Tag Archives: job fit

Women, Blacks and Computer Programming

I wasn’t planning on writing another post on this blog, with the exception of my “Bye” post–and the only reason that hasn’t gone up yet is because I don’t know what to write (other than “bye”). But I want to write at least a little bit more than that for the, what, two readers I have.

Perhaps it is not so bad that “it’s so hard to say goodbye,” or else I wouldn’t be posting the following, which may be enlightening to some who are interested in the following topic. And here it is:

So, I haven’t written a lot about this while keeping this blog, but I am attempting to transition into a career as a programmer or software (or web) developer. I’ve taken a couple of online classes, but I am sick of the online route and feel that I need something that is faster and more structured, as well as more in depth. This has led me to do some research on what is out there that might fit me.

I ran across some bootcamp classes, which…bootcamp sounds great to me. Nobody I’ve talked to about it seems to like the idea of my going to bootcamp. In fact, some of them don’t like it for some of the reasons why I love it, i.e. you learn a lot in a short amount of time. And, obviously, there’s the cost of bootcamp.

Anyway…not the point. The thing about the bootcamps is every bootcamp pic is full of whites and Asians, most of them male. These bootcamps are always like, “Oh, 95% of our graduates get jobs as developers within a few months of completing bootcamp”…but…all of their grads lack melanin, which leaves me wondering whether or not I’d be able to get a job after bootcamp (if I actually went). It’s not like I’m just black or just a woman and have at least sex or at least race in my corner–I’m both. This led me to do some more research–this time about women and blacks in this field.

Every time I search on this topic, I find articles and blog posts that wonder why blacks aren’t attracted to programming or why women aren’t majoring in Computer Science anymore. And there’s a lot of discussion, but I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen a–for lack of a better word–“correct” answer. So, I’m going to cut the bullschitt and tell you my truth.

Why didn’t I study Comp. Sci, and why do I think blacks don’t become programmers or developers?

1) Frankly? Every time I think of all of those whites and Asians in those bootcamp pics, especially the guys you could tell are super geeky, I seriously ask myself if I want to spend entire workdays–or even bootcamp–surrounded by a bunch of geeky whites and Asians with whom I have nothing in common but this one interest.

For one thing, I am not a geek. I’m a nerd. There’s a difference. I think people who are attracted to stuff like programming tend to be geeks. Geeks and nerds usually have different personalities and different interests. I think nerds have more of a mainstream quality to them, to the point where sometimes you have to get to know someone before you realize he/she is a nerd. I’m incredibly capable of fitting in with “average” people and having conversations that don’t go above everyone’s head about everyday things. When I tell jokes, they’re actually funny to “average” people. Stuff like that.

I’ve seen definitions that basically switch the meaning of “geek” and “nerd,” but this is based on my daily observations–I think nerds are basically just more intellectual (in a broad range of subjects) and more quiet than everyone else, but geeks flatout don’t make sense to other people, tend to specialize in their knowledge and look odd, to boot. Think Jessie Spano (nerd) vs Screech Powers (geek) from “Saved By the Bell.”

Now, some of the “reasoning” and guessing I’ve seen as to why women, for example, don’t head towards programming involves the perception that it’s “uncool” or “uncool” people work in programming. This is not what I’m saying, so don’t get it confused. I’m not cool, not interested in it. I don’t particularly believe women are looking for cool careers/co-workers, but I do think a lot of women want to feel comfortable at work…and there are many things I can see with programming that can lead to some discomfort. This is doubly true if you’re a black woman. I’m not a teenager anymore. I’ve socialized for a long time, have worked for a long time, around all kinds of people. It’s way too complicated for a blog post, so all I can tell you is that 1) I know enough to know that dropping a fairly normal black–or even white or Asian (but especially a black)–female into a geeky white-guy space is going to be kind of awkward for everyone involved, and 2) you’re going to have a hard time finding a black person or a woman who is truly an all-out geek or even truly a full-fledged nerd, which further exacerbates what would surely be an issue of cultural fit in the workplace. Let’s face it–if you went out geek profilin’, you’d be looking for white or Asian guys. You profile black men in a different way. There are reasons for this.

The thing about it is, as I’ve written time and time again, cultural fit makes or breaks you on the job. Nobody’s going to convince me otherwise–I believe hard/good work and skill level have ridiculously little to do with advancing on the job or being treated well/fairly–and I think this is something most people understand on some level. It can keep you from getting your foot in the door, which is what led to my questioning whether or not bootcamp post-employment would work for me quite the same way it allegedly works for white guys and Asian guys and a few token non-black women. And other times, you can get through the door but get treated differently than everyone else once you’re inside.

This is not to say that my concern is discrimination, per se. It really is more so thinking about the kind of people by which I’d be surrounded and the awkwardness of it due to my lack of geekiness, my race and my sex vs the geekiness, race and sex of others. Discrimination is mainly an issue, for me, in terms of even being able to get hired in the first place.

2) Um…I’m almost 33 years old. So…when I was in high school deciding what I might want to major in during college–and then when I went to college–I don’t really remember much in the way of computer programming being offered. Now, that’s not to say there wasn’t anything. But…you’ve got to admit, that kind of thing has gotten more popular, more mainstream, and it’s all thanks to the tech explosion. So, you had an exposure problem back then that doesn’t exist to the same degree anymore. Now with cell phones and cell phone apps everywhere, how can studying Comp. Sci or wanting to find out how to develop programs not cross anyone’s mind? Frankly, if it weren’t for Androids and the iPhone, I don’t think I’d be looking into programming or development. It still never really would have crossed my mind.

So why is it that the number of women majoring in Comp. Sci has actually dropped now? Beats me. I’m surprised women ever were majoring in it…or anyone else, for that matter. But more so women…which leads me to my next point…

3) It strikes me that, back in the day, if you ended up in programming, there had to be a way for you to learn about that field’s existence. It wasn’t like law or medicine or teaching, i.e. something that’s very visible, sexy and/or overly-discussed. Something had to make those people say, “Hey, how do I get into this?”

I think little boys get into things that make them ask that question more than little girls do. The best example I can think of is video games. And I’m not saying little girls don’t play video games. I played them, and I still do. Still, I’ve never been a “gamer” by any stretch of the imagination (I play sports games predominantly, which most gamers do not play). And “gamers” almost always are guys. Again, it’s like being a geek–there are female geeks, but they almost never completely capture the essence of being a geek the way so many guys do. Gaming is the same way.

My point is, if you play video games all the time and you love them, it’s your passion…eventually, you’re going to wonder about how to create a video game. Therefore, more little boys are going to wonder about it at some point and proceed to investigate how you can “create” games, programs, software.

Now, I think with the tech explosion and kids way too young to be having cell phones still having them…it’s going to be more of an equalizer for women and minorities, i.e. we’ll see more and more girls and young minorities grow up surrounded by and doing things that plant the programming seed. But when I was growing up? I don’t think that was the case.

The one thing I do still see is minority households–particularly black and Latino–seem to be less likely to have technology such as computers or cell phones in the home than everyone else. My sister, for example, has never had a computer with high-speed internet access in any of her homes (um, apartments). This means she has a 19-year old daughter who has never had a computer or laptop. She has kids who are even younger than that who have never had a computer or laptop. It’s unthinkable to me and probably to a lot of people. I actually grew up with computers, for the most part, and I don’t think most people my age can say that (I’m talking elementary school, we had a computer in the living room). It’s probably one of the reasons why I have been able to break into IT without a related degree or any certifications and perform as well as people who have Comp. Sci/IT-related degrees and certs. But kids like my sister’s kids? There’s no way in the hell they’re going to become programmers or for programming as a career to seriously cross their minds. Heck, I grew up with computers, and it never crossed my mind until the last few years.

4) One thing I will say [write]–and it has been flowing through this post without directly stating it–is that one thing people have to get over if they’re seriously going to discuss the lack of women/blacks in IT, including in programming…is that women are different from men and blacks are different from whites (and then, to go even further, black women different from white women and so on). The…end. I saw a blog post within the last week where the comments just kind of…[sighs]…got out of hand with this, “Well, women don’t have the brains for this…” and the “OMG, that’s ridiculous…” kind of stuff. I mean…I’m not even talking about brain chemistry. I’m talking about being raised a certain way, probably more than anything else, and then societal expectations/steering to some degree. I don’t have all the answers with that. I just think it’s a complicated, hard-to-explain thing, but if you’re going to talk about it or write about it you can’t ignore that there are just differences there. And the differences don’t just boil down to discrimination or mental capacity. I have articulated several of them.

5) Finally, one thing that keeps a lot of people from pursuing anything tech-related is the perception that it’s too hard to learn and some people just have some innate ability to “get” these things. But I think the best-kept secret is that technology is nowhere near as complicated as people act like it is. The geeks keep you well-fooled. They had me fooled for a while. Now I know that you don’t have to be a tech geek in order to understand some of this stuff and to do it for a living. The only thing that keeps jobs in the IT industry and IT people employed is people refusing to believe that and running to the nearest perceived tech geek for every little thing instead of figuring it out. I was one of the few people who would actually sit and figure stuff out, and google whatever I couldn’t (still do), and now I work in IT with a BA in psychology and a law degree. Now, some people aren’t smart enough to figure out anything tech-related, and that’s fine. But anybody who is pretty intelligent and who has the interest can get this stuff.

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Work-Life Balance and the Single Person

I’m starting to see what a lot of other single people, perhaps, already have learned–other people don’t think single people deserve work-life balance.

Now, I haven’t had anyone say this to me in person. But I have approached my current job a little bit differently than I have approached other jobs. I have indirectly let it be known that I am not one of those workers of whom you can just take advantage–that’s my friend Clara. I’m not worried about being the perfect employee or losing my job. I let people know that when the clock hits that time at the end of the workday, I’m gone.

Recently, a lot of changes have been made at my job. Essentially, everything I liked about my job is either now gone or likely will be very soon. The only thing that is still in the “very soon” category is a change being made to what time I have to be at work in the mornings and what time I get to leave in the afternoons. Nobody has told me that is about to change, but I’m not stupid. My job duties have completely changed, and the people I work with are totally different people.

They have me training with this guy, whom, I can tell, doesn’t seem to understand what my hours are at work. He’s the kind of guy who is very into his job, very dedicated. I’m not like that, especially not now that my employers have f*cked my job all up with these changes. Plus, I’m a contract employee and he’s not…so why should I be dedicated when my employer is not dedicated to me? You think this is true for every job. You also think it’s true that changes occur at every job. But neither of these things in a regular job is like how they are in a contract position. There is absolutely no stability in a contract job in any sense, no regularity or uniformity–you do whatever they want whenever, regardless of what you’re told in the beginning about the position or what you’re told while working the position. Contract jobs might as well never have job titles, at least not in IT, because the title won’t apply for long (if ever). And then to top it off, most contract jobs eventually end, usually in a year or less. Now that I understand this about how employers yank their contractors here, there and yonder with no regard for them, I will not be taking contract IT jobs ever again.

Given all of this, it should be of little surprise that I care little about what the company’s needs are, what their customers’ needs are. I will probably be getting tossed out of the company after my contract is up, regardless of how well I do, and I wouldn’t necessarily like to have my contract renewed there anyway. I plan to move to another city/state, and that has been my plan for a while and I am applying for jobs in those places…even have one interview lined up. So, I care about putting in my 8 hours and then getting the hell out of there. And even with a permanent position, frankly, I’d be the same way and have been the same way.

Every day this week, I’ve had to let this guy who is training me know that I get off work at X time, because he talks as if I’m going to still be around after that time or like I have time to stick around a little later and do XYZ. I flatout told this guy, “My supervisor said my hours are still the same, so until they say different I’m out at [X] time.” This afternoon, one of the other guys I now work with, this creepy guy, assumed I would still be around late, and my trainer heard me tell him what time I leave. Immediately, my trainer was like, “You’re ready to go home, aren’t you? Do you have kids you’re taking trick-or-treating tonight?” because it’s Halloween in the US.

Look, I know what that question really was–trying to find out if I have kids and is that the reason why I am adamant about leaving work at a certain time. Because having kids is the only legitimate reason for running away from your job, don’t you know. Especially if you’re a woman. My friend Clara lets people know she can’t stay late because of her son all the time or she’s leaving early because of her son, and people accept that. But with me, people are wanting to know why I “have” to leave at X time.

Three things:

1) Halloween is a fake holiday. It’s one of the most pointless days I’ve ever known. I especially can’t stand how there are grown adults who “celebrate” Halloween; they need to grow the f*ck up. Nobody should pay any attention to it, in my opinion, so it’d never have a thing to do with why I’m leaving work.

2) There’s so much wrong with thinking only parents have a legitimate reason to run off from work, including the fact that they probably are actually the main ones who need the damn money if they’re going to see any overtime pay from staying late. The average single person just has bills. Parents have bills and expensive-@ss kids. Yet parents are actually the main ones always trying to leave work early or on time. This guy at my job basically has a newborn, and ever since he had that kid he has never again worked a full day not called Monday (our busiest day) on the job. Yet he says he doesn’t have enough money. He’s an hourly contractor…hmm, he’s leaving after 4-5 hours of work…wonder why he’s not making anything.

He and I need to swap hours. Working 4-5 hours most days is my kind of schitt. They should have put someone like him in my new position (and they could have, but didn’t–wonder why?), where they’re talking about working overtime (which I loathe) and Saturdays (which is just sacrilegious and damn-near something to walk out the door over, especially if you love college football more than anything, as I do). Plus, let’s be real–who is more hands-on with babies and kids, moms or dads? What the hell does he need to be at home all the time for? All he’s going to do is say, “Here, hon, the baby is crying” or “Here, hon, the baby needs to be changed,” hand the kid to the mother and then go sit down in front of the TV or the computer. Sorry, men–I have had this kind of convo with dads before, and you guys just have no idea how little dads help with or do for their kids compared to the kids’ mother.

Ironically, the exact reasons why I don’t have kids are because I don’t want to have to care for anyone–financially or in any other way–and because I want a life and because I want my life to be about me. That includes work–I don’t want a life that is about work. This is where “work-life balance” comes in. Everyone I know who looks on the bright side when it comes to working overtime is a parent–usually, a man–and it’s always about the money.

My observation about women has been that women who have kids tend to know on some level that their life is not theirs anymore, it’s not about them–so they don’t even think that way. They think in terms of what their kids (or husband) need, what’s best for their kids. Kids need things that cost money, however much time you’d rather spend with them. My observation about men is that the vast majority of men care more about making money than the vast majority of women do, for a variety of reasons–probably the three biggest are status, attracting women and what they were taught about being a man growing up. As a single female, I have totally different concerns, concerns that really don’t involve making money. These different concerns leave me trying to figure out how to explain to the moms, dads and single men I know why I value my free time far more than I value the extra money I’ll get by working on Saturday (the extra money being something I don’t value at all). Yet all of them will be home on Saturday or enjoying some activity outside the home and outside of work.

3) Why do I “have” to leave at X time? Because that’s what time I’m scheduled to leave. And I have every right to leave at that time. Whether or not I have kids is immaterial.

One more point before I go–not too long ago, I was reading an article online where the author wondered why people speak of “work-life balance.” Is working really so bad and do people hate their jobs so much that they need to categorically separate it from the rest of their life, the author wondered. At that point, I wondered where in the hell this author has been her entire working life. Seriously, she must be part of the lucky 10-15% of people who loves their job. Ever notice how it’s always writers with real writing jobs, always entertainers who have officially “made it,” always people who work in the media, always people who make big bucks who love their jobs? Gee, I wonder why. No wonder they can’t relate. I know they didn’t start at the top, but the point is they’re there now and now they don’t “get it.”

Pay me a ridiculous amount to dish sports on ESPN three hours a day, and see how much I love my job. Pay me to write ridiculous articles about how I can no longer relate to mere commoners who need work-life balance because I make enough money to actually pay bills and eat as a writer as opposed to having to write on the side like 90% of writers do (myself included). Or how about those ridiculous articles about “do what you love for a living”? You do know that the average person “loves” things that either don’t pay, don’t pay enough to make a living or require expensive schooling only to be shut out of jobs because that person has never had a job in that industry, right? Oh, I forget–you no longer relate to the mere commoner because you’ve got the rare cushy, enjoyable writing job that actually pays bills.

Over the past week, I’ve confirmed that, yes, work and life have to be separated for most people, including myself. I am largely in that category where what I’d love to do generally doesn’t pay enough to make a living (writing and/or technical repair). I would agree with people who say to find a job you can tolerate, but that’s easier said than done. So, my best solution is to find a job I can actually do for the most amount of money I can get, because if I’m going to hate every job I get at some point then I might as well focus on the money. It’s not easy, because caring about money isn’t my nature. But I made more money at my last job, and the positives to that were now I have surpassed my initial savings goal and am on to my next savings goal (which I am close to meeting)…and I have still been able to buy everything I want (except a Mercedes), take trips everywhere I’ve wanted to go and enjoy myself outside of work. Although I hated my last job, it created a pretty decent work-life balance and I never had to work late or on Saturdays.

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Operation Find A Job Pt. 6–More Realistic Standards

6) You Need To Lower Your Standards. When all else fails, perhaps before you dip into being less than honest, check into your standards. A lot of people who have degrees have a standards problem, and a lot of people who had good jobs but got laid off have a standards problem. People with degrees want to go directly from college to a job that pays at least $50,000 a year, and people who had a job paying at least $50,000 a year want another job that is exactly like the one they lost that pays the same as or more than what they were making before.

Sorry. But you gotta do what you gotta do if you’ve been looking for a job for a long time and nothing has worked. If that means taking a pay cut, you take a pay cut. If that means doing something different in a different field for a living, do something different in a different field for a living. If that means doing something for which you perceive yourself to be overqualified, then you take a job for which you’re overqualified.

I also think people have incorrect ideas about being overqualified/underemployed. I could easily say I’m overqualified for the work I do. In fact, my “best work friend” Clara often talks about how a lot of people where we work have degrees and are overqualified, which is definitely true for her (she has an IT degree and has worked better IT jobs with higher pay prior to this one). But to me, unless their degree is in IT, Computer Science, Computer Engineering or anything like that, they are not overqualified–they are alternatively qualified, like me. IT has nothing to do with what I studied in school–nothing at all. So, taking entry-level IT positions doesn’t make me overqualified just because I have a college degree and a professional degree. In fact, when you’re making a career change or trying to break into a field that is different from the one for which you prepared in school, you’re going to have to start at the bottom in that field. You don’t just get to skip over step 1 because you’re past step 1 on a totally different track.

And even still, I’ve noticed that a lot of people with IT-related degrees had to start with the same garbage IT jobs I have worked. So, in a way, I am doing better than these people are because they spent years in school studying this schitt and are exactly where I am. At some point, will someone get an IT job over me because they have a related degree plus the experience? Yeah, I’m sure. That’s the way it should be, though. I still have every confidence that I will be fine in my chosen field. If that’s not the case, I will go back to [a cheap] school.

I’ve seen a lot of people turn down jobs because they “only” pay $12/hr. Um. So, remaining unemployed is somehow better than making $12/hr? Get over yourself. It looks worse when you’re applying for jobs to have a big gap on your resume, or to admit you’ve sat around doing nothing but applying for jobs, than to work a $12/hr job. In fact, you eventually reach a point where not having a job keeps you from getting one. So, get over your degree or your previous job and take that job that’s not good enough for you. And if you already have a gap, you might have to take my advice about being less than honest (see “Operation Get A Job” Post #2).

I’m not one to hate on certain majors, but most majors are general and don’t career-track you–at least not without getting a masters degree or Ph.D or another advanced degree (and oftentimes, not even those advanced degrees help). The mistake a lot of college grads make is they take a general degree and apply for all kinds of jobs that seem “prestigious” without having anything to show as to why they’re qualified for these positions, just thinking a college degree or a nice school name should do the trick. They don’t. As mentioned in #1, you’re predominantly “qualified” for low-paying jobs that have a customer-service aspect to them. You’re almost certainly not going to be able to take an English or philosophy degree into a healthcare or business position (love English and philosophy–minored in both and enjoyed them immensely, particularly English courses–I respect these subjects, but I’m just being honest and realistic). I know it’s a hard pill to swallow for new grads when they start realizing this, but this is how it is now.

If you have to move back in with your parents, move back in. If you have to work two jobs, work two jobs. You gotta do what you gotta do. Let go of your ego and your expectations, and stop worrying about appearances–these things are getting in your way.

Pt. 1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

Pt. 2–Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

Pt. 3–You Don’t Know How To Apply

Pt. 4–You Need To Learn How To Interview

Pt. 5–What Employers Value

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Putting People In Their Place

I don’t care where you work or what you do for a living, it seems like there’s always something about your job. Right now, I’m realizing there are some crazy people where I work. And I had to verbally jack one of them up last week in front of several people. Or as my mother says, I cursed him out without using curse words.

Because I am sure I don’t have many regular readers, let me just explain these key things first:

1) My attitude at my blog is generally pretty different from my attitude in person. Here, I’m always saying I can’t stand people and am always cursing and being an @ss. In person, I am quiet and pretend to be friendly. Yes, pretend. I’m so-fucking-not. I just want most people to fuck off. But because being sociable and agreeable are damn-near job requirements nowadays (especially in most of my previous jobs, which had strong customer service elements), I know that I have to cool it at work, be fake to some degree and then just come to my blog and complain or complain to my work friend Clara.

2) In general, I don’t actually have trouble getting along with people. Ironically, the closer I am to someone to whom I’m not related, the more difficulty I have getting along with them. This especially and particularly applies to my girlfriends. But people with whom I work and other people I barely know? If I have an issue with them, I’m never the only one who does–which indicates that person is the real problem.

3) As a black female, there is a part of me that doesn’t like to get bitchy with people, especially in front of other people and especially if those people are not black and/or are male. When men go off, it’s okay. When women go off, they’re being emotional. When black women go off, they’ve got an attitude problem or are “difficult.” In other words, as a black person and a woman, I inevitably become a stereotype. And whatever I say in anger may be correct and valid, but it gets lost in the stereotype and nobody cares what I say or said.

4) Admittedly, at my current job and at my previous job I take/have taken off work a lot and leave early a lot. At my previous job, it was largely because I had a bit of a health scare and was going to the doctor…and then it was because I was looking for another job. At my current job…my last post mentions how I went to Michigan for a football game a few weeks ago, and I wrote that I would have quit my job if I’d been told I had to work instead of going on my trip. That’s simply because, recently, my mentality has become that I don’t want my life to be work-eat-sleep. I’m not married, don’t have kids, don’t have obligations other than student loans. I want to spend as much of my time as possible doing things that are worth it and things I like to do, and being at work is not one of those things. The Michigan trip was incredible, and I need to do things like that more often–I don’t need to sit around saying, “I can’t take off work” like I used to do. I cried off and on for a while when I left Michigan–at the airport, on the plane, at home–which means I am not there enough…I definitely miss it, so the trip would have been worth my job. I focus on doing my job well and completely when I’m there, and then I leave when I don’t have anymore work to do.

All that out of the way, allow me to connect the dots. There’s this @sshole at work. He’s Filipino. He’s a lazy fuck who spends 25% of the work day messing with his iPhone instead of working and another 30% of the work day completely away from his workstation instead of working–including longer-than-allowed lunch breaks. And he’s the type of guy–I think we all know him–who doesn’t run schitt but really is self-important and badly wants to run schitt…and, thus, acts as if he runs schitt when he doesn’t. I thought only white guys did this, but I was wrong. Oh, and he’s not just an @sshole–he acts like a little bitch. He whines. He goes on and on long after he should. And he will run and tell, even though he’s in his mid-40s.

I mentioned here when I first started that job that I don’t have a lot of work to do. That’s still true so many days. At some point, to get more work my work friend Clara–who is really now more like my best friend, work or no work–showed me how to do part of her job and I do that. She has shown me more and more, until now I know how to do most of what she does and do most of it. So, she had to find work to do and started helping Lazy Fuck and this other chick, Sharon, with their work–which I think she did mainly to help Sharon, who usually has a lot of work and is friends with Clara (Clara, Sharon and I hang out, but, really, I only consider Clara my friend). When I would run out of work, I started helping Lazy Fuck and Sharon, too. This was before I knew we could get away with going home early, to be honest with you. I am fine with helping others, to a degree, but I’d rather be at home, frankly.

Lately, Lazy Fuck has been acting as if Clara and I work for him and as if we’re obligated to help him and Sharon. He acts like this even if we have other work to do, especially with Clara. One day last week, I had almost finished my work, looked around and saw that there didn’t really seem to be much work left for others to do–including Lazy Fuck (LF). So, I decided I’d go home when I was done. LF comes over and asks me to help him. The amount of work he had was nothing he couldn’t handle with the amount of time left in the day, so, basically, this @ss was wanting me to do his work while he goes and socializes with other Filipinos or is nowhere to be found, like usual. So, I said I was leaving, and he started questioning me about what time I arrived at work like he was my boss and telling me he wants me to stay and help from now on.

That’s when I started getting pissed, but I didn’t say anything. Clara and I basically do him a favor–we don’t work for him, and our supervisors never told us we’re supposed to do the kind of work with which we help LF and Sharon. On top of it, like I wrote before, he spends more than 50% of the day not actually working. So, naturally, Clara (who is also Asian) and I start talking about all of this because LF was getting more and more persistent and harassing about “helping” him and Sharon, even when they don’t have a lot of work.

The next time he approached me about helping, he wouldn’t take no for an answer, even though I told him I had other work to do. I tried to ignore him, I really did–but he wouldn’t shut up or leave me alone. So I blasted his @ss, because I decided that I wasn’t about to put up with being harassed on a regular basis. And that didn’t even include telling him about how lazy he is and how he needs to do his own work, which I wish I had remembered to include. I basically told him 1) I don’t want to hear that “team work”/”help others” schitt because that’s bullschitt–plenty of people around there don’t help other people, and he doesn’t ask anyone else to “help” except for me and Clara, 2) he ain’t no-fucking-body, so he needs to quit giving me orders and get the fuck out my face, and 3) when I decide to help out at work I make the choice on where I help, unless my actual supervisors tell me otherwise. No means no. Now take the curse words out, and that’s pretty spot-on what I told him…but “get the fuck out of my face” was unmistakably in my voice.

So far, intended result achieved. So, it was worth it. And if I have to do it again, I will.

But Clara harped on it all day after I did it because she was shocked, including “joking” about me killing everyone at work, and Sharon was making indirect comments implying that I should have just ignored LF and needed to calm down or I overreacted. No, Sharon’s just a fucking wimp who, apparently, will put up with being harassed by people. And Clara was probably shocked, as was LF when I told him to go away (yes, I actually said that–twice), because people make assumptions about quiet people. “Quiet” doesn’t mean I won’t curse you out when you deserve it. It doesn’t mean I will let you run over me, either, especially given that I want most people to fuck off to begin with. Clara doesn’t believe me when I tell her I don’t like people, and I remember she told me about a month or so ago that I am just “shy” and have “trouble expressing” myself. Err…no. There was absolutely no trouble with expression when I lit into LF.

Listen, people–especially women–it’s okay to speak up and not take bullschitt. Most of the time, it works out for the best when you let people know bullschitt time is over. Every time I can recall going off on someone in the past few years, I’ve gotten my way as a result (except romantic relationships, and sometimes even then). So, so what if some people see me as an overly-emotional woman or a black bitch? It’s better than being, as I said, a wimp who tries to justify it by saying “just ignore it.” Ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away. Sometimes you can talk things out with people rationally and get your way, but sometimes you can’t or you’re put in a position where you snap. And with some men, you have to be a complete @ss for them to get the message–and I think LF was one…especially since he still harasses Clara the same way he used to harass me.

And don’t be like so many people who talk about what they’re going to do and then they never stand up to anyone, or who complain to everyone and never do anything about it. Clara does both of these things, in my opinion, though she tells people off to some degree–just not like I do it.

Clara has said before that she likes to be liked, and I’m sure that’s why a lot of people don’t “start” mess. Of course, I don’t really give a fuck about being liked–I’m the wrong race and wrong sexual orientation (and the wrong race/sex combination) to care about that kind of schitt anyways, so plenty of people–probably most–already don’t like me. Plus, it’s not as if I like them. But you–you win some, you lose some. Not everyone will like you, and they don’t have to. So, don’t keep making excuses and putting up with garbage.

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The Cheerful vs The Sleepyheads: Saying Good Morning

[To learn 6 reasons why someone might not like to say “Good Morning,” feel free to skip down to the bold print]

I am not always particularly grouchy when I’m sick, but this time around I am. I have been an @ss this week at work, which is what keeping this blog is supposed to prevent. I am quite a bit more “leave me the hell alone”-ish than usual, which means I’m not going to bother acting with co-workers the way I normally do. One of the things I can’t begin to fake this week is all this “Good Morning” bullschitt.

I remember sitting in my sister’s house in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, whining to her and my mother about how I can’t stand all that “Good Morning,” “Good Morning,” “Good Morning” nonsense I face when I get to work. This was never really anything that annoyed me until I began my current job. I mean…my previous job, for example, was in a corporate environment. People would come in and go to their cubicles and maybe screw around for a bit before they actually started to work. A couple of people might say “Good Morning” to me, but not many. Because it was so few people, I could muster enough energy to at least nod.

My current job is at a big warehouse, where we work on all kinds of electronics. We work in sections…you know, you sit by the people who have the same manager as you. There are maybe 11 or 12 people in my section, and it’s not even just these people who want to say “Good Morning” and receive a response–it’s, like, almost every-fucking-person in the warehouse. Man, I can’t hang, and now “Good Morning” makes me want to pull my hair out.

Being sick, today I was basically like, “Fuck this schitt,” and ignored some people. Then, being sick, it’s not as if I feel like doing any work or am particularly scared of getting fired (because at least I can go get in the bed)…so I did what I always do when I get intellectually curious about a topic and whipped out the ole SG3 and googled people’s opinions on this “Good Morning” schitt.

Once again, I find a huge gap in understanding between people who aren’t into “Good Morning” and people who like to say it. You know me–I like to try and bridge these lack of understandings.

So, let’s talk about this discussion thread where, like, 90% of the responders are overreacting about people not saying “Good Morning” back to them. I’ll provide a few quotes and then respond.

Lately, it has apparently become OK to be really rude to coworkers, especially first thing in the mornings.
I have a few coworkers that won’t say a damn thing when I greet them in the morning. They’ll look right at me, and they definitely hear me, but they don’t say a word–not even a “go to hell” from them.
Am I getting worked up over nothing? I don’t have thin skin, and I’m not particularly a morning person myself. But I do think it’s common courtesy to be polite to folks.

Well, is it rude? Maybe. I’m sure I have greeted or acknowledged someone before and they didn’t respond or acted as if they didn’t see/know me, and I’m sure I felt the person was an @ss. But you know what? I just told myself not to greet/acknowledge that person again and shook it off. One of my mottos in life is to treat people the way they treat you. I take my cues from other people when it comes to social interaction, meaning I will do what they do to me only, which means I act different ways with different people and treat everyone differently. I read personalities. And I act and react accordingly.

So, basically, my thought is you don’t have to say “Good Morning” to everyone. If you like to say “Good Morning,” I think you should say it to the people who seem receptive to it and simply leave other people be without getting offended or too offended. It is simply a personality difference.

Along the same lines…

Just my opinion here, but i always feel a “Vibe” from people who are deliberately being rude. I would prefer to get along with everyone(Especially in a working envoirnment), but it’s just not realistic. There will always be people that are not happy no matter what. In this particular case, i wouldn’t say a word after they ignorned me. And i also wouldn’t say “Good morning” or much else to them unless it was required for a task at work. Shrug it off, and consider it one less “personality” to put up with.
It’s one of 2 things. Either they don’t hear you, which you stated you don’t think is the case. Or they don’t respect you enough to be polite. If i respect someone, i do my best to be polite even when i’m in a bad mood(Aka morning time).

There are a lot of comments in that thread where people talk about those who don’t respond or don’t respond “correctly” as being rude, miserable, grumpy, unhappy, disrespectful, hateful…or whatever. Not saying “Good Morning” doesn’t always have anything to do with these things. It doesn’t mean you can’t get along with this person. This person just doesn’t want to, for whatever reason, say “Good Morning.” I will provide several of my own reasons in a little bit. But a lot of these responses are people reading too much into someone’s lack of response, and reading incorrectly, might I add.

Look, I’m from the South, so I believe in good manners. But there’s a fine line between manners (or if you want to call it “polite”/”common courtesy”) and trying to force something on people, which is why I say to greet the people who are open to it and leave others alone. If you keep greeting people who never greet you with an expectation regarding behavior, then you are moving over from having good manners to trying to force someone to respond the way you want them to based on your thought processes…and you can’t force people to do anything. You might think everyone should say “Good Morning,” but not everyone believes that. I’m not going to go to New York and lecture people about how they need to do things us Southerners believe is right because it’s what we were taught growing up. Indeed, I adjusted to how people behaved in the Midwest when I lived there and didn’t get on the internet all offended because it wasn’t the case that 80% of all strangers were grinning in my face like they do in the South. My sister and I talked about it when we both lived in the Midwest, and she used to think people in the Midwest were rude. But after being there 10 years I think she has adjusted, as well.

In other words, what you might consider “common courtesy” is still an opinion and a belief system–it’s far from being American culture or the law. There will always be people who don’t subscribe to what you think is common. I wonder how these “Good Morning” people would feel if I said I think they are complete annoying morons for being so damn happy early in the morning, which is totally what I think. It wouldn’t be tolerated, even though they expect us to tolerate them and the opinions in that thread. Still, I’m not the one whose opinion when they say “Good Morning” makes me damn-near want to report them to my manager and never speak to them again. It’s crazy.

I dont like the grumpy morning people, but it seems like many people are grumpy in the morning. So i just let it slide.
Funny thing is, most of the grumpy people are NON-coffee drinkers.
Maybe they should try a 1/2 cup in the morning. hahaha

Yeah, no. It’s true, I don’t drink coffee…and I’m not about to. Coffee not only tastes bad, but it makes your breath stink. Yeah, I said (wrote) it. Your breath stinks, coffee guzzler. Plus, like I’m really about to start drinking nasty-@ss coffee to accommodate your need to hear “Good Morning” back from me. Get a life, because this is why I think you’re a moron–you want me to change to accommodate you. There are plenty of people willing to say “Good Morning” to you, so fuck off the ones who aren’t.

Boy, if that’s the biggest problem you have at work I’d say count your blessings and enjoy your good fortune…

I mean, seriously. And you people think I like to complain about nothing.

So, why don’t I want to say “Good Morning” to you?

1) First and foremost, there’s no such thing as a “good morning.” In other words, “I’m not a morning person.” But “there’s no such thing” is far more accurate, to me. There is absolutely nothing to be happy about at 7am, people. Fair point about being happy to see another day, but, then again, it’s not as if I’m life’s biggest fan, in case you couldn’t tell by the name of my blog.

Now, does not believing in good mornings make me a grumpy @sshole in general? Not really. You just need to wait to say “Good Morning” to me until, at the earliest, 10am. In fact, not only do I not want to say “Good Morning” to you as soon as I step foot in the door, I don’t want to say anything to you. I want to find a nice little four-wall enclosure and hide in it. Has nothing to do with not liking you, respect, or anything but not understanding why in the hell work starts so fucking early and lasts so fucking long. Baby, at 7, 8 and 9am, I am still mentally, vocally and emotionally asleep. Get over it.

2) I don’t have the energy. For one thing, it doesn’t matter what time I go to sleep, I am a night owl by nature…so I physically will not be “all there” in the mornings, no matter what. Add to that 50 million people wanting a greeting, and I really don’t have the energy.

This point about energy is especially important for the “just be polite and say it back” crowd. Anytime you’re being, doing, saying something you don’t mean, it takes more energy than being sincere. Being fake is a lot of work, and I should know because I don’t naturally fit any of the “supposed to”s when it comes to personality at work. I have to spend so much of my day pretending and talking when I don’t feel like it, and that’s already for the sake of what other people want from me since it matters so much in keeping your job nowadays. So, if you’re asking me to be a little more fake first thing in the morning, basically 30-45 minutes after I’ve woken up, put energy I don’t have into getting ready for and getting to work, and already not being a morning person…it’s not going to happen…especially not with the quantity of people expecting it.

3) I think there’s a difference here between people who like their job and people who don’t, or at least people who like the people at their job. If you wake up in the morning happy to go to work, you’re more likely to be a “Good Morning” person. If you wake up in the morning liking what you do, same thing. If you wake up knowing you’re about to interact with and have some laughs with this person or that person, same thing.

My personal philosophy is work is work; it’s nothing to like. I can’t deal with hating a job or a job that makes me physically ill, which is how my last two jobs were (migraines every day). But there’s never going to be anything that makes me want to get up in the morning and go to work, as far as a job. I would always rather get up and watch “Mike & Mike” and “The Herd” on ESPN–always. The closest I’ve gotten to hopping up out the bed happy in the morning to go to work is when I had a co-worker on whom I had a crush, and that was years ago. I have friends at work and everything, but I can so do without them. People who thrive on social interaction far more than I do will look forward to seeing their work friends more than I do. I wake up saying, “I can’t wait to come home”…and that’s before I even leave the house (or the bed). [Shrugs]

4) If you have a problem with people who don’t respond to “Good Morning,” think about how many people are at your job. I’ve mentioned quantity several times. If someone is like me, i.e. not outgoing or very sociable, or not into mornings, having several different people come by expecting you to talk to them gets so…annoying. As I mentioned, there’s only so much energy you can gather if you don’t have it. Speaking to 15 different people in the first hour or so of work is exhausting if it’s not naturally your thing. So remember, you’re not the only one coming at this person.

5) What I really don’t get and can’t stand is…I’m sure some of these people who are throwing a huge fit about people not responding to “Good Morning” are people who never speak to you otherwise throughout the day. In that case, I especially don’t feel I “owe” you any effort or speech in the morning. For me, people who work in my section are different from these other people who walk by throughout the day. My friends are different, and people who have been very nice or helpful to me since I’ve been at this place are different. I am far more likely to scrounge up the energy to say something to people in my section, my friends and people who have done something for me. I don’t fucking know all these other people, which is all the more reason for them to not throw a hissy fit. So, if you’re losing it over some very random person not acknowledging you, you really need to stop and smell the nasty-@ss coffee.

6) Almost forgot…this stuff about “common courtesy,” being rude or polite, etc…these same people whining, I’m sure, do plenty of things that others can consider rude and don’t do other things that people consider common courtesy–things that are probably more important than saying “Good Morning.” The most common thing I see people do, which I think is rude and inconsiderate, is linger in the way. Sometimes people look right in your face and then continue barely moving when you’re trying to get somewhere. When I was in school, students commonly hogged sidewalks and doorways and never thought anything of it all the while others are needing to get by. Today, one of those “Good Morning” b!tches did this, and in the mood I’m in this week I know I said out loud something like, “Gosh, get the fuck…out…of…the…way“…just don’t know if it was loud enough to be heard, as I had my earphones in my ears playing music.

Different strokes…she appreciates a “Good Morning” while I appreciate people moving their self-centered @sses when they see other people in need of the same space. That’s all.

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Operation Find A Job Pt. 5–What Employers Value

5) You Don’t Know What Employers Value. Probably the biggest misconception out there is about education. A lot of people who struggle with finding a job think they are not educated enough. Some of them have never attended college while others already have a degree and are thinking about going back to school. Throwing education at unemployment is not the answer, especially if you’d have to go into debt to do it. I know there are some cities in the US where you’ll see a lot of job ads that want someone with a college degree. But honestly, a lot of those jobs pay a salary you can make without a college degree at a job that doesn’t require one. And I’ve had a few jobs like that–many of them, if not all of them, had employees who either didn’t have a degree or who were currently in college.

Also, look carefully at various job ads some time. Many of the ones that ask for a degree also ask for some years of work experience. Unless it is one of those fields that requires a degree, i.e. nursing, teaching or law, the degree is optional and the work experience matters way more. Indeed, you can have that nursing or law degree or a degree related to teaching and still struggle to get hired because you lack a couple of years of work experience.

I’m not saying don’t go to college–at least not in this post, because I virtually grab people all the time and try to tell them not to go to college when they question it. Just understand that college is no longer the direct path to getting a good and well-paying job, because, unfortunately, so many people don’t know this before they take out huge student loans and proceed on towards a degree.

I was reading a blog a few weeks ago, and the blogger kind of made fun of people who complain about how expensive and worthless degrees are by saying, basically, “Well, then just don’t go to college. Duh.” Well, duh some more–people complain about degrees after they’ve already gone to college, not before. People don’t really go to college to party–I’d like to think most people aren’t going to take on 5-figure debt just for four years of having fun. They go because they think it will secure their future, or because their parents make them go because their parents think it will secure their future (happened to my oldest sister). If they knew before the fact that it does not necessarily do this, colleges would be a lot emptier. Unlike the blogger who was poking fun, I don’t view this as entitlement, either–or, perhaps I do but don’t see anything wrong with feeling entitled to what you were indirectly or directly promised (if not by your school or your parents, by society), which was not unemployment or working for $8/hr somewhere after graduation when you could have worked there for $8/hr before the fact.

So, I am simply saying don’t think college is the answer to your unemployment woes and, thus, start trading job applications for college applications. You need to understand that work experience matters more than college and graduate degrees in most cases. Go back to square one, and go through my first three pieces of advice on finding a job before you start applying to college or graduate programs. If you’re on point in regards to #1-4 and you’re still struggling, then it might be time to consider #6…

Next Time: Pt. 6–Time To Get Real[istic]

Pt. 1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

Pt. 2–Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

Pt. 3–You Don’t Know How To Apply

Pt. 4–You Need To Learn How To Interview

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Forced Socializing At Work

Last year, I wrote about how I did a little online research to find out exactly how introverts are perceived at work, and I responded to some of the opinions I found online in this post. One of the points I made is about how employers seem to be incorporating personalities and being sociable into work environments, which is quite disadvantageous to introverts.

One thing employers like to do nowadays is force socializing. For example, sometimes you have after-work parties and everyone is expected to be there. The thought that someone wouldn’t want to be there never crosses the organizer’s mind. The job I had prior to my last job–the one I had while I wrote the post to which I link above–forced socializing at times. I remember on my last day working there, the other techs had been called into one of the owners’ office to talk about some after-work holiday party–either Thanksgiving or Christmas, can’t remember. As if you don’t spend enough time with people at work…yeah, you really want to show up after work to hang with them some more.

And not long before I left that place, there was some other little thing forced on us…I can’t remember why, but we were all expected to bring a dish–not even just bring one, but actually cook it. Oh, yeah, it was a Potluck. Fuck that schitt, man–I don’t cook. But the b!tch who organized it would have been pissed if I declined to bring something, because she was precisely that type of woman. In fact, I think she sent me and a few other people an email after a while because we hadn’t signed up yet, and, if I remember correctly, in the email she claimed we didn’t have to bring anything. But you could tell–we were indirectly being pressured. You better believe I headed to Kroger, purchased a little thingy of potato salad, put it in a plastic tupperware container as if I had prepared it and was done with those b!tches.

This was that place where everyone I worked with was white, and I noticed cultural differences all the time. This Potluck was one of those times. For some reason, the old[er] non-tech bitties and I ended up talking about how my father is a better cook than my mother and how my mother almost never cooks. They started with all this crap like, “Oh, my gosh, a woman who doesn’t cook…how do you keep a man” or whatever they said, but that was basically the gist. They couldn’t fathom a woman not cooking. And this is cultural both racially and generationally. I’m not saying black women don’t cook, but black women are more often the sole breadwinners, make more money than their husbands or just have some sort of job that keeps her out of the home. This is not how white households are. A lot of older white women are housewives or have somewhat of a housewife mentality because they grew up with mothers who were housewives or during a time when a lot of mothers were housewives (where they lived). Ask a black woman, and if she’s being real with you she’ll let you know that most of us think being a housewife is one of the dumbest things we’ve ever heard.

Black women have too much going on to cook all the time, and their roles often overlap that which has been traditionally thought of as “male roles”–especially more often than white women’s roles do (as I said, black women tend to make more money than their male counterparts and are also more likely to even be employed than their male counterparts are. Both of my sisters make more money than their husbands do–one of my sisters is her household’s sole breadwinner). And you also now have a generation of all kinds of women who want to be working professionals and will not even be home at dinner time, let alone cook it. Nevertheless, their comments kind of pissed me off. This is the kind of crap in which I’m forced to participate with these damn Potlucks and holiday parties and other nonsense I don’t want to attend.

So, this morning I just decided “thanks, but no thanks” and skipped the stupid little breakfast party that my co-worker Linda told me about. I contemplated my childhood and how, whether I was around or not at certain things at school, no one really seemed to know or care. Why would anyone notice or care if I don’t go to this breakfast thing? I figured no one would give a schitt. And even if they did, I hadn’t been told this thing was mandatory, and you almost always get a pass when you can say “no one told me” or “I didn’t know.”

Oh…my…world…turns out almost everybody noticed and cared…including my manager. I could barely even listen to my music for all the people harassing me about why I wasn’t at the breakfast. That’s really all I wanted to do today–listen to music, get my work done and go home. I didn’t want to sit around fake-laughing at co-workers making fun of each other…um, co-workers who are pretty much all at least in their 30s, but they make fun of each other all day. Even the manager gets in on it. Gimme a break…The most peace I had all day at work was the hour they were all gone to breakfast. Plus, only certain people are allowed to make fun of me, and that doesn’t include anyone I barely know, like co-workers.

I was really wrong about how little people would care, too. For starters, turns out that while I was relieving a craving for Dr. Pepper, Linda told another co-worker to make sure he brings me to the breakfast. I didn’t know this at the time, so when he was insisting that I come with him and another co-worker, I was thinking, “Dude, what the hell…?” He just kept telling me to come with him and wanted to know why I didn’t want to go. The co-worker who was with him happens to be related to my manager, and I’m sure she heard me when I told this guy, “I’m not going to that.” I’m sure she heard the way I said it, too, and I would bet she told our manager.

Anyway, when the co-worker responsible for bringing me to the breakfast came back, he told me Linda had food at her station. My friend/co-worker Clara kept telling me about food that was left over. It was like these people were trying to make me eat. My co-worker Corey, with whom I worked on a project last week, said something to me about not going to the breakfast. He tries to make me eat, as well, because I told him that I never eat breakfast and almost never eat lunch. He probably thinks I’m anorexic, but I definitely don’t look it. Linda acted almost horrified that I didn’t go and wanted to know if my co-worker had told me about it, where it was located, etc–that’s how I found out she told him to bring me.

And, of course, my manager said something about it. He basically let me know indirectly that garbage like that is mandatory for social reasons and that I should be at the next one. Why is stuff that people at work think up as ways to have “fun” mandatory? “Fun” and “mandatory” don’t go together, and that’s why my job is just my job to me. It has nothing to do with socializing, and, to me, it shouldn’t. Jobs are about making a living, paying for stuff that is actually fun (like my upcoming trip to Michigan to see my alma mater beat our rival Notre Dame) and paying bills; otherwise, I wouldn’t be working. See? Mandatory, not fun. That’s why all I think about at work is getting my work done, listening to music (to help me get through un-fun work) and going home. I’m not thinking about food or hanging with co-workers. (And yes, I do know work is not 100% mandatory…see the “housewife” stuff above.)

Clara and Linda didn’t let it go, either. Clara asked me again later why I didn’t go to the breakfast, and I just told her I didn’t think anyone would notice. She said that not that many people work in our area at work, so people would notice. But, I pointed out to her, I only really communicate with her at work (so why would others notice if I’m not there?). She took that as my saying that I didn’t go because I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to, which is part of it but not the point, and she said I could have sat by her.

I know that, to many people, socializing is the way they deal with un-fun, mandatory work. And they can’t even begin to understand people like me who just want to work, just want to listen to music and don’t want to go to social events or stand around half the day talking. And, for me, it’s not even about not liking my co-workers–I like most of them, and I’m fine with them one-on-one. But a room full of them, where we’re expected to socialize for an hour, is not my idea of a good time. I don’t really think it’s any introvert’s idea of a good time. It’s actually more anxiety-producing than anything else. That’s what I don’t think people understand when they come up with these work social events.

Whatever people might think about this communication style, I speak to people who speak to me…meaning if someone doesn’t initiate a conversation with me, we’re not going to have a conversation. There are very few exceptions. Some of it is just not being interested in talking to most people. Some of it is a lack of social skills. But some of it is, again, thinking back on my childhood. For example, when I was growing up, if some people were having a conversation and you inserted yourself into it–let’s say these are black people–oftentimes one of them would say something like, “Ain’t nobody talking to you!” Or “This is an A and B conversation–C your way out.” White people might just look at you like you’re crazy.

So, I’ve realized over the last few months that I believe people shouldn’t enter conversations unless they’re invited to do so. Something has changed over the years, because now if you don’t go up to people and just start talking, people want to know why you never speak to anybody.

Now I’m just wondering how I’m going to be able to tolerate the next social event at work. After I spoke with my manager, I thought about how I hope my job doesn’t have another one of these things before I move on to another job. Unfortunately, because of this trend where work and social life are expected to intertwine, the problem is not going to go away, nearly regardless of where I work. It’ll probably just get worse…until someone comes up with “Sensitivity Training In the Workplace” geared towards understanding and working with introverts.

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Operation Find A Job Pt. 4–How To Interview

4) You Need To Learn How To Interview. Now, let’s say you’re one of those people whose resume must be right and you’re applying the right way, because you’re getting called in for interviews. So, you’re going on interviews. Perhaps you’re even making it through to the next round of interviews, when required. But after that, it’s crickets. Or rejection letters/emails. You don’t understand it.

Um, not too hard to understand–there’s something about the way you interview. It doesn’t even have to be that you come across negatively in any way. It could just be that someone is always coming across as more so the type of person with whom this employer would rather work. That’s fine, to a degree…but at some point, you need to be the one who comes across as the person an employer would most prefer to have.

I know a bunch of people who just don’t “get it” about interviews. Look, once you get called in for an interview, you’ve basically passed the qualifications assessment test–now it’s a personality test. Now, I know everyone nowadays has social anxiety disorder or is taking pills for something or the other. I’ve told you a thousand times on this blog that I can’t stand people. But it’s time to put on your tap-dancing shoes and give the performance of your life. If I can do it, you can do it. Act your ass off in that job interview. Be likeable. Be friendly. Be agreeable. Appear as if you’re easy to talk to and as if you can talk about a variety of topics that have nothing to do with work with absolutely anyone. Have that can-do attitude. Be outgoing. Even if this is not how you are, you need to be this way for 30 minutes or an hour.

In the earlier stages of my blog, I worked tech support for a small company. And I used to write about this female tech with whom I worked who had serious personality problems. I know that she had been applying for jobs and going on job interviews for years while working for this company because others there told me. She thought once she graduated from college that she was out of there, but it just hasn’t worked out like that. Still, she has seen others at this company come and go, several of them leaving for better, higher-paying jobs. I’m sure she wonders why other people are getting good jobs while she can’t, especially since she is very knowledgeable in IT.

Um. So, someone who is quiet, awkward, can’t look people in the eye when she’s speaking to them, speaks at an inappropriate voice volume (either way too low or spikes too loud while she’s talking), is overly emotional and has a habit of speaking in a rude way wants to know why she doesn’t get hired after job interviews? I can only imagine how her job interviews go. If she didn’t know how to perform around her co-workers, even to some degree, then I’m sure she’s not performing in job interviews…because the performance you give in a job interview is going to have to carry over to the job once you receive it, even if not full force.

I think advice articles steer people a little bit wrong when it comes to interviewing advice, and I think people make too big a deal about interviews. For example, I don’t really think you need to “study” a company before an interview and then whip out info about the company to show how interested you are. I don’t prep for interviews beyond what I’m curious to know. I certainly visit the company’s web site, I ask questions in the interview and I might even look up reviews from former/current employees. But I do it for me–not for the interview. And I think when you do it for you, it’s easier to come across as naturally interested as opposed to “interested because an article about job interviews told me to do these things.” If you’re busy thinking about what an article or web site said, then that’s where your focus is in the interview–not on showing the type of personality you need to be showing.

To me, interviews are just what I said–a performance, unless you’re the type of person who is naturally sociable and outgoing. A lot of us aren’t like that. If you need to do any prep, it’s to get yourself ready to be “on.” Interviews are about you seeing if the job is right for you, learning about what the job is and the expectations, performing (if you need to) in order to pass the personality test that is before you and talking about you–largely your resume and past work experience.

Lost in all the traditional advice given in interview pieces is not only that you need to show the right personality and hit the right chords with the employer in terms of who you are…but also that you’re being evaluated on your speech. It really does matter in a lot of cases, and I’ve had employers flatout tell me it matters that I speak well during the job interview. So be mindful of this, as well.

You have to understand that the need to perform does not equate to the need to be over the top and obvious about the fact that you’re not being exactly who you are. I just think there are examples all around us of people who appear to be confident, friendly, conversational and such that we can easily copy in a job interview, and that’s what we’ve got to do. If you’re not comfortable with this, I think the best way to get comfortable with it is through doing a bunch of interviews. I feel like most interviews, more or less, go the same way, and they are–as I said–largely about your resume, which is a part of the hiring process that you’ve essentially already passed anyways. It’s funny that people worry so much about what questions they’ll be asked, especially given that they’ve already passed the questions, for the most part. Now it’s about how you sound, act and look when you answer. Do interviews to get used to the questions, but, more importantly, to get used to performing and speaking a certain way while answering the questions. Do mock interviews or real interviews for jobs you don’t really care whether or not you get offered.

Now that I’m used to the performance aspect, when I am contacted for interviews I know that the job is as good as mine at that point. This is despite being a black female who is almost always interviewing with a white man or a white woman (and I would like to emphasize again here that you need to appear to have no problem talking to anyone about a variety of non-work topics, which might be the #1 reason why I can get white Southern men to hire me). The hardest part for me is just getting the callback. I almost never get rejected after a job interview–and, again, this is coming from a self-proclaimed people hater, a loner, someone who is socially challenged and quiet (someone who, if I were a white male, would fit the profile of a serial killer, if you will–I know this). If you learn how to interview correctly and focus on what’s really important in job interviews, neither will you.

What can I say? Acting was the first thing I ever seriously wanted to do with my life. Didn’t work out, but it’s serving me well anyhow. 😉

Next Time: Pt. 5–Employers and Their Values

Pt. 1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

Pt. 2–Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

Pt. 3–You Don’t Know How To Apply

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Operation Find A Job Pt. 3–How To Apply

3) You Don’t Know How To Apply. A lot of people seem to think Craigslist is a scam. But in my experience, it’s the best place to apply for jobs. There are definitely scam listings on Craigslist, but you have to learn how to spot them before you submit a resume. I always try to look for an email address that seems valid that is posted in the ad, i.e. it has a company name in the address, and look for a company name or site address that looks professional (i.e. not salesbiz.com) in the listing. I also look at how much the advertised salary is, and if it seems too high for the job description I don’t apply.

I pay attention to how often I see the same ad listed, spelling and grammar, and how the job itself is described. There are job ads that seem to be posted on Craigslist several times a month for several months, and that just seems odd to me–seems that if it’s a real position it ought to be filled within a month, and even if they’re having to re-hire that tells you something, too. I’ve mentioned a few times on my blog about a previous job I had where I repaired laptops, and I see that company advertising all the time on Craigslist. It’s a legitimate job, but there’s a reason they’re always hiring–the best employees get tired of the bullschitt and leave at some point, and they “lay off” people who can’t meet their unrealistic standards all the time but they lie to them about why they’ve been laid off, i.e. that they don’t have enough work.

Also, I’ve found that legitimate Craigslist ads tend to be fairly well-written, though this is not 100%. More on this in a second, but the general rule is ignore ads in all caps, poor spelling, and poor grammar–especially if they don’t have any information such as a company name or an email address that seems legitimate or professional, not a Hotmail or Yahoo! one. And be wary of jobs that seem too good to be true or like they will hire anyone, or jobs that sound like sales or multi-level marketing jobs that don’t pay a steady salary.

Another good use of Craigslist can be posting your own “seeking work” ad, but it depends on how you write it. No matter what, you will get a bunch of fake emails. But if you’re creative enough and write the ad with your mind towards what employers look for, you will also get actual employers responding to you. I actually got a job this way once, and the woman who responded to me sent a poorly-written email. If she hadn’t put the company’s phone number in the email for me to look up online and verify it was a legitimate business, I might have ignored it. But it turned into a job interview, and I was hired.

The first thing you’ll have to do is write a subject line that stands out from the hundreds of other “seeking” ads on Craigslist. Second, in the ad make yourself sound like an employer’s dream–no excuses, always on time, can-do attitude, pleasant demeanor. Make yourself sound like an ass kisser who is always happy and willing. Third, let them know what skills you have and what you’re interested in. I’ve been contacted for legitimate positions almost every single time I’ve posted this kind of ad (just not always with the kind of position I wanted), but it really starts with having the right subject line in order to get employers to click–something creative and something that lets employers know you’re different from other employees. Make it sound like it’s all about them, not about how you need a job right this instant.

So, I’ve gotten several jobs through Craigslist, but anyone who reads the blog enough will also see that I’ve gotten jobs through employment agencies, as well. In my opinion, employment agencies are hit-or-miss, especially depending on where you live, and you also have to be looking for certain kinds of jobs in order for them to be of real use. Employment agencies weren’t worth schitt for me when I was in Chicago, but they’ve been the primary way I’ve found work since being back in my hometown. In Chicago, it just could have been the kinds of jobs I was looking for, as I had no IT experience back then and wasn’t really looking for IT jobs when I first got there. But in my hometown, it almost feels as if IT jobs primarily hire through employment agencies. Pretty much everyone I’ve worked with at my current and previous jobs came through an employment agency, even if they are now full-time employees directly of the company for which we work.

I’ve also found jobs through job listings on college career services sites, and this was despite not technically being a student at that particular college.

I think these are the best ways to find jobs–Craigslist, employment agencies and career services sites. I have never heard a peep through sites like Indeed or SimplyHired, and the one time I heard anything from sites like Monster is when an employment agency posted an ad there (the one through which I’m currently employed).

I think filling out applications in any way, shape or form is a waste of time. You always want to apply for jobs to which you submit just your resume and cover letter. If they want an app after that, that’s fine. But you need someone to actually look at your resume, and you’re probably not going to get that when you apply via app, especially if you apply online. Most, if not all, sites use a filtering key word system that will wipe out even qualified applicants, but the thing is their applications are extensive and time-consuming. It’s not worth it to spend an hour filling out an application when you have a better shot at a job where you just email your resume after writing a 10-minute tailored cover letter.

And I’m surprised that people still physically go out and submit resumes or apps. This, too, is largely a waste, in my opinion. What’s worse is some people still advise people to do this. I’ve seen people say that it helps your chances for the employer to see you.

Look, I’ve worked places where people would come in and ask for applications or submit apps they filled out already. Greater than 9 times out of 10, you’re handing in your application to someone who has absolutely nothing to do with hiring you. That person takes your app and puts it in a stack that no one touches or in a mail thingy on the manager’s office door. That manager might go through those apps if someone quits or is fired and he needs someone right away, but more often than not your app is merely one in a million that just sits somewhere. The manager will hire someone via recommendation from a current employee, family member or from an employment agency before he hires someone who submits a handwritten app. And even if you get the opportunity to hand your resume or app directly to a hiring manager, it usually makes no difference at all. He/she will encourage you to your face, but your app is still going in the stack of infinity.

You don’t need to go anywhere. And the thing about going out asking for apps is these places usually aren’t looking to hire, kind of as I suggested above. Just stay home, hop on the computer, make sure your resume is alright, pound out a good cover letter for each job ad you like and submit resumes via email. Focus on places that actually say they are hiring and are asking for submissions–this gets more results than physically pounding the pavement and submitting apps to random businesses.

And one more thing before I move on–passing your resume on to someone else to pass on. I haven’t seen where this works, either. Usually, the person to whom you give your resume has no real influence, so it’s as good as your emailing your resume to wherever this person is sending it.

You’ll notice that I don’t mention networking, although that’s not to say that networking doesn’t work. But I recognize that most of us don’t have that networking sort of personality, including myself, and aren’t going to do it no matter what. Many job advice articles you read will continue to tell you that you need to network, but I’m telling you whatever I think is more important, works more often or is something that any of us can or simply must do. You don’t have to network. Still, in a sense, I did get my last job through networking. The best part was I hadn’t purposely set out to network my way into a job when it happened, which is so awkward. Whenever I’ve tried to network, it didn’t get me anywhere. So I say don’t force networking. Focus on the other tips I’m giving you, and if you see a natural opportunity to network with which you feel comfortable take it.

Next Time: Pt. 4–The Truth About Job Interviews

Pt. 1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

Pt. 2–Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

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Operation Find A Job Pt. 2–Your Resume

2) Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It. A lot of people don’t really believe this is the case. But let me tell you–if you’re sending out resumes and you’re not getting any responses, especially if you’re focusing your job search correctly and using a variety of mediums for applying, then the problem is your resume.

While searching for my first “adult” job, I ran up against a few people who wanted to get a few hundred bucks out of poor job seekers in order to properly write their resume. But instead of getting scammed, I kind of scammed all of these people. I would submit my resume to them for the initial free consultation and, of course, they’d rip it to shreds. Now, you’d think that these people, just wanting money, would tell you some things that aren’t exactly true about your resume just to sucker you in and get you to pay them. But one, in particular, gave me a lot of really good info. The others gave me one or two things that were true and useful, but the guy who gave me a lot of good stuff? I scammed the hell out of him. I took all his good info and ran, never to be heard from again.

He basically told me that resumes should have active words and not just state what you did. Resumes should focus on results and achievements. So…I took the info he gave me, took it a step further by doing internet searches on resumes that did what he said resumes should do, and I looked at those examples. I spent one weekend re-writing my resume to be more like those resumes I saw online. Then I continued focusing my job search. I can honestly tell you that since changing my resume using this guy’s advice, I have gotten great results/more responses from employers.

With a lot of people, they will say something like, “I know it’s not my resume. Others have looked at it, and they respond positively to it.” Well, the same was true for me before I learned how to write my resume the way this one guy who wanted a couple hundred bucks to do it essentially taught me without charging me. Most resumes I see are not like how this guy said they should be or the examples after which I modeled mine. They don’t show how you, as an employee, have made an impact and gotten results where you’ve worked; they state the duties for which you were responsible and assignments you completed. No one knows this is relatively ineffective because this is how everyone was taught that resumes should be written. But up against a person who has presented solid figures for how how much they increased revenue, brought in more business or drove up customer satisfaction? Merely listing duties looks kind of bland.

Obviously, if you’ve just graduated from college and don’t have much or any work experience, you have a resume problem. Still, you should be able to get a ranky-dank customer service job without having a resume full of results/impact. Best case scenario is you have internships, summer work experience, part-time work while in school or just something that looks like work experience that can go on your resume. If not?

You gotta do what you gotta do. And what you might have to do right here is be less than honest. Yeah, I said (wrote) it. And this goes for anyone who needs a job right now. If worse comes to worse, you might need to stretch the truth on your resume. And it kills me how so many people poo poo this. Most people will tell you to volunteer or do something else that doesn’t pay. But what if you need cash? You have bills. You have student loans. You might even have kids. You don’t have time to volunteer for a year and hope somebody will pick you up permanently and pay you. I’m not telling you to lie–I’m just saying you don’t have to be 100% honest.

What is people’s deal with being less than honest? Are you worried someone is going to find out? Do you think you’ll be banned from working ever again? Do you think you will be fired? News for ya–you already don’t have a job. If you get a job based on less than honesty, someone finds out and you get fired, hey–at least you were getting paid for a period of time…vs now, when you’re sitting there with nothing. Big deal if you get fired. Get the job first. If you’ve been unemployed for a long time, what do you really have to lose?

Honestly, there’s no real reason why anyone ever has to find out you were less than honest. Don’t get the position and start running your mouth or letting inconsistencies fly. And if you use people to help you be less than honest about the experience you have, get with them ahead of time and work out what you all will say. Seriously, work out all the details ahead of time.

You gotta do what you gotta do, right? Nowadays, you are magically expected to get work experience without being allowed to get work experience. I advise that if there is something you know you know how to do–perhaps you do it all the time but just don’t have formal work experience doing it–get with people who are willing to say you worked for them and serve as a reference, and slap this on your resume, maybe as freelance or contract work. I am so not kidding. If employers are going to be ridiculous with you, they’ve got it coming. Nobody’s got time for all these unrealistic roadblocks to getting hired, and listing your education, all your school activities, all your school honors and semesters on the Dean’s List aren’t getting you anywhere. If you have to manufacture work experience in order to get a job, do it.

Like I said, this should be a last resort. I had several people who were willing to be references for me as a contractor when I decided I wanted to get into IT because they knew I had the knowledge–some of them are people I’d help with tech issues on several occasions–but I ended up getting an entry-level IT job where they just basically hired anybody (they hired hundreds of “just anybody”s, and it showed every single day). So I never had to use any of my faux references…but, trust me, I damn-sure would have had it come to that. I have no shame, and neither should anyone else when it comes to getting a job and surviving.

I can’t emphasize enough, though, that if you’re going to make up work experience, it does need to be something you know a lot about or for which you have skills, just not in a formal sense. On one of the tech message boards I sometimes visit, I saw another user basically advise a newbie to IT who is applying for jobs to be dishonest (and, of course, others jumped in and disagreed). But he also pointed out that in IT, anyway, if you say you know your stuff and you don’t, you’ll probably get found out. I think this is true. I mean, I had an interview for an IT position once where I interviewed with four different people, and my interview with one of the owners basically was a verbal quiz about networks. I don’t come from an IT background and, at the time, had very little formal IT work experience…but I aced the verbal quiz, and so I was hired.

Employers don’t always test what you know in job interviews, but it does happen–and if it does happen when you’ve made up work experience in something in which you lack knowledge, you’re busted. So, the user who was advising the newbie to be less than honest is on the same page as I am–be dishonest if you know you have what it takes but just lack the experience to prove it.

Next Time: Pt. 3–Looking For Jobs In All the Wrong Places

Pt.1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

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