Another resume, another web site update to include the link, another edit to my bio page. Another “Sorry, but you’re over-qualified.” Another month looking for a job. Another My Jobs Report. Month 17 draws to a close with no official change in my employment status. Many of last month’s hopes have faded; but, this month’s hopes are more hopeful. One good sign = there’s only one overdue bill, my mortgage.
Thanks to everyone for the gifts that helped me through the holidays. At times like this, breaking the cash-as-gift taboo is welcome. Shopping for food without worrying as much about the bill is a relief. A friend and client also helped out by paying for work before I delivered the product. (Propane Check) Washington State appreciates the subsequent on-time payment of my business’s 2012 taxes. The gifts of wine, cheese, and sausage are keeping well, and will be meted out through February. My dad even sent me a funky version of a nerf ball that has been bounced off most of the walls.
Every month I’ve hoped that writing My Job Report would be a celebration and a finale. Last month there were three or four appealing prospects. The one that pays the most had the thinnest communication channel. The one that paid the least had the most encouragement. Here, at the end of January, the one that pays the most continues to tantalize from the horizon. The one that had the most encouragement, which would pay almost not quite enough, was the one where we agreed that I was over-qualified, and that that was a good thing – well, I didn’t get the job because Shock! I was over-qualified. I guess “was” is the wrong word, because my qualifications haven’t changed. (Being pronounced over-qualified, knowing I’m not the only one, then hearing about corporate pressure to go overseas for hiring because there aren’t enough qualified Americans for the jobs convinces me that they aren’t looking, or can’t see beyond their own dysfunctional processes. And yes, I know my qualifications may not meet their requirements, but surely we can find a better way to match citizens to the national need.)
In the meantime, I’ve backed away from a couple of entrepreneurial opportunities because it was easy to envision eventual involvement with the Attorney General’s office. They hadn’t done anything untoward, yet; but, they thought my concerns weren’t worth considering. OK, time to go.
To balance those though, there are a few other opportunities that are positively intriguing. Somehow, without advertising, folks are asking me to help start their businesses. I do advertise my consulting skills; but, several people have approached me as a possible partner instead of as a consultant. They want more of me. I like the trend. Now if we can only find funding.
The best news is that I’ve effectively completed my largest work package for a client. During the first few weeks of 2013 I put together a program plan and development strategy, on-time, on-budget, and with thanks from the client. (reminder to self: update resume, again) We worked so well that I’m starting on the next work package, drafting proposals, which may lead to – dare I say – reasonably paid, committed part-time employment. Part-time employment means I can also pursue the rest of my business part-time as well, or take on another project as a part-time employee or partner there, too.
By the way, I apologize for not being more direct with names and details but, struggling businesses and people trying to decide about business strategies frequently prefer anonymity and discretion. The business plan that looks like it must dance along the edge of ethics might find a slight tweak that returns it to a comfort zone. No reason to besmirch a name for a temporary consideration of impropriety. The scrupulous business aimed at humanitarian needs met in an egalitarian fashion may not want to raise expectations too high.
As for My Job Report, various bits of advice continue to swirl. There’s a common definition of insanity that I suspect isn’t clinically accurate even if it is descriptive, “Sanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results.” That runs counter to, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Seventeen months of applying for jobs is a lot of opportunity to consider both pieces of advice. Then I check in my intuition and hear another common comment, “Can you take a hint?” Maybe I don’t have to apply for jobs. Maybe I don’t have to have conventional employment.
One of the classic pieces of advice for job seekers is that networking and word-of-mouth are more successful than applying for jobs by answering ads. Neither has succeeded, yet; but, the most promising prospects have usually come from personal contacts. When I started my job search, the majority of the time was spent cruising job sites. I checked daily. As I branched out, I added weekly nationwide searches, then monthly international searches. Considering the response and success rate, I’ve scaled back to weekly international searches on an irregular schedule. To keep from doing exactly the same thing every time, I’ve taken to revising my resume for style and eliminating content. (Thanks. I’ll get those books back to you somehow.) I won’t close that door unless I must.
Seventeen months of hints have made it apparent to me that, especially for people who are “over-qualified”, the best way to find a job is to make a job. My consulting work is gaining traction. It’s busier, more visible, and drawing in more revenue. My work is usually also followed with the comment that I should charge more. That may happen, but probably not for folks that I’m already working with. That’s one way I can show my appreciation for them being there when I needed the business the most. Finding a job by making a job isn’t easy either. It’s taken either seventeen months or fourteen years, depending on how you want to count it; and, it still can’t pay the mortgage. Making my own job isn’t in my complete control, clients and customers rule, but I have even less control over resume bots.
I won’t try to predict what will be in next months’ job report. A call can come in from the dozens or hundreds of lingering job applications I’ve filed. My network may deliver an unexpected opportunity. One, two, or more of those entrepreneurial projects may find funding and pay us to do good work at good pay while having fun. Clients may commit to consultations after months of one-of-these-days. I don’t know. But, I’ll keep trying, in different ways, while taking those hints the best way I can.
Stay tuned. (Oh yeah, and who knows, wouldn’t it be a kick and a lot of fun if I hit the jackpot? It can happen, and then maybe some of those projects will have found their funding.)