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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

My cologne smells like some kind of animal

I haven't been writing a lot lately, and it hasn't bothered me much. But every now and then I want to write about my life and that's when the conflicting beliefs rush in. I'm unemployed right now and this suddenly makes public writing seemingly different.

There seem to be several camps of people, and hence corresponding beliefs that when you are unemployed, you should be publicly present in certain ways.

The Professional
For example, there are those former co-workers and family members who advocate 100% professionalism all the time in any post or presence, always. In this scenario, my hair is always freshly cut, I'm clean-shaven, and you can tell I practiced my steely, knowing gaze the whole time I pumped iron for the last 4 hours. My cologne smells like some kind of animal, and I'm ready to engage in this game called professionalism, relentlessly.

The Unprofessional
My natural tendency is to be straightforward and honest. In this scenario, my hair could use a trim, I've got an 8 o'clock shadow, and I've practiced erasing the 'holy shit!' look off my face all day. I did workout for an hour and I spent more time raiding Ulduar than looking for a job. My cologne smells like some kind of flower. A manly flower, yes.

These two belief systems fight a lot. I want to be both, but I don't necessarily have the energy for being "on" all the time (it feels like a lie) when the bent of my nature is to maneuver through this business of unemployment in a more "surprise me" kind of fashion. I also want to be assertive about the next thing I do. So, I sit somewhere in the middle of the Professional and the Unprofessional - this manifests as solitude and quiet, for the moment.

One of the things all this downtime has provided (besides a lot of leet gear) is a slow mental churn of all the jobs I've had. I've gotten past the initial surprise of being on my own again. I got to work with an awesome group of people at the State Bar of Wisconsin. And that warrants a note on it's own: in retrospect, working with them showed me how much I enjoy helping people without the barrier of another company in front of it. That has played very hard into some of the decisions I am now making.

So I've had time to look at all the jobs I've had in a new way. Instead of focusing on the situations (managers never being there, learn by failing, etc), I am looking at the things I've liked about these experiences. I've been doing this, and distilling those "likes" in different ways.

For example, my biggest satisfaction in all my jobs has been helping people. I like to directly help people. From grocery bagging, sweeping floors, working for printers, publishers, and consulting firms, the heartfelt "thank you" from the customer is the big win for me. "This is the best 40-page recommendation document I've read" is equally as satisfying. The paycheck is nice, but that's just to pay the bills. Give me a thanks, and I've felt like I contributed in some way and will walk away smiling.

I also like problem solving. I like delving into technical things, especially business processes and certain computer/technology issues. People always mistake me for a programmer or technical person because I am generally more savvy than they are. But, I am not as technical as say my friends Karen and Chris. At least not in the same way.

Piecing it together
So I've been taking all these things I like about my jobs and applying them to potential jobs. I like parts of the consulting work I've done, but there were distinct things about those jobs that I didn't enjoy. This doesn't mean I won't do them should I be offered another similar position. However, I've been focusing on things I WANT to do as I look for a new job.

I've been working with a dietician to solve my dietary challenges. Interestingly, in working with her, I see the opportunity to meet a lot of the goals I have in a new job. So, I'm exploring what it would take to become a dietician. They work with people directly, they problem-solve varieties of diets and people and processes, and there is an endless supply of people needing their services. I seem to have the right personality fit. So, it's a strong probability. I'm looking into it (without looking at the finances for the moment) -- I am actually working with schools to review the classes and stuff right now.

A note about resumes
In this pursuit of a job, I've had a ton of feedback about resumes. The current trend is to make sure that I make the resume fit the job, and I have an issue with this. On NPR last night, a recruiter was saying to look at the keywords in the job description and match your resume to fit it.

I admit I have an old-style resume that lists what I DID rather than what I CAN DO. I need to change that. But, I have a distinct problem with making my resume sound exactly like the job description if I'm not able to do it or am almost qualified. They tell me not to lie on a resume, but then ask me to lie by stating what they want me to hear. How does that ensure a good fit with me and a potential company?

My sense of customer service says that you work honestly with each other. Sure, there's a game to play, always, but I am for minimizing that game. I'm contemplating the part in the play that a resume acts - if it's ok to "lie" for the sake of getting an in. But, I don't like it. I think it sets up a situation to fail.

At the end of the day, I'm just trying to figure it all out. I can be the professional - I do good work, I have solid skills, and I like to work and be useful to other people. My cologne is the wild cat on those days, the Lion of my birth month. But on the other days, I don't always know, and I probably need a shower. Recognizing the two halves of the whole - and accepting them, rather than fighting with them may let the hunt be successful.