You may have seen my post about moving from Augusta, GA to Bend, OR. You may have also seen my post about the perils of finding a home while living in a hotel room with 5 other people. Well, those two challenges have been met, matched and conquered. The next feat ahead of me is employment. Here’s somethign to start this post off with: from the moment that I made the announcement that we were packing up and moving across the country, people looked at us like we were crazy. I’ve been told that we were crazy to my face several times. But I’ve also had people tell me that they are looking at us as an example that, as Marty McFly was told by his father, if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything!
Tash and I have been self employed for about 6 years now. The entrepreneur spirit was birthed out of necessity as I had lost my job due to a failing economy, a death in the business owners family, and the office I worked at ultimately closing down. This had happened about 6 months after uprooting my family from an area that I was extremely comfortable with. I had lived there for more than 20 years. I knew the people, the surroundings but we wanted an adventure. As parents, we wanted to make a better life for our kids and we thought that this was going to be the best way to do it. I look at life circumstances as stepping stones. I don’t look at failures or setbacks as a bad thing, but as parts of a pathway to the good stuff. Like my grandmother says:
Inch By Inch, it’s a cinch!
So for the past 6 years, we’ve honed skills, grew our strengths and improved our weaknesses. When we decided to move to Oregon, we needed to make a choice. Do we keep our business running and try to make it out here doing the same thing exclusively or do I rejoin the corporate world? Something that I will tell you right up front is that being self employed and working from home in the web design industry is not an easy feat. Add 4 kids to the mix and it increases the difficulty level to “Expert” and the Artificial Intelligence in this game is unrelenting. Time, client and family management turns into a 25/7 (yes I added in an extra hour.. those that do it know what I’m talking about) task. And honestly, I just didn’t want that anymore. I wanted to have a bit more of a structure. Was I going to keep my current client base? Sure. I love them. Something we tried to always do with our business was to make our client base as close to a partnership as we could. I still call a lot of my clients friends to this day. I have a customer service background and I want to provide my clients with an experience, not just a service. And after letting them know that we were moving, they were all cool with it. They understood the time difference (as most of my clients are still on the east coast), and I set out looking for full time employment. What I hadn’t remembered was just how humbling the job search can be.
Looking for a job is actually the easy part. We are way past going to the news stand, picking up the classifieds, getting a sharpie and going circle crazy in the “Help Wanted” section. Heck, for most people that have had to look for a job in the past 3 to 5 years, you’ve even noticed that even some of the earlier sites like Monster.com aren’t all that useful anymore. We are in a world of instant gratification (or so we would like to think) and all it takes now is popping onto Indeed, Craigslist or even seeking out sites of companies that you know you want to work for and submitting your resume online. Some of these places even have notification systems that will let you know the status of the application (more on that later). That’s one thing that I had forgotten really; you know, the application submission process.
Back in June when I flew out to Bend for an interview with SmartWaiver, I had put together my resume as well as my resume website. The last time I had to put together a resume was back in 2005 or perhaps 2006 so needless to say, it needed some updating. Thanks to LinkedIn, I didn’t have that much of an uphill battle. After getting everything put together and prepped, I started submitting applications (which, some of these took around 30 to 40 minutes to fill out). I was given massive confidence as I realized that with all of the added knowledge that I’ve acquired over the past few years, I’ve boosted my eligibility from just above entry level to management. Being that this line of blogging has turned into “Ultra truth mode” I will say this: that confidence took a big helping of humble pie after the first few weeks of submission attempts. You see, for every position, there appears to be around 150 to 200 applicants (I am not, in any way, joking or exaggerating) vying for the same position. All with the same skill level or higher. Something that’s been troubling me though is the fact that we haven’t quite got past the notion from the last generation believing that a degree is required for the position. That’s not to say that I’ve received notification that I didn’t get a job I’ve applied for because a lack of a degree, but one has to wonder.
Regardless, lets talk about the subject of this post itself. Not going insane while job hunting. We are currently in the throes of a government shutdown. Over 800,000 federal employees are finding themselves unemployed at the moment. Some have resorted to selling things on Ebay and Craigslist while others have started offering household errands services. I haven’t started selling personal items yet (okay that’s a lie, but it was left overs from our garage sale that I sold), but luckily for me, I still have my web designing gig to fall back on until employment and I find each other. But what is also needed in my opinion is a dynamite support system. Thanks to my lovely wife, kids, family and a few friends, they’ve kept my mental state above water. And when I have days like yesterday when I find out that I’m in the second round of interview batches for a position I really want (which means I’ll only get an interview if they don’t find someone in batch number 1), I try not to get discouraged. Having everyone around me cheering me on makes it easier to bare and keeps my confidence on an even keel.
I will say that channeling my inner entrepreneur in a new location gets the creative juices flowing. Offering services that I haven’t in a long time (photo restoration) and networking with like minded professionals is a sure bet to get to know new people and open up new opportunities. All in all, it’s about putting yourself out there, being a little vulnerable and open to change. We’ve gone through so much change as a family in the past 3 months… a little more won’t hurt much. And anyone that has gone through the trials of seeking employment; or have tried to accomplish anything for that matter knows that you have to persevere. So I’ll finish this post with my Grandmother’s favorite poem that she recites for me often (by Edgar Guest):
Somebody said that it couldn’t be doneBut he with a chuckle repliedThat “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be oneWho wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.So he buckled right in with the trace of a grinOn his face. If he worried he hid it.He started to sing as he tackled the thingThat couldn’t be done, and he did it!Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;At least no one ever has done it;”But he took off his coat and he took off his hatAnd the first thing we knew he’d begun it.With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,Without any doubting or quiddit,He started to sing as he tackled the thingThat couldn’t be done, and he did it.There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,There are thousands to prophesy failure,There are thousands to point out to you one by one,The dangers that wait to assail you.But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,Just take off your coat and go to it;Just start in to sing as you tackle the thingThat “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.