Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Week 18 - More Unemployment Challenges

Surprisingly keeping positive hasn't been a problem.  I guess you eventually get to the point where you deal with so many adverse events that you become conditioned to it.

I had what I thought was a great 2nd interview for a position I really thought was going to be given to me. Unfortunately there were three other finalists and I wasn't one of them.  I really didn't get any feedback as to why I didn't get the job but in hind site it may have been my over confidence.

To add flame to the fire my fiance whom quickly jumped into a retail sales position to help with the home finances lost her job.  In the moment I was flushed with emotions... anger, disrepair.  Instead of breaking down though, I just hopped in the car and drove to an old park I used to frequent as a kid and spent a few hours gathering my thoughts.

Being well over the halfway point where my unemployment benefit ends has certainly made me reassess my target employment searches.  I'm looking at both professional and near-entry level positions.  Though I love money as much as anyone, my actual salary requirements to live what I consider a comfortable existence is actually on the low side.  I'm content with the simple things and am happy with my current level of existence.   I have all the "things" I want and need and being able to maintain and replace them as needed would make me content.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Weeks 10 through 17 - The Death Spiral

Re-reading my previous entry I now recognize how quickly depression was setting in.  Over the following weeks my attitude and enthusiasm quickly began to spiral.  I was keeping a positive attitude on the outside as best I could but eventually I broke down.

I slumped into self-pity pretty quickly.  It wouldn't have been so bad if I were getting rejection letters, at least that way I could asses what the problem was and make corrections.  But I had nothing to grip on, no responses, no leads, no potential solution.

Prior to this event I've never been unemployed for more than a week or two.  I had every confidence that after a half dozen interviews with various places I'd be right back on my feet.  Those interviews never came, not even a single courtesy rejection letter from my applications.

I still had what I consider to be a successful freelance business running.  If you remember I had hopes of spinning that into my new source of full-time income.  Unfortunately I lack the sales skills to make that happen quick enough before my funds run out, especially in my current state of mind.

During these weeks I began researching various social services program.  Seeing if there were some type of program that could help with my negative income flow before I totally run out.  The sad truth is that only when you are truly indigent is when programs become available to you.  I really can't believe there's nothing in place to help people before they reach such lows.

After a pep talk from my wonderful fiance I am finally able to snap out of my funk and let my logic take over a bit.  Realizing that complaining and worrying is simply not productive.. well actually counter productive!  And that while many people are concerned about me over this situation, they can only offer moral support and simply aren't able to change it.  I am the only one that can invoke that change.

With this realization I decided to make a commitment to my self, that from this day forward I would only be positive and not expend any energy on negative emotions and thought.  I cleared my calendar (I'm a time management freak) and started adding deliberate tasks that are both positive and proactive towards my goal of financial stability.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Weeks 6 Through 9 - A Journey Through Space and Time

Saturday, July 23, 2015 - My blogging activities haven't decreased due to lack of interest, but rather lack of reportable events.  No much of note has transpired since my last entry.  I continue trolling the usual sites in search of that elusive perfect lead.

Don't get me wrong, leads are coming in and some quite good!  But as good as they may seem to most people they simply aren't engaging to me.  I have a deep need to be of significant value to a company, not just a replacement part that keeps a business together because someone else failed.

I'm beginning to see the flaw in my employment quest, the companies I want to work with don't have an actual position established for which I would neatly fit.  Although I have no doubt I could bring significant cost-effective value to these companies they need to be convinced that a new position is in order.  Admittedly, sales is not one of my upper level skills and convincing them they need to create a position for me may be beyond my current abilities.  A realization that does have me educating myself on that process.

Speaking of challenges, managing my schedule seems to have become a bit of a task.  By nature I like to have my time completely managed and schedule so I know exactly what I'm doing, when and how long it will take to complete each task.  Working in an office there was a specific demarcation as to when the workday began and ended with neat little slots for lunch and breaks.  These chronological cues no longer exist for me, so I needed to create my own.

In nature, astrological events guide earthly creatures.  Being (arguably) earthly creature this seemed to be a logical homeopathic approach to time management.  Within Microsoft Outlook I imported sunrise, sunset, solar noon, meridian passing (essentially lunar noon), new moon and full moon.  I then built my schedule around these fixed points.

The great benefit I've found by this method is that I am no longer bound by the typical 24-hour daily cycle.  A great advantage should I fully embrace the freelance lifestyle and solicit global clients from various time zones.

I really have a distinct feeling that you will begin seeing a shift in my entries as I transform from job hunter to entrepreneur.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Week 5 - So the State Has Been Laid Off As Well?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - It's a real challenge to remain positive when there's negative energy around you.  I left the house feeling good and ready to be productive as I headed to my "Enhanced Re-Employment Services Orientation".  Fresh notebook in hand, lists of questions to ask and feeling good that I'm keeping the ball rolling.

The staff at the State office was very friendly.  A woman at the desk quickly spotted I was a "First Timer" and got me into the proper line then waiting area for my orientation to begin.  The waiting area was filled with people waiting for various sessions to begin.  Considering everyone waiting was unemployed the mood was surprisingly happy.  You could see than a few friendships have formed between the regulars and some even seemed to have formed relationships with the staff.

When my session was called, the woman at the desk gave me a "that's you" nod and I followed the group of about 8 people up the stairs and into an obviously mothballed corner of the building.  There was no air conditioning running but windows were open.  AV equipment in obvious disrepair and dark computer workstations.

The leader apologized for the condition of the facilities and explained that they are in the process of shutting it down and that this session will be merged with another.  He also explained that the session length will be much shorter than we were told and that basically (with a wink and a nod) that they were just going through the motions so they can maintain their funding.

The main scope of this session was to ensure that everyone knew how to search for a job and that it is no longer a matter of looking at the "help wanted" section in newspapers.  Once he knew I was technologically capable and aware of the online search tools I was set free.

As for my questions...  well..  They are Federally funded but state run.  While they don't discourage job searches outside of the state they have no inter-state database that allows you to search beyond the state.

They do have "something" about small business startups and entrepreneurship but I would have to attend a session called "Career Services Information" which will give me access to someone familiar with all the various options. 

So in other news.  My fiance is now working.  Alone that income isn't enough to run the household but along with my savings and unemployment eases the stress just that much more and is giving me a little more time to figure out what to do.

While I still feel very optimistic about finding "a job" it does appear that it may be a bit more difficult that I had anticipated to find that great second career that can feed my spirits as well as my bank account.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Week 4 - Officially on the Dole

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - I just spotted my first electronic deposit from the Unemployment Office.  Guess that makes me officially on State assistance.  Part of me says it's about time I see some benefit come out of all the money I've paid into the system over the years while the other half of my says this is utterly embarrassing and why the heck am I blogging about this?  I guess I can live with myself knowing that I'm using it as intended...  a simple crutch as I get over this small challenge and I'll soon be paying back into the system so that those who have made it a career path can do so. that those who are in need of State benefits can continue to live with dignity.  (You saw what I did there?  Yea, as my mindset shifts towards self employment there is less need for the charade.. not that it really is that.. but obviously I've been behaving a little better than usual knowing that potential future employers are hopefully scouring my social media).

Now where was I?  Dang, this is starting to read like a Deadpool fan fiction article.  (Note to self.. add copywriter to list of skills).

This week the State sent me a request to attend an "Enhanced Re-Employment Services Orientation". I looked up this program because the letter wasn't very descriptive and according to the State Website..
The Enhanced Re-employment Services program identifies customers who are likely to exhaust their unemployment benefits before returning to the same or similar employment.
Wow, aren't we positive.  Hmm...  wonder if the state is hiring copywriters?

I really hope they've dealt with others that share my mindset.  I have two lines of questioning that I'm going to push on them... 1) Do they have any assistance programs for finding work and relocating out of the state?  2) Do they consider self-employment and entrepreneurship a "job" and do they have any programs that can assist in that venture?

I really hope so, teaching me "how to dress for success" or formatting a resume isn't really going to help me a whole lot here.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Week 3 - It Really Wasn't THAT Bad!

Tuesday, June 6, 2016 - I had a few private messages saying that my last post was a bit of a pitty party.  Well.. I guess it wasn't as positive as I was hoping but in light of everything I think I'm doing a pretty good job at maintaining my composure.

I think this week will truly mark the end of the initial phase of this process.  The "vacation hearing" is over and done with and the state paid my my unemployment compensation retroactively.  I at least now have a little understanding why this was even the case.  It was a matter of a few questions left blank from my former personal department... I'm sure just a clerical oversight.  (That didn't sound too passive aggressive, did it?  Yea.. I know.. I'm doing my best.)

Lots of deep breaths and sitting out in the sun trying to relax this week.  Home-life is somewhat stressful, mostly because I'm just not used spending this much time with my significant other.  Mind you we're not having any "problems" per se, just getting used to this new dynamic.  She'd normally have her daily routine while I'm at work and I'm still settling into one.  But it's all good.

Now that the unemployment money is definitely flowing and I have a solid written budget, we're no longer in panic mode.  The fun food is back on the grocery list and occasional casual dining and ordering out is back on our schedule.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Week Two - Life Support Disconnected.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Okay, maybe the title of this post is a bit dramatic, but it's just what I feel like has happened.  Today is my last day of company paid health benefits and it's a bit frightening.  My fiance seems to believe there's some free State programs available but I'm not optimistic.  From what I gather they have minimum asset requirements (I own a home, so that disqualifies me) and they determine income as your last two years averaged.

I did get my COBRA offer in the mail... it's no secret that its kind of ridiculous to think many people can afford that while being laid off and while ObamaCare is an option, the affordable plans are really only to protect you from major medical expenses over $10k.  Certainly an option if I go the self-employed route but at this point with or without it any catastrophe would wipe out the finances quickly.

Other than that, I'm still pondering my direction.  Mostly doing a lot of networking with both potential employers and entrepreneurs.

Of note I did learn something new.  Had no idea that "Adult Internship" was a thing.  Stumbled upon the website of BoomerDen.com and thought it was quite interesting.  Certainly something I may explore.

For those of you playing at home, I have not received my first check from unemployment yet.  I do think that is mainly because I was released mid-week.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Week One - Dazed And Overwhelmed

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 - Rounding off the first week things are still a blur.  Random paperwork arrives in the mail mostly from the Department of Labor that's basically their website in hardcopy format.  I have to say I'm impressed at how quickly they react, haven't seen anything from my healthcare provider or 401K firm.

My true course of action is still a bit unclear.  My instincts are to "get er done" and aggressively find new employment but the zen side of me is urging a more laid back approach.  Self employment is really what I want but the whole healthcare aspect is presenting a giant initial hurdle.  If this wasn't a single income household this would be a totally different situation and more akin to winning the lotto.  Fighting that resentment will be a bit of a challenge but one I can overcome.

There are still quite a few administrative tasks that need to be done before I can fully concentrate on the income replacement aspect.  I also need a good block of undistracted time to sort out my path.

I am proud of myself for handling this first week with grace.  No regrets on any decisions I've made so far.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day Two - The Dreaded Return

Thursday, May 19th 2016 - Another night where sleep eluded me.  Why didn't I just have them send my final checks in the mail?  I didn't want to go in.  If I didn't already have business in town to take care of there's a good chance I would have just sent a cowardly email requesting them to mail the checks.

Since I had other appointments, I dressed a bit more nicer than I usually do.  I'm glad that twist of fate influenced my attire, otherwise it probably would have been sweatpants and a tee shirt.  Slacks and a collard shirt was just the right amount of confidence I needed to get through this.

My timing was perfect.  I arrived just as the receptionist was coming back from lunch.  No awkward "ring for service" moment.  While my check was being retrieved I made an awkward walk past my former desk.  Was happy to see my favorite hoodie still slung over the chair which I retrieved.

Most everyone was to burred in their work to notice me, either that or just avoided eye contact all together which I guess is understood.. really.. what do you say to me?  "How's it going?"

I was a bit surprised that when my checks were brought out they were short.  Just didn't make sense and even less so that I had to point out the error.  Since they were only two-days short I told them to just mail it and I really don't see myself coming back anytime soon.

I had the good fortune of catching someone in the elevator that I had missed saying goodbye too.  It was nice chatting with someone I consider a friend to take the edge off my emotions.  A friendly hug for good luck and off I went.

Pulling out of the parking lot for the last time wasn't as emotional as I had thought it would be.  In fact, I felt a sense of relief and anticipation for the possibilities that are now open to me.  Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy popped into my head and I started singing to myself "So long and thanks for all the fish!  So sad that it should come to this; We tried to warn you all but oh dear - You may not share our intellect; Which might explain your disrespect; For all the natural wonders that grow around you!

So long, so long and thanks for all the fish!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Day One - Getting the ball rolling.

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 - Sleep was elusive and I was functioning mostly through autonomous nerve responses.  First order of business was to get the unemployment insurance process started as soon as the State website was accepting applications.  The site was as expected, inefficient and didn't even ask for enough information to complete the application process.  It forced me to place a phone call for such rudimentary information such as the name of my former employer.  Really?

Very much to my surprise the calling process went well.  As expected I was placed on hold but given the option of hanging up and receiving a call-back in "more than one hour".  In not much more than an hour that call came in.  A young man that I'm guessing had some sort of disability by his precise and deliberate speech pattern.  He was very knowledgeable and didn't appear that he was reading from a script.

I did get slightly annoyed at one point after he informed me that a verbal hearing would need to be held in two weeks to determine if my vacation pay would delay the start of my benefits.  Seemed to me that given the facts presented it would be a simple matter of policy to determine that.  The company simply gave me a check for the value of my remaining accrued vacation time, really nothing to deliberate over.

The remainder of the day was very emotional.  I was overwhelmed by so many random thoughts.  How will I manage my budget?  Do I have enough money to get through this?  What are people saying?  What will I do now?  What type of work should I be looking for?  Should I relocate?

Random questions and random answers.

By mid morning the news started spreading through the office and my network of friends.  My phone began chiming with text messages, emails and social media notifications.  Even voice calls.

I couldn't believe the range of people reaching out to me.  Friends, co-workers, even customers and vendors from my former employer.  I actually felt a little shame in not realizing the support I had and that I've taken many of these relationships for granted.

This really was a highlight of my day.  Though I've been confident from the start that everything will turn out okay, this just reinforced it.  I'm now armed with some very solid references and a network of people looking out for new opportunities for me to explore.

As the day winds to an end the excitement begins to give way to anxiety.  Tomorrow I have to return to the office to collect my final pay.  Signing in as a "guest" will be awkward.  Pulling out of the parking lot will be emotional.  Why did I say I'd pick up my checks in person?  I could have easily just had them mailed to me.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Day Zero - Taking Charge

As expected, breaking the news to everyone when I arrived home brought me nothing but support.  My composure remained calm.  Perhaps my experience of being laid off from my previous job, being divorced twice and windowed once has desensitized me to these spontaneous life changing events.

Before putting a whole lot of thought into the future my instincts are to take care of the "now".

Step one was to figure out how the Connecticut State unemployment compensation system works.  Was happy to see that it could be done online and that was the preferred method.  Unfortunately the website is only available during business hours.  Really?  At least I was able to browse the informational parts of the site and learn about the process.  Oddly it appears that there is no way to do the process entirely online and that it would involve some phone time as well.  Looks like tomorrow is getting filled quickly.

I'm very confident that I will be working again in short order.  But the realist in me knows that confidence doesn't always equate to success and so many events outside of my control can affect the process.  So it's time to prepare for the worst case scenario.

Rather than getting wrapped up in fine detail, I opt for pencil and paper over spreadsheet to refine my budget in such a way to lessen the urgency in finding new employment.  I want to have enough time to find a position that will be a good fit and mutually rewarding for everyone.  I figure I have a good 15-year run left in me and my next position will be the one I will retire from.

A deep sleep will be elusive but my body is physically drained.  An early night it is.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Day Zero - "Your Position has been Eliminated"

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016 - Just another day.  Woke up begrudgingly after stretching the snooze limits of my morning alarm.  Poured my morning coffee as a get ready to begin my commute only minutes later.

I've always been an early riser, preferring to be early and beating the traffic.  Knowing I can be prone to stress I do everything I can to avoid it.  Being on the road by 6 a.m. my commute is as usual, uneventful.  What would normally be over an hour drive during rush-hour is barely a half-hour for me.

My day was typical.  I had my morning routine of maintenance items to address which kept me busy until there was a fire to put out.  As usual a few I.T. issues popped up that was immediately addressed.

After lunch this routine would repeat.  I'd take care of the afternoon routine tasks and waiting for the next fire.

In the course of my work I run into my (new) boss in the hallway.  "Got a minute?" he says, as he continues walking.  I follow and say "Sure, what's up?" and without any more dialogue we're entering the office of the CEO and the door closes behind me.

Comic relief is how I typically handle a potentially stressful situation and I said "Whoa... High school flashbacks being called into the principals office."  which met with a long pause and a cold monotone "We're eliminating your position, the company is moving into a different direction" followed by generic HR related information about unemployment insurance and healthcare.

Not expecting this my brain quickly tried to search for an appropriate response.  I could either blow up into a rage or just accept it.  I reasoned that there was no argument I could make to alter this decision.  So I extended my hands explaining that I understood that business is business.  Thanked them for the 21 years and that I had no ill will towards the company.

He then handed me his business card and told me that he would be willing to write exemplary letters of recommendations as needed.

I then awkwardly headed out the door asking if I was free to leave on my own or will I be escorted out...  I was allowed to roam freely.

The next four hours were filled with emotional goodbyes and holding back tears.  After all, it's been a long run.  Some of the people were the adult children of people who were barley adults themselves when I started 21-years ago.

Finally, after gathering my personal belongings and hauling them out to the car I pull out of the driveway.  Already feeling the anxiety of knowing that I will have to return in a few days to pick up my final pay.

I don't really have any recollection of the drive home.  But I was sure glad that I had a wonderful spouse waiting that I know would comfort and support me through this.