liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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Unemployment: Day 4

Today is the day it hits me.

I feel like total crap, complete with chills, scratchy throat, and exhaustion.

Yesterday didn't help.

Now how the MA system works is that most of the actual job training centers are run by private contractors who get a per diem per person they serve. Maybe they get one or two state employees in-house to deal with unemployment claims. Some, like the center I went to yesterday, get them only a couple of days a week. Others, like the one I will be going to in the future if only because they know what "social networking" means, get them 5 days a week.

Anyway, first thing I do when I walk into this center yesterday is file my claim. I get a completely nasty woman who treated me like crap, and proceeded to mumble "I dunno" to every single question I asked. I also asked about the orientation meeting (y'know, where they tell you the "dos and don'ts" of unemployment) and got "I dunno anything about that."

And did I mention that it seemed like she couldn't even enter my most basic information on the first try? It took her at least 3 tries. Minimum. Then she couldn't even find my employer in the state database, despite the fact I handed her my W-2.

In short, she treated me like I was standing there with my hand out for cash and my mouth open for food, and then refused to answer even the most basic questions like, "Ummm, why are you handing me this list of phone numbers and why should I be calling them?"

While I didn't leave her office in tears, I did leave it feeling a lovely combination of "absolute shit" and "completely pissed off".

I went to the desk and politely complained about my treatment, and that I couldn't get any of my questions answered, and got a big ol' shrug from the contractors.

Time to double-down on the "absolute shit" and "completely pissed off"

Then it was time for my resume review.

I was a little worried that my resume was out-of-date or too hard to quickly scan or too something.

The reviewer actually thought it was "near perfect" and "very easy to customize for targeted jobs". He offered some tweaky suggestions that I agreed were really helpful.

Somewhere in the middle of the interview, I told him about my tale of woe regarding the state employee and how I don't know anything and I can't get anyone to answer the most basic of questions.

It turns out that this particular state employee has been a huuuuuuuuge problem and they can't do anything about it, and that some of the people at the desk have slipped into "do not want to hear it" mode when people complain.

He didn't put it exactly like that, because he said it more diplomatically.

He then suggested that I go up to the desk and ask for a specific career center employee by name and tell her that I want to talk to the other state employee who actually will answer questions.

So, once I departed my Resume Critique session with a marginally better mood, I followed his advice. I went to the desk, asked for a specific career center employee by name, and quietly asked her if I could talk to the male state employee.

After she threw a meaningful glance at the female employee's office door (she later told me that she has to do this a lot), she got me in to see the other state employee, who was knowledgeable, helpful, answered all my questions, and even double-checked that my claim had actually been correctly filed (it had).

That left me with one more task: Interview Bootcamp.

Can you say DISASTAH boys and girls?

First let me start off by saying: "I forgot to shut off my cell phone. Bad girl. I know better."

Second, let me add: "I'm so glad I didn't because it saved me from killing people."

First off, the person who ran the workshop was the same one who did when I was last out more than 6 years ago. At first I was excited. She was great 6 years ago! She was helpful! She gave good tips!

This was going to be an awesome workshop!

Then she handed out hardcopies of her presentation and fired up the PowerPoint and my jaw dropped.

This was the exact same workshop I took more than 6 years ago!

Well, okay. Good interview tips really don't change all that much, right? So fair enough.

Trouble happened when she asked people to name some Web sites where you could get additional information about a potential employer, other than the potential employer's actual Web site.

My hand shoots up and I say, "Social networking sites."

Just about everyone in the room looked at me like I announced that I ate my own poo, including the moderator.

Now, not to go all ageist on anyone, I was among the youngest in the workshop (and I'm not exactly fresh out of college), in some cases by a good decade. With that one suggestion, I had made myself The Enemy somehow (judging by the glares a couple of people threw my way) by suggesting that they use the computer for fun.

Now, to be fair, there was one woman who was a little older than me who nodded agreement, and two people who were visibly younger than I was had the look of "Hey! I didn't think about using Facebook/Tumbler/Journal/Blog/Twitter in that manner! I'm such a dope!" So I wasn't completely alone here.

The moderator gave me a verbal pat on the head, and then asked for another suggestion.

No one volunteered.

Again I raised my hand and volunteered LinkedIn.

The temperature plummeted, and with the exception of the 3 people above who agreed with me on the social networking front, the glares turned hostile.

One of the younger people pipped up, "What's that?"

I explained what it was. The woman around my age gave her the http address, and both of the younger people scribbled down the information.

The moderator's verbal pat was slightly less friendly and she asked for another resource.

Once again, no one volunteered.

I hesitantly raised my hand.

The moderator looks like she wants to ignore me, but can't because I'm the only volunteering anything.

Finally, she calls on me.

"If it's a publicly traded company, the SEC has the EDGAR database where you can find all their financial statements, press releases, and market information."

The two younger people scribble, the woman my age nods, and everyone else ignores me, including the moderator.

What other resources?

Unh-unh. Not walking into that trap again. I keep my hand to myself.

Moderator suggests Hoovers. Hoovers.

I can't take it. I point out (politely), "But, you have to pay for that information!"

She then says that Hoovers has some free information about the company.

Which, yes, I knew she was right, except it's the kind of information that doesn't actually help you if you're applying to be an administrative assistant at subdivision of a subsidiary. It's really high level information and not all that deep. If it's a publicly traded company, you're better off going to the SEC Web site.

I didn't say this to her. Instead I kind of stared at her with a slack jaw. Hoovers? That was the best she could do?

Then she asked for another suggestion.

Bullshit on this, I think. And my hand shoots up.

Faced with no other option, she's forced to call on me again.

I state that if you have a public library card, you can access the InfoTrak and EBSCO databases for free and gain access to any kind of information you want from any number of highly specialized, very expensive journals and magazines by running a search on the company name. And, you can access this from home if you can't get to the library.

Cue woman my age nodding, and cue one of the younger people saying, "Hey, I didn't know that."

It is now sub-zero in the room and it's pretty clear that most of the other people in the workshop now officially hate me, despite the fact I'm trying to be helpful. I don't get it. I mean, yeah, I can understand how someone might not know all of this, or even none of it. But when someone is answering the damn question that's been posed with an answer that is correct and is acknowledged to be correct, why the hell are you hating on the person who provided the answer?

I'm quietly furious about this because in no way is this okay for me to have a better idea on where to find information using basic Web based tools that have existed for years than the moderator.

I keep a pleasant smile plastered on my face, in hopes that no one notices that I'm grinding my teeth.

The moderator than moves on to her presentation.

In the middle of the presentation, my cell phone rings.

Oh, God. Now they really hate me and it's totally justified.

I apologize, grab my cell and run from the room.

It's Mom, who was worried about some test results for my Dad and can't get any answers on what they actually mean. As the Designated Family Member Who Knows About Biology, can I explain this to her?

I promise to check when I get home, but right now I'm in a workshop.

My Mom apologizes and hangs up.

I sheepishly return to the workshop. Weirdly, I forget to shut off my phone. You would think I would remember that, but I didn't.

I sit down for the in-progress workshop and try to pay attention.

As the moderator continues with her presentation I get more and more annoyed. I sat through this thing, word-for-word more than 6 years ago. In 6 years, she hasn't changed a single thing, which is a lot like preparing desperate, unemployed people like myself for jobs that existed 6 years ago but might not exist today.

It was frustrating.

After 10 minutes of this, my cell phone rings again.

It's official. I'm an asshole. Worse, I'm one of those assholes.

I take it as my cue that Someone Up There agrees with me. It's time to bail.

I apologize, and seizing on my mother's earlier call, explain that I have a very sick parent (a major exaggeration) and that I have to leave.

I think they threw a party the second I left the room.

Turns out that the call was from Staples about some weird thing with my laptop. It's since been resolved (this morning, in fact), but I was practically high-stepping to happiness that this random call saved me from punching someone in the face.

Now I should stress, the person running the workshop was not a state employee, but one of the contractors. And after my experience with this particular career center (which I used more than 6 years ago and was fantastic!), I vowed to find a different one and never go back to this one.

Turns out there is one closer to home. Much closer to home. And, oh look! In their list of workshops they've got workshops on how to use social networking sites!

Right. Problem solved there, too.

In any case, that was my mixed bag of a day yesterday.

And, oh. My Dad turned out to be fine. It was just a moment-of-panic thing my Mom had when she couldn't get her questions answered.

Yeah. I know how she feels.

Today I have to deal with financial stuff.

As soon as I stop shivering, though, I'm heading to the Y because I need some serious stress relief.

Monday I start my campaign of resumes and freelance-grabbing, because I can't quite handle it today.

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