Job Search 2023

I’ve been looking for a new job. I won’t tell you how long because it’s kind of disheartening and I don’t want you to be discouraged. Looking for a job even if you already have one is stressful. I will share my experiences with you so you can be prepared for interviews and hopefully find success.

For context: I’m a Black woman in my late forties in a midwestern metropolitan area. I’m currently in an administrative role and I’ve been employed at the same company for six years. I held a marketing position my first two years with the company. I’m looking for a job in graphic design, marketing or administration that will increase my salary by at least $10k.

A big part of the challenges I’m facing are that there aren’t that many jobs paying what I would like to make. I’ve been searching on job websites and there aren’t many jobs that pay much more than what I currently earn. Pickings are kind of slim overall.

My first bit of advice is simple. Have something to wear to an in person interview. A year or so ago I had an interview and tried on my suit the day before. I had put on weight and my clothes didn’t fit. I didn’t have time to find something new. I pieced an interview outfit together out of a sport jacket, blouse and slacks. It was OK but the blouse was a bit low cut and I was self conscious throughout the interview. Since then I have cleaned out my closet and updated my wardrobe. Always be prepared for a great opportunity.

It is common for interviewers to ask behavioral questions. Behavioral questions are questions where the interviewer asks you to tell them a story about a particular scenario. They say things like “Tell me about a time you worked as a team”, “Tell me about a time you failed”.

I hate these questions. They are too vague and I’m unsure of what to say. I don’t understand what the answers have to do with the position that I am applying for. I’m pretty guarded when it comes to workplace situations and I don’t like to reveal personal, non business related information so these question make me uncomfortable. I’ve been on interviews where I wasn’t even asked about my background and skill set. I felt like I was being pranked and not taken seriously.

I researched how to answer behavioral questions. I followed the advice of this video. I thought about the questions I’ve been asked more than once . I typed them up and typed answers and saved them on a file that I saved to my Google drive.

It’s also a good idea to research questions to ask on an interview. I never know what to ask. I know what I would like to ask but if I actually asked them I would tank the interview. The wild card at work places is group dynamics, personalities and cliques but of course an interviewee can’t ask those questions. I’m mostly concerned about how much they pay, the benefits package and how far the drive is to work. Otherwise, I will show up and do what I’m asked with my game face on.

Be prepared for some inconsiderate and unprofessional behavior from prospective employers. I have been ghosted by interviewers during the interview process. I have had interviewers never get back to me after an interview even after I contacted them to ask about their decision. A lot of prospective employers are not very considerate of interviewers time and energy during the process. Put yourself in the right head space to deal with the flakiness and passive aggressive, phony behavior. Roll with the punches.

It’s OK to not accept every invitation to interview. There is investment involved with interviewing. If you work a 9-5 the interview likely does as well so you need to take time away from the position that is already paying you in order to explore a different opportunity. There is time involved in preparing for the interview and possibly travel if the interview is in person. If the offer does not match your goals respectfully decline unless you want to meet with employers to practice interview skills.

My last bit of advice is simple encouragement. Be focused and specific about what you want and keep plugging away. A job search can be discouraging because all you can do is express interest and interview; and wait. Be confident in your abilities and what you have to offer. Your education and experience is behind you.

The foundation is laid and the hard work is behind you. You can’t do much about whether people like you or not. Believe that things are going to work out for the best one way or another. A rejection may be a blessing in disguise. Best wishes.

The US Workforce Created it’s Own Problem

There is a labor shortage in America. This shortage is particularly prevalent in the service industry. Since businesses reopened from COVID lockdowns American workers have not rushed back to work in restaurants and retail establishments. I don’t care and I have no sympathy for the service sector.

I’ve had many service industry jobs. I know how they operate and why they are having problems. The service industry is racist, sexist, ageist and selfish. They see their team members as expendable unless they are young and White. A young, White person in an entry level job will be seen as someone who can be promoted and someone worth an investment from the company. Young, White, particularly male people are valued in the service sector. That’s who they want to have in front of customers and placed in leadership positions.

If you’re not young and White you are a grunt to the service sector. You are there to give lunch breaks, and give managers time off. You’re there to do work that managers don’t want to do when they don’t want to work. It doesn’t matter how long you work for an organization.

I’ve had jobs where a young Black man with tattoos and dreadlocks works in the stock room for years and is very knowledgeable about the store. The same can be said for middle aged women (often minorities) who perform well in a sales floor position for a matter of time yet are never invested in or promoted to higher paying, leadership positions if they apply. The service industry is rife with age discrimination and will find a reason to fire older workers. I suspect it has to do with health insurance payments.

Restaurants favor undocumented workers for back of the house positions. I assume they are able to hire and retain them for less. However, undocumented workers are often a transient population. Their roots are in a different country, not the US. They often move about the US from city to city. Undocumented workers can easily leave behind a job and burn bridges. It’s a lot easier for them to go elsewhere and even change their identity if needed. But that’s who the restaurant business preferred to hire. I bet many of them went home during the pandemic lock downs.

Most service industry jobs go by the mantra “We are going to do what’s best for the business” which translates to, to hell with you we are going to do what’s best for us. If you can’t meet our expectations we will find someone who will. If a retail or restaurant employee has to take time off from work their manager doesn’t make any effort to accommodate them. They will simply write them off the schedule and fill their hours with other team members or new applicants.

The service industry doesn’t hire most of it’s employees full time so they are able to hold hours over team members heads. Retail managers don’t make it known but employees are in a contest for hours. Employees that do things like open the most credit cards, sign up the most customers for the company loyalty program etc. are given more hours and therefore make more money.

A person can have a job at a department store and work thirty hours a week consistently over a period of time. If management hires someone new they can give the new person the hours simply because they fit the image that the company wants to project, i.e. young, White. This translates into the first employee losing money that they obviously need in order to make a living.

The working conditions of the service industry are terrible. Service industry jobs require working nights, weekends and holidays. Typically, a service industry employee will be on their feet several hours a day walking across concrete floors. They also have to deal with a lot of different people from managers, to co workers and customers. Dealing with so many different people is exhausting. To top it all off the wages are low. All of these conditions take a negative toll on a person over time.

The service industry has never been glamorous but thanks to social media we now see exactly what people think of service industry employees. I’ve seen on line discussion about how service industry jobs are kid jobs and people that work in them that are older than eighteen are just stupid. During the pandemic numerous videos circulated the internet of restaurant and retail workers being treated horribly by customers. Besides rudeness some service industry jobs like working at gas stations are some of the most dangerous jobs in the country.

The COVID lock downs were a blessing to many. It put the world on pause and gave people a moment to think. A pause or separation can be a great thing. It gives you time to reassess things. I believe service industry workers were use to their grind and went along with their lives with a degree of contentment. Once ties were severed with that industry they realized how nice it was to not have people in their face all the time and they had no desire to return to that environment.

The service industry has competition that it didn’t have in years past. People can start an on line business or place a service such as gardening or tutoring on Craigslist in order to make money. The service industry has failed to realize this and they failed to compete for talent. They took for granted that they would always have a plethora of applicants to burn through.

This is a case of having little to no respect or appreciation for the people that were willing to work with you. It’s fun to watch the service sector unable to cope without the people that treated as disposable. Besides that COVID took the lives of a lot of people in the service industry. Some of their former employees may have died or have lingering health problems from Coronavirus which makes them unable to return to work.

Big business has been threatening American workers for years with automation. I think now would be a great time for them to implement their robot workforce. That will be good for another laugh. I’m sure they’ll find that humans are easier and cheaper to work with even with wage increases. Good luck with all the software upgrades and system shut downs.

This is what happens when you are rigid, greedy and disrespectful towards people that helped build your business and industry. The labor shortage is being blamed on unemployment insurance by politicians. Even if that is true unemployment benefits shouldn’t pay more than a paycheck. The US workforce created this problem with it’s poor business practices.