Friday, September 28, 2007

Downsized and Looking

It’s been 4 months since Saks Corporate offices closed here in Birmingham. Conversations with co-workers at the coffee pot or in the café are no more. They’ve been replaced with soliloquies and on-line chatrooms. I understand now, why in times gone by people would write ‘Dear Diary’. Besides my cat, and a few phone calls and e-mails, most of my conversations are conducted on the pages of my journal - sometimes transcribed to laptop and now to this my blogspot. My journal is my sounding board, and confidante more now than ever it was before. It is my companion at my corner table at Starbucks, as most of the people I know are either back to work or retreated to full-time mommydom. Either way, I have plenty of time in and around my job search to write and write some more.

I’ve been unemployed before. I was with Complete Health, the HMO, when they lost the State Teachers account to Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and gave a hundred or so of us our walking papers. I was with VNA (Visiting Nurse Association) when they were being mismanaged into bankruptcy – I jumped when I saw the writing on the wall.

The job search has changed radically from the mid 90’s to now. It has become so very impersonal. The largest companies require that you post resumes on their website, and I don’t expect to hear from a person ever. Southern Company’s automated system, sends me e-mails that say my qualifications meet the criteria for a job and I log on and click ‘submit’. I’ve done this 4 times and have yet to get any e-mails asking to meet me in person, let alone hear from that person. Calling them got me nowhere.

There are the companies that won’t tell you who they are and ask that you fax a resume to some number. It may well be a company you would never apply to, but then again, it may be a plummy opportunity – my bet is the former. Anyone who is ashamed to say his or her name might well be someone I’d be ashamed to work for. A thorough job search requires that I leave no stone unturned, so I fax my resume anyway.

Then there are the truly anonymous companies, who hand over the search for new employees to employment agencies. These agencies post vague blanket ads, which to me are the equivalent of the retail industries ‘loss leader’ ads. The job advertised in such glowing terms is always ‘filled’ or no longer available. My bet is it never was available.

There is ambivalence in me. I miss the office and all that it entails, but I love sitting here by the open window conducting my job search, and writing, writing, writing. I send out resumes, search the jobsites, drop into the chats, send out poems to some literary journals, post my blog, and work on my long neglected novel. I could get used to this, if only there was someone down the hall at the coffee pot to chat with now and then.

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