The Best Time

I was working as a customer service rep for a large electronics parts manufacturer.  I spent my days in a

half cubical across from my supervisor in the middle of a large open room with no windows.  It was my first

real long term position in corporate America.  I was making more money then I ever had and for the first

time in my life I could actually feel my youth being drained from me.  I spent eight hours a day on the

phone with sales reps on the east cost and in front of a computer arranging the minute financial and

logistic details of business to business sales transactions.  I spent eight hours a day surrounded by five

bitter, self deceived, man hating, middle aged women as the only male in the department.

I had stumbled upon the job as a temporary position through a staffing company.  General customer

service and administrative skills, knowledge of logistics, and some advanced computing skills were the

details of the job request that I answered.  All of which and more I had but what I didn’t have was any

understanding of the existence that the position would require.  The politics, the interpersonal interactions,

the unpleasant details of others lives and their responses to them.  The job which I had lobbied to get and

make permanent required an involvement and commitment of my very essence that I could not begin to

contemplate at that stage in my life and work experience.  It was, as I would later understand, the

quintessential example of and basis for the jokes about corporate America; for movies like “Office Space”

and the sad stories of people devoting their lives to getting ahead and providing for their family while they

waited to enjoy life and make it big only to find themselves at retirement age no better off then when they

had started.  Just older with a mortgage payment and teen age children they didn’t know and didn’t really

care for.  They became self pitying, self centered, unhappy people wondering where there life had gone all

the while pretending to be both young and happy.

After a few months there and many hard learned lessons, I knew I could not let myself slip into this

comfortable misery.  A situation that would put me into a mental stasis as my life moved forward at warp

speed till I landed somewhere past middle age and woke up in a confused delirium.  I had to get out and I

had to do it now, before the sleeping gas took effect.  I decide, unbeknownst to my employer and co-

workers, to find a new job.  I began a determined, systematic campaign to take advantage of any and

every work opportunity that I could find.  Every evening I would good through two news paper and list any

job I might possibly be able to fill no matter how far a stretch.  I would mail resumes (yes mail before it was

snail mail it was just called mail – oh but even that is old terminology we have shortened it to smail. Which

together, I just notice could be pronounce smell.  It makes sense as the service now coast more then cents

and stinks but I digress) to various employers.  I would fax my perfectly crafted resume.  Each line having

been painstakingly shaped to convey that exact meaning needed to get the interview.  I had become an

expert in resumes that worked.  Even though they weren’t working.  I began by sending out one or two a

day and after three weeks I was faxing 25 to 50 a day covering every advertised job within a hundred miles

of my home.  I would apply to any position.  Sure I could be a marine biologist or paralegal or diesel

mechanic.  My uncle always said I could do anything.  I spent hours just trying to get an interview.  They

eventually came in and I realized how difficult and time consuming the interview process was.  I would have

to dress up in a suit which I had in the car because I could not be seen over dressed at work.  Make the

dash to and from an interview at lunch or early or late depending how I could adjust my work schedule that

day.  I would combine an interview or second interview with a doctors appoint.  I would step out side for the

phone interview and pretend I was one of the smokers so I could get a free pass to waste 15 minutes

outside during company time.  It took weeks of effort and wasted unpaid time to find the next job; the

salvation that would pull me from the clutches of a slow painful death at the hands of corporate apathy.

In the end, having victoriously won a few reasonable offers I made the choice to go back to school and

change career directions.  One of the better decisions I have made in the working world.  The experience

also seared into my mind that the next job may not always be there and the act of finding a job could easily

be a job in itself.  A job that requires as much effort and causes as much frustration as any but does not

pay. It is a job you can’t quit.  At least not unless your parents still have an open basement and don’t mind

you eating out of their fridge in the middle of the night.  That is why I came to the clear understanding that

the best time to look for a job was when you already had one

The Point:

Depending on your skill set, depending on the state of the economy, and the fluctuations of the market

place it might take a lot of effort and time to find a job.  You don’t get paid looking for a job so unless you

are independently wealthy and don’t need the money, you can really fall into a situation where you find

yourself looking for a job when your unemployed.  Not to mention that you will be desperate and in a weak

bargaining positions when and if a job is offered.  You will have to take it because you have to survive.

The Lesson to Learn:

It is time consuming and expensive to find a job, any job and the better the job you’re looking for the more

this is true.  If you’re hanging out in the parking lot of the home depot it might take you an hour to find work

for the day and cost you a cup of coffee to fight off the early morning cold.  If you’re looking for something

at Wal-Mart or as a secretary in a small office may two weeks.  Anything more then that and there is no

telling how long it might take.  I’ve been hired almost on the spot before but I have also been hired into a

position that I first interviewed for almost a year prior.  I don’t know about you but I could not afford to wait

that long to get a paycheck.  

The Brutal Truth:

There is no guarantee of employment or a paycheck.  The bills will keep coming but the money only shows

up while you’re employed.  So you had better be looking for the next job while you have this one.