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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Fear Factor

I've been submitting resumes to job postings for the past month now. Out of the 20 openings I've applied for, I've gotten 3 callbacks. It's a bit disheartening, but I plow through. At first, I wasn't worried. In fact, I was almost exhilirated with the prospect of putting myself out there again. Before the tiki shop, I worked the corporate world. I was good at it. Yeah, I was a cubicle creature. But I was a model cubicle creature. My last job was as an Admin Assistant to a Sports/Entertainment Lawyer. When Wes offered me the job at the tiki shop and I gave notice to the law group, they BEGGED me to stay. In fact, they kept offering me pay raises if I would stay with them. I declined. I was so unhappy in the corporate world. So unhappy with the kind of person I was becoming. It was soul-sapping to me. I wanted ME back. But now comes the truth. I don't have a choice. I HAVE to go back. It's what I'm good at and there sure as hell isn't another tiki shop around here that I can run to.

Oh, I joked about wearing business attire again after 5 years of donning "slippahs" and shorts to work. I tried to find humor in the very real scare of having to shove my poor "luau feet" into heels and my voluptuous (I prefer that term, thank you) polynesian ass into a business suit. In fact, to my great delight, I found that I needed something new to wear for interviews because I'd lost a good amount of weight since the last time I had to interview for a job. My confidence level was up. For the first time in a long time, I actually felt good about myself. That is until yesterday.

Yesterday, Caris asked me to help her update her resume and create a cover letter for a job she wanted to apply for. We worked on it together, we tweaked it, adding those "key words" here and there to help her sell herself. She submitted it, and within four hours got a callback and an appointment for an interview. This, with her very first attempt.

She called me to thank me, and of course, I congratulated her and told her how proud I was of her. I meant it. It's a job she wants, and it has the potential to blossom into something terrific for her future, and its in line with her career goals. I was truly, very excited for her Yet, suddenly, I could feel the fear factor rising. Her first resume sent, and within hours, a response. A positive response. I've sent 20 and only gotten 3 calls. One of those calls was to tell me that they'd already filled the position. Ah well, at least they called. That's more than the other 17 did.

I had an interview during Christmas week. With my resume in hand, and feeling quite great with my new biz attire, I walked in confidently. My confidence would quickly wane. My interviewer looked to be two decades younger than me. Actually, EVERYONE in that office looked to be two decades younger than me. Yes, he DID ask me THOSE questions; "Where do you see yourself in five years?" and "What are your goals?" Without meaning to, I actually blurted out a chortle. Apologizing quickly, I gathered my thoughts and simply told him that I see myself then, as I see myself now; a damn good Administrative Assistant. I elaborated:

"The truth is; I'm 49 years old. I have no lofty career aspirations. I type 90 accurately, I'm computer savvy, I file, I'm great on the phone, I'm literate, I'm personable, I'm organized and I'm detail-oriented. I have two kids in college and I have to pay tuition. As I'm sure you well know, that's a lot of money. My GOAL is to be able to get my kids through college and on to a career where they won't have to interview for an Administrative Assistant position when they're 49 years old. Also, I'm GREAT at what I do, which, as you can see by my work history and references, speaks for itself. I'm an awesome support person to all those people who are climbing the corporate ladder, and I have no thought whatsoever of wanting to climb with them. I'm happy to be support. I don't want to be a manager, so no one should be worried that I'm trying to take their job. That's it."

Perhaps I talked myself out of a job. Perhaps not. After he tightened his now slacked jaw, he did begin to tell me the company's policy on visible tattoos and body piercings. Though I have both, through my good taste and wise choices, neither could be seen. So I did find it a bit odd that he would go there. Still, it made me think that he wouldn't be offering up that information unless he were going to offer me the position. He actually laughed, thanked me for my honesty, which he said he found "refreshing". As I look back on it, I think that maybe it was his way of saying I was a bit too honest. In the passing days, no offer was forthcoming and I found myself thinking that perhaps I was, indeed, too frank. The thing is, I wondered how comfortable I'd be at a company where EVERYONE was younger than me by a longshot.

The realization hit me hardest after Caris got her callback. I began to analyze the reasons why I wasn't getting called back. After all, they can't SEE me. They don't know how old I am when I submit my resume. Or do they? I went to the computer and looked at my resume for what seemed like the thousandth time. Oh Lord, there it was. My work history alone begins in 1986 to present. If they go to my education and see that my college "career" ended in 1980. Well, duh...they can count. Good God. I'm NEVER going to find a job. I'm old. Even for a freaking secretarial position. I'm old with no degree. I have nothing to offer, and what I do have to offer, no one wants, because I'm old. That's the truth of it right there.

For a short time yesterday afternoon, I had a meltdown. Luckily, no one was home but Ellie. She could care less how old I am. To her, I'm fabulous. I walk her, I feed her, I love her. In return, she stays close to me and loves me back. I let the fear in for an hour or two. I cried it out while I made a pot of potato-cheese soup for dinner, omitting some salt since there was enough in my tears. Then I straightened my back, stiffened my upper lip and set about tweaking my resume. I took out some dates. At least if I can get in the door, I have a better chance. But even if I do, I'm not sure I'd answer THOSE questions any different. It is who I am. I am, after all, not the same woman I was 7 years ago. Nor do I want to be. I like me and I shouldn't be fearful. The right job will come. When it does, it will be how its supposed to be. I just hope I don't have to eat a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach faster than the 20 year old next to me to get it.