Monday, 19 September 2011

Status update - where I'm at

For most of this year I've relished the luxury of not having to work. It has given me time to relax, to write, to see friends, to spend time with family (especially my two young nephews), to exercise (but not, alas, to lose any weight). It's amazing how normal it feels to hang out (mostly) at home every day.

Some mornings (Tues, Thurs, Sat) I'm up early and off to the gym, other days it's considerably later when I drag myself out of bed. And I have other weekly rituals: Tuesday afternoons tend to involve writing in the pub; Wednesday mornings often include meeting my sister, her kids and usually my mum for coffee at Edna's Place; Fridays at 11am it's a walk along the beach with a friend, followed by lunch.

The rest of the time is filled up with other stuff: random lunch dates, shopping trips and outings, writing (and reading) blog posts . . . and, until the last couple of months, working on my latest novel project. (But you can probably see why I haven't got quite as much writing done as I planned - what with all the distractions.)

Unfortunately, my writing productivity has dropped off considerably in the past couple of months. "Protect your writing time," they say, and I thank every spiritual being under the sun for those Tuesday pub sessions, because without them I suspect I would have completely lost the plot (cliche and pun intended!). Tuesday afternoons are sacrosanct, but I am finding it increasingly hard to write outside of this session, no matter how determinedly I plan writing time into each day..

The Awful Task
The reason of course is the Awful Task of seeking gainful employment. I suspect it would not be such an awful task if a) I already had a job and could afford to wait until exactly the right job came up, b) I knew what exactly the right job was, c) it wasn't 10 years since I'd had to look for a job, d) I wasn't trying to transition careers more or less. Since all of these things apply, it's a total nightmare.

It's taken me a good two months to figure out what the hell I'm doing. I started out by consulting with a careers advisor . . . and while it was good to have some "therapy" I'm not sure it really achieved all that much. Then there was compiling the resume, which after 10 years was rather a task -- and remains an ongoing process as recruiters continue to offer suggestions as to how I should expand/improve it.

And then there's the process of convincing someone to employ you. Whether responding to advertised positions, talking directly to recruiters about what I'm interested in, or trying to network myself into a job, it's really hard.

The challenge for me is that my experience to-date is very "vertical" to use HR speak, which means I have a huge amount of experience and expertise in a relatively narrow field. Sure, I have transferable skills. Heaps of them. And I know that any organisation would be lucky to have me on their team.
But . . .


What I don't have is demonstrated experience (and in some cases knowledge) in all key selection criteria for the types of positions I think I'm interested at moving into. Employers are not interested in someone with the ability to learn core skills on the job. They want someone who already knows how to do the core skills. This is particularly the case with contract positions, which I've been investigating as a means of quickly gaining new skills (and some form of income stream). Fair enough, really.

This all leaves me in a not-fun place. Here am I with masses of ability and experience, lots to offer and no-one to appreciate it. I'm either too experienced (and expensive) for the generalist position that will allow me to diversify my skills while kicking butt on the other stuff, or not experienced enough in the areas that matter. I simply don't tick any of the boxes.

Now, I do not doubt that the right job is out there somewhere. But the process of finding it is mind-numbing and not a little soul-destroying -- and meanwhile I am seriously broke. My goal at the moment is to find something for the short term while I continue to look for something more suitable. (But even that is hard.) I am certainly considering a series of short courses to improve my knowledge in certain areas.

I am blogging all this for a few reasons: 

1) My well-meaning friends and family want to know where I'm at. They also want to help, want to give me pep talks. But I do not always want to talk about it. In fact I usually do NOT want to talk about it, because it makes me very grumpy. Nor do I always want to listen to advice, no matter how well-meaning. So please do not pepper me with public comments telling me what I should or should not do. But I thank you all for your continued support.

2) It's cathartic for me to write about it.

3) This blog is a record of my life milestones, and I want to be able to look back on this difficult period and appreciate that I got through it.

Final word
The upshot of all this is that I have little head space for writing my novel at the moment. I've been finding it impossible to focus, and instead have been grabbing hold of any little distraction (such as watching AFL games on TV I have zero interest in). Perhaps after downloading here today I finally have a clear-enough head . . . but then again I really should kick-off the Awful Task for this week.

I miss those weeks/months earlier in the year when I prioritised writing. Now my rhythm is all over the place and my creativity well is sucked dry.

But I have a habit of falling on my feet. This is merely part of my ten-year cycle of self reinvention and redefinition. I'm like a chrysalis, currently in my cocoon. When I emerge I will be transformed.


  1. Look! I keep telling you, just work at Bunnings for a bit. Then you can re-do you kitchen and bathroom economically once you've made "contacts" and you can quit when the real right job comes along. Why does no one listen to me? I know it's got absolutely nothing to do with your years of study or where you've worked so far but hey, it'll be fun...surely? Alright, alright, I'll shut up now.

  2. one of the brilliant things about long term friendship is that you have the privilege of witnessing your friends grow.
    i can't wait to see the outcome of your current metamorphosis.
    past experience tells me it’ll be bigger and brighter than any that has come before.
    in the meantime, hugs.

  3. Lita - I LOVE your idea of working at Bunnings. I mean, for the first time in my life, my husband might be keen to drop me off/pick me up from work. That would be wonderful!

    Ellen - totally understand the need to "download" your frustration onto your blog. Good job (oops, no pun intended). Best of luck - I have total faith in you.

    Cheers, A