Interview worries

I’m now four months into unemployment. I have looked over dozens of jobs under the basic head of writing/journalism/editor — the vast majority of which pay next to nothing and require a very specific kind of writing. I have applied to numerous possibilities, filling out all manner of on-line forms. So far, zero interviews. wife is a professional. She has been in her industry for more than 30 years and will probably never be out of work unless she wants to be. Even if she no longer works specifically under her job title, there are ancillary opportunities. Because of this, she can’t understand why I’m having so much trouble finding work, or at least getting an interview. It’s a different paradigm now. When was the last time you saw a “help wanted” section in a newspaper? Or a “help wanted” ad that includes a phone number where you can call and perhaps talk with an actual human person? Pretty much everything is online, with uploads of your resume, cover letter, and portfolio. After sending in an application, perhaps you’ll get an email telling you someone will be in touch if they think you’re worthy (but in nicer language). This just adds to the concept that social media has put us in a position where you don’t have to speak to anyone, just go about your business staring at one screen or another.

Everyone has advice. (Funny how all those people seem to have jobs.) You have to network, they say. Problem is, most of the people I would network with are journalists/writers who are in the same boat.

To be honest, this is pretty discouraging as I eye the calendar and count down the days until the severance is going to run out.



Adding insult to injury

It’s bad enough that the majority of the jobs I’m looking at seem to have some call for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or other initial/acronym knowledge. Long story short, in case you don’t know, it’s basically the means to write in a way that gets Internet users to find your site/blog/company/etc. high up on a search. Okay, that’s fine. I don’t mind learning new stuff at all. Even though it makes a mockery of substantial writing in deference to just getting people to click on your links.

But can you not insult me by using a photo for a site on SEO copywriting that features this twee millennial playing dress-up and looking at the typewriter like it smells worse than whatever he’s smoking? Where’s the fedora with the “Press” label in the at band?


Thank you.

The first 12 seconds say it all

Yesterday was something of an eye-opener. First was the clip above from the TBS program The Detour. The main character tries to be a whistle-blower and contacts this bozo who he thinks is a legit journalist. Wrong. The entire scene goes on like this, with the blogger totally clueless about investigative reporting.

The theme continued later when I read the New York Times‘ article “In New Jersey, Only a Few Media Watchdogs Are Left.” Most of the piece deals with the massive cutbacks in publications like The Record and Star-Ledger.

This section was particularly painful to oldsters like me who actually care about quality over quantity:

Current and former reporters and editors, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid damaging relationships and future job prospects, said that their salaries had generally been cut by 10 percent in the past year or so, but that they earned bonuses if they met a quota for online page views. As a result, slide shows, surveys and brief stories with alluring teasers, like the 20 most famous people to attend Princeton, a quiz on Santa Claus, and polls on a “Lion King” remake and a “must-win” game for the Jets, have become legion.

“I was a content hamster, basically,” said one reporter who recently left the paper. “I didn’t feel like I was contributing anything of value, so when I had a review, I expected my producer to be harsh. But there was no critique. It was like, ‘Your numbers are good, keep doing a great job.’”

Wish I’d know about the event, which was held at nearby Montclair State University; I could have been one of the sad sacks in the photo.


Job search worries, redux

So I sent an email to a specialized job search company. This followed about 20 minutes of filling out several pages of an online form, only to be informed after the final click that there was a fee involved. Of course it comes at the end; if they started off with that news, they would lose a lot of business. This way, there’s at least a chance that the desperate job seeker would figure, “What the heck, I’ve come this far,” and fork over the dough.

But not this cowboy. wrote a note, asking the ridiculous question, “Do you guarantee placement?” Because, really, what are they doing  to merit this fee other than providing leads one could probably find elsewhere with some due diligence?

I didn’t really expect a response so when one did come it was something of a surprise.

This is it, verbatim save for my eliminating the name of the company for fear of getting sewed (not a typo):

Thank you for contacting xxxx Member Support.

Are services are not for everyone. Your account has been deleted and you will no longer have access from this point. Feel free to sign up again in the future if you change your mind.We believe as many resources you can have the better for your career. We also recommend you taking a look at our blog for some great helpful hints.

Best of luck in your job search.

Aside from such an obvious mistake, this ain’t even o good English. I replied, perhaps somewhat impolitely, asking about the qualifications of the sender. They sent an apology.

My mistake, I meant our services.  Thanks for pointing this out.  I should have taken the time to check for errors on the email I sent to you.

Ya think? With people like this having a hand in my employment fate, I’ll need that luck.


For my next number, “Resume Blues” (Updated)

As I’ve said, I am enrolled in a number of job sites. While none of them strike me as outstanding, at least some don’t charge a fee. (That’s like the old joke where two old-timers are having a meal in a restaurant. “The food here stinks,” says one. “Yes, and the portions are so small,” says the other.)

So one of them offers a free resume critique. Not surprisingly, mine was no good.

One comment that struck me as funny was

Unfortunately, your existing resume gives the impression that you are a “doer” and not an “achiever.”

Sorry, isn’t “doing” and “achieving” pretty much the same thing? Or has it become one of those millennial code words that’s take on a new, contradictory meaning? Semantics.

After pointing out all the things that are wrong with my current CV — without any specifics pertinent to my case — we get to the heart of the matter: the sales pitch.

To reiterate, we believe that your resume could do a much better job of selling hiring managers on your value as a potential employee. We are concerned that your skills may be overlooked. In today’s extremely competitive job market, you need to win over hiring managers quickly and convincingly. Without some overall improvements, your resume probably won’t generate the attention it deserves.

We’d be happy to help you create a better resume. Through our professional Resume Writing Service, you will work with a professional resume writer, who can help you perfect your resume and showcase your distinctive skills and qualifications. Your writer will be chosen based upon your industry and experience. They will provide expert help in choosing keywords for your resume so it will resonate with hiring managers instead of falling victim to some of the latest screening techniques. All in all, we feel we can help you get through the gatekeeper and be called for more interviews.

The cost of having your resume written by a professional is normally $249. However, for the next 48 hours, you can receive a 15% discount. That’s only $209 (a $40 savings). This offer expires on 01/04/2017. Click here to take advantage of this special offer or call 888-xxx-xxxx to speak with a Career Advocate. Here is some additional information on our Resume Writing Service…

And they go on to tell you all the wonderful things they’ll do if you hurry up and take advantage of their limited-time offer.

Of course, I kind of have to wonder, because if they really did look at my resume, they would see I followed many of their recommendations (this ain’t my first rodeo).

Maybe I can turn this experience into a “talking blues,” a la Chris Bouchillon or Woody Guthrie…


Sadly, I’m no longer shocked by those who would seek to take advantage of the most vulnerable among us. Maybe that should be my niche: investigative journalism. Find an outlet that will hire me to look into all these companies and report on their findings. There are so many out there promising one thing or another that I should be set for life.

UPDATE: I was so overwhelmed by all the criticism over the resume I overlooked this:

Your resume lacks an objective statement, which employers expect to see on the resumes of candidates with only a few years of experience. (emphasis added)

Wow, talk about damned if you do/damned if you don’t: I’ve had basically two jobs in my adult life. The first one lasted 22 years, the most recent 12. If that’s what they consider “only a few years of experience”…


Way to start the year off right

Image result for trump new year tweet

Gee, what a gracious guy. So willing to let bygones be bygones and use the turning of the calendar to begin anew. He just couldn’t say “Happy New Year to all… Love!” Think of what good feelings he could have mustered with that one.

One things that worries/bothers me: regardless of #WSTDTDN? (What stupid thing did Trump do now?), the responses are the same: that he’s this, that, and the other thing. If we have to rely on Congress to keep him in check with all the nutter things he wants to do (not that he has given any specifics), we’re in trouble, because I don’t think there are enough people with the backbone required. Oh sure, they express “outrage” as well, but when push comes to shove, I’m betting they’ll fold. Prove me wrong by denying some of the cabinet nominees and I might change my mind.


Need I say anything more about the connection between Trump and Prince Joffrey from Game of Thrones? But I will: both have the same temperament and maturity level. Both are unsuited for the position they hold. And both are surrounded by sycophants who aren’t strong enough to oppose.

Unfortunately, only one of them is fictional.