Thursday, October 14, 2010

Job Hunting...

So... I'm not your normal employed person. I've been technically out of a job for awhile, although I've had writing contracts and a database contract and have helped out with my old employer on a couple of trivial things. So when I've worked the last few years, it's been out of my home. In addition, most of the jobs I've held I didn't get through the normal application and interview process. For instance, a job I held in High School I got through a friend's recommendation, my first "real" job happened when I posted a plea for work on usenet (although I did end up interviewing for it), my retail work happened because I attended a LEGO meet-up and met my future boss, and my contract work was acquired through contacts. In short, I don't really know how to look for or apply for work.

Enter WorkSource. I don't know how widespread WorkSource is, but in Washington state if you are looking for work and haven't got a clue where to start, WorkSource should be your first step. They have all the basic needs met, including classes on resumes and interviewing, counselors, and tons of information. They don't find you a job, but they prepare you for finding a job. I recently attended a WorkSource resume class and got my resume whipped into shape. And Eric suggested we go to a Job Fair being held in K--- at the WorkSource, so I also printed out a few copies of the thing to give out there.

I've never been to a job fair. I've heard about them, but I didn't have any idea what to expect. So I was more than a little anxious as we drove the long drive to the River Cities. When we got there, it was immediately apparent that this was a big deal, as there was already a long line. We got in line, then were informed by a guy ahead of us that we needed to sign in. So I went first, with Eric holding our place in line, then Eric went. Once back together, we looked at the handout to see what companies were at the fair, and Eric deflated. I started to chat with folks in line, and felt like something really familiar was happening. In a long queue with a bunch of anxious people holding portfolios. Hrm.

The line started to move suddenly, and we were in. The potential employers were divided up into three rooms in the building. We started in the farthest room, where an employer I've been thinking of trying to get a job at took my resume. The woman suggested that I would have to do a lot of traveling if I got the job, which isn't ideal, but it sounded like the job has the potential to be just what I'd want. I thanked her, and moved on, leaving Eric to go to one of the other rooms. I handed out my resume to three other potential employers and picked up some swag (two mugs, candy, a flashlight, an insulated lunchbag, a jar opener, and some mints). The company that I felt most qualified to work for had the least professional crew at the fair, and while I gave them my resume I didn't feel very confident about it getting to the right people. Two employers I wasn't at all qualified to work for gave me the most swag *after* I told them I wasn't qualified.

Eventually I met up with Eric to compare notes, and we decided we'd hit enough employers, and left the building. As we exited, Eric noted that I was in "con mode" and the whole situation suddenly snapped into focus. The long line to get in, the people sitting behind tables with long queues to talk with them, the anxious feelings, the portfolios... this was just like a comics convention, only with a tinge of desperation instead of fun. Eric was disappointed because the employers he most wanted to talk to weren't there, so he felt it was a bit of a let-down. But at least I seemed to have fun.

So, I've got leads on a half-dozen jobs that I need to follow up on, including a cover letter to write. I have e-mails to send, and websites to visit. And if I do it all right, perhaps I'll finally get a job the normal way. And maybe I can get health insurance again and finally be healthy for good?

Idle Note: One company had a listing for Zamboni Drivers. I almost picked that one up, even though it didn't look like a position with much potential.

Partly Related Note: This morning I got news that two of my pieces were chosen for the 22 Stories Project. That made my day before we went to the job fair.