Tag Archives: jobs

The Great Resignation

18 Jun

I got a letter from LinkedIn saying, “Experts are predicting a ‘Great Resignation’ due to people wanting to move on and try something new.” Considering I’m ahead of the curve, I found this rather interesting, and it shows how resistant people are to taking away their “rights.”

I could go on about the collapse of commercial real estate, or newly remote workers fleeing expensive areas like San Francisco and New York City, but I’m more interested in the resistance to “returning to normal.” I’ll use my new job. One of the reasons I specifically took this job was because after three years working remotely, I desperately wanted a desk. (You can read more about my decision, it’s more complicated.) When the COVID hit over a year ago, my co-workers told me how sad they were that they had to work from home–this was such a radical change from their normal existence. Now that they’re shifting back to the office, there’s a massive push back from my co-workers about returning to their desks.

At the same time, my boss’ boss is doubling down on “You have to be at your desk!” She is resistant to having her employees continuing to work all the time from home. Even with the resistance that is obvious from her phrasing, she’s still insisting 2 days minimum for most, 3 days for admins. Why? Who knows?! Considering our company has a healthy history of people shifting departments, not to mention losing and hiring folks, why would you risk losing a ton of employees by being stricter about remote work?

My main thought is that she’s lonely. She’s tired of being in a mostly empty cube farm, her assistant not being there, and having to do all her meetings online. What’s the point of going into her office if she’s the only one there? So why not force everyone to come back. But the problem is that once something is granted to a person, they consider a right, and they get very angry if it’s taken away.

When the rules change at work, people start updating their resumes. People get comfortable in their ways. When I was first told back in… oh, 2007, “Marcus, you’re going to work from home starting next week.” I was shocked. But I found the joy of flexible work. At that time, the boss realized that most of his trainers were frequently in classes, or shifting around, and thought… “Gee, I can convince my bosses that we can save money if don’t have dedicated cubes.” And he was right. So for five years, I enjoyed the choice of either working from home, riding down to work, or riding out to wherever and working from there. I got to really love the bike trail and my cellular internet adapter (sorry, I can’t think of the actual name), finding myself working outside near the mounds of Fort Ancient, Ohio.

Then one day, my department got subsumed by Information Services, and the word came from on high. No more flexible work, you need to be in your cubicle, none of this adjustable schedule. I decided to shift jobs within my company, and when that wasn’t an option, I became a traveling consultant, and I’ve gained a measure of flexibility ever since. Even with my 5-day-a-week cube life back in place, I still have a great boss which allows me to be flexible when the needs of my life require me to be elsewhere.

I think that’s why I agree that the Great Resignation is about to happen. Some people may want to keep working from home, they may not, but everyone agrees they want the flexibility to choose. When your boss realizes, “Why are we paying for this office space if no one’s using it?” and insists you use it… those that want to keep working from home will seek out the TONS of jobs that are now remote. And that’s what my boss’ boss doesn’t realize; give people flexibility and you will have happy workers. Play the “because I’m the boss card,” you will lose them.

But I could be wrong–what do you think? Let me know in the comments below! Then check out one of my books and give me the flexibility to make more. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. You’ll be glad you did.

Two Words Can Change the World

26 Apr

Last week, I went in for my drug test, because it’s one more step closer to my new job. Because I’m particularly boring in real life, I wasn’t worried about passing it, just finding the stupid place. This could have been solved with writing two words.

Since I used to be a consultant, I used to have to go through this process every six months when I got a new contract. Normally what happens is that you go to a testing clinic, where very bored, very poorly paid technicians make you sit for 15 minutes (or more, if you picked a bad time to arrive) then take you back to a bathroom, where you pee in a cup and hand it back. Despite the name “lab” on the door, there is no actual lab there, they have to mail it off to… wherever people have autoclaves and the proper chemicals.

So when I got the request for “additional background information,” I wasn’t terribly worried, just confused. First off, my new employer doesn’t bother to say “drug test.” Every employee in America in the last 30 years understands the term “drug test.” I just went through a background check; every employee understands that, too. When I first see “additional background information,” I’m thinking, “What’s wrong? I’ve gone through fifteen background checks in the last ten years. What could they have possibly found?!”

But no… it’s just a drug test by another name. So they give me a two hour window to show up at this medical facility, which I thought, “That’s odd,” but okay. I drive out to this industrial area (again, weird place for an outpatient facility), park, and look for Suite 110. There is only one suite listed above the multiple doors and it’s Suite 100. So after trying a couple doors (locked), I finally ask a secretary, and she says, “Yeah, you want the urgent care.”

Those were the magic words: “urgent care.” When I go to a building, my first thought is NOT to go into the very busy urgent care (busy? in an industrial park?), wait in line for five minutes, to be told where to go for the drug test. Instead, I wasted ten minutes checking doors and making sure I was in the right building. I know this is not the first time these secretaries have had to answer these questions (from their response), so the second easiest thing you could do is put up a sign that says “Drug tests go through Urgent Care.” Six words. Solves a LOT of problems.

So I go through the urgent care, fill out a lot of paperwork (which probably would be a lot less if it were a normal lab and not a @#$&*$ urgent care!), and wait…. and wait. There are more people in the lobby than chairs. I’m certain half the folks are there for drug tests as well, but having worked in urgent cares, I know that test only folks are the lowest priority. They’re more concerned with folks with a broken leg, burns, etc. That’s when I realize that this is a first stop for injuries on the job and screening workers’ compensation. So I wait a #*$&@$ hour for me to go through the process to pee in a cup and get the freak out of there.

It’s a simple thing to ask — just add two words to the sheet! This has to annoy the heck out of the other secretaries, you’d think they’d want a solution. But a sign never occurred to them? It’s the little things that can change the world. What do you think? Am I overreacting? Let me know in the comments below! Then you can read some more words of mine and check out one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too expensive for some words, go ahead and download one of my stories for free.

Running Away From Home (Part III)

18 Apr

The last couple of posts I’ve made have talked about my career and my experience with working-from-home over the last decade. Now I’m going to finish up explaining why I’m so desperate to get back to a desk.

So the COVID experience ruined working from home for me, but if I’m to be honest, I was already starting to feel that way before this started. It was just amplified by EVERYONE staying at home. So in the last couple of months, I’ve been passively looking for a new job, preferably one that has a desk I can sit at, away from the house.

What I learned is that I like the flexibility of my job. I would get miserable if I had to be at my desk every day, but working from home once or twice a week would allow variety. Moving from café to café is cool… if I didn’t have to do it all the time. Having that change is important to me; that’s what I liked most about consulting, the travel. I liked the fact that my job changed every couple of months, new locations, new people… but it was same gig. I liked seeing new places; I just stopped enjoying my job after a while. As a fellow consultant of mine told me, “After six months, it starts feeling like work.”

As my current boss says, “It’s good to search for a new job every six months, just so you can see what’s out there.” That’s been my pattern; something negative happens at my job, I start job searching, and usually decide that my current situation is preferable to what I see out there. If there’s something interesting, I apply, but when you don’t have to scramble to get a paycheck, the job search is a lot more comfortable.

Plus job searching tends to be like firing a shotgun; most of the time you’re going to miss. When you’re intensely job searching, I can fill out 30 applications a day, 10 of them running through an ATS filter (which takes longer), and I might get a pique of interest from… let’s say 4 to be optimistic.

Now that sounds ludicrous, but look at it from HR’s perspective. You put out a job request and there are 200 applicants for even the most technical of positions. You have to sort out 20 people for the managers to take a look at. So 10% of all applicants get more than an automated reply. So getting 10% back on your job search investment is pretty standard. Now if I’m only filling out 5 applications a day, with one running through an ATS filter, I’ll be lucky if I hear back more than once a week.

So I’ve had a couple interviews, but only one has gotten past the initial phone screening, and that’s pretty normal. In fact, I got a verbal offer for an actual honest-to-God desk position! However, this job was posted in late December, I applied in January, got a “more information” request in February, got a phone screening and an interview in March, and a final confirmation / interview this week. Yet it’s still a verbal offer, contingent on a manager confirmation, background check, drug screen, and I’m sure, taking a pound of flesh. But it took five months to get this far… and I still can’t give my current boss two weeks notice!

So I’m looking at a new job, new life, new co-workers, new boss… and it’s scary. But that’s a topic for another time; for now, I think I’ve exhausted the “wanting to work back at a desk” topic. But what do you think? Am I being stupid leaving the freedom I have now? Let me know in the comments below! If you want to help me live a more independent lifestyle, buy one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. I’d appreciate it either way.

The Hunt for More Work

17 Feb

One of my favorite authors used to describe himself with, “He tends to prescript his life, but gets confused why no one can get their lines right.” So I’m stepping onto stage without a script. . I’m feeling like it’s time to move on from my current job, but simply the idea of it frightens the hell out of me.

Change is scary–work change doubly so. Stepping into the unknown is always something that frightens us. Sure, the situation at work might be difficult, but at least, it’s a known difficulty. New bosses, new jobs, new relationships… even with the idea that things might be better–or at least different–I still feel reluctant to leave the same ol, same ol for something new.

Back when I was a traveling consultant (what I did before being full time), I usually didn’t worry about the change… because change was part of the job. You worked for three to six months in one location, and when the job was over, it was over. The only worry came from not having a contract waiting for me when I finished. Playing the waiting game for a month or two really sucked, but I got used to the cycle of interviews, recruiters, and the like.

Oh, how a couple years can change all that. I had a phone interview today and I was rather worried… even knowing this was only the first step and that it’s usually just a formality, but the fact that it was the first one I got back in my job search made this far more important in my mind.

What does change mean? Often times, my nature seeks out change for change’s sake. The same ol’, same ol’ is rarely a comfort. Long ago, my wife and I read a book called “The Goddesses in Every Woman,” by Jean Shinoda Bolen and the companion book, “Gods in Every Man.” It’s based on the Jungian archetype model, using Greek gods as the archetype examples that you can compare personalities with. We found it very useful, and of course, no one is just one archetype. For me, I tend to be dominant Hermes and lesser Ares. So in other words, I don’t just expect change, I thrive in it. Ares is the… not so nice part of me, my temper, frustration, and yet, there is strength in the God of War. It’s just that in Greek myth, Ares was the god of battle lust, Athena was the goddess of strategy–there’s a reason those two are seperated.

So it seems that every six months, I look out there, just to see if there’s a better job, but usually it cycles with stressful moments at work. However, I may have to accept that this is my pattern–there is no perfect job–and that I constantly need to find new ways to make my current work exciting… but there’s no harm looking. 😉

What do you think? How have your job searches been in the past? Have you had the joy of being wooed by headhunters or have always been the pursuer? Let me know in the comments below!

Obsolete Specialties

13 Dec

When I was growing up, I was told that there was a fund by the State of Illinois to support people who went into “obsolete specialties,” skills that were no longer in need in the modern world, but we didn’t want to disappear. But who would follow such a path?

Blacksmithing is the most obvious that came to mind; not a lot of demand for swords these days. However, if you wanted to make custom horseshoes, there is GREAT demand for that, and could command a good price. However, I’m often surprised how many handmade swords are still sold at renaissance fairs across the United States. I own one myself–five pounds of high carbon steel that cost me all my high school graduation money.

Typesetting is a more obvious obsolete skill. We haven’t used actual letter printing since the 1960’s–wiped out an entire profession (and their union!) when we shifted to automated printing presses. However, there is an entire niche hobby built around the idea of making your own cards or papers with nicely printed presses.

It’s becoming harder and harder to find these older letter sets (60 years old!), but they still exist, and somebody wants them. Which goes to prove that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

What’s next? Projectionists are already eliminated, but movie theaters might be next. And yet, steno pools became secretaries, then admin assistants. Just because the skill becomes obsolete, doesn’t mean that need for the role disappears. What skill might become obsolete next? How does someone adjust to the changing demands? Let me know in the comments below!

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