Honesty in the job search

Having experienced the joys of instant job hunt rejection as a result of the wonderful world of online applications and algorithm-based evaluations, I’m taking a new approach – blunt honesty.

It’s obvious in some cases that no human eye ever gazes upon my resume because of something I can’t control – I didn’t graduate from college.  The maniacal microprocessors see that one certitude and immediately dismiss me.  No human contact required.

There is an explanation.  I attended college.   I attended college for five years.    I was young and idealistic, I attended college with this silly idea that I wanted to be educated.   I took classes that interested me. I took  classes in journalism, English, French,  mass communication, psychology, sociology, urban studies, anthropology, philosophy and many more.  I left college lacking only a few hours for a degree, but I left college with a well-rounded education.

I had another priority at the time – eating.

No employer ever asked me about my education.   My work spoke for itself and I worked continually until last December.

In recent weeks, I’ve come to regret my decision.  While I don’t think a degree would make me a better employee,  I’d have a better chance of being actually employed.

Were anyone besides me reading this I’m sure I’d hear two suggestions:  Go back to school, or lie.

Lying isn’t an option.  I am not good at lying.  At this point, if I were good at it I’d probably put it on my resume.

Going back to school is something I’ve thought about although it would simply be so that I could say I have a degree.  That would be frustrating. There are some other issues, the pesky eating thing being one.

In truth, although I’ve been unemployed for 10 months,  I have only recently begun looking for work on a regular basis.  It’s still a little early to take a vow of poverty and become a college student.

I read an article the other day suggesting applying online for jobs is a complete waste of time.  The author accurately described my experience of  being dissed by artificial intelligence and suggested stalking (my word) the person responsible for hiring.  The article recommended finding that person’s physical address and sending them an actual letter along with a resume.  No email.

I’m going to consider that route.

I’m also incorporating a more personal appeal in my cover letters and resumes.  I’m trying to explain the situation with my college education.

Maybe I still have a sliver of that youthful idealism, but perhaps my honesty will open some human eyes to my true potential.

 

flower growing through rocks by Michael Main

Posted by Michael Main

From Job Hunt to Job Prey

I got my hopes up a bit in the job search yesterday.   I suddenly received a couple of emails and a phone call about what I thought were jobs.   Turns out I was overly optimistic.

After listening to a torturous spiel from the woman who called promising her firm regularly lands people with jobs in every imaginable Fortune 500 company,  I finally got her to admit that her outfit would want me to pay them to make me the next CEO of IBM.   I somewhat undiplomatically told her that I’m clinging to what is perhaps a wildly insane goal that someone will pay me.

The emails were a bit less deflating.   The first was from a company where I applied for a Digital Marketing position.   Unfortunately, the email told me I was perfect for something called a Field Service Technician.  This is apparently a job installing, troubleshooting and repairing a type of oil field equipment.    As near as I can determine I have absolutely zero skills in that area.    I don’t do car repairs, home repairs or any other type of repairs because I’m really not handy.  My unhandiness is legendary.    My wife, Amy, has long chanted the refrain, “If you try to fix it, I will divorce you.”   It’s a mantra she adopted very early into our marriage after seeing the twisted results of my dismal display of skills.

The second email started off really well.   This company is impressed with my resume which I found amazing because I never sent it to them.  I’ve now learned that once you apply for any job on CareerBuilder.com your information is strewn like chum into the murky waters of “opportunity specialists.”   It was, however, a really polite and flattering email.  Today the same firm followed up with another email encouraging me to hurry because they only have a few current openings…for insurance salesmen.

I haven’t done sales except for a brief stint as a telephone solicitor in high school.   I’m not sure what would qualify me for that job other than I’m breathing.   However, as long as I am still breathing I’m not going to rule it out.

I’m also not going to dive in right away.   I have time to tread water a while longer in my job search.

However, I might change my tune as the career chase tide of uncertainty rises.

Lifeboat sign - Michael Main

Full Frontal Stupidity

I found it amusing today to read about the NFL Network’s  full frontal faux pas in broadcasting post-game interviews in the Bengal’s locker room while inadvertently showing a number of naked players.   It reminded me of the only time I was in a major league locker room, a memory burned into my psyche.

In college, I was the News Director for the campus radio station and a good friend of mine did the morning sports reports.   He arranged for us both to have press credentials for Texas Rangers home games.  He went because he was a sports reporter; I went to games because, back then, the Rangers served free food and beer to the media.

I didn’t go often, but when I did I tagged along with my friend like a legitimate reporter to the press box to watch the game while trying to act like I knew more about baseball and sports reporting than I did.  I never attended the post-game interviews because, by that point in the night, I had already had my fill of free food and beer.  There wasn’t much sense in carrying on the charade any longer.

On one occasion, however, my friend insisted I join him in the post-game interview scrum. He was going to get soundbites with Reggie Jackson – Mr. October.  This was in the late 1970’s, and Jackson was still very active and still a very, very big deal.

I traipsed into the locker room trying to look like I  belonged amid the gaggle.  Mr. Jackson soon appeared and stood before his locker answering questions very politely.    He had nothing to hide…literally.  He absolutely held nothing back including a towel, fig leaf or well-placed baseball mitt.   There must have been a dozen or more reporters circled around this world-class athlete…this very naked world-class athlete.

I realize this is common practice in sports team locker rooms and no one there blinked an eye.  Mr. Jackson certainly handled the situation like a pro.

I, however, was a wide-eyed young news guy.  I wasn’t thinking about questions to ask this baseball great.  I was only thinking I really wanted to be a closed-eyed news guy.

stunned dog, shocked face

I found the practice of interviewing athletes in the locker room weird then, and I still do.   Why is that necessary?

I wonder if the NFL Network’s blue moment this past Sunday may open some other eyes to the oddity of it.

 

Posted by Michael Main

Make it work Monday

Monday.

That word doesn’t carry quite as much dread for me as it does a lot of folks.   I’ve never really felt the semi-universal trepidation about Mondays even when I was working.   Now that I’m perfecting the art of sloth, the only worriment I have about the start of the week is remembering that it is the start of the week.  The days tend to smudge together a bit  in my personal realm of idleness.

I did apply for four jobs today.  Two of the applications are essentially curriculum vitae projectiles shot into the open blue sky, but my attitude is, “What the heck?  I might as well toss my name up there.  What’s the worst that can happen?

Tossing Child - Lakeside, OH - Michael Main

When I was working, I’d usually arrive at the office by 1:30 in the morning – radio keeps weird hours.  I always found it  perversely satisfying  as I was driving home from work for the day that most folks were only starting their workdays.

I realize I was  playing a mental game to rationalize going to work at 1 a.m., but it was comforting.

In any case,  this morning I applied for jobs, Abby and I walked six miles and we spent some time enjoying the gorgeous weather at the dog park.

McAllister Dog Park - Michael Main

No telling what else I can accomplish today, even if it is Monday.

 

Posted by Michael Main

The Many Named Michael Main

It’s not the most common name, but there certainly are a lot of people named Michael Main spread over careers and countries.

There’s a baseball player  with the same name.  I bought a baseball card signed by that Michael Main on eBay.  His career hasn’t taken off, but then again mine isn’t exactly soaring at the moment.

There’s another Michael Main who lives in my neighborhood. We haven’t met, but I know he exists because back in the days when folks went to physical video rental stores, his Blockbuster account was often confused with mine.

I have distant one-sided relationships with two other guys who share my name – one in Florida and another in California.  Those are email relationships, although I did send one of them an old-fashioned letter.  Their email often gets sent to me due to fumbling fingers on one or both ends of their conversations. The well-named individual  whom I targeted with a dead tree letter still hasn’t figured out his real email address. I get notices about the stuff he buys (don’t ask), websites where he enrolls, as well as all the resultant spam.

As the commercials say, “But wait! There’s more!

Google reveals a Michael Main who is a trainer for the Sri Lanka national cricket team, a Michael Main who is a University of Colorado computer science professor, as well as a couple of writers named Michael Main (one, who refers to himself as a language poet,  shares the same middle initial as me).  There’s an anthropology professor named Michael Main in Australia, a cardiologist named Michael Main in Kansas City,  a Pastor Michael Main in Duluth, Minnesota and a Michael Main who is a safari guide in Africa.

Take my word for it,  there’s  a multitude of folks named Michael Main.  We span the globe.   Don’t say you weren’t warned.

The point of this?

There really isn’t one, although cynical minds might suspect I’m trying to Google bomb the name Michael Main and associate it with this website.  That would be a crass stunt.

Let me state clearly that I, Michael Main, wouldn’t think of doing such a blatant, self-aggrandizing thing as Google bombing the name Michael Main.

Of course, some other Michael Main might.

It’s not like I know them all.

Photos of Michael Main

 

 

Hawks and Hounds

I spent the morning in the wild…sort of.

During my daily walk, I watched a couple of hawks perched upon the overhead wires straddling the Salado Creek Greenway between Lady Bird Johnson and McAllister parks in northeast San Antonio.

They were scoping out the area and probably picking targets for breakfast.  They seemed patient enough.

Hawk San Antonio

Abby and I didn’t make the menu. 

A short while later, I was startled by howls from a pack of coyotes.  They erupted in a harmonious lament  in response to a warning siren being screeched from an emergency vehicle passing along a nearby roadway.  I realize the usefulness of sirens to startle drivers into a sense of alertness, but in urban parklands they also quickly spook away the back country mystique.

However, at the dog park, the more domesticated canines were excitedly attuned to the coyotes’ chorus. Reaching back in a wistful salute to their more primitive roots, the dogs produced a much less concordant echo.

dog howling in the weeds

 

As Abby and I gallivanted along the greenway and beyond, I did give more thought to my job hunt and decided to follow the example of hawks, coyotes and dogs.

I’ll be patient, but occasionally howl.

 

Posted by Michael Main

Jobs. A Foot.

I have a blister on my foot.

I mention that only because I have nothing else to report and I’m hoping to prime the mental pump a bit by simply typing whatever is on my mind.  Right now, that’s the foot blister. Maybe this free-form attempt at writing will trigger a sudden burst of inspiration.

So far it’s not working.

I should probably decide to write stuff before I embark on my daily pilgrimage to job hunting websites looking for opportunities. What, at times, seems like a never-ceasing search can exhaust my day’s supply of optimism.  I’m finding it hard to mentally transition to other topics for writing. The foot blister rambling is the apparent exception…or result.

The blister is due to another daily ritual of mine, walking.   Abby, the faithful hound, and I have been trying to walk 3 to 6 miles a day now that temperatures in San Antonio have fallen below those which could spark complaints in Hell. 

San Antonio Sunrise - Michael Main

San Antonio has some wonderful linear parks which are our usual option for strolling. The greenways are well maintained and in the mornings we normally only have to share the trails with an occasional jogger, bike rider, or deer.

image

 

I find walking to be mentally, physically and spiritually invigorating, although my feet sometimes disagree.

The good thing is this blister will soon turn to callous. I suspect as the job search saga goes on I’ll become a bit more thick-skinned in that area as well.

             Posted by Michael Main

Taking a turn in the job search

I’m taking a new turn in the job hunt.  Instead of applying for jobs where I have experience, I’ve decided to start looking for new opportunities, careers, adventures.

Today I applied for a position evaluating potential parents for adoptive children. It would be a state job.  It seems like it could be rewarding.  I suspect at times it might be heartbreaking as well.

We’ll see. You never know what’s around the bend.

Sunrise - Michael Main

Posted by Michael Main

Digital Stoning

Okay, my vow to avoid writing about my job search is falling by the wayside.   Since evading the cat food eating circuit occupies many of my thoughts and much of my time these days, I suppose writing about it is inevitable.  Besides, if I can’t whine to myself (the only one reading this besides spam bots) who can I grouse to?

I’m finding that things have changed since I last actively looked for work, which, I’ll confess, was in another century.  The other day I spent 40 minutes filling out an exhaustive online job application. More time modifying a resume to highlight certain skills, then crafting a required cover letter and a letter of references. After various trips back through the mechanized maze to deal with demands akin to, “You must enter a response to question 72e – ‘Are you now or have you ever been a fry cook in the Turkish army?”‘ I hit send.  Before I could push away from the computer I received an auto response of, “Sorry, you don’t meet our criteria.”

I’m finding that’s one of the joys of job hunting in the digital age.

I try to apply for at least 5 jobs each week (it’s sort of required when you go on the public dole).  Admittedly, I’m aiming high with a few of those applications, but I believe if given the opportunity to actually speak with someone from the companies involved I would be a good candidate.  There’s the rub.  I’ve learned that’s apparently not done anymore, speaking with job applicants that is.   I have yet to receive a phone call – not one.   I have received multiple email rejections, all of them I suspect are form letters.   At least the bulk of them weren’t sent out within seconds of me applying – I’m always looking for a bright side.

However, I must admit I sometimes feel I’m getting remotely judged and bombarded by a ruthless, emotionless microprocessor and I’m fearful of what type of mark that may leave.

Rock throw - Michael Main

Posted by Michael Main

Fancies of flight

The more often we see the things around us – even the beautiful and wonderful things – the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world. – Joseph B. Wirthlin

image

Birds in mid-flight fascinate me.  There’s so much movement I don’t readily notice at first glance.  I suppose it’s that way with a lot of things…and people.

image

I should probably pay more attention.

image

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.” – Job 12:7-8

 

Posted by Michael Main

A blogging we will go…

I wrote a personal blog almost daily for many years and more recently I blogged on tech topics as part of my job. The personal writings still exist in the ether of the web.  The work blog disappeared, along with the work, but many of those “gee whiz” topics were ephemeral anyway.  Maybe one day some internet archaeologist will sift through the digital dust and resurrect them.

With those blogs I had a fairly clear vision and, frankly, more going on in my life. I may be romancing memories, but it seemed like topics for posts were not an issue.  Now that I’ve embarked on this writing experiment, I don’t quite feel as full of it…inspiration that is.

I can’t envision blogging about my job search efforts.   First, that’s probably not a wise thing to do when one is looking for work.  Secondly, it seems exceedingly boring.  I also fear that, lacking success, it could become a somewhat morbid exercise for which I’d prefer fewer spectators.

 

buzzards - Michael Main

That viewpoint may change in the event I get a shot at an exciting opportunity, but for now I think I’ll try to write about other stuff.   I haven’t figured out that other stuff yet, but no one is reading this so presumably I have some time.

[Update:  Yes, I’ve already broken this pseudo rule and probably will frequently.]

I have decided that I’ll only use my own photos on this blog (occasional shots of the grandkids taken by  our children will be the exception).  I think that will make it more personal and perhaps guide me a bit in my thinking.  Hopefully it will also keep the buzzards at bay.

 

Posted by Michael Main

On bubbles and bursting…

Bubble burst- MichaelMain.com

I had a “reemployment” seminar today at the state workforce agency.  First thing I learned was to actually read the letters the state sends me and then check a calendar.   I showed up about 24 hours early, but they were having the same seminar at the time so they just let me in.

It wasn’t all lollipops and roses, in my post-seminar interview  my “reemployment counselor” smirked that her husband was in radio once a long time ago, but she convinced him to change careers because she didn’t see much of a future for the industry.

Yes, she was a little ray of sunshine.

 

Posted by Michael Main

Walking it back

I’ve been walking a lot lately.   I’ve probably logged about 50 miles in the past month.  The weather has cooperated – my feet have rebelled.

Abby, my walking companion, took off after a deer the other day, slipping her collar.  She came back hobbling so I’ve had to restrict her a bit while she realizes she’s getting older.  A day or two off each week will hopefully allow her to heal and I’m stopping her from running at the dog park – or at least attempting to stop her.

Abby Main

On a side note, the job search is going slowly, but in the interim we’ll keep walking forward.

Walk - Michael Main

Posted by Michael Main

 

Old men and dogs

Learning as I go…

I’m dashing out another post here with no chance of profundity.  I’m tinkering and learning and feeling my way around much like a blind man in a bordello.   I’m finding WordPress is very easy, if I let it do the work instead of trying to do it myself with my previous knowledge of ftp, html, etc.

Something about old dogs comes to mind.

Abby - Michael Main

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Main

Carousel Cares

Carousel -- Michael Main
I’m starting over in a way. In December, I was “downsized/dismissed/transitioned out/laid off/broomed/fired” from the job I held for more than 29 years. Since then I’ve had the luxury, and the inclination, to take some time off. While I’m in no rush, I thought it might be prudent to start looking for another job/career before I hit retirement age, so that’s what I’m doing now.

It’s humbling.

Having literally spent half my life at my last job, I don’t have an extensive resume.  Applying for positions can be intimidating, if not humiliating.

I have great faith however and God has a proven track record of pulling my ever-growing butt out of the fire, so I’m saddling up and hoping the Merry Go Round has a few more spins.

 

Posted by Michael Main