Got a job!

April 22nd, 2009

After being unemployed since mid-December, I finally got a job last week as an IT project manager with Multnomah County. I’ll be working on a new system for the Juvenile Justice department, which sounds very interesting. Although it is a limited duration position (expected to be 1-2 years), I’ll be coming in as a regular employee with full benefits, which I’m very happy about.

Interestingly, for all that one reads and hears that most jobs are filled through networking, I got this by sending in my resume to a position that I saw posted on line. I found the listing through Indeed.com. Indeed is a site that aggregates job postings from a number of other sites – both other career sites such as Dice and Monster as well as individual company and organizational web sites. It’s very convenient and seems to pick up most of what’s out there. To make a long story short, I submitted an application (which was pretty extensive as it involved answering several essay questions), got called for a screening interview several weeks later, then was brought in for an in-person interview. At that stage, I was one of three finalists. The interview went well, and after they checked references and did a background check, I was offered the position. Of course you never know for sure why you do or don’t get a job, but in this case, I think it was primarily because I have a very strong IT PM background and of all things, because I also have a social work degree, and had some experience working both with adolescents as well as adults who were on parole. They were looking for somebody who had IT experience developing systems related to public safety. Nobody had that, so the fact that I had the social work experience scored points, since a number of the system users are mental health practitioners.

I start Monday, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to work!

Thoughts on being unemployed in this economy

March 4th, 2009

Yes, I’m one of the many people who are unemployed now, and our ranks seem to be growing every day.  It’s a scary time, and things can be stressful, but at the same time, I am trying to look at this as an opportunity.

In the past, I’ve never had to look very hard for a job.  They either came to me, or else I posted my resume on Dice and waited for the recruiters to come knocking at my door.  That doesn’t seem to be doing the trick in this environment.  One benefit of this is that it is forcing me to stretch outside of my comfort zone a little.  I’ve been making it a point to let just about everybody I know know that I’m looking for work.  I usually just  work it into conversations in a matter-of-fact way.  I’ve gotten some pretty helpful advice just by doing that.  I’m making more of an effort to keep in touch with former colleagues, figuring that the more people I stay in touch with, the better the chance they’ll think of me if some asks them if they know any good project managers.  Beyond that, it’s nice to stay in touch with people – something I haven’t always been very good about doing.

I’ve also been exploring the world of social networking more deeply, LinkedIn in particular.  An acquintance told me about some groups on LinkedIn that I might find useful and I’ve started participating in them to some extent.  I have connected with a couple of people that way and found out about job openings that I might not have otherwise.  I also decided that it might be helpful to try to connect with other people in the same situation, so I’m trying to form a job search support group here in Portland, OR where I live.

Beyond this, I’ve started to think more deeply about what I want to do with the rest of my life.  Although for the time being, I still would like to have a conventional job, I am interested in being self-employed and/or starting my own business eventually.  I’ve always been interested in web design and development, so I offered to create a website for my sister’s house painting business.  I’m still working on it, but it’s getting close to being ready to launch, and I’ve learned a ton by doing it.  I’ve also landed a paid gig helping an acquaintance develop a site for a small business that they are starting.  I also mention to anyone I can that I’m interested in doing web design and development and people are starting to seek out my advice and assistance which is rewarding.  One of the reasons I enjoy doing this is because it combines both the visual and artistic/creative with the technical and programming side.  I’ve always been interested in both technology and the arts and my dream is to combine them more in my daily work.

I figure that if all of these efforts lead to having my own business someday, great, and if not, I think the more knowledge and skills I develop, the more value I can bring to a future employer.

In addition to all that, I’ve been getting a little more involved in my music activities.  I sing with an a cappella choir called PDX Vox and have also joined a smaller a cappella group made up of PDX Vox alums. I’m starting to do some arranging and composing, and really enjoying that. I’ve wanted to do that all my life, and I’ve always believed that I could, but just never took the plunge until recently.

It’s strange, but I’m almost busier being unemployed than I was when I was working!

Welcome to my blog

March 4th, 2009

I’ve decided to start another blog to keep a record of my ideas and experiences.  If anyone else ever happens to find this interesting or useful, so much the better.  Also, I’ve been interested in creative and other kinds of writing for a long time, and although I haven’t done much with it lately, I have always remembered something one of my creative writing teachers said:  “writers write”.  That is actually a rather profound statement if you think about it.