Working: At Life

Just another personal weblog.

Category Archives: Professional

Might As Well Be An Underwood No. 5

I love technology. The point, in my opinion, of technology is to make things easier for everyone. As someone long-term unemployed, I have done quite a number of applications online during this period and technology has facilitated the whole job search and application process.

I use Monster, LinkedIn and other websites to find the jobs I want to apply for, yet I always have a certain sense of exasperation after clicking the “Apply” button, as I am invariably sent to a third party website where I have to create an account before being given the opportunity to upload my resume as a Word file and fill out all the details over a few pages of web forms.

Imagine this scenario…

Boss: I need you to type me up a letter.

You: Okay.

You type a letter up in Word, print it and hand it to your boss.

Boss: Perfect! Now… go over to that vintage Underwood No. 5 and type the letter that we’re going to send out, please.

You: But I just typed it up in Word. It is here, on your desk. You said it was perfect…

Boss: Yes, but this is how we “do” letters here.

Somewhere in the back of my head, I can hear a little Voice of Authority telling me:

But its just a test! The company just wants to know that if you go through the processes involved in actually applying for a position, you’ll go through the processes to actually work there.

Maybe this Voice is right, but it works both ways. You see, if I am applying for jobs that use technology, do I want to be applying for jobs at a company that sees redundancy and a lack of embracing of the technologies available as a good thing?

Two Of My Favorite Cloud Apps

One of my favorite apps is Evernote. I must admit, it isn’t an app I use a lot, right now, but I do love cloud-based applications, such as it and Dropbox. Having these apps installed on my smartphone, my tablet and my PC means that notes and files are accessible 24/7, wherever there is an internet connection.

Right now, Evernote is giving new signees a month of their Evernote Premium service.

What do you get for Evernote Premium, (which, incidentally, is usually $5/month or $45/year)? Upgrading to Premium has these benefits:

  • Access your notes fast whenever you need them on your mobile device, even without a network connection. Great for travel.
  • Allow your friends and colleagues to edit notes you share with them, and see Note History for past versions of notes.
  • Passcode lock adds a layer of protection on mobile devices.
  • If you need help, then fast, Priority support is a chat window away.
  • Get 1GB of monthly upload capacity and an increased max note size of 100MB.
  • Search inside PDFs and attached documents, find text in images faster and rediscover your content with the powerful Related Notes feature.
  • Let people into your thinking process by presenting your notes in a beautiful, full-screen layout with one click, (currently, for Mac only).

The other cloud app I like to use, Dropbox, has three plans:

  • Free – Account starts out with 2 GB, but through referral bonuses, that can increase up to 18 GB, (500 MB per referral).
  • Pro – Plans provide 100GB, 200GB, or 500 GB of storage, starting at $9.99/month.
  • Business – Plans start at 1 TB for 5 users, with centralized billing and admin tools.

Dropbox works by installing folders on your PC, which then updates to/from the cloud folders. So, for example, when I take a photo on my smartphone, it is saved into a specific Dropbox sub-folder, a copy of which can be found on your HDD, so that, assuming upload to the cloud has occurred, the photo taken on your smartphone is also available on your computer. And it also works in the other direction; move a file into a Dropbox sub-folder on your HDD and it will be available on your device.

So, there you go. Two great apps that might well help you be a little more productive.

Disclaimer:
The links I have posted that direct you to the app websites are referral links, that allow me to upgrade &/or increase the capacity of my accounts.

Looking For Legitimate Work From Home

Life as a parent is tough.

Life as a parent of a special needs child is tougher.

Life as an unemployed parent of a special needs child, with no income stream… yeah… that’s damn tough.

Unemployment has taught me one thing, though. I need to be a stay at home Dad.

DS1 is getting older and stronger and whilst his meltdowns are more infrequent and more quickly over than they were, even a year ago, the potential for damage to himself, us or the home just grows.

So, with the little savings we have gone, I ask you, do you know of any actual, real, legitimate work from home jobs?

Turning The Ship Of My Life Around

This past September, I started working again, after almost two years of being unemployed.

At the beginning of my period of unemployment, I saw it as an opportunity to have more of a home life for a while, so I took the easy option of doing the bare minimum job searching to receive Unemployment Insurance, as I figured I was “owed it”, having worked since I was first authorized to, in April 2001.

This was the wrong kind of thinking and I fell into the trap…

The UI I was receiving was just enough to cover our costs, so I coasted along, dipping into our savings, if I needed to.

Sometime in the Spring of 2011, though, I realized I was living in a manner I felt was dishonest, so came off the UI and started living off the rest of our savings and the paltry amount I had in my 401(k). I really should have done that earlier, as it meant that I was now facing an even bigger struggle in obtaining even an interview for a job.

What this meant was, that as well as, almost frantically, firing off numerous job applications a week, I started to toy with ideas for starting a business. Some may never work, and those that do might not make me a millionaire, but I feel much better about my lot in life and certainly believe that America is still the land of opportunity, you just need to put some effort in to your version of the “American Dream” and not sit back, expecting others to give it to you.

The job I have now is temporary, but looks like it will last well in to 2012, with a reasonable wage. As soon as our debts are back down and our savings start to build, I feel that my renewed confidence in myself means that, one way or another, things will just get better and better for me and my family, as time goes on.

2012 is the year that I will finally start making a difference. Grow up, if you like.

You can do it, too. Just think about all the things you want in life and start working towards them. Baby steps are all you need, too.

For example. I want my family and I to have our own place in the country, where we can live as self-sufficiently as possible. This will mean moving from our city dwelling, which in turn means “doing it up” for an eventual sale. So my first step? Dressing up for work! Hey… fixing this place ready for sale will take a lot of money, so I’m taking on that old adage: “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have”. Sure, I’m getting some resistance from my colleagues, (my current assignment is in a place where “business casual” is the mode of dress), but donning a shirt, tie and dress pants has boosted my confidence.

Here’s an honest to God, truthful story about how just that small decision to “dress up” for work

I spent one lunchtime, last week, out looking for a winter jacket that went with my attire better then the cheap, faux fur-lined WalMart hoodie! As I was perusing the display at the local J C Penney’s, an older lady approached me.

“Excuse me!”

“Yes?” I replied.

“Could you tell me where I can find the ‘Nobo’ stuff?”

I was taken aback, a little, as I’m sure most any of us are, when mistaken for a store employee.

“Er… no, I’m sorry. I don’t work here, I’m just shopping.”

Her response, really floored me.

“Oh! I am sorry,” she said, looking apologetic. “I thought you were the Manager!”

The Manager! Not a Sales Assistant… but the Manager!

I was literally speechless for a moment.

I don’t know if she heard me, but I responded, with a big smile “Oh! That’s quite alright!”

Yes… 2012 is going to be a good year…

Because I Keep Missing #NMDChat!

The Tweetchat room is found here.

I also added the event to my Google Calendar, I think its Public. Add it to yours w/ this button:

Getting In Touch With My Inner Entrepreneur

The job hunt is tediously slow going. The interview I had two weeks ago appears to have come to nothing and all I have ever hear from the other job applications I make is “Thanks, but…”, if I even hear anything at all.

Things, financially are pretty much on a thread.

For months I have had a list. Its a relatively short list. Nine items. All business ideas.

So. here’s the list, as I have it written:

  • Professional rugby club – that would be fully professional, players and staff.
  • Blogger – as I say on my Donate Here page, “…just take a look at people like Dooce, The Bloggess, The Pioneer Woman and ProBlogger“.
  • Sauces – I can whip up a pretty good sauce.
  • Selling crafts on Etsy – I knit, my wife crochets.
  • Admin./Data Entry from home – both my wife and I could do this, but all the ads for it seem so scammy!
  • Coffee shop – a homely, social media friendly place for a simple, good cup o’ joe and a pastry.
  • Voice over work – in a world where no one has a voice…!
  • Writer – Not sure I could ever do a novel, or even a short story, but poems and prose
  • Homeless assistance – kind of like a one-on-one shelter.

I have had a couple of other ideas, not on the list:

  • A small restaurant with a British/American menu.
  • A small range of British baked goods.

Finally there is The Idea. Its simple. Its something I could do right now. And I know, from semi-joking tweets I have seen over the last couple of weeks, there are people asking for this service.

Errand running!

Yep… just take our vehicle and spend the day running errands for people!

I’m going to do this the “old fashioned” way, the way people have started businesses in America since day one: I’m just going to get out there and do it. Just got to get some preparatory stuff, (social media accounts, email etc.), and off I will go.

I feel many things about this endeavor:

  • Nervous – will it work?
  • Excited – my very own little business.
  • Eager – we need some $$$, somehow.
  • Scared – its all going to come crashing down on me.

Still… I’m going to give it a go.

Hey… if nothing else, it’ll fill a huge hole on my resume!

A More Concise Resume: Is It Acceptable?

As an active job-seeker, I’ve seen a lot lately about what is more important in todays resume building and it seems that a concise resume, built on the foundation of one’s skills seems to be the thing.

This is the template for the layout I came up with, and I’d sure appreciate some feedback on it, especially on what is missing.

Firstname Lastname
Address, City, State ZIP
Phone: (xxx) xxx–xxxx
Email: name@website.com

Professional Skills
Skill or area of knowledge;
Skill or area of knowledge;
Skill or area of knowledge;
Skill or area of knowledge;
Skill or area of knowledge;
Skill or area of knowledge.

Employment History
Position – Company, City, State ZIP                         From – Until
Position – Company, City, State ZIP                         From – Until
Position – Company, City, State ZIP                         From – Until
Position – Company, City, State ZIP                         From – Until

Education
Level in Subject – Institution, City, State.                         Graduation date
Level in Subject – Institution, City, State.                         Graduation date

I Need a Career GPS!

I know what I can do and I know what I day-dream about doing, but how do I find where those paths connect?

Onwards, Ever Onwards

A few hours ago I received an email notification concerning the rejection from an interview last week.  This rejection was unusual for two reasons:
1. It was the first time that I had received a post-interview response so late in the day; and;
2. It was the first time that I had received a post-interview response by email, (usually its by letter or ‘phone).

I’m not complaining, except for the fact that I liked the job description and thought I could quite easily do the job, despite it being outside of my areas of expertise, I’m actually quite excited, as it shows that the traditional rules of business are being bent by some companies.

I’m not actually sure where to go from here.

I’d love to know where I went wrong in the interview, which was just a list of questions that the interviewers went through, making notes concerning my answers.  Is it “right” for me to contact the interviewer and get the full low-down, I wonder?

Of course my search continues, though I am starting to worry that before long the repetitiveness of my new job will be asking “Do you want fries with that?”!

I’d love to start my own business or to write for a living.  Unfortunately neither option will be paying the bills any time soon, so, I really have to think hard about those options!

Rebranding

I have just started on a rebranding project for myself. This entails not only the start of this weblog and the use of Twitter in a professional capacity, but also getting more of a flow of information between those two forms of social media and all of the networking and job-hunting websites that I use, such as LinkedIn and Monster.

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