You’re Hired!

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Author’s Note: This article was first published in January, 2011, when I became convinced that what I had for the previous 6 months was indeed a job. I’m still there, happy, productive and grateful. I repost it today in honor of the improving  job numbers from this past Friday.

I didn’t hear those wonderful words when I finally left the ranks of the over-qualified, under-employed and over-the-hill corps. What I experienced was a more gradual invite.

“Call me in the morning, I may have a project for you,” or “Next week I’ll have a few hours putting together a bid. If we get the job, then I’ll have more hours for sure.” Those occasional hours became pretty consistent part-time work which then evolved into full time employment.

I probably would not have discovered the immense gratitude I feel for my current job, had it not been for the twenty-seven month trek through the unemployment desert. I consider myself a good, reliable, very qualified candidate but in all of that time I had one — as in a single — interview. As weeks turned to months without an income, I had to let go of the life insurance, the leased car, the dinners out, the health insurance. The payments to the utility company, the credit cards and the mortgage company became less and less frequent. Basic necessities were sometimes paid for because of the generosity of friends and family. There were consequences to my inability to pay our own way that threatened my sanity, shredded my credit rating and obliterated my self-esteem.

Two things saved my ass during the darkest of days: First, the ability to live in the moment, or a day at a time — a neat little trick I learned in AA — and my four year-old sons’ smile. It was never easy and at times I felt quite desperate and disheartened but when I looked around and saw the devastation that the economic crisis had brought to so many, I refused to complain. I found it petty and self-absorbed.

The persistent, optimistic side of me was convinced that better days were on the queue. Good friends were reminding me of this whenever I forgot.

A decent job is important because it allows me to provide for my family’s — and my own — needs; it lets me live up to my responsibilities and fulfill my obligations; it allows me to work with others and to be creatively engaged with society. More than anything, it connects me with the rest of humanity by reminding me of what traits I share with God. Genesis speaks of a working, creative deity that worked for six full days before taking a break. I believe, now more that ever, that we should all have the opportunity to follow God’s good example.

If you have a job, congratulations! If you’re looking for one, may you hear the words at the top of this post real soon. In the meantime, do not despair. Better days are on the queue. Ask your friends to remind you of this.

I’m Still Alive…

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but working 10 hour days. Unable to blog or tweet — but paying the bills. Bear with me.

I’ll be back soon…

Nurse Ratched’s Temp Agency

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From ProPublica

Temp Firms a Magnet for Unfit Nurses

This story was co-published with the Los Angeles Times [1] on Dec. 6, 2009.

Firms that supply temporary nurses to the nation’s hospitals are taking perilous shortcuts in their screening and supervision, sometimes putting seriously ill patients in the hands of incompetent or impaired caregivers.

Emboldened by a chronic nursing shortage and scant regulation, the firms vie for their share of a free-wheeling, $4-billion industry. Some have become havens for nurses who hopscotch from place to place to avoid the consequences of their misconduct. (see related story: A ‘Crazy’ Way for an Industry to Operate [2])

A joint investigation with the Los Angeles Times found dozens of instances in which staffing agencies skimped on background checks or ignored warnings from hospitals about sub-par nurses on their payrolls. Some hired nurses sight unseen, without even conducting an interview.As a result, fill-in nurses with documented histories of poor care have fallen asleep on the job, failed to perform critical tests or stolen drugs intended to ease patients’ pain or anxiety.

There’s more…

Happy National Boss Day!

I am not celebrating this year myself.

My year-long search for a boss has not produced any results to date. The same could be said of another 15 million: we find ourselves “boss-less” today, October 16th.

For the majority of Americans who are reporting to work today, the issue of dealing with their boss can be the most demanding part of their job. And when you add the pressures every company in the country is feeling as a result of our current financial downturn, the employee-boss relationship can be very stressful. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Working for You

Working for You Isn’t Working for Me, The Ultimate Guide to Managing You Boss, a new book by business and writing partners Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster “aims to show you how to recover from and interact with even the most challenging authority figures – Chronic critics, yellers, unconscious discriminators, control freaks, pathological liars and more.”

In a recent interview with Reuters which appeared in the New York Times, Ms. Crowley — a friend of mine, I will point out in the interest of full disclosure — spoke about the new book:

In this down economy, one of the most common types is the “control freak” boss who wants to approve every decision, said Katherine Crowley, a psychotherapist who wrote the book with Kathi Elster, her partner in a New York consulting firm.

“That behaviour, very micro-managing, is very common under stress,” she told Reuters in an interview. “They’re terrified of making a mistake so they don’t want anything happening they don’t know about.”

Authors Crowley and Elster
Authors Crowley and Elster

Luckily, there is a solution:

The authors lay out four steps to resolve trouble with an annoying boss — detect it, detach from it, depersonalize it and deal with it.

Detaching is likely to be the hardest, said Crowley.

“When you have a difficult situation, there is something in human nature that we want to dig down, solve it, work on it harder,” she said. “Detaching is all about getting emotional distance from the situation.”

You can read the complete interview here. You can read a sample chapter and order a copy of the book here.

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Searching for Work. Emulating Job.

Job SearchI have been unemployed — and actively seeking employment — for about 17 months. I took some time for retraining in the middle of this work drought, and the certification I earned has increased my job prospects.

I’ve had a few interviews and a couple of good leads since I was upgraded. But nothing has materialized.

I remember hearing Jimmy Stewart telling Johnny Carson something about himself that I found incredible, given Mr. Stewart’s long and illustrious film career. He told Carson that in between movies, he would panic and loose heart, fearing that he would never work again. That the last film he had completed would be indeed that, his last film. Of course, the call from the agent would come in and the feeling would dissipate. Until the current project was done. Then the cycle would begin anew.

I fall into the Jimmy Stewart Syndrome at least once a day. When I realize what’s going on in my head, I take a deep breadth and try to return to the present moment, looking for peace and safety. I then look at my To-Do List and I take the next right action towards improving my financial situation.

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