Monday, March 10, 2014


By way of obligatory update, let me assure everyone that you haven’t missed any news about my potential career-changing plans. As of tomorrow it will have been three weeks since my big interview and I have not heard anything at all since I walked out the door. No “Thanks for your time, we’ll be in touch”, no “We have other candidates to speak to and expect to make a decision by such-and-such date/timeframe”, no “Can you come back for a second round of interviews, which we will be maddeningly evasive about scheduling just like last time?” And clearly no up or down “Congratulations, we want to offer you the position” or “Unfortunately, we don’t think you’re a good fit at present.” Just good old deafening silence.

And I find myself stuck between knowing that the proactive and proper thing to do would be to embark on the process of genuine job-hunting, not just following up on a recommendation from an insider but casting a wide net and seeing if anything catches. It’s not like there’s a lot of disincentive for that approach these days, not as though I’ll go broke buying fancy resume paper or postage stamps. I can e-mail out a resume or three every day until I run out of recruiting websites. The problem, as always, is one of motivation; why make the effort when it may just be that the place I’ve already interviewed is going to make me an offer, and the gears are turning slowly? Why use yet another personal leave day to interview at a third company, when I might need that day to go back to the organization I’ve been trying to make headway at since last fall?

So that’s the current state of play, or state of pause, as it were. Meanwhile, back in the real world and the job I actually have, last week’s exercise in corporate demoralization involved a skills assessment survey that my employer sent around to everyone. Or, rather, the home office sent it around to the managers, who had better things to do than forward it to their employees, and then the home office made it explicitly clear they really were expecting the survey to be disseminated and completed by the deadline, which was basically the next day. So my boss finally sent it around for immediate turnaround, and I complied willingly enough. Because it was easy, because I don’t have any of the skills they were asking about in the survey! I really have no idea what the point of the survey was. I know that my boss did not explain it or put it into any kind of context. I don’t know if he was given context or if the home office was similarly opaque yet adamant, and these things roll downhill. My best guess is that the upper echelon of strategists are trying to determine how they might expand the company’s reach and big on other kinds of contracts involving other tasks at other government agencies in the future, and step one of that kind of new direction would be assessing what they could theoretically staff in house as of today. Which, as far as it goes, fair enough, that’s their job.

It wasn’t so much reading through the whole survey and leaving every question blank that got me down. It was that once I e-mailed it back to my boss, I got called over to the desk of one of my colleagues in order to review it. (This colleague is an assistant project manager for the contract; I don’t usually think of him as a boss but clearly that is the capacity in which he was acting in this story.) So the unspoken subtext was basically accusing me of blowing off the survey and leaving all the questions blank because I didn’t read them or something, I guess? But he went through line by line and I stated for the record “No” to each and every skill inquiry, and there wasn’t anything I had missed or needed to change or whathaveyou. So after that, I was dismissed back to my busywork. (My other, everyday busywork.)

What occurred to me in the wake of all this was that at least some things have changed over the past few years, whether it’s the economy at large or just my perception of/attitude towards it. A while ago I know that every time I brought up something about work here on the blog, I would fall all over myself apologizing for complaining about my job because at least I had a job. And if we had gotten this skills survey back then, I probably would have fretted myself into an epic freak-out, half-convinced that they were going to move the company in a new direction and terminate anyone who didn’t have the surveyed skills needed for the plan forward, and I would soon be unemployed. Now I feel perfectly justified grousing at length about my dumb job, and reasonably confident that even if the back-and-forth I’ve had going the past several months ends up going nowhere, I can move on to the wide-net plan and should be able to find something satisfactory. And honestly, not to tempt fate or anything, but if the company reorganizes and I get laid off, I would practically welcome such a development. A month or two of severance pay would make it that much easier to pound the (virtual) pavement looking for a new gig, and everything would work out for the best.

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