Monday, October 30, 2017

The Frustration of Unemployment

I fear I've become jaded and bitter in my unemployment. It is, after all, the third time I've been in this position, so I suppose it might be understood. I've noticed that this time around especially, there are a lot more "recruiters" and cold calls this time around. It's like somebody figured out how to make money off of the unemployed. On top of that, a lot more insurance companies have attempted to make me a's a hint...not gonna happen.

The latest company to call me might be legitimate, but I'm too suspicious to find out. I get a call from this recruiting company based not in my state and from what I believe to be an overseas call center. I am not making this judgement based on the ethnicity of the caller, but the fact that an hour later I got a call from another person claiming to be from the same company and offering the same job, but from a different phone number (same area code). Prior to the second call, I decided to look up reviews for this company. This is where my spidey-senses start to tingle.

I belong to Glassdoor, which is a pretty decent job search site. They do company reviews there and I looked up this particular company. They had positive reviews and negative reviews as one might expect, but the positive ones made me do a double-take. All of the reviews were in the same format, The header was a job title in quotes, under pros it was one sentence to the effect of, "they are a good company to work for" and under cons it was something like "no complaints so far." The negative reviews are something else entirely and they go beyond a dissatisfied worker.

Most of the time, a complaint about a placement service would involve misrepresenting the job that was offered, the pay was not what they said it would be, the contract was too short, or something else that could fall under the "live and learn" banner. No big deal. Reading reviews for this company, it appears that people have been harassed late in the evening, called in the early morning hours (there are laws against that). Complaints that they don't call back once they get your information (apparently they sell it), and people who have apparently stated that they filed complaints with the FTC. Now, children, I have been upset with recruiters and placement services in the past, but I have never even thought about bringing in a three-letter government agency into the discussion. That was about the biggest thing, but there were some other small things that set me off as well.

When a person does the job of a recruiter, they are normally paid a commission, so it would make sense that even if they work for a company, they would have a presence on LinkedIn. At the very least they come up in a name/company search on Google. These folks don't. They appear to be nameless, faceless cogs in a bureaucratic machine...or they make up fake names and call people based on job board searches.

I suppose that the moment I grew suspicious was when I realized that this seemed too good to be true. When I said what I was looking to make, the actual amount was higher that that. They just needed my updated resume and the reason I was no longer working at my previous job and they could get me applied to this job. Seemed a little too...I don't know...easy?

Anyway, I think I'm going to stick with companies that I have either worked with in the past and are actually local to me. I will also apply to jobs that I find on my own and not take phone calls offering me everything I want.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Robo-pocalypse

They're not even good-humored
like Bender...
Wait for's coming. The robot uprising that is feared by many and written about in dystopian stories is clearly on the way. It won't be a violent takeover, though. We won't even suspect anything, but before we know it, we will be enslaved. And it all starts with the phone.

A call to the State Department for Unemployment confirms this. They make unsuspecting human callers jump through hoops and navigate an automated phone tree that always ends up in the same place..."Visit our website." But people keep calling back and trying different combinations trying to get in touch with a human being, even trying that oh-so-predictable zero trick. Press "0" and get a human? They're onto us and they will take over soon.

People, heed this warning. Don't try using the phone. It's how they get into your head. You will end up in an infinite loop of a phone tree. Don't do it--

Wait...I was wrong. Continue using the phone. Keep calling. I assure you a human will answer. I was being silly.

--Definitely the author and not a robot.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Misconceptions About Unemployment

Unemployment is not all hockey trophies...
Alright! Unemployment again. Time to live it up and party like I have no responsibility since I’m getting free money on the taxpayers’ dime. I’m just gonna sit around, eat Doritos, and play video games for the next six months. My bum ticket has been punched. This is how some folks look at the unemployed. We’re sitting around, collecting free money, and going on vacations while they toil away in the salt mines for sixty hours a week. Can I help dispel some of these misconceptions?

First and foremost, it’s not “free money”, but a fund paid into by virtue of working for at least 18 months (in the state of Ohio, that is). Also, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve worked 18 months or 18 years, you get the same amount of money based on your income for the past year and a half. That is, 50% of your average for six months. Essentially, three months pay. Also, the bills don’t magically disappear when you lose your job. They become magnified and loom larger than life. Expenses have to be cut in other areas.

I’m not eating DoritosTM, though I might be eating the off-brand equivalent, but those are still a luxury. While I was looking for the sales and specials while I was working, now it becomes a necessity. I have begun shopping at Aldi more often, because they have far lower prices than anywhere else I shop. I’m not eating lobster and filet mignon (more like hot dogs and fish sticks, and not even good fish sticks, the ones made with the eyes and gills). I am, however, playing video games. That’s because I still need to be entertained and maintain my sanity. I already own my video games, or I traded in games in order to get a game I want.

Job hunting is not what it used to be. No longer do you get dressed up in a suit, or khakis and a polo, and hit the pavement and hand out your resumes business-to-business. I know, there are some people reading this who aren’t old enough to remember this method. If you did this today, you would be told to go online and fill out an application. That can also go by the name, “SOLICITATION,” for which there are city ordinances written about it. So my mornings are spent with coffee and the internet looking through job postings and the rest of my day is trying to stay busy (the house can only get so clean). Also, there’s the matter of the unemployment website.

...and reuben sandwiches.
The Unemployment website is a gauntlet of probing questions and frustration. When I was collecting unemployment the last time, I had to keep a record of the jobs I applied for. Now they ask for the names and addresses of two companies that you applied to in the past week. Finding two jobs to apply to that you actually want to do is not as easy as it seems, especially if you’re only in one field of work. Luckily for me, I have two avenues I can apply to, but even then, it gets pretty late in the week before I see something I might be interested in. I am not going to apply for any and every job I see, because I want to do something that I will like to do.

Whether or not I was required to look for a job while collecting UC, I would still be looking for a job. That’s because the money is finite and the bills keep coming.

I am signed up for five different websites for job searching. You might think that I am five times more likely to find a job. Well, not quite. You see, the same jobs appear on every website. Also, there are plenty of other listings. These listings are called “come-on ads” and they’re used to get you into a temp agency office and into their database where they can offer you work for not-quite-the-amount that was stated in the original ad (most likely, considerably less). Also, they will add your name to several other databases as well and you will be offered all sorts of jobs doing what you don’t want to do for far less money than you can survive on.

No, unemployment is not a party and I’m not “living it up” in any way. Personally, I would much rather get out of the house more than I do and do something that will earn me money. If it wasn’t for having a girlfriend, I would have no personal interactions outside of my own family. That’s part of the reason why I didn’t normally take a week off from work at a time. I got bored. I preferred long weekends. So here’s to hoping that I find a job soon, so I can start taking long weekends again.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Well, That Took An Unexpected Turn

"Life!? Don't talk to me about life." --Marvin, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

It's peaceful shade of blue. Cerulean blue.
Three days after my last blog post, we had a staff meeting at work. Needless to say, it's now former work and myself and four others received a spiffy, blue folder with things to sign in order to end our employment. Yes, I am now laid off, currently waiting to file my first unemployment claim for the third time since only July 2001. I'm really hoping this doesn't go too far and I find myself collecting a real paycheck soon. I have plenty of applications out already.

I removed everything to clean.
During this unexpected period of downtime, I had a chance to do my big fall cleaning (I keep the house clean, but I don't always scrub walls and move large piece of furniture). I did the downstairs first, then the office, and finished with what is supposed to be the easiest space, the basement. Well, it turns out that my sump backed up and I have some water coming up from the floor. It ruined a section of carpet, two end tables, and has rendered my basement somewhat unusable for social occasions. Even though the work wasn't under warranty, I am paying back warranty payments and getting the work taken care of at no additional charge.

Wet and dirty carpet.
I'm probably going to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year since I have a few ideas all bubbling up at one time, but I have to figure out which ideas to actually use. Or maybe I could take this mess of vastly contradicting ideas and turn it into one completely nonsensical novel. We'll see. It works for some authors out there.

Finally, I went to see Pixies on Tuesday night and it was fantastic. I know, you're wondering how somebody who just lost his job and is preparing to collect unemployment can afford to go see a concert. Well, the ticket was purchased many months in advance and there was no way I was giving it up. The band played for a solid hour and forty-five minutes with no breaks and no banter. I went with regular commenter on this blog, Veronica, because her husband didn't want to go. She was also responsible for getting the tickets.

So, that's life for now. I will keep you updated on my job hunt and my basement ordeal. You know where to find me on the internet, so follow me.