Jobless – Part 6

“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.” – Richard Branson

So I had another interview last Wednesday. It lasted about an hour and to date it seemed the most comfortable interview I’ve had. Not that I have had any terrible ones yet….but some seem unnecessarily formal. These folks simply asked me to tell them about myself and then asked a few questions and told me about them as an organization. In my estimation this is the sanest kind of interview. How rattled do you need to be by those people you may be working with in the future?

This company stresses they want their work environment to be a family atmosphere, however large they grow (they are currently in acquisition mode and plan to be for some time). It’s a cornerstone of their culture. A lot of family members do happen to work there, but the company is also the result of the combination of more than one agency….so the family they talk about is the collective group of employees who make up the company.

This type of environment is very important to me. I’ve been on the other side…..where people talk differently behind your back than they do to your face. Where adults refuse to confront a co-worker about a problem, but undermine them when they are not around. Where you are discouraged and no one notices. Or particularly cares.

I’ve also had the other. Where “we” win and “we” fail. Where we may drive each other nuts on occasion, or get really loud during “discussions”, but bottom line we stand together. Where we tell truths and work for the success of each other.

So yes…..a true functional family atmosphere…..I need that.

I was headed to meet some friends for an early dinner, when I got a phone call from the head of HR at the company saying “Would it be possible for you to come back on Friday to meet again? They want you to make a presentation, then introduce you to some more people, then take you to lunch.” If I couldn’t do it then, they understood, but because of their travel schedules it would be 2-3 weeks before they could do it again.

My mind went into full out panic mode because of all the reasons this was not a good idea. One being I had volunteered to help at an over-the-counter drug giveaway a group called NC MedAssist (medassist.org) was doing in Statesville that day. I learned about this group from seeing an event invite on Facebook, and always wanting to know about options for the uninsured or others struggling with medical costs, I looked up their website. It seemed like an organization I wanted to know more about, so I decided to volunteer. (One great thing about being a severed employee is that you have salary coming in for a while. I am not someone who has the attention span to “make it my job” to job hunt eight hours a day, as I have seen some experts advise, so I am loving the chance to consciously do some good things with my time.)

I told the HR Director I would talk to the event coordinator for MedAssist the next morning and then let her know if I could do it. The NC MedAssist coordinator was incredibly nice about letting me out of my commitment…. even wished me well. So I decide to go for it. Sooner rather than later usually matters in job hunting.

Now…..the other reasons that it was not the greatest timing for me. First of all, there was the presentation. I didn’t see the email when it first came in (do you know how many emails you get when you are out of work?), so didn’t even get the instructions until the middle of the afternoon. So…..I get it Thursday afternoon and I have to be in Charlotte at their office on Friday morning at 9 to present. OK…..I’ve pulled together a lot of presentations at the last minute and though I had to make up data (they didn’t ask for anything specific except a 6 month plan review), I figured I could do it. But while I am used to doing presentations on PowerPoint, I don’t currently own it. A problem.

Google saved me. They have free apps you use for documents that I had heard about, so I dug up the presentation one. Using a new app isn’t what you want in these circumstances, but I had no other choice. Can I say I love Google even more? It was easy to use and was exactly what I needed. A tiny learning curve, but nowhere close to what I expected.

Then I had guys putting my new kitchen counters in. They talked a lot, and drilled and banged and were just generally noisy. Not their fault….that’s the norm. But it was not the best environment for preparing a presentation. I finally decided I had to wait until they left.

I had other things planned for Thursday. I cancelled everything.

And my printer. It wasn’t working….which I have known since I did my taxes last minute on tax day. I didn’t have time to mess with it. So I ended up having to go to Staples and get my presentations printed. Which meant I needed to work fast. I asked how many would be in the meeting and the HR Director said it would just be the same four who had interviewed me previously. I normally always make an extra copy or two when I make a presentation. This time I didn’t. Copies were $45 making just five. I had no clue it would cost that much. Plus the cost of folders. But not having that extra copy was a mistake. That morning when I arrived the CEO had decided to join us. The HR Director noticed my stress and said he could have hers. (They shared.)

It was fine. Instead of running it like a regular employer meeting, which probably was their intent, I decided to just work my way through the presentation and tell them why I chose the data I did and how I would use it in the meeting. I am one of the world’s worst when it comes to role play…..it was better for all of us that I not do it. I got through it. They continued to ask a lot of questions, even when the presentation was done. But was all fair and pertinent. I asked a few questions of my own. (There is currently no flexibility to work remotely on occasion. Tough where they are located now, though not bad for Charlotte, but a planned company move will make the commute longer.)

About 11:30 they said “Thank you for coming.” I guess the plan to introduce me to others or take me to lunch changed. They told me it would be about three weeks before I heard anything. That executive travel issue again. So I left feeling a bit flat. I called my recruiter and she got me to look at things a bit differently. I knew their schedules were going to be rough, so nothing to do but wait.

But late that afternoon I got a call from another recruiter about another job that sounded interesting to me. The recruiter said at the end of the call “I’ve talked to a lot of people about this job, but you are the first one that I believe is exactly what they want.” (Which sounds great…..but we all know it may or may not be true in that employer’s eyes.) So maybe the waiting time isn’t a bad thing. The search can continue. Options are good.

While I never really felt like I would be out of a job (because caring about what you do and being pretty good at it means you are immune, right?), I did listen to some good teachers in the past regarding personal finance, so I was somewhat prepared. This week I had new kitchen counters installed and also found out my house has termites. Big financial things that most would not want to tackle at this time. The termites are beyond my control…..that needed quick action. The inspector came today and I have the money to pay for treatment. He was a fantastic person, too, and the encouragement he gave was another gift of this season of life. He gets the God thing and laughed with me at some of the stories that have already come from this experience. (That treatment is getting done tomorrow. Goodbye termites.)

I’ve been putting off a kitchen mini-remodel for four years, because I was intimidated by the whole process. Having always lived in apartments or rental houses before moving here, I never had to do anything like it. Since a new job will probably mean a commute and little spare time as I get up to speed on a new job, I decided I wanted to tackle it. You know I like to challenge myself to face hard things. It hasn’t been bad at all….mostly because my family has supported me through the process and my brother and my nephew saved me a lot of money doing some of the work. When the full project gets done (I still need a backsplash) it gives me options….it will make the house more marketable if I have to sell. And I can enjoy it in the time I have left here.

I’m eager to get back to work, but I also see this as an adventure that not everyone gets to experience. I am taking it very seriously, but also my faith allows me to not give in to stress often. You know I love stories….one reason I am blogging about it all…and there are so many that come with something like this. I don’t want to forget the journey.

Plus it’s going to happen to a lot of you, too…..and I’d rather you heed my story and prepare not only financially, but emotionally and spiritually. It really doesn’t have to break your heart or spirit. I promise.

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Severed


It’s been one of those weeks. They called us in for a meeting Monday morning. We had no clue what it was to be about. To put it simply, they told us they were closing down our department in our office (which is in Winston Salem) and our jobs had been eliminated.

I had the least tenure of those of us who were released….and that was almost 13 years.

I won’t go into details, because those are private. Unlike those at many companies, we were presented with a severance package that I believe was fair. I am grateful.

But it’s time to look to the future. When it gets down to it, every day (not just when forced to change) you get to choose the direction of your next steps and how you take them. One of my ten most favorite words is providence. God’s opportunity and God’s provision and God’s preparation. I believe in it.

I feel at peace. I feel prepared. Being the analytical type I have taken it to the worst case scenario and yes, I can survive even that. I suspect I won’t have to. I’ve analyzed how to avoid that, too.

My next steps will be taking the paths that lead to my next adventure. I like to work. I enjoy challenges and even enjoy change. My goal is to find a place to land where my skills are needed….and where I look forward to Monday mornings. And I won’t be alone on this journey. My tribe will surround me. They’re good ones.

Truly, the timing is good. For a lot of reasons. And I’m at a good place to begin again, change it up, and breathe.

What’s funny is I was feeling overwhelmed before. Now I am not. I think it is “supposed to” work in the reverse, but that doesn’t work for me. I will consider this a gift. And whatever lies ahead, it’s going to be OK. It will be a good divorce.

“The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else. Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career!” – Earl Nightingale