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A couple of late-night notes from the job-hunt front:

:: As things are now entering the “Any port in a storm” phase, I am now deciding to re-enter food service. Sigh. At least it will be nice to have a job interview or two where I’m not saying things like, “No, I don’t have any direct experience in your field, but let me show you how my skills and ability to learn will benefit you…” (Of course, one of the bigger mistakes I’ve made in my life is leaving food service before I was ready to do so a few years back. But still….)

:: My Employed Overlord has some thoughts. I’ve been unlucky in a number of ways that he mentions. First, the majority of my working life has been spent in small towns in the Southern Tier of New York State (that’s the region to the south of Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, immediately north of the Pennsylvania line), in the restaurant business. This means that my exposure to tech fields during the big boom was minimal, so I’ll still be behind that particular curve when things heat up again. This also has the effect of limiting to an absurd degree my networking. Basically, what network I have is online these days, which may help in terms of locating freelance writing work (thanks, Greg!), won’t be of much help in the immediate task of securing a job in Buffalo. Spending six months in Syracuse didn’t help matters, either. That was good for my wife’s career, because it moved her along in her company’s career path, and I did do some crystalizing of my goals and thoughts on just where the hell I’m trying to go. But in terms of actually grabbing a job, well — ick. And had I been hired someplace there, I would have had to quit just months later, anyhow.

:: I agree with my Grudging Overlord that people who can’t or won’t apply for an IT job online are suspicious. I can think of a few extreme examples in which that might not be the case, but on the whole, they should be applying using the tools of their trade. I will note, however, that if a company assumes this but does not spell it out — or even does something like specify a snail-mail address on the company Website, thus implying that resumes sent there are considered — they could be open for legal problems. (I have no idea if My Overlord’s company does this or not. I’m just sayin’.)

:: The Imperious Pooh-Bah also takes me to task again for not learning another skill on the side. Well, I have picked up a good deal of HTML — I’m not competent enough to actually bill myself as a Web designer, but I’m comfortable enough to simply cite my familiarity with it on my resume. (One of these days I plan to set up a site just for my copywriting business, but I have a large number of other priorities right now.) I would point out that I consider by broadening of my writing interests in the last year or two to be learning a skill. Until just a short while ago, I only wanted to write fiction. The idea of writing articles of different types for different publications never much entered my mind, and the whole copywriting field was something I knew nothing about until, about a year ago, I happened to spot this book in the library, the reading of which I followed with this book. This is another area where moving to Syracuse messed things up, because I figure I missed out on a good six to eight months of marketing and developing my skills along that regard. I do agree with the King of Prussia that learning additional skills is advisable. I’ve tried to do that.

:: Another thought about going back to restaurants: I am willing to do this not because I like the idea of doing that again, but because the other big industry in Buffalo that is always hiring is one that I find pretty damned nauseating: telemarketing. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I spent a year and a half in my last job in telesales, and I pretty much hated it. The people were nice, and the actual work was fairly painless — it was business-to-business calling, in which we actually worked the same customers over a long period, as opposed to the “Call someone at dinner and then you’ll never speak to them again” robotic stuff that takes place in most call centers. There are two big telemarketing shops here that have ads in the classifieds every week, and have done so for as long as I can remember, and they’re always advertising on-the-spot interviews. Going into a field with the kind of turnover that makes such recruiting practices necessary really gives me pause, especially when I had the following conversation with one of their recruiters on the phone on Wednesday:

Me: Hi, this is Herbert Walker, returning your call.

Recruiter: Hi, I was looking at your resume, and I was wondering if you would be interested in an interview. Are you available after 3:00 pm tomorrow [Thursday]?

Me: Actually, that’s bad. My wife works the evening shift, so I’m pretty much unavailable for an interview after 1:00. Is there any way we can do a morning interview?

Recruiter: Hmmm. All our morning slots are filled up already.

Me: Damnation and a pox on my house, for not calling earlier! [Not really, but that’s what I thought.] Oh, OK. How about Friday morning?

Recruiter: No, unfortunately I am in an offsite meeting Friday. So we’d have to wait until next week.

Me: Oh, that’s fine, I suppose. I am free at any time on Monday or Tuesday. Name the time, and I’ll be there fifteen minutes early, with all documentation.

Recruiter: Oh. But we don’t schedule interviews that far ahead. We typically only schedule interviews for the same day.

Me: “That far ahead”? Three business days is “That far ahead”? Especially for a company that, from what I can tell by the classifieds, is always interviewing? Are you insane? Just turn the pages of your day-planner until the top line says “MONDAY”. There you go! Not hard at all, was it? [No, not really. But that’s what I thought.]

And it can’t be a good sign when I ask the question “What do your positions pay?”, and then hear the actual flipping of pages as the recruiter, who must hear this question a lot, nevertheless flips to that page in her recruiting script. Hoo-boy….

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