Working!

Rather than bore myself and others with the frustration of job hunting in the current ecconomy, I avoided posting for nearly a year. Yesterday, after 11 months and 3 days since my last regular 40-hour paycheck, I started working again. What a relief! It took that long to find a secure position that offered a salary (not an hourly rate) that would not keep me job hunting, as well as challenge and opportunity that was compatible with my experience, interests, aspirations and temperament.

I started work February 8 as a technical writer in the Information Systems and Global Services group of Lockheed Martin Corp., in San Diego.  Using DITA XML standards,  I will be designing, developing, and delivering Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETM) for the Airborne and Maritime / Fixed Station Joint Tactical Radio Systems (AMF JTRS) program.

So happy to be off to work again!

Today’s Post

I think I’m going to stop creating clever headlines for this blog. If I end up job-seeking for weeks (or months — thinking worst-case scenario– it’s happened before), I’ll be spending more time thinking up decks than writing my entry. How practical or fun would that be? Not much.

Anyway, today was much better than yesterday. I was able to access my Webmail account right off the bat, and so I sent cover letters and resumes to several prospects that I gleaned off the Internet. To see the sources, see yesterday’s post. Like many blind posts, I probably will never hear anything about them, but if I don’t try, I’ll never get a follow-up.

My buddy at work, Pete Johnson, took me to another department and I got an interview for an admin role in the component engineering group.  Having friends who are looking out for opportunities is the best!

Not that I’m truly the “admin” (in the sense of a maternal office manager) type;  in fact, I told the manager that if the job involved making coffee, getting people to sign birthday or condolence cards, receiving pizza and flower deliveries,  cleaning out the refrigerator, or bringing doughnuts, then I’m not the best candidate.  (Actually, I didn’t use that many examples of what I’m not willing to do, but for dramatic effect, I am putting them down here.) I believe that organizations function much more smoothly when there are admins like that in place, and I have nothing but affection and respect for them. However, I’m not that kind of girl. (Ask my husband!) .

Anyway, the job opportunity here probably won’t lead anywhere, as much as I enjoy the people, and am willing and eager to try something new.  Three earlier candidates have been approved to Human Resources, but the manager hasn’t heard anything about them yet. I didn’t inquire as to whether the candidates turned down the opportunity or whether HR hadn’t gotten C-Level budget approval to hire them. According to the manager who interviewed me, he doesn’t know, either; he made it sound as if the HR department is a black hole.

A recruiter called me this afternoon about the aircraft maintenance tech writer position that is everywhere on the Internet. He confirmed that the contract is with Northrop Grumman; I told him that I already submitted my resume to the NGC careers site, but hadn’t heard anything. He offered to poke around to see whether it would be worthwhile to try to slide my resume to the hiring manager through his firm.  He said that he has direct access to the hiring manager, and that there are multiple openings coming up. If the company hasn’t been awarded the contract yet, it could be quite a while before anyone is hired. Regardless, I’m not holding my breath.

The day went much quicker for me just because I could accomplish something via email. And I didn’t need to face my greatest fear, which is cold-calling potential employers. Funny, when I was a vocational rehabilitation counselor, I had no difficulty doing that for my clients. But for myself, it’s very hard.

Wednesday afternoon: Been there, done that

Besides editing the current mega-manual I’m wrapping up this week for L-3 Communications Telemetry-West, I plugged away at job hunting online. I relied mostly on Google, Craigslist, and Indeed.com to unearth job openings, and on Twitter (via the TwitterFox plug-in for Firefox 3) and LinkedIn to read about (and then visit) useful sites for writing and developing print and online documentation.

I couldn’t access my Webmail from work today, so submitting applications and/or my resume was limited to doing it online only, not via email. That is so tedious, especially for employers who require a breakdown of every job I’ve done for the past umpteen years.  Nevertheless, I successfully applied to a Panasonic facility in Lake Forest, Calif., for a technical writing position.

Wednesday morning, 2 cool ideas

I scanned my LinkedIn group updates, and read recommendations for networking experts in reply to a request from a freelanced writer in one of my interest groups. I Googled the recommendations, and found two that I jumped on:

  • Jibber Jabber: A free online resource for storing and tracking job networking contacts. The “About Us” page says,  “It is…a personal relationship manager that allows you to do everything you need to do to manage a job search and optimize your network relationships – for the duration of your career!” I registered on the site and will upload my Outlook contacts. Can’t hurt!
  • Create a PDF of your LinkedIn recommendations. So easy, and you don’t need a full copy of Adobe Acrobat software to do it (although I have one)!

Tuesday’s Low-Hanging Fruit

I spent lots of energy today trolling my Internet network looking at available openings posted for writers, editors and instructional designers.  This is easy and safe, and doesn’t require much introspection. I searched Net-Temps.com, Craigslist.com, ContentWrangler.com, and Dice.com. Using the resume I updated yesterday, I submitted online applications to postings I found.

Using Ping.fm, I updated my status on Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace and LinkedIn. I exported my LinkedIn.com connections to a .csv file, and then imported them into Microsoft Outlook so that I can start an email marketing campaign. I know that nothing matches the personal touch when it comes to job hunting, but I feel a general shout-out can’t hurt. Plus, I want to see whether the LinkedIn method of making professional connections among people with shared interests and skills but without having heard one another’s voices can mine some real leads.

My project manager agreed today to write a recommendation for my work during the past six months; yesterday, the company’s documentation manager also said he would be glad to recommend me.  Asking for validation of my efforts is a little scary, but I would regret it if I didn’t ask for it.

Heneyni – here I am

I’m starting this blog as I enter job-hunting mode again. I’ve been here more times than I can count, and will use this blog to think out loud about this process, and comment on the process. Although I’m a professional writer, with a virtual keyboard and monitor running almost non-stop in my head, I am not a diarist. I prefer to write to and for others. I don’t enjoy recording my day-to-day recollections and musings for my own amusement.

However, before I earned my living (such as it is) as a writer, I was a professional career and vocational rehabilitation counselor. I know how to write resumes and cover letters; I rather enjoy job interviews; and I know my strengths and weaknesses as well as my career goals.

Since blogs are not meant to be private musings, but public ones, I mean to write to other “me”s out there.  I love what I do. I love the information that can be captured, and the connections that can be made on the Web.  Until I find the next project, contract, or staff position as a technical writer, editor and/or instructional designer, I’ll log what I think. I’ll write about how I feel. I’ll note any discoveries I make.

Perhaps seeing my words in a browser window, I might learn something about myself, my field, my goals, or the world at large that I didn’t know, or hadn’t realized before.

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