The Hungry Writer

An unemployed writer keeping sane during The Depression II.

Posts Tagged ‘job search’

Keeping ’em at bay

Posted by The eDater on February 20, 2009

Want a, hehe, job?

Want a, hehe, job?

Well, they’re coming out in full force now. I just got a “job offer” to work as a “legal representative” performing the duties of accounts receivable, or something like that. All I need’s a bank account and a desire to succeed!

I do wonder how many people fall for these scams. I mean, these are now becoming fairly highly targeted, so the success rate has to be pretty high for it to be worth the scammers’ time. I once heard that regular scam emails only need to hook about 2 people out of every million to be profitable – but this particular one is just going out through Careerbuilder. How many active unemployed can there be on Careerbuilder, anyway?

Ok, don’t answer that. Too depressing.

Then there’s another one I’m getting over and over – offering me freelance writing gigs. All I need do is buy their list of gigs! Then I’ll be paid $450 for every story I come up with!

Now, maybe they’re sending this out to everyone… but I suspect they’ve already got a good idea I’m a writer, and they’re targeting me. Again, how many of us out-of-work writers can there be, to make this profitable for the scammers?

All part of the mounting evidence in the case that needs none – this is a serious depression.

Speaking of serious, I’m seriously considering a slide down the Degree of Desperation ladder. I’ve been headhunted – because I can speak some Japanese. The job – phone tech support, in northern Baltimore, for Japanese folk (and during Japan’s business hours – otherwise known as the graveyard shift). The headhunter even repeatedly stressed – this could be something you can do just until you find something else. He was almost apologetic about presenting this suck-ass position. But there ain’t many Japanese speakers in the greater Baltimore metro area.

And I just might do it. It’d screw with everything else, but it would be, well, something. Tho the jury’s still out – the freelancing is actually coming along pretty well, and I wouldn’t want to mess with that… I’ll keep you posted.

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Potpourri

Posted by The eDater on February 12, 2009

Power off.

Power off.

Well, during the Movement Hiatus, plenty of fun unemployment stats.

AT&T will soon face strikes from up to 20,000 workers. Jobless claims dip ever-so-slightly, while those living on bennies (like me) are at a record high. Work-at-home scams are hitting their boom days (and admit it, my fellow Jobless Naughts – late in the latest of evenings, alone with your pitiable pile of possible jobs, knowing full well these are scams – you still secretly want to try them out, just in case. I know you have. I’ve even considered “researching” some of these things, figuring I could write an article about the scams. But secretly, you hope to strike that gold.

(Resist! Take it from a former-and-still-sometime copywriter – these guys aren’t even very good at the junk they put out – but when folks’re scared enough, they’re easily persuadable. Just breath deep, friends. Much better. Digression paused.)

The always-popular human interest look at the Depression is up and running. And I’m seeing all sorts of useful anecdotal evidence, of which more later.

But to me, one of the biggest pieces of news this week came from Pioneer. Not only are they laying off 10,000 – they’re halting production of their flat-screen HDTVs. Why does that one really strike me? Well, not only did Pioneer make one of the better HDTVs, but they were pretty popular. Like, the leading seller not that long ago. Recently, not as high as Sony or Panasonic – but still one of the first five firms you’d think of for HDTVs.

And Panasonic’s high-end model, the Kuro, was generally regarded as the best mass-produced HDTV. A true cut above. It was the one I’d targeted for the day after it rains gold. In most business climates, The Best Product will always have a small but significant niche. Not today. No one’s willing to pay the premium anymore, not even the wealthy or the technophiles. Bad times. (Tho for the record, if you have the means – get a Kuro during the blowout sales. They’re amazing TVs, won’t give you trouble, and should go for a song now. I wish I wish I could do this.)

Additionally, Pioneer doesn’t have too many other high-volume consumer electronics that it excels in. Name one. Sure, it makes CD players, a few things for home theaters and car audio… but this felt an awful lot like the beginning of the end for them. Of course, another business facing extinction doesn’t make many ripples these days… but as we move further back up the supply chain, this Depression just proves itself more than a minor correction.

Observed signs: on the way to LA, there were no lines at the security gates. Most people brought food with. No middle seats sat in for most of the two-part flight. My friend stars in a show on an HBO project – well, it was an HBO project. They just sold off the whole section, firing almost everyone in the process. The office – shared with Yahoo! – was, predictably, huge and empty. Literally, hundreds of empty chairs lining bare cubicles, or filling empty offices. The few who remained all had that pained look of the recently-jilted, jittery laughs and gallows humor mixed with a strained stressed look.

Except for the actors, of course. They’re used to this kind of thing. And their show had made the cut, along with one other. At least, until the buyer goes under themselves.

Degrees of Desperation watch: I just came quite close to accepting a job writing 5-10 hours a week, for about $50 a month. A joke, right? But hey, it’d be writing at least, with a remote chance of getting a buncha page views and maybe almost earning a fifth of a real salary if everything broke right and I far exceeded my hours requirements.

To be clear, I’m not taking it. But I did seriously consider it. Might as well get paid a little something, right? Yaha.

Although, the freelance projects are starting to come along, and pay nearly half a salary given a smooth process (bumpy process would take around 3-5 times as long, really cutting into the money-per-hour).

Righto, more about LA shall follow – I think the constant blue sky would get to me for a full year, but for two weeks in a grey winter, wow – but for the moment, let’s freelance.

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Al…most… Back…

Posted by The eDater on February 9, 2009

Mysteriously, Ryan's hair grew long and streaked during his late-night cram sessions.

Mysteriously, Ryan's hair grew long and streaked during his late-night cram sessions.

It’s been quiet on the blog recently, due to an intense couple days prepping for the FSO exam (yes, there’s a slim chance I’ll end up a diplomat as an indirect result of the economic crisis). So, I know you’ve missed my witty postings as the latest crummy financial press gets put out there, but fear not – the test comes today, and after that I’ll be all yours.

Well, I am travelling to LA as well… and playing nurse to an injured friend… but other than all that, I’m all yours. Really.

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Anecdotes of the abyss.

Posted by The eDater on February 3, 2009

Did you hear about...?

Did you hear about...?

So my sister goes to her book club, and during the discussion, they make a startling discovery: Every single one of them has a brother who was just laid off.

My Dad, meanwhile, is enjoying the reports of a co-worker’s son. This guy was a high-powered hedge fund type, making 500K a year, something like that. Of course, he’s been let go. And since his layoff, he’s encountered the same broken record I have: Sorry, we’re not hiring. It’s hardly worth trying for the next few months.

Or, as Planet Money reported in their anecdotes of the crisis, some folks aren’t flushing like they used to. One family used to lay two scoops of sawdust in their compost toilet to “flush”: now, they’re rationing down to one. The reason? All the carpenters who used to happily provide the scrap wood, they’re not working. There’s no furniture being made – so no sawdust as a byproduct – so, better get used to that smell.

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Brave New World.

Posted by The eDater on February 2, 2009

From the San Fran Sentinel

From the San Fran Sentinel

So, the numbers summed for the month of January: 162,962 layoffs. And of course, that’s the conservative number – we know, for instance, IBM has a lot more layoffs in store than they’ve got listed so far.

Meanwhile, gotta love that the Super Bowl had ads from both Monster and Careerbuilder. I’m tellin’ ya – this is about the hippest time to be unemployed yet. We are so in.

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Defending your life.

Posted by The eDater on January 29, 2009

Like this, but the pasta's fattening.

Like this, but the pasta's fattening.

It’s perhaps the most dreaded aspect of unemployment. We can all do without the money, you can get used to homelessness, and health insurance is over-rated for all those with intact achilles tendons.

But, in a society where what you do is often who you are, an unemployed shlub faces the withering cross-examination sooner or later. Prepare as you might, it takes saintly patience – and faith – to escape this well-meaning attack.

And I don’t claim to have either.

It hasn’t really begun yet – my grandmother isn’t in town, after all – but the set-up is there. First, suggest gaining some skills. Throw some job leads out there which have absolutely nothing to do with your experience, interests, or aptitudes. Tell stories of someone getting lucky and imply that should be you. Suggest random careers that graze an interest – but, but, they pay pretty well. Ain’t that enough?

Sooner or later it may be – but the worried closest often descend the Degrees of Desperation faster than the subject. After all, it’s just a job title to most of them. Only to you will it be your life – or a huge mass of hours therein.

And refuse these suggestions at your peril – you’re unemployed, after all! I’m not sure unemployed folks really get that big a say, do they? Beggars and choosers and all – right?

In the depression, one of the commonest complaints wasn’t the hunger – it was the feeling of impotence. The inability to provide. You’re going to feel this at some point, if the jobless state lasts long enough.

And in this market, it will.

And when that feeling comes – well, you’ll be ready to do anything.

So, how should you defend your life? In my opinion – don’t. Take all the suggestions. Act on a defensible number. Re-examine your inner kernel often enough you can hold it steady, but no need to mention it. Just graciously accept everything coming in, almost apologetically – too bad you’ve created this uncomfortable social situation, sorry, but I sure do appreciate you braving it to help.

And then do what you want, anyway. Often, what you want and what is offered will cross over – and then, if haven’t been too busy defending yourself, you’ll hear it and run.

Now, see if you can get all those emotions and contradictory ideas to work together – without snapping once, without doubting once. Saintly indeed.

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Oops.

Posted by The eDater on January 29, 2009

Originally written Tuesday evening, somehow this entry never got published. Consequently, Wednesday night’s entry might have seemed a bit confusing. For those who care, here is what was meant to precede it…

Apps Today: 1

Projects worked on: 1

So this was a fairly slow day, mostly because I’ve been busy packing and saying goodbyes. Tomorrow, I begin the trek down south, to the home of parents.

Now, there are some who would call this trip foolhardy – not for its destination, but it’s timing. The entire east coast is going to be blanketed by a major storm, and I’m virtually guaranteed to be driving through snow, ice, and rain, progressively. A 7-8 hour trip will likely take me 10-12.

And you know what? That’s just the way I like it.

Like a babe escaping the birth canal, I seek out strong demarcation between sections of life. Driving through a storm – the stress, the sweat, the heightened sense of danger and the alertness that brings – perfect. Call me crazy – others certainly have – but I’d prefer my changes come with dramatic exits and entrances. Loved when I left Japan in a blizzard, and arrived in Thailand breathing deep the humid curry. That’s what it should always be.

Now, as for going to live with the parents – well, this is what I joked about as failure back in salad days. 30 and back at the old homestead. Always good for a laugh – if a nervous one from the owners of that home.

But hey, it’s a depression! Kerouac wrote his best work sequestered at home! And, of course, against all odds, I’ll be the one to get a job soon. So, no shame in a couple of months.

And if it’s a couple years, I won’t be alone living at the old home. At least I like my family – I know a few who will suffer much when their time comes.

Anyway, tomorrow may be slow – lots of driving. But I’ll update as soon as I’m able.

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Bits and bobs.

Posted by The eDater on January 27, 2009

This is what bits and bobs look like.

This is what bits and bobs look like.

Yesterday, the housing market gave some unexpectedly good news – existing home sales rose 6.5%. Of course, much of that was predicated by an 18.2% drop in the price of homes, to 2004 levels. Now, 2004 is about when the bubble started going crazy, but the housing market was in a bit of a bubble from 2001 onwards. When bubbles pop, they usually need to fall below the trendline, before evening back out right around that trendline.

The trendline for housing has always been appreciation more or less in line with inflation. House prices in 2004 were well above the trendline (even the trendline carried forward five years to 2009).

In other words, house prices still have plenty of room to fall.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence is at an all-time low. Everyone’s feeling this thing. Not really surprising, then, that everyone’s looking for something else to do. After all, the old job didn’t work out, did it?

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Whoops!

Posted by The eDater on January 27, 2009

Who, exactly, is calling?

Who, exactly, is calling?

Well, I may owe Careerbuilder an apology. All those junky emails claimed they’d found me through Careerbuilder, but are we really going to trust the authors of junky phishing emails?

Meanwhile, turns out that Monster just had a major security breach – with somewhere between most and all of their user data stolen. Resum├ęs were not accessed, we’re told, and it sounds like more an email phishing expedition, as opposed to identity theft. (After all, aren’t job seekers amongst the poorest segment of society? Is that who you really wanna be?)

Nonetheless, I’m gonna be vigilant, and perhaps change my birthday. That oughtta fool ’em good. I always wanted a true spring birthday anyway, as opposed to my current mud season.

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Another happy day done.

Posted by The eDater on January 26, 2009

Apps today: 1

Projects worked on: 2

WHAM is right baby!

WHAM is right baby!

Y’know, this job search is very enlightening. All the pundits talking about the economy really should take a moment to pretend they’re unemployed, and see what a job search looks like today.

The anecdote I use to explain it to friends involves Craigslist. You see, I love New York. I’d really like to live there.

So, every day, I’m checking the New York writers and editors jobs page on Craigslist. (I check elsewhere too, of course – but this anecdote is limited in scope.) Last time I was searching for work, if you visited the site around noon, the first page (100 posts) were all from that day, with a good bit of the second page also filled. All from that morning.

Now, you go, and the first page goes back a week or more. Take today – it was a Monday, a pretty big hiring day. Definitely above average – 14 posts.

Of those 14, one was glorified spam, trying to get folks to sign up for a website. Three were for translators. Five were for low-paying or no-paying internships. Seven were actually for some kind of real job – and only one of those in any way fit my skill set.

That’s for all of New York – and of course, there’s something like twice the number of folks actively searching now compared with a couple years ago. At least.

I sometimes consider starting a pool. We could call it Degrees of Desperation.

Family and friends could bet how long it takes me to lower my standards – with multiple winners. Say, how long before I stop trying just for jobs I’d like, and start applying to anything where I might have a chance. How long before I give up my favorite destinations, and start applying to any and every corner of the globe. (Ironically, I’d do better outside America given my work history, but I’m not ready to break my ma’s heart again, not just yet.) How long to forget my industry, and start applying entry level elsewhere. How long to go from skilled to unskilled. And don’t forget, I know there’s a bunch more unemployed just lurking, waiting to join the search. Delay too long, and those Starbucks jobs could be gone before I’ve gotten to the lowest level of desperation!

That would make for a very hungry writer.

I’m convinced, with all the variables, this would be quite an exciting pool. If you want to start it up in the comments, I just want to say – I can be bribed. Easily.

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