Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I become a lady of leisure in a few days. I guess most of the sting of losing my job was taken out because I had this other job interview. I haven't been completely rejected yet for the job I applied for, and to be honest, I am still hanging on to a sliver of hope. When I saw the job posting had been relisted, I was crushed. If I eventually do get a rejection note, I think most of the sting of not getting it has also been taken out.
Although I am a qualified candidate, job interviews are a lot like dating, sad to say. It is often 'chemistry' that wins. Likability, with a dash of qualities they're looking for. If they interviewer likes you, they will talk themselves into why you are the right candidate. This is how often a smooth talker that can't walk the walk gets the job. Then the people who actually do the work have to clean up after it.
In my early interviewer days, I got tricked into this myself. I hired someone who had a great resume, and was absolutely fantastic in the interview. He wowed. Then he turned out to be a slacker, and not good at the tasks I gave him. He was always on his cell phone, instead of working. He continually messed up the tasks I gave him, and I'd have to fix them. He created more work for me, instead of taking things off my plate like I hired him to do. And I couldn't get rid of him, because everyone liked him. Great people skills. Fortunately, he decided to leave for another job.
My best employee was one who was not necessarily the 'best' candidate.Her resume wasn't super polished, and could have used some tweaks. She had good experience, but not the kind I needed. However, it was close enough that I decided to interview her.
In the interview, she wasn't able to answer the direct technical questions I asked her. But she was extremely enthusiastic. I asked her to write me a few example test cases. She took to the task with gusto. I hired her. Her eagerness and enthusiasm made her very easy to train. She wanted to learn. She excelled at her tasks, and took work off my plate. She wanted to take even more responsibilities. When she decided to leave, it was a nightmare. I begged my management to give her a raise, but they refused. I left the company a short while after that, myself.
My last day is technically Friday, but I am actually finished with my work on Thursday. Friday I plan to go to the unemployment office. I'll talk to them about my options for the Trade Assistance Act because my job is being outsourced to a foreign company. I'll tell them that I need to finish my degree and certification courses in order to remain competitive. Unfortunately, the kind of classes and courses I need are not available in Georgia. Our plan is for me to return to Washington state around the first quarter of next year. So I have to talk to them about if I can apply for TAA assistance, and delay start of training for a few months. I don't know how familiar they are with TAA and outsourcing around here, so I'm hoping that won't become a liability.
By some luck, I have been hit by a few recruiters in the past week asking if I am planning on returning to Seattle. It seems a number of Seattle area companies are hiring for my particular skill set. I won't be able to do anything until I get there - they don't even want to talk about relocation, and I'm not expecting it. By my estimates, I will most likely be 'on extended vacation' for at least 2-3 months.
In that time, I plan to:
1) Read books on my trade and get current on the latest techniques.
2) Work on my mobile application and other programming projects. Maybe I can launch self employment; an idea I have toyed with for some time.
3) Apply for jobs. I have to apply for unemployment while I wait for my TAA application approval.
4) Research classes I need to take for retraining and finishing my degree.
5) I'll have time to practice my semi-gourmet cooking skills.
6) Work on my sewing projects. Maybe I can revive my wedding dress project.
7) Finally take the yoga, pilates and spinning classes that I was never able to fit into my schedule.
8) Domestic diva. Bleh. Not looking forward to this. I plan to wipe down one room a day, just so it's not so overwhelming.
9) Stay positive. This is a transition to something greater. Everything was lining up, saying it was time for me to move forward again.
10) Join a protest group. Why not? I think I have as much right as any. My job was just outsourced to a foreign company. It's not that there isn't a need for workers. My wage will be employing someone else abroad. It is not because they can do my job better - my performance reviews were spectacular. I am a senior level worker, and I'm being replaced with junior level techs. It's not necessarily because it is cheaper - they will end up signing a contract with this company much greater than my wage. Yes, I am a part of the shrinking middle class.
I feel very lucky that I am able to do this. My fiance and I have always prepared for this situation, even when things were looking good. Just a few months ago, I was receiving rave reviews - my work was described as 'groundbreaking' and I got a raise. But in this economy hostile to the unemployed, that is no time to get complacent. We saved for a rainy day, so we have an emergency fund to dip into. I paid off my debts a long time ago. We have budgets in place to handle one income. He has a steady job.
My advice: prepare for unemployment, before you have to. It is much easier to cope with when you have a plan already in place. Pay down debts, stop accumulating debts. Unemployment and debts are a wreck on your self esteem - I've been there, back in 2002. This time around, I have no outstanding liabilities. It is a MUCH stronger position to be in. Even if I didn't have my fiance who still has a job, I would be able to pay for food and rent. No looming debt vultures, circling around, waiting for me to make a mistake.
I'm with Dave Ramsey. There is no such thing as 'good debt'. Don't finance school 100% with student loans. Finishing college is much more important than going to a prestigious college. Paying for school with debt is more likely to sink your opportunities for years, as an entry level wage won't be able to cover the repayment costs. I've been someone who was unemployed with high debt, and now going to be unemployed with no debt. Dave Ramsey absolutely knows what he's talking about. Debt is slavery.
Plenty to do. Maybe not so leisurely after all! To bad it isn't the summer, else I would put lounging at the pool on my list.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Well, I probably did not get the job. I saw that the hiring manager reposted the job listing on job boards yesterday morning. They either have to interview a few more candidates in order to be sure, or I have been ruled out. I'm inclined towards the latter.
I always knew it was going to be a long shot. I'm proud that I was able to get their attention and get as far as I did. It would have been such a huge investment to relocate me, though. I was always going to have to be above and beyond in order for them to think I was worth it.
It was a positive for me in so many ways. I felt I held strong in my knowledge. It really did boost my confidence. Now I dust off and move forward. My determination is steeled. If I could get this attention, what else could I do?
I have always had a backup plan. Because my previous company is outsourcing my job, I'm eligible for the Trade Assistance Act which will help pay for my retraining and finishing my degree. I would say that's a pretty darn good second place.
I have always felt that I am at a crossroads here. This is going to be a changing point in my life. Where it is leading, I don't know. Every few decades, something big happens to me that changes me. This has been one of those moments. I'm just not sure where it is going yet, but I am being pushed into another big leap. It may seem strange, but even if I don't get the job, this has inspired me. I took a shot at something big, but even if I don't land where I wanted, I am motivated to maybe push even bigger.
"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you still land among the stars."
I took my moonshot, and maybe I missed. But maybe that means I aimed too low. Maybe I should aim to go even farther.
Yesterday during my team meeting, my lead said something really nice to me. He said that my skills were under utilized at my current job. They didn't use me to the full potential. It was like putting training wheels on a thoroughbred. I need a wide open racetrack where I can run. He said there are people who come into your life who change you, and make you better. He said that's what I did for him. I made him better. For those of you who followed my history to this point, it is nice validation. I believe I was the dutiful lieutenant who supported him, right or wrong. If I changed or influenced a person to improve, that is the most meaningful recognition. I couldn't ask for a better reward.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Thinking about it over the weekend, I'm not sure about my chances on the job. I was interviewing with a very big company, who can afford to be very picky.
Job interviews are kind of like speed dating. You only get a few minutes to make an impression. I read an article that likened a job interview with a big company as dating the 'hot chic'. You're on your best behavior, but you know that any misstep and they'll move on to the next person.
Well, I definitely had a few missteps. I am uncertain how it will affect the outcome.
1) I had my interview at two different buildings. Because I was flown in the night before, I couldn't rehearse driving to them. As a result, I was about 5 minutes late to the second interview at the second building. When I paged the guy I was meeting with, he said, "I've been waiting for you." Not in an unkind way, but Ugh.
2) I had a couple of disagreements with a couple of developers. I could have just told them what they wanted to hear, but I'm not that kind of person. I gave my honest opinions. My job, if hired, isn't to agree with the developers. Still, they were in the interview to evaluate whether I was someone they wanted to work with. How that went depends on whether they recognize I would be there to provide counterarguments. Despite being under 'interview' circumstances, I think they got an accurate representation of what I am. I presented my argument; I negotiated where flexibility was warranted; I held firm where not.
3) My cell phone rang in the middle of one interview - ARG. I forgot to turn it off during the rush from driving one building to another. I apologized, then made a joke as I turned off the phone, "Who are you, and why are you embarrassing me?" I then jumped right into answering the question. However, this was a really big no no. I should have turned off the phone, but I have no idea why my friend tried to call. I told her I was at an all day interview.
4) During the interview with the principle lead, he didn't seem to believe my answer to one of his questions. He said he had never heard of it before. I hope that he realizes that it is because I have a slightly different specialty than he does. I'm not sure if I got to adequately make my case on that. But I held firm and confident on my answer. However, I definitely feel I did not make my best impression on him.
I definitely got positive reactions from management and the QA guys, though. So I'm sure I got thumbs up on some, maybes on others, and perhaps a couple thumbs down. I guess it all depends on who else is in the running, and whether their choice had to be unanimous, or majority vote. Or how strongly someone disagrees.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Back in high school, we were asked by our teachers what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. What careers did we want? Who did we think we would be?
Well there was this one company who was a small, no name company at the time. But I knew they were the future. Few people knew who they were yet. I was highly interested in what they were doing, and it was my 'dream job' and 'dream company'. I put down that I wanted to work for XYZ company, and I had to explain to the rest of the class what they did.
Well a few years later, they hit big time, and everyone knows who they are now. Then they got even bigger when another company purchased them, and now they are one company. This job isn't working directly with XYZ company, but I would be working on the support line, indirectly.
This job description has my name written all over it. It was like it was written for me.
When I met with the recruiter she explained to me that the hiring manager was putting together a brand new 'dream team'. He gave her his list of requirements for my position, but he didn't think he would be able to find someone with all the skills. So he also gave her a list of alternate second skills, if she couldn't find someone that matched exactly what he wanted.
She searched online resumes, and found mine. She said I was the only one found that matched their requirements. Out of all the millions of online resumes and talent out there, mine was the exact match.
On Wednesday, I flew out to California for the interview of my life. I was nervous, but very excited too. I felt like it was making it to the final round of Jeopardy. Or being one of the finalists on American Idol.
Here is what I do, in a nutshell. I'm what is called a "Software Development Engineer in Test". That means I am a developer, and a quality assurance tester. I am both, and neither. Where developers write applications that users use, I write software that tests the application. I would basically be writing software to test the application that the development team writes.
So in a nutshell, here's how the interview went. The managers and directors loved me. I had lunch with the hiring manager who requested me for his 'dream team', and I felt like if it was within his control, he would have had me sign papers on the spot. But this is a big company, and there is a formal process. The director said he only hired 'awesome people', and then started telling me about how it's a great time to buy a house in California. The QA guys are brand new to the team, but were also super enthusiastic.
The developers? Well. One of my must read-books as a software person is one titled, "Herding Cats: A Primer for Programmers Who Lead Programmers". Software developers tend to be highly intelligent, but highly independent. They generally don't like to be told they are wrong, or how to do things. So motivating them and getting them to do what you want is like "herding cats".
So, I have a very weird dynamic with developers. My job is to show them the ways their code is flawed. And convincing them to fix it.
Fortunately, I like cats.
I met with about 6 of the developers on the team, and it was a hit and miss. A couple were skeptical, and the others were intrigued. Kinda good cop/bad cop, if you will.
I'm not sure how it will go. I feel I got a thumbs up from the managers and QA guys. The developers? Well, who knows the minds of cats.
When I was having lunch with the hiring manager, he warned me that this company was slow with the hiring process. It took them 3 months to get him his offer. So now, I just wait.
Monday, October 17, 2011
This past weekend, I worked on putting the past behind me. I have a new future ahead of me. Just like any bad relationship, it's best not to dwell. Mourn, but pick yourself up and move forward. Staying in the past prevents you from looking forward. It's not always a bad thing. Ending a bad situation in which you aren't happy and thriving, whether personal or job, means you get a blank slate. All disappointments and what could have been, or should have been, are over. You get to start new. And make it better than ever.
So that is exactly what I did this past weekend. I got myself a new haircut, and new interview clothes. Since I've lost a lot of weight, I will need a whole new career outfit. That will come later, once I have a new job in hand. For now, I need to focus on getting that brand spanking new job!
I'm still waiting on confirmation on my itinerary. I was supposed to hear from them on Friday, but didn't. So to be honest, I'm a little anxious. There's really nothing I can do but be patient.
I'm not a girly girl by any means, but nothing lifts a girl's spirits like a new haircut. Feeling like you're looking your best is a wonderful confidence booster. Others feel you radiate.
With a calm mind, I was able to come up with how I'm going to explain this situation to my potential new employer, if it comes up. As someone who has been on the interviewer side, I know what I look for in recruits. Always, always be upbeat and positive. Your resume and skills are what got you to the interview. What gets you the offer is if the people you talk to like you. The secret to being a great interviewee is to know that the interviewer is actually rooting for you. They want to like you, and they want you to do well. They need someone to fill the position, and they are hoping it's going to be you. They want to know if you are going to be someone they enjoy working with. And of course, be able to do the job.
I've mentally prepared on how to spin this situation in a positive light. I'm going to say something to the effect of, "I started interviewing with you before I knew that my contract was ending, so I think this is really good timing. If I get the job, then I don't have to worry about how I am going to transition my work, and if I'm going to leave my lead in a bind. That is now already being taken care of."
I was hoping to get the new offer before this happened (remember, I suspected it was going to happen anyway) as it puts me in a stronger negotiating position, but I just have to roll with it now.
Here is the interview clothes I've chosen. I'm not planning to wear a suit because I think that says 'executive'. It is better to dress like I fit in. I want to project to my potential new coworkers that I am already on the team, ready to work. Solid business casual.
Makeup will be light, clean, and professional. I think I'll wear my glasses so it says, "Smart". :) And here's my new hair.
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