Saturday, March 31, 2012

The call back & references

After waiting a week or more, I finally gave in and called the Human Resources lady.  She didn't answer so I left a voicemail which was just following up and to please contact me so I knew the next steps.

She returned my call 2 1/2 days later on a Monday.  Of course I was jumping every single time the phone rang, and my hands started shaking.  Her return call was to inform me that they were still making decisions.  She didn't give me a time frame.

So I was shocked when she called me the next morning telling me I made it to phase 3 - the reference check.  I provided 5 references at the first interview, but she was hoping for some more supervisors.  My current place of employment is not set up like I had a huge decision to make.  Only two people at work knew I was applying - and I didn't want the rest of the company to find out.  So I took a huge risk - and decided to contact three of my board of directors to ask if they would be my reference.  I knew they really liked me and the work that I did for them over the last 6 years - but if I told them about this - I was also risking my clients knowing I was leaving before my company.  But, I figured it was worth it. 

I reached out to the three people by phone, and left voice mails for each, then I sent them an email from my personal email (not work one).  They all responded to me within hours saying yes - absolutely.  They understand that I need more of a challenge and people move on. It was a risk, but worth it if I got an offer.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Interview

I am wearing my brand new well fitting suit (I splurged...worth it if I got the job..and if not then I'd wear it on every interview I hoped to have), I spend a little extra time on my hair, had my eyebrow waxed a few days before, I know about me and why I want to work for the company...I am more or less ready.

I get to the interview about 10 minutes early - it is important not to be late! Or too early for that matter.

The interview last summer was very informal. She barely asked me any questions and she said she liked me a few times...I knew at that point, I had the job. But then she threw the ringer at me - there was no job. It was decided the day before that it would not be filled. She didn't want to cancel on me, because she knew I had the skills and wanted to meet me, so if things should change she'd keep me in mind. I was very disappointed.

However I left that interview with more confidence. I realized that my current position has in fact given me some skills that could be beneficial to other organizations. I didn't jump back on looking for jobs for a few months because I was hoping that job would have panned out in a month or two, then it was soon the end of the year.
The New Year came and so did my new list of goals, which included the new job...but this time I needed to really work on it. No more of this occasionally looking and reading but no applying. Sure enough, I found another fantastic job, and I applied for it the same day I found it. I got a call for the interview just two working days later. I went through the same motions...I re-read through my index cards, I started to try on clothes and I bought a new skirt suit.

This interview was much more formal, and I can even say I was not as prepared for it as I should have been. First I met with the Human Resource department and discussed my overall work experience as related to the position and her take on the role. Right after that I met with the person I would be reporting to. He asked some similar questions and of course more from his point of view of the job. I thought the interviews were going well, I knew MY work history well, I knew how what I did on a regular basis correlated with this position, but what I did not do well was the questions to them and my career goals. I wasn't sure if I conveyed to them just as qualified I really was. Before I left they told me they were interviewing someone else the following week and then there would be phase two.

I went home to work on my thank you.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Preparing for the Interview

So, I applied to jobs, and I was finally called in for an interview.  This would have been my first interview in five years, I was nervous because it has been so long and I have heard stories about how interviews have changed and crazy questions people have asked.

I wanted to be sure I did well, I needed that kind of encouragement and confidence.  Even if this one didn't work out, I could feel better about the next one.  I researched books and the Internet for typical interview questions that I should know the responses to.  I copied them into a word document and then typed in how I would respond.  I then took those questions and answers and put them on index cards. (repetition helps me remember)  I flipped through these index cards every chance I got until I knew the answers. (some of my questions are listed below).

I knew I wasn't in the industry where they'd ask me those insane questions - like what kind of animal would you be or how many people in the US would be eligible for a phone upgrade next year - and you have to approximate age of people, how often their contracts expire, the percentage of people that upgrade, etc.  So I just stuck to the basics.

Then since I knew I'd have an interview soon, I started trying on some of my suits.  Did I have shoes that coordinated? Could I walk in the shoes?  Did the suit still fit? What about the shirt underneath the jacket?  Was my suit appropriate for the time of year?  If I had to buy something, was there enough time to shop around - for the positions I wanted, I needed a nice suit not just something that fit or was just OK. 

Once I got all that figured out, I thought I was as ready as I could be.
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What interests you about this job? Why dud you apply?
  • Why do you want to work HERE?
  • What applicable attributes/experience do you have?
  • What can you do for the company?
  • What do you like about association management?
  • What can you offer me that another person can’t?
  • What are your 5 year goals?  10?
  • Describe your work ethic
  • When were you most satisfied in a job?
  • What was the last project you headed up? What was the outcome?
  • Can you give me an example of your work being criticized?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What was the most difficult decision made in the last 2 years?  How did you come to that decision?
  • What was a creative idea/change you’ve successfully put into recent assignment?
  • Do you have experience training others?
  • Give me an example of a recent conflict situation with a co-worker that you were involved in.
  • How did you change a system/procedure you worked on?
  • Have you had to ‘speak up’ recently to your boss or others who gave you work when it wasn’t comfortable to do so?
  • Have you had people who you gave assignments with out completing instructions? How did you handle it?
  • Provide an example of when you found a mistake in someone’s work
  • How do you handle stress under pressure?
  • What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?
  • Tell me about a suggestion you have made.
  • What are/were your responsibilities?
  • What don’t you do well?
  • What are your accomplishments?
  • Why are you leaving?
  • Why should we hire YOU?
  • What is your greatest failure?
  • What did you like least in last job?
  • What did you wish to accomplish at job but were unable to?
  • How do you recognize incompetence/excellence?
  • Define success in problem solving.
  • What is #1 achievement of your career?
  • What did you fail at?  How did you remedy the situation?
  • Have you worked under pressure? Explain.
  • What did you like/dislike about current/past job?
  • What is the most difficult decision you have had to face?
  • What was your most favorite job?
  • Did you and a former/current boss every disagree?
  • How would subordinates describe me?
  • What do you like best about managing people?
  • What do you dislike about managing people?
  • Are you a manager or leader?
  • What have you learned from your mistakes?
  • Describe yourself
  • Techniques for organization
  • What is your biggest regret?
  • What qualities make you a leader?
  • How do you feel about working for someone who knows less than you?
  • What do coworkers say about you?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to communicate information to a group
  • What would a previous supervisor say is your strongest point?
  • What motivates you do your best on the job?
  • Describe your management style.
  • How would you compensate for lack of experience.
  • Why aren’t you certified?
  • What quality do you look for in a boss?
  • What approach would you take when faced with a challenge?
  • What is a significant achievement in my life?
  • Describe a time you had to work with others to achieve a common goal.
  • 5 words that best describe you
  • What skills & qualities can you bring to this position?
  • How do you establish a working relationship with new people?
  • What have you done during ‘down time’ at work?
  • Experience with strategic planning?
  • How would you establish credibility quickly with a team?
  • What do you see yourself doing in the first 30 days?
To ask them:
  • Why is this position open?
  • Who would I be reporting to?
  • What kind of back up is in place for vacation/travel/sick time?
  • What would you like done differently by the next person who fills the position?
  • What is the biggest challenge this position will face?
  • Approximately how much traveling will be involved?
  • What staff training and development opportunities are available?
  • What is the culture of the office?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Job Searching

As part of my goals this year, a new job topped the list.  I've been saying I wanted a new job for the last four years, and I have applied to jobs, but nothing.

I started out my searching wrong, especially when the economy started to slow down. I was lucky to have a somewhat secure job, but I stopped enjoying it and wanted something new.  When I looked for jobs, I was looking for things that I thought I might want to do...and with that came very little experience in that particular area.  Makes perfect sense that I wasn't getting call backs.  I also applied to a few government jobs, and with that came very long applications and turn around times of about the Earth's rotation.  For the most part I scored very well, but yet apparently not enough.  My job searching was making me so annoyed that I went through phases of not even applying because I knew it was pointless.

Then one day last year someone I knew sent me a job description, and I was perfect for this job.  I wrote a cover letter and emailed it over that same day.  I got an email back within fifteen minutes for an interview.  When I got to that interview I found out that position was being pulled back and a temp was hired for three months, but they have kept in touch with me over the last six months because they know I have the skills for that particular job, should it ever open up.  For a while, I stopped applying to anything else, hoping they'd call me when that position finally opened up.  But work started to get really bad again, and I didn't want to be stuck there indefinitely.

One day I was off from work, and briefly looked around. I found another job that was similar but different to what I do now.  I am picky when it comes to the jobs I want to apply to because I know IF I get called, there might be a chance I could work there, and I don't want to work just anywhere. I read the job description a few times and I looked at the website to see if I believed in their work. I liked what I saw so I figured - why not? 

Turns out when you apply for a job and your skills match their requirements...they actually call you.

It is harder to change careers of course, so read other blogs about how people transition...because I figured I'd just stick with what I know.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The decision to find a new job

Finding a new job is time consuming and difficult especially in this economy.  I have thought about leaving my current job for about 4 - 5 years.  There have been periods during that time where I spent hours looking through job boards and reading jobs sent to me from my college listserv.  I applied to some but never was called for an interview, although sometimes I received a very general reply back about not being qualified for the position...which at times was incorrect since I was over qualified.  I would then remain content at work for a few months and then decide again to start looking and start this process over again.

My life remained so un-fulfilled since I no longer found my job challenging and I did not have this amazing personal/home life that I was happy to leave work for.  I started becoming depressed which makes it more difficult to search for a job because it is hard to sell yourself when you feel like crap. 
Cover letters were basic and didn't stand out and if I did get called for an interview I have no doubt I would have bombed it because I was not happy with myself.

Over the past two years I started working on my overall happiness with Laura my life coach.  I think around March or April 2011 I started to feel a lot better.  I started to convince myself that I was going to meet my husband soon and that a new job awaited me.

Work started to become unbearable for several reasons and I started to apply for more jobs.  I was more open minded, applying to jobs in DC or Chicago as well as NYC.  Some of them were a bit of a stretch but I figured I needed to reach. I wanted not only a new job but one with a higher salary...and how do I convince others that I am deserving of that?

The next few posts will be about my experience of job searching.

Friday, March 23, 2012


The weather has been unseasonably nice, and with that, I feel like I have senioritis - or maybe workitis - the feeling of doing anything but going to work.

I looked through my calendar, and realized that I have not been in the office, for a full week since November...and even November I had 2 work trips and really only was in the office maybe 10 days for the whole month.  Since November, I either used one vacation, sick or comp days and then of course there are all the winter work holidays oh and there were three days I left early.

So this week, I started to panic...working in the office for five full days?  Could I do it?  Monday I was swamped, Tuesday was dreadful, Wednesday was even worse, Thursday was so nice out and work was constant...but I felt like the week was over. 

On top of workitis, March Madness is also going on.  I was doing really well until the last 6 days, and Thursday night just got worse and worse.  I was disappointed yes, but that is NOT the reason I decided not to go to work today.

I had also hoped after talking with ManFriend that we would have a little midday rendezvous....but I didn't hear from him until 4pm and then we made plans for 9pm. yikes, I am getting old because that sounds horrible.

So aside from my errands, I also decided to go see the Hunger Games.  Midday during the week was great because there were maybe 35 people in the theater.  I really enjoyed the first two books of the series and the third was OK, I read them sometime last year before I knew how popular they were.  The movie was decent, it was nice to see how they represented the Capital, the people, and the arena and the technicalities.

I have to say, I am really enjoying not working in the office for a full week.  Next week I travel again and the following week is another after Easter is when the full weeks begin again, I hope I can survive it.

Days off like today remind me a little bit from the short period of time when I was done with grad school but before my job, where I considered myself a stay-at-home girlfriend.  I loved it.  It gave me a nice taste of the life of a housewife...errands, cooking, cleaning, housework, snooty volunteer ladies, trying to please my man throughout the day, etc.  I long for the day when I will be in that position again.  But until that happens...I will be taking work a bit more seriously with hopes of success

Thursday, March 15, 2012

No to a 90% expense free trip

I have a business meeting coming up and so I asked my man-friend if he'd like to go with me.  A 90% expense free short trip.  All my guest would be responsible for was airfare, breakfast & lunch.  What is included? Well, sharing my room, transportation to/from airport, cocktail hour, all dinners, and the two group activities - a house tour and winery tour. 

Now, I am broke.  My expenses are more than my income.  I know about debt, saving money and prioritizing.  However, if I heard of a deal that would cost me maybe $325, I would jump on it.

Mr. man-friend was recently laid off.  I understand the stress of that alone - but he is interviewing like crazy and a few things seem like possible future jobs.  Add to that he previously made more than double what I make AND that he is older...and one would guess have a little more of a financial cushion.  The past month, I paid for 80% of our dates; which we've cut back on while he's out of work.   Since I thought it would be fun to get away - mostly with work paying for it - I invited him, was willing to go to a farther airport and told him I would pay out of my own pocket HALF of his expenses which would have been about $250 - $325.

However he declined. 

I am not going to lie, I was a little annoyed by this.  About $250 to go away for 3 1/2 days to a really nice place, and you are passing? Why not just cut down on eating out and drinks and less dates?  Didn't he spend more than that when we went to Mohegan?

Do I want be with someone who won't risk $250 for a weekend away with me (and my clients).  I would have responded better if he was like, 'I am uncomfortable meeting your clients' or 'wow, Denise, that is really generous of you to pay for half of my expenses - but I wouldn't feel comfortable with that'.  

I think I went above & beyond for someone who is not even my boyfriend.  I guess this just reconfirms that I need some other new man in my life.

Oh fh, where are you?  We are missing out on some decent trips.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

a potential killer

So, on the news this morning, they reported a double homicide in the town that I lived in with SI.  I thought they said a lady and her daughter.  I didn't catch the full story...but the first thing that went though my mind was that SI killed the mistress and their child. 

How wrong is that?

*Turns out it was a lady and a man. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

You would be the lucky one

I think it is hilarious that after not seeing my man friend for a week - we had plans for Friday but I never heard from him - he sends me a text saying "And maybe something if you're a good girl".  My response?  "Haha.  that is a little funny.  Should we have sex, I think you would be the lucky one."

Seriously? What is wrong with men?  I get we aren't dating, that it is casual, but aren't there still rules?  What makes him think I would be the one that benefits from this encounter? I have not been satisfied yet - he doesn't even try.  The whole thing is getting old real fast.  I figured he felt the same way and things would just fizzle out.   Maybe not. 

I'll have to add that to my list of things to do in March/April - figure out how to tell him that our (now) once a week encounter isn't enough to keep me coming back and it needs to end.  I am still amazed how quickly this whole thing nosedived.  Two months ago, it had potential.  I won't lie, it was decent and I'll miss the way he kisses and some other stuff - and I have no other people that means I go from unsatisfying to nothing.  Maybe I should wait till I meet someone who does have potential. I don't want to loose the sexual confidence I've built back up.  And who knows how long it will take for me to find the next guy.

But I go over and as we are kissing he says that he wants to take me away again, that this doesn't just have to be me coming over, having sex and leaving...I could stay over sometimes.  I figured now was time to bring up some things, but we are still kissing, so I get a little in..."I don't think we sleep over well - you look at me in the morning like I have ten eyes and that you want to get as far away from me as possible"  His response - 'I am not a morning person.'  Hmm, really?  could have fooled me.  So I was like, well I am just following your lead - and trying to read you.  The conversation ends because the kissing is heating up.  Then in bed he actually put more effort in and tried tonight...I was shocked.  And in the  middle of it all he says "why don't we do this more?"  My goodness...I am so tired of that - I have no idea...maybe because he doesn't reach out...I always did, and I stopped and then so did the sex.   I figured he was getting laid more often with someone else.

Guys seriously confuse me. They think they are simple - they think they require just 'food, sex and the remote control'.  But here I am, offering all three, and it isn't enough for him to want it act on it more frequently.