By the Numbers

I haven’t had much to blog about lately. Last time I checked in here, I was excited about a couple leads I had. Which led nowhere. No responses, no phone calls, no emails…nothing. And both positions have been filled (or at least have disappeared off the series of tubes). In the meantime, I’ve been trolling the web looking for work, and fired off a few applications but nothing exciting on the horizon. Here’s a look at the jobs hunt thus far, by the numbers:

  • Number of months I have been looking for work: 8
    • I started looking May 1, 2010 – a full 3 ½ months before I would be officially notified I was getting laid off (and 6 months before I was laid off). Luckily, I had started looking because I had already seen the writing on the wall – that I was next in line for a layoff at the museum I worked for  – but I’d also already decided it was time for a change for myself – to work in something other than museums.

In those 8 months…

  • Number of local museum job openings: 2
    • Number applied for: 2
    • Number of interviews: 2 (1 for each opening)
    • Number of offers: 0
    • Both were entry-level, and so I was “not the right fit” for either. One even told me she would kill to have me but that “you would be bored to death.”
  • Number of exhibit writing job openings anywhere: 1
    • Number of interviews: 0
    • Though it was out of state, I figured why not apply since at least it’s in my wheelhouse. Would have crossed any out-of-state bridge in the unlikely event it had come to it
  • Number of copyediting and/or proofreading jobs applied for: 4
    • Number of interviews: 0
  • Number of random other jobs that correlate directly to my experience: 1
    • Number of interviews: 0

That’s pretty much the long and the short of jobs that are remotely parallel to my experience, skills, and abilities, and/or align even a little bit with my qualifications. I’ve switched up my strategy – I’m going to apply for any and all jobs – retail, restaurants, whatever. I’ll just keep at it til I find a paycheck.

Paper Dolls

It can be easy to get discouraged by the job market and sometimes I’m not very enthusiastic about the jobs I apply for. I wish that I had been given the luxury of thoughtfully planning a career transition while I still collected a paycheck, but unfortunately that’s not the case. I tried like hell for months to find other work before my unemployment happened, even before I knew for sure that I was getting laid off. While I was still working, I was applying only for things that were directly relevant to my background, but now that we’re without any paychecks at all…and I’m now 3 months pregnant, I’ve been applying for anything and everything that remotely relates to my qualifications, but just haven’t found anything very interesting.

Then there are the times like this when I stumbled on and apply for jobs I think I could be really interested in, jobs that really connect with my experience and skills and interests, and that I would have applied for even when things were not starting to get desperate. Two case studies.

I applied for an editing job at a publisher that specializes in western American history. They are looking for an acquisitions editor – someone to read, evaluate, and make recommendations on manuscript submissions. I meet all the qualifications (someone with a background in western American history) and I couldn’t envision a more appropriate fit for my work experience, degrees, skill set, and most importantly, interests. I’ve been thinking for a long time – long before my layoff, actually – that publishing would be a great fit for me. I’ve done a ton of research and writing, editing, proofing, and layout, and at a full-service traditional publisher like the one that’s hiring, I could really see myself staying long-term as my role would likely evolve over time. Part of what has been so frustrating about museum work for me is that I’ve had to go from short-term to short-term gig, never settling for more than 18 months or so, as most (actually, all but one) of the jobs I’ve landed has been grant-funded project-specific work (e.g., catalog this collection, research and write this exhibit, develop these educational materials, etc.). In other words, you come on board to get the job done and when it’s done, the museum may not necessarily have money to keep you on full time. Or at all. (And where “may not necessarily” should be read as: does not.) I’d like a shot at a career that uses my existing skill set but working in a place that fosters my development and growth over time (instead of leaving it all up to me, as it has been for more than 10 years). I could totally see myself in this role in particular as something that’s key for me is never standing still – there would always be something new to read, some new author to meet, some new project to take on. In other words: I could totally get excited about this job.

Another job I came across is the baking recipes editor for a website. Qualifications: that you know something about baking but you don’t have to be a professional baker (check!), that you are detail-oriented and know grammar (check!), that you feel comfortable writing in a conversational blog style (check!), and that you know a little bit about photo editing and website coding (check!). Seriously – what could be more perfect?! And the description of the company sounds amazing. It’s a casual work environment, flexible hours, you can telecommute part of the time, they provide drinks & meals, and they have a…are you ready? On-site daycare. Hello! Even though I know a ton about baking and crafted a very clever cover letter and meet all the qualifications, I doubt I’ll make it past the gatekeeper, but I could totally see myself rolling to work against the morning commute, wearing jeans, and with my baby in tow to play with his/her little baby friends at daycare, where I would grab a free latte on my way down the hall to check in on baby. Benefits – fringe or real – have been largely absent in my museum work. I’ve worked in only one job that provided health insurance and/or retirement. Are you kidding me?! Why I was ever naive enough to be okay with that, I don’t know, but the older I get…and with a hospital delivery on its way…benefits like health insurance are nothing to scoff at. This one would combine my skills in writing with my creative outlet of baking with a dash of design and a pinch of coding thrown in for good measure.

It’s not just that these seem like great jobs – it’s that they could be just the spark to ignite a whole new career path, avoiding having to take the first job that comes along while I still float about the job market looking for a better long-term fit. When I find jobs like these two, I start envisioning the version of my self and my life if I got the job. Hopefully I’ll get to entertain those versions of my self in a little more detail if I can just get interviews…

Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom-to-be

Not having an income sucks. But I gotta say not having a job is kinda great. Sure, a lot of my time is spent looking for work, writing cover letters, and tweaking my resume. An awful lot of my time, actually.

But I also have plenty of time to think.

Sometimes I think about what I want to do with my life vis a vis work. But mostly I find that pointless because I don’t feel like I have much of a choice. I just need a paycheck…any paycheck. It doesn’t really matter what I want to do, so much as it matters who’s hiring right now and for what.

Mostly I think about what it will be like to be a mom. Everything that I do as I go about my day, I think about what that will be like once I have a baby. During my long aimless walks in the middle of the day, I think about the routes I could take for our long stroller walks – taking baby to the park, going past the elementary school playground where s/he will be someday, and coming home via the canal so s/he can watch the duckies. When I go to the library, I pretend to scan the shelves or mindlessly flip through books while I secretly eavesdrop on the moms, wondering if that will be me someday holding a book about how to keep my kid from biting. And when I lie in the hammock in the middle of a weekday (like today), I imagine how nice it will be to be swaying back and forth snuggled with a baby in the crook of my arm watching the clouds overhead.

Yep. This is way better than any job.

A Big Announcement, A Small Space

Now that 2011 is here, I can finally announce to the world that I & My Better Half are expecting a baby on July 4! We’ve been quietly sharing the good news with family and friends, and one of the most bizarre questions I get is along the lines of “Uh, where’s the baby going to, er, go?”

Fair enough, I guess. My house is small, after all (about 900 square feet). One of my college friends once exclaimed that my house was “smaller than [his] first apartment after college!” And the second bedroom is currently a stuffed-to-the-gills office slash guest room (that has no room for guests). But last time I checked, babies are kinda small. I’ve come up with tons of places the baby can “go”:

  • In a bucket.
  • In a big tupperware.
  • In the bathtub.
  • In a dresser drawer.
  • In the oven. When it’s not on, people. Calm down!
  • In the laundry basket.
  • Or my favorite: I’ll get one of those over-the-door shoe hanger things & rip out the seams between a few of the pockets. That’ll be for the baby, and the remaining intact pockets will be for all their crap – pacifiers, diapers, onesies…