zip

Dec. 9th, 2009 08:06 am
adrian_turtle: (Default)
I signed up for Zipcar. It's possible that I will only use it to go to this one job interview (rescheduled for next Monday), and then need to buy a car to commute off the T. In the unlikely event that turns out to be the case, I should have just rented a car from Enterprise for the day, rather than wasting the $75 signup fee for Zipcar. I am uncertain about how long the interview + drive time will take--at least 5 hours, with a cautious estimate being 6 hours, and a very cautious estimate approaching 7 hours--this doesn't look like a trip to show how cheap it is to only rent a car for a few hours.

But I could park a Zipcar on Tuesday and NOT WORRY ABOUT IT if there were a snowstorm on Wednesday. I wouldn't need to pay somebody $15 or $20 to clear the snow off the car, or find a place to park it while the parking place is plowed. If I'm not the first user of the car on Wednesday or Thursday, somebody else will deal with all that.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
I was driving to a job interview this morning, waiting at the traffic jam at route 2 and I-95, when the car behind me hit a patch of black ice. I'm not hurt (for extremely uncomfortable values of "not hurt," which the nice doctor in the emergency room defined as "no broken bones, no internal bleeding, no organ damage.") The car was very badly hurt. I didn't get a good look at the damage, but I think it's the kind of thing that makes them call a 1997 car a total loss.

I talked to the recruiter. She will try to reschedule the interview for a somewhat less appalling morning.
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I didn't post about this when I thought I might do contract work for this staffing agency, but the company turned me down. The hourly rate they offered was just under half what I earned last year. From the job description I read at first, it looked like a much less complicated job...but at the interview, it turned out that they also needed more sophisticated problems solved. (It would make the work more interesting, and better suited to my education and experience. Really, making the job more like what I did last summer, at half the pay. I don't feel like I'm in a good position to bargain.) The recruiter at the staffing agency wanted to meet me in person, before my interview with the hiring manager. Obligingly, I drove out to the staffing agency's office to shake hands and fill out forms.

I authorized tax withholding (from any pay they might give me in the future), promised to abide by HIPPA regulations (if I worked in a job where I saw private medical information, though I had not applied for such a job), and demonstrated my legal right to work in the US (prospective employers are not supposed to ask about age, but they can ask for legal ID that happens to show one's date of birth.) I also signed authorizations for drug tests and background checks. This background check didn't mention investigating medical records, neighbors, relatives, or "mode of living," but it also didn't offer any way for one to track down the background report on oneself.

The recruiter at the staffing agency looked through the stack of papers I had signed, and realized she had forgotten the one about unions. It was clear that she found the subject distressing. I managed to keep my questions to the level of "What's that about unions?" rather than "Did unions kill your puppy or something?" She was outraged that union organizers would dare to approach contract workers. She felt personally threatened that one had approached her, actually come into HER office and presumed to hand her union literature. "And because the government protects unions so much, I'm not even allowed to throw the garbage out, once I've touched it. It's horrible." I nodded sympathetically and made vague "uh-huh" noises. I was surprised to see somebody who *looked* working-class, being so strongly opposed to labor organizing.

Our policy is to deal with every employee honestly and fairly. To respect and recognize them as individuals; to provide good working conditions with competitive wages and benefits. In our opinion, unionization or any third party intervention would interfere with the individual treatment, respect, and recognition we value. It is our sincere belief that a third party would only hinder our mutual goals and objectives, as well as subjecting our employees to the payment of union dues. For these reasons, we think remaining union free is the best way to conduct our business.

If you are ever approached concerning unionization or card signing, we would suggest you seek advice and information from your Branch Manager. Or you may address any questions you may have on this subject to [agency] Human Resources at [phone]. Find out all the facts before making a decision.


I had to sign a statement that I had read it and understood it. The facing page explained how the staffing agency took pride in their values, and the companies they worked with shared those values. I didn't want to discuss the matter with the vehemently anti-union recruiter, so I didn't ask, but I did wonder. Does that mean the company I wanted to work for shares the staffing agency's sincere belief that:
any third party intervention would interfere with the individual treatment, respect, and recognition we value?
Is that only unions? Or do they likewise resent OHSA interfering with how they treat their employees? The EEOC interfering with how they treat employees and prospective employees? The FDA interfering with how they interact with customers? *tsk* So many third parties are getting in the way of individual treatment these days.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
Usually refers to a different kind of dishonesty or bad faith, but I think the figure of speech might stretch to include this job description. "Moderate travel will be required (including scientific conferences and tradeshows)." Later, the end of a list that combines skills, experience, and character traits, mentions "50-60% travel." Oh, really? Not my idea of moderate, but nice of them to mention it.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
Where I come from, we called the road between Plymouth and Ann Arbor the Plymouth-Ann Arbor Road, as is only sensible. Actually, that's just the wishful thinking of nostalgia. In Ann Arbor, we called it Plymouth Road. And in Plymouth, they called it Ann Arbor Road. I was within a few weeks of my 19th birthday by the time I saw a street sign that actually said "Plymouth Ann Arbor Road," and I figured out the connection. (Previously, it hadn't occurred to me that Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor had anything to do with the city of Plymouth. *eyeroll* It's not like Concord Road in Southfield has anything to do with Alcott's Concord. I thought streets were just named for cities when town planners ran out of presidents or got tired of trees.) Even with this background knowledge, I still didn't appreciate that the Chelmsford Road to Billerica and the Billerica Road to Chelmsford are different roads.

My GPS often has trouble finding a signal. Many times, it gets stuck, and I have to reboot it before it will work. I looked up directions on Google before I left for Monday's job interview, and cautiously allowed 80 minutes for a drive I expected to take 45. I've often had trouble rebooting the GPS on the road, because the reset button is set too deep to reach with a ballpoint pen, or the back of my pride pin, and small paperclips or mechanical pencil leads aren't strong enough. It needs one of the BIG paperclips, so I remembered to bring one. After 6 minutes of not responding, I reset it and managed to both get the device stuck in demo mode. The next reset killed it. It won't show anything but gray rectangles, now.

Anyhow, there I was, on my way to the job interview in Westford. I had planned to use my handwritten notes to get past gaps in GPS coverage, but it turned out I needed to rely on them completely. An exit number and a word like "Billerica" is really desperately inadequate, when I don't have the GPS device to get me out of trouble. I called Vicki, hoping she could rescue me...but navigating for cars is really not something she has much practice with, and navigating the roads of northeastern MA is not for beginners. I called the HR person expecting me, but she had no idea where Billerica was, and thus could not direct me. I asked if it would be more convenient for her to reschedule? She would call me back about that. I stopped at a disturbing number of shops and restaurants where people had no idea where Westford was, and thus could not direct me. (This is a consequence of sprawl people often don't think about. If you drive an hour to work, you aren't likely to know much about the area near your workplace.) I finally found a mortgage officer at a bank, who gave me useful directions very graciously.

With all the getting lost and going the wrong way and stopping to ask, I was an hour late. (Not to mention frantic with anxiety.) I apologized profusely, and repeated the offer to reschedule the interview, if it would make things easier for the HR person or the hiring manager. That was when I got lucky. It turned out that the hiring manager had not noticed my failure to arrive for the interview Monday afternoon, because nobody had put it on her schedule. Could I come in Wednesday and not mention the earlier attempt? Sure, that would be fine. Thanks.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
Incompetent Recruiter #1 called my cell phone and began with, "Hello, is [name] home?"
No. I'm not *home*. I want to talk to you, because you're obviously a recruiter, but I'm not home. You're supposed to ask if this is a good time for me to talk. (I didn't say this, because I believe in being nice to recruiters. I just rolled my eyes.)

Incompetent Recruiter #2 called to tell me about a great job opportunity in Boston. I'm interested, even though he can't tell me the name of the company. Then he refers to the location as "in the Boston area." Well, ok. Then he says "Worcester." Is he talking about a different position than the one he called me about the day before? Oh, no. The job has always been in the Worcester area. "In the Worcester area, you say? How far from Worcester do you mean?" (If he were in California, I'd excuse him for thinking Boston and Worcester were effectively in the same place, but a person in Marlborough should know better.)

Incompetent Recruiter #3 called to urge me to apply for an exciting job opportunity. It did look exciting, but the client company had posted on their website that they were looking for a quality engineer with 5 years experience in the industry (I have none.) I pointed this discrepancy out to the recruiter, who said my experience was just perfect for a new job, not posted on the website. I went in for the interview, and they turned me down flat because they're looking for somebody with industry experience.

Incompetent Recruiter #4 called, introducing himself by first name, and reminding me that he had submitted my resume for a quality engineering position 3 weeks ago. He said he had good news, and the company wanted to interview me!
"Oh, that's wonderful!" I said, as I tried to remember his name and what company he had submitted my resume to. "Can you refresh my memory about which position this was?"
*noise of shuffling paper in background* "Well, it's a Quality Engineer position." (Duh. Most of the jobs I'm applying for have that title.) "They're looking for somebody who can do failure analysis and corrective action." (Duh. That's bog-standard quality engineering.)
I finally interrupted to ask, much more gently than I wanted to ask, "Can you tell me what city this job is supposed to be in?" It's the kind of silly little detail that matters to jobseekers but not to recruiters.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
I have a job interview tomorrow afternoon. I'm very pleased about this. It's in Newton, and I could get there by T in less than 90 minutes, with only a few blocks of walking. In the past, I've driven to job interviews. I thought it was like wearing a suit--even though it's uncomfortable, and might not be necessary for the daily performance of the job itself, it was worth doing once to show one was approaching the interview with proper seriousness. But perhaps I read too much into it.

Since the acute unpleasantness of Tuesday's steroid injection, my shoulder has been about 30% less painful. I'm not sure if this means I can use it for driving and similar exertions, or if I have a choice between reduced pain and increased exertion. The doctor advised me to wait a week before starting physical therapy. It would probably be sensible not to drive. But I feel more capable of it than I did last week, so I dither about it. There is never a shortage of things to dither about before a job interview. (Should I alert my references before the interview, or wait until I get a positive response? Should I wear the shirt with the cufflinks?)
adrian_turtle: (Default)
A great many things would be easier if it didn't hurt to drive, not least my job search. It's not that I can't drive. When I could get to work at the same time when
I left home at 5:20 and paid the MBTA $13.50
or left home at 6:30 and paying some gas station about $5
it occasionally seemed like a good idea to trade joint pain for being able to sleep later, or being able to stop at the store and bring heavy stuff home, or being able to stay dry in the pouring rain. I could do that sort of thing.

And yet. A recruiter called this morning to tell me about an amazing job in Nashua. (The pay is so remarkable the company probably wants somebody more experienced. But we'll get to that later.) The recruiter looked at a map and saw how far my apartment is from Nashua. He said, "It's only about 15 miles further north than the last place you worked, and this is really a great opportunity." It's not the extra 15 miles that scares me. It's the prospect of driving every day. I hate this. I hate being afraid to drive, and being afraid to tell potential employers why I don't want to drive. (At my last job, they thought I liked to walk, and was making an environmentalist statement with my commuting choices as much as I could.)
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On Friday, I had the best job loss experience of my career. It followed 3 months of my boss and colleagues being nice to me. (Sometimes they showed disturbingly bad judgment, but they were consistently nice to me.) The company's finances depend on selling stuff to big US auto manufacturers. So this is a hard time for them, generally. My boss, and everybody I talked to, said they were sorry to lose me, and wanted to have me back sometime. It was a nice thing to say, and I was not too depressed to believe them.

Some of the people I talked to revealed an interesting class bias. It was bad enough that the company was laying off all those temps in manufacturing. (But that was somehow ok. These things happen.) "But you're different! You're an engineer. It's not right for the company to get rid of somebody like you, all of a sudden like that." I know it was kindly meant, and it was encouraging as such, but it was still a little uncomfortable.

So I am starting a new job search, yet again. It's always scary, but at least this time I am not starting in a state of crushing depression and the belief that I can't do anything right.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
When I was in Michigan last week for the job interview, I spent some time visiting relatives. My sister-in-law asked me what I was doing since that job with the long commute ended. I had said I was looking for another job in the medical device industry, but how did that work? sometimes I hardly believe it myself )

I told her about taking my phone on the bikeway, to talk to recruiters, but I didn't think to mention this. )

I didn't think to mention this one, either )

It's easier to compare things when they happen at the same time )

Late Wednesday, the company in Michigan sent me a very efficient rejection by email. Rejection always hurts, but this didn't hurt as much as losing a dream job or an only opportunity.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
I've been having a lot of trouble with depression this summer. Some of it is random crying fits, but most of it is the kind of depression where I just get stuck. I can recognize what needs to be done, I just feel too hopeless or uncertain to take effective action. Sometimes this means not applying for jobs. Sometimes it means not posting to LJ or sending email to friends. Being so stuck has really slowed down the process of trying to treat depression--it's not that I was doing something more important than calling the doctor to make an appointment, or calling the psychiatrist to say "this isn't working, it's time to try something else." It's just that none of those things were getting done, while I sat here like a lump and stared at the wall a lot.

Anyhow, I started a new medication a few days ago, and it seems to to be helping a little. Things that used to be impossibly difficult are now just very, very, difficult. Job hunting. Writing to extended family. Dealing with mending. I revised my resume to try to look more like a technician with transferrable skills. I don't have the creativity and initiative to work as an independent researcher, even if I had experience in a live industry. It scares me to see how people have to deal with job conditions that would break me in short order. I mean, more broken than I already am. http://therck.livejournal.com/165194.html http://callunav.livejournal.com/750562.html

I found a couple of job descriptions on Craigslist that looked promising; a temp job, and a permanent position in the same company. (In Cambridge. On the *T*.) I downloaded the descriptions, and took my laptop off to where I could work in air conditioning. Then I spent the afternoon working on cover letters for those two jobs. I could tell that a confident, efficient, writer could have dashed them off much faster. I could almost remember *being* a confident, efficient, writer. But now it took me almost 6 hours of fretful, grinding, miserable, work.

Monday morning, I went to actually apply for the jobs, and discovered both had to be done via webform, with no way to enclose a cover letter. 4 hours later, they sent me 2 identical rejection slips. "Thank you for your interest and we wish you the best of luck in your job search. Please do not reply to this email." My confidence was not ready for that.

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