five new jobs. All of them were “work from home” scams. Clearly, more jobs are going up for the Saturday paper or just popping in a day at a time. The local big-city paper, the Albany Times-Union, had 19 new ads, nine of them “work from home” or “grant money is available” ads. I know grant money is available, and I don’t have to pay someone to find it for me.

Just a quick note: I am putting nothing in the search box, other than a 50-mile radius from where I live, so I am seeing all available jobs, not just the ones in my fields. I am trying to cast as wide a net as possible.

The local Internet job site, Adirondack Help Wanted, had one new job — “work from home.” The rest of the top five included one regular job listing and three National Guard ads. Of course, we are talking the far reaches of upstate New York here.

As usual, had a lot more jobs than the other individual pages — more than 50 — but that site is a web crawler and hits all of those pages, so you would expect that. No solid hits there. Same for Craigslist. There were a couple of interesting things, but even with my net cast wide, nothing to pursue.

The only luck — and this was a saving grace — came when  I went to my job-hunting e-mail, which receives the “Monster Power Search” — and found a listing for a Lecturer in Journalism at SUNY-Plattsburgh. It’s a long way away and might necessitate a move, which we are trying to avoid, and the job does not start until Fall.

On the other hand, I have the Journalism and teaching experience for it, and to be honest, ever since my Uncle Ed taught in college, I have always wanted to do that. The pay is good for northern New York, and the job is a lecturer, not a professorship, so my lack of a PhD is not a deal breaker. That one I am going after, but certainly even if I get it, I need something in between.

Maybe there’s hope. The State Department of Labor jobs web site only gets updated during the work week, so maybe there will be listings there tomorrow. But then, if no one listed new jobs over the weekend, then what are they going to have?