My Parachute Color is a Translucent Off-White

Bolles\' Infamous Flower Diagram
I’m not one to readily subscribe to the self-help genre, but let’s just say I’ve found myself knee-deep in some career-related fodder these days. It’s for a freelance gig I’ve been fortunate enough to land and since I’m currently looking for work (in theory anyways), writing about all the tools one might need to find that perfect career fit has been therapeutic for me.

To get started on my journey of self-discovery, I began at the quintessential guide for all job hunters. Hell, it’s even referred to by its author as the “Job Hunter’s Bible.” How much more of a Genesis does one need? The first edition was published over 30 years ago. We’re talking Watergate-Nixon era. Still, What Color is Your Parachute? has been updated annually for many years now and Richard Bolles seems hip to the best sites/online resources out there for starting your own business, job hunting, networking, and building a resume.

The practical advice Bolles spews out I get. I do well with tangibles that are backed by common sense logic. However, when Bolles starts with some of the conceptual, nebulous jabber he’s known for-pedaling forth flower diagrams ripe with words such as “favorite values” and “favorite people environments” and crafting hierarchical maps of interpersonal skills, my head starts to get a bit dizzy and I wonder how worthwhile these exercises really are. Read the rest of this entry »


Weddings Will Drive You Meshuganah

prince charming
There are women that dream of one day having their weddings, marrying their respective Prince/ss Charming, and running away to his/her castle. And then there are the rest of us who don’t have harbor those kinds of dreams and are for the most part, consumed with the desire to avoid either the planning of that event or the actual event, at all costs. I fall in the “just get me to the alter and don’t you dare bother me with the details” category.

Most of the people who fall into my category either have husbands who might be event planners, big families who would gladly take over the planning piece, plans to elope, and/or tons of money to pay someone else to worry about it.

As luck would have it, I don’t have any of the above so I’m a bit stuck trying to sort out why I’m going through all this. My husband and I had a civil ceremony in Feb. 2007 so for all intents and purposes we feel very much married and in sync spiritually, physically, and mentally. On the other hand, it’s important to both of us for our kids (when we have them one day) to be born with a sense of legacy-to know that they are part of a long line of Jews and that things like family, tradition, and roots are important.

When it comes down to it, it’s also important for our parents. My mother passed away when I was 16 and I still hear her hammering away in my head about how important a Jewish wedding is. Not to mention my in-laws and brother-in-law traveling all the way from Israel – they deserve an event. And I know it’s big for my dad even though it’s not in his nature to say those kinds of things.

So now on top of being laid off and looking for work, I’m in the throes of planning a wedding when I’m not even sure where I want it to be (all i know is I don’t want to spend too much $$) and that it will be small, intimate gathering of immediate family and incredibly close friends. So if anyone knows Boston and might have a clue as to a venue for such an occasion that would be cheap-o, please let me know. Or for that matter, plan my wedding and tell me when to show up!


Relationships Matter (Says LinkedIn) & I Really Am Pathetic

It seems to be the way that when you get laid off all of the sudden people treat you like you’ve contracted the Ebola virus. I know it seems rather extreme to make such a claim, but let’s put it this way: At least lepers have their own colonies and community support groups.

What about unemployed people? Who do they hang out with when all of their friends are gainfully employed and successfully busy? Who keeps their spirits up? How long before they start googling, “employed support group” or better yet, go to MeetUp.com with the hopes of finding solace in the grief of other mourners?

I got laid off just shy of two weeks ago and have been in touch with a few people I knew from my old company. Some have been responsive to my emails, others not so much. It’s a fair assumption to say that those people I formed the closest professional relationships are the ones I still keep in contact with. One former colleague is even actively helping me in my job search and lending his expertise in the field I work in by giving me pointers and potential pitfalls to watch out for in any company I work for. It just so happens he left my company around the same time I was let go.

Apart from the infrequent interview here and there, I’ve been uber-active in the past week networking on LinkedIn and collecting recommendations from people I’ve worked with in the past. My greatest piece of advice I have for anyone (employed or unemployed) is to utilize LinkedIn as a resource to both network and work your profile so that it shines as your very own promotional vehicle. Position yourself so that you’re skills, summary, and recommendations are all aligned with what you want to do in your career.

Employers will take note!

Not to give any more props to Google, but how many of you have indulged in a little it’s all about me Web 2.0 style voyeur vanity and Googled your name recently? For many employers/recruiters this information is critical to their “background search” on any candidate and often what comes up first for most professional people is their LinkedIn profile. Don’t hide it away (unless it totally sucks-and then you should get working on it!).

Remember that it’s a much better use of your time to tap into your existing pool of resources and leverage that stuff than to go try and meet people based on the fact you’re all feeling pretty pathetic at the moment. Besides having LinkedIn is a one-stop shop for all that useful shit I mentioned at the start of this paragraph.

To boot LinkedIn (unlike a random “friend” from MeetMeUpBitch.com or whatever) doesn’t seem to mind much if I have a zit on my nose or not.

But wait, who are we kidding here? A zit on my nose? As if…


It’s What’s Inside That Counts

I got word back from last week’s interview with an IT company. It was my third interview with the company, the very first in-person, and today I got the pink slip from the company’s recruiter saying that my background wasn’t “aligned” with the position they were hiring for. While I’m pretty ok with the not working at the place as I didn’t feel too much chemistry with the woman who would have been my supervisor, I’m still mourning a ton of “first” losses lately.

  1. It’s not the first time a company has rejected me but it is the first time I’ve been rejected after getting to the in-person round of interviews
  2. It’s not the first time I’ve spent a month in the Summer unemployed, but it is the first time I have no decent leads
  3. It’s the first time I’ve been officially laid off
  4. It’s the first time I’ve been pregnant, and subsequently had endure a miscarriage (first and hopefully the last)
  5. It’s not the first time I’ve felt uncertain about my future (and not in a Paxil sorta way), but the first time I’ve experienced a lack of will/desire to forge out there and conquer the world

As you might have conjectured by now today is a day for feeling sorry for myself. I’ve indulged in enough Edy’s ice cream and soap operas, not to mention movies about the Holocaust featuring Claire Danes and French actress Jeanne Moreau to last an eternity. I’ve also exercised to alleviate some of the guilt over the ice cream and I tried to laugh a few times so as to give the lines around my mouth some movement so they don’t permanently engrave themselves as frown lines.

Back to the Holocaust flick – I don’t know why I do it to myself. Chalk it up to watching my grandfather, himself a Holocaust survivor, watch the most depressing documentaries and television programs about the War, as a kid, but here’s my beef with this particular brand of quasi-Lifetime/Sundance channel movie. Now I’m not saying that you need to be Jewish to play a Jewish character in a movie, but we’re talking a frickin’ flick about the Holocaust. Couldn’t they find one Jewish woman to play the title character? What’s more depressing is that casting agent apparently nailed the WASP-y narcissistic homo-erotic male love interest (Jude Law) who presents a tempting paradox for Claire Danes; fragile and emotionally f*cked up lead (aptly named “Daisy”), but wasn’t able to find a blond enough Jew in the mix to replace the whiny Danes AND be convincing enough to pull off a Holocaust survivor.

I don’t know why this annoys me. I have so many other irritants in my life right now, why must I take on some imaginary distraction to lure me away from my present reality? I just wish aesthetic-looking art could do a better job of reflecting painful realities sometimes to save me my own aggravation.


The Negative S(m)ell

I had two interviews this week. Let’s just say that I’m the type of person that tends to rebound quickly. When my friends used to do the preemptive, “You’ll get over him” line when referencing some dude I’d dated (i’m now happily married, thank GOD), my response would be coy and to the point, “Over him?,” I would rebuff. “But I was never under him.” Cynicism as a derisive vehicle can only get you so far I’ve come to learn, but the logic’s not entirely flawed here and the approach not without its practical application to other potentially traumatic life-altering events.

Looking for a job sucks. Anyone who ever tells you it’s character building and empowering has sipped a little too much of this Kool-Aid to be any good to anyone. However, I experienced one interview in particular this week that taught me an interesting and potentially naively optimistic factoid about myself.

It’s not the first time I’d gone into an interview situation and been sold the “negative sell.” In case you’re not familiar with this term, it’s where the person interviewing you starts telling you all the pitfalls and trappings of the role you’re being interviewed for. It’s used most commonly in sales and employed most often in seedy used car dealership locales. You either respond by a) being entirely turned off or b) proving to the interviewer why you’re the right person for the role despite all the crappy things you’re being told. 

I usually opt for b. And oddly enough it’s not because reverse psychology works on me, but because from the time I enter into an interview till the time I leave it never actually occurs to me that a potential employer wouldn’t want me. I usually feel that I have more to offer than they might ever appreciate. That is, until I leave and haven’t heard from that company in 4 days and then pretty much resort to conducting a whole post-mortem on the interview session from start to end and realize that it’s quite conceivable the negative sell tactic was intended to turn me off and have me run for the hills with my arms up.

One thing I’ve learned from dealing the negative sellers is that the best manager for me (aside from myself) is someone who is candid, positive, and experienced. And did I mention, preferably someone who is old enough to not engage in serious negative psych-outs?


Thought-Shitting About A Whole Lot of Nothing

I found myself in the doctor’s office today reading N’Gai Croal’s column in Newsweek – the one where he baptized the term “thoughtcasting.” Now I’m not completely sure how well-known this term is and if my giddy excitement over a newfound addition to my vernacular is justified, but it’s a fucking brilliant term. It pretty much encapsulates that rabid state of desire that propels people to “update status” on Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter their way through the webOsphere notifying every goddamn person on earth what you’re doing at any given point in the day. In short, it’s about sharing your thoughts (momentary feelings, etc) and broadcasting and airing your laundry with the world.

Having online identities and profiles allows each individual to carve their own identity and hide behind a persona of their choosing. In effect, people no longer need to create pseudo profiles (like they used to do in the Web 1.0 days) because they can easily become the figure of their liking and with tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr and perpetuate their fantasy image.

Take Something Changed, a Tumblr b-log,v-log-p-log, scribed by a 26-year-old woman from Melbourne, Australia. Without even looking at the content on her web page, I know this woman. Now I hate stereotypes and generalizations as much as the next person, but when i look at the photo she chooses to prominently display on her b-v-p log, I can’t but think that her red finger nails, jet black hair, and pale face hidden behind her nude fingers are suggesting a certain Williamsburg vibe that would make even Emily Gould squirm in all her vapid hipster, proud tat-carrying glory.

I starting blogging long before it was considered cool and at a time when people just didn’t get why you might opt to post something online when you had the option of print. I won’t deny that my internet persona back in those days wasn’t entirely a manifestation of my most sarcastic “real” self. In fact, I often found when I met people in person that they expected that same brassy, sassy biatch to emerge and were somewhat disheartened to learn that I was a much milder, even kinda nice version of that girl. That’s why they coined the term “artistic license,” no?

As Croal suggests in his coining of “thoughtcasting,” there is that alluring factor of a loud speaker to a mass audience (everyone’s a star, etc), but there’s more to it. It’s the intent behind the desire to broadcast your every movement and report your every finding with the world that leaves a pervasive stench in the air. The byproduct is oversharing. Afterall, when you have so much going on inside your head, releasing all your thoughts from mental constipation can be liberating and therapeutic.

But before you start to scribe, take a moment and think about what you’re about to share. Consider it a public service. Quite honestly we could do without the trivial daily unearthings of Lip Dubs and half a dozen other guilty sinful pleasures.

Singer Outkast said it best:

I know you’d like to think your shit don’t stank
But lean a little bit closer
See that roses really smell like poo-poo-poo

Admittedly, some shit smells more rancid than others. Unfortunately some of this stuff disguised as roses stinks too.


How Much Are Our Favorite Gals Worth?

These women put the $$ where their shoes are.After immersing myself in scribing cultural commentary on Sex & The City mania this past weekend, I got to thinking about real-life Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda counterparts and how much they might actually earn. We all know that the show is fantasy and that whatever opinion you might hold on fashion, these girls spend a pretty penny on flexing their closet muscles squandering their limited income on clothes and accessories they couldn’t possibly afford in real life. But aren’t you just a little curious as to the average salary of each of these characters and how far such a salary would go in a city with one of the highest costs of living globally? Especially, since we rarely see these gals fret (or sweat) too much over their day jobs and they seem to have plenty of time left over to juggle men and kvetching? Work-life balance and salary that supports a frivolous livelihood? Say no more…

Breakdown of S&TC salaries:

  • Carrie is a sex columnist, sometime contributor for Vogue magazine. Average income for a columnist living in NYC is $66,000. The average price of a pair of Manolo Blahniks is $500.
  • Samantha is a big-time publicist. Average income for such a profession in NYC is $60,000.
  • Charlotte is an art gallery manager. Her real-life counterpart would be pulling $89,000.
  • Miranda, as an attorney, naturally makes the most money. At $115,000, hers is the income most in sync with the S&TC lifestyle.