Saturday, January 26, 2013

I feel like a dinosaur. Earlier this week I was elated to find a message from a recruiter on LinkedIn, alerting me to an opening for a Social Media Analyst in my city. That happens as often as a comet coming close to earth.

Everything is riding on my getting a full-time job now that the hubby was forced into semi-retirement a year and a half earlier than our finances can handle. I Google "how to respond to a recruiter on LinkedIn." The advice: Be coy. Don't sound desperate.

I respond to his message, "It sounds interesting. Let's discuss." I click a checkbox and LinkedIn sends him my resumé and phone number. He sends me a questionnaire.

My background: A combined three years of managing Facebook pages for two small businesses (one of them mine) and a non-profit. A couple of years of shooting, editing and uploading to Flickr and YouTube. Two years of researching keywords on Google AdWords before writing descriptions for my etsy clothing shop. Five minutes of creating Pinterest and Twitter accounts and then never making the time to participate.

Part of the prospective employer's inquiry: "Tell me about your experience with:

Testing and Tracking
Social Media Marketing Technologies & Platforms 
Leveraging Data Driven Research/Analysis to drive: Strategic Direction, Best Practices, and Process Improvements"

One word repeats itself in my head like a mantra: Nada, nada, nada...I had to Google "Social Media Marketing Technologies" to find out what's out there that my no-budget businesses have been missing out on.

It isn't enough to love words, to wield them masterfully, to use their power to inspire and compel to action. Not for that particular employer, anyway. I am reminded of a comment made by an interim vice president at a former job: "But all you do is write."

Coincidentally, the hubby is going through similar angst over an opening for Mechanical Electrical Superintendent at the company for which a family member works. There are major requirements he cannot fulfill.

After agonizing for a day, I let it go. I message the recruiter that I'm taking myself out of the race, and explain why. I feel like I've let down the friends who have been praying for me. 

Sure, I've always counseled my youngest not to tell herself "No" when others are only too happy to do that. But in my case, as with my husband's, the skills required cannot be learned on the job/faked until we actually acquire them. They have to be in place or we sink. And we don't really need to sink any lower in our own eyes.

The hubs and I have come to a deeper level of empathy for each other as we deal with the circumstances. It occurs to me that had I not lost my day job three years ago, I would've been useless in helping him emotionally now. I've lived the hurt, the self-doubt, the feeling of being no longer viable in the work world.

I've felt the jolt of being an alien in a full-price grocery store. If there are no eggs at the 99 Cent Store that week, we go without eggs rather than pay full price. Eating out now means selecting from the Dollar Menu at McDonald's. And yet, we eat surprisingly well at home, thanks to the fresh produce and great selection at the 99 Cent Store.

I look at our house, remembering the optimism that flooded us 20-plus years ago when we were approved for a mortgage. Does this house still serve our highest good, or should we let it go? We've had perfect credit forever, and now, are we going into foreclosure? 

I consider our aging bodies, minus health care coverage. Will any more of my organs burst, like my appendix did last year? 

All around us, just these past two months, our friends have been dealt harsher blows: the sudden death of a spouse, of a beloved pet, the return of cancer. You can replace a job and a dwelling, but not a person, a furry family member or a healthy body.

What we're going through is a common storyline for millions of other people. We've been insulated from it for so many years. Now it's staring us in the face, and we'll find out if we're made of sterner stuff.

Dinosaurs were fierce, but maybe they just weren't strategic. I don't want to become extinct.


  1. Okay. This post is brilliant. I laugh with you, I cry for you. But you do beautiful words, and you will find your way.
    Everything's a cycle. Tough times give way to good times.
    To quote the word of .....well..... me : "everything's going to work out ok."

    1. Such a balm to my spirit, Lauren. A great comfort to hear from you. Thank you.

  2. I completely sympathize. We bought our house sixteen years ago and I was recently remembering how optimistic things looked in the 1990s and how now with our kids wanting to go to college we skimp for groceries and worry about the future. I make my living as a technical writer and I notice two paradoxical things: "just" writing is no longer valued AND employers complain that they cannot find employees who can write. Hmmm. Good writing IS in fact a valuable skill, whether the current market realizes it or not, and it is becoming more rare all the time.

    Where I work, a software development company, most of the high tech employees are under 40 and ALL four of us tech writers are well over 40. It's seems it's very difficult to find a very good younger technical writer. You might consider looking at openings for technical writing and editing, if you have not yet done that.

    You are so right - so many people are in an uncertain position economically. But there is much to said for simple lifestyles, loving relationships, and life-sustaining interests such as reading and writing. I think there will be a renaissance sooner or later, hopefully sooner, for foundational things that have real meaning. Like writing, real content, and actual meaning.I think people are longing for this and soon the job market will feel the lack.

    Best of luck and many prayers to you and your husband.

    1. It's taken me nearly a month to talk about this again, but I just wanted to say it feels so encouraging to hear from you. It makes a world of difference to know I am heard and understood. Thank you!

  3. Ah, Scrollwork, I am very sorry to hear about your difficulties. As you know, I've been trying to break into the corporate writing world freelance. It's hard. You clearly have many skills, and while you may feel desperate and daunted, just remember that. Your skills are real, they are flexible and applicable to various types of work. You'll find something.

    1. Hello, Hope! It's incredible to have somewhere to turn when the negative self-talk becomes too loud. Thank you for your empathy!