Monday, May 11, 2009

Define "progress".

I'm still here. Still unemployed. Yesterday, a friend very hesitantly asked me, "um, can I ask how it's going? Do you feel like talking?"

Jeez, it's not like I'm Bernie Madoff, or my wife dumped me for another woman. I got laid off. Just like around 8% of Americans today. Of course, I'd love to talk about it. In fact, let's face it. The more I talk about it, the more likely it will be that someone who has an immediate need to hire an innovative and creative professional type with stunning good looks will overhear the conversation and swoop in like a prince with a glass slipper on a white horse...jeezuz I gotta stop watching Disney Channel with my kids.

So in answer to the question, how's it going? Quite well, in fact. After a little more than three weeks, I've been busier than I ever could have imagined, getting my professional house in order, my resume spit-shined, and my tie collection dusted off. I've spent numerous days working with an outplacement service by attending classes on negotiation tactics, career assessment, and networking. I've taken over my wife's desk, converting our friendly iMac into a resume generation machine. And I've actually found a few moments here and there to look out for #1, and do the things that I want to do.

Everyone always talks about how, after getting laid off, you get a chance to do all those big projects you've been putting off for years. Well, so far that's pretty much proven to be a myth. If I'm not following employment leads, I'm scheduling networking meetings, preparing cover letters, or searching for jobs on the internet. Sure, I am able to accomplish a few things. I mulched the yard for the first time in 5 years. I scrubbed all four bathrooms to a point where Mr. Clean himself would have put on cloth slippers before entering to avoid making footprints. And I've taken a bike ride virtually every day that weather has permitted. But frankly, this situation is proving that life's daily duties tend to flow like water, filling up every bit of available space. I'm sure that once the outplacement work ends this all will change, and I will find myself climbing the walls with boredom. But right now my to-do list is longer than the Unibomber's manifesto.

In these few short weeks, I have discovered one blessing to being laid off. I've erased virtually all signs of attention deficit disorder. After 15 years of my job, I'd learned to multi-task while multi-tasking, something I'm sure many of you are familiar with. I recall days where I'd sit down and say to myself, "Alright I'm gonna finish up this document" and, before even getting a chance to open MS Word, the phone rings and all hell breaks loose. Those days are gone. I can sit down in front of the computer, and spend an hour cleaning out my address book, uninterrupted. I can read several chapters of a book and not think, dang, I really need to go clean out my inbox." Well, at least I can do that while the kids are at school. Basically, I've rediscovered time and concentration. I could get used to this.

And so could my wife. She's even noticed that I actually tend to listen to her once in a while, without being distracted by the latest buzz made by my Blackberry.

As for the job front? I've sent out a couple of resumes, with little positive result. This was expected. More importantly, I'm talking with everyone I know, and finding more and more new opportunities to network and to meet people than I ever knew existed. For example, I learned for the first time that there's an actual non-profit organization dedicated to certifying professionals in the field of Project Management. My calendar is chock full of meetings and lunch dates, so much so that I find myself checking my calendar more often than I used to check my Crackberry when I was working, as I never know what's coming up next. It's been a very energizing experience.

On that note, I've got my shirt pressed and my tie selected, and I'm off to a recruiting event held by a large corporation in the area looking to hire about 4 gazillion people, most of them nuclear scientists. While I am not a nuclear scientist, I can pronounce "new-clee-ir" correctly, so I figure I've got a leg up on some folks. Wish me luck.

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