Job searching

Searching for a new job is a very frustrating exercise. Not only must you deal with recruiters who, almost universally are a dodgy lot, but there’s the caprice of the job market to deal with too.

I had a call last week from a guy I used to work with here. He was a top operator, a cool bloke, and very down to earth. We got on well and I was saddened when he left, though I understood completely why he did – for much the same reasons I have. So he contacted me to say he had a job opening where he worked I might be interested in. Basically the job was as an IT manager with good money and a car tossed in on top. Would I be interested? I would be.

He sent me a link to the job and it checked out pretty much except for a couple of minor things they were looking for I didn’t have. I thanked him and set myself to submit a application over the weekend. All good.

Except when I sat down to submit my application the job had disappeared, seemingly filled. I sent him a message to let him know. If there’s no job to apply for I can’t apply for it. He had no idea what was going on but asked me to send him a copy of my resume and he would present it upstairs. I’ve done that bow, but no great expectations.

Then there was another job at the CSIRO. I was a good fit for the job and it’s an organisation I’d love to work at. A positive sign was that someone from CSIRO had browsed my profile when the job came up. Once more I sat down to submit my comprehensive application (having completed half of it previously) and I was prevented from doing so because, as the site stated, the job had been filled.

As it stands I have but one outstanding application, that with the ATO, but reckon that might take a while to resolve.

In between times I found myself having a chat to the departmental head at the office cocktail party a couple of weeks ago. We get on well, better than he does with my manager, or any other of the managers. I think that’s because we both come from corporate backgrounds, and recognise it in the other. Most of the managers have either been here from day one and progressed with the company without exposure to anything different, or else have come from smaller, suburban companies. By comparison he and I could compare corporate notes all night. I’m biased, but I reckon it gives us an edge because we’ve been exposed to cultures and practices both demanding and professional. Anyway, we have similar war stories.

He knows I’m not happy here and appears to understand completely. More than that, he seems sympathetic. It’s an indictment on the company here that he can figure I’d be looking elsewhere, yet not be in a position to encourage me to stay. After swapping some stories he basically told me to relax and take my time, look for a job if you have to, but don’t feel under pressure to rush it or keep them abreast. He was curious, but the message he left me with was to take my time and make the right choice. In the meantime, he’ll cover my back.

Interesting, but I appreciate it. It’s taken some of the pressure off. I’m very keen to move on, but I want to do it right – and, if I can, I want to make it right with the girl too.

Funny how she informs my thinking. I reckon moving on might be good for us, but need to get in a position first where we have a connection when I walk out the door. She’s moved on, but we’re in communication daily, and it’s fine. I think she’s in a situation where she’s unwilling to commit, but unable to let go. That’s a situation that will likely be resolved one way or another when I must pick up and leave.


Officially encouraged

In my ongoing search for a new job I met with a recruiter for lunch. This is how I used to do it: form a relationship with a recruiter or two, earn their trust, then reap the benefits of continuous and well paid work. That’s how it used to be, but not so much anymore. The recruitment industry seems more cut-throat than ever before, with a high churn rate and consequently diminished quality and experience across the board. There’s no time to build relationships, and the process in general lends itself to more superficial results – but that’s the way it is.

The opportunity then to meet one on one with a recruiter was encouraging, but I was also sceptical. I remain wary, but the signs are good.

Our lunch was all business. We discussed my background, my experience, my expectations. When I told him how much I was after he said we can do a lot better than that. He then reeled off about half a dozen opportunities, none of which have a salary less than double my current. I’m happy to cop that.

The role I’m most likely to get is also the most challenging in that I would be required to spend 6 weeks in Toronto getting around the business, before returning and taking it up here. I’d have jumped at that before, but am not so keen now – though if it happens I won’t be saying no.

I can’t get ahead of myself. Words trip easily from the lips of recruiters, though he appears legit. He reports back on Friday and we’ll see how we go then. In the meantime I’m officially encouraged.

The good stuff

I got another message yesterday from my old massage shop manager wanting my help. A couple of weeks ago I went with her to the cop shop to report a possible fraud. When that didn’t work I ran VCAT to see what her options were. Responding to their advice I put her onto somewhere else. I also went with her to her school in the city to explain that she may not be able to pay her fees because of this fraud. Yesterday she wanted me to come with her to confront the fraudster (it’s a complicated situation).

This was not in my plans and was an inconvenience. I’d have preferred 24 hours’ notice, but fortunately I wasn’t otherwise busy. Throughout the day she messaged me seeking assistance in the preparation of a legal letter of demand. At 5.30 I met her on tram 19 heading to Brunswick.

With us was Pat, another of my old staff. She was a very capable masseuse, and an intelligent, reliable employee. She now works in a kitchen in Hawksburn, following her passion – “better than massage”, as she said.

The tram was crowded and I sat there wishing I was going the other way. Halfway there Jeep got a message informing her that the other party wouldn’t be there, not until eight. I rolled my eyes internally, but we went on. We got off the tram in Brunswick and walked a short distance to a Thai restaurant, where they conversed in Thai with the mother of the other party. She confirmed that her daughter wouldn’t be in until 8.

I couldn’t hang around till then, and nor could Jeep, who had to work. Pat decided she could and after some pfaffing around I caught an Uber with Jeep. She was heading to Mentone to work and offered to give me a lift.

From what I gather Pat has come to some agreement with the other girl, which is good news if true. Though it’s not always convenient I’m happy to help. I think a lot of these girls, and am grateful for the support they gave me at a time of need. Jeep doesn’t always show her appreciation. She’s curt to the point of being abrupt often, taking it for granted that I’ll help and just hanging up more often than not once she’s communicated what she has to. I take it as one of her quirks, and am more amused than offended. But then she surprises me.

Late last night she sent me a message to update me and to thank me for helping her. No problems I told her, happy to help. She didn’t leave it at that though. In a very un-Jeep-like manner, she exclaimed that I was a “very good boy.” She said if there was anything she could do for me I had only to ask. She said I was like “a superman. Help me when everyone else can’t.”

From Jeep, that’s high praise, and I’m thrilled. It’s all karma, and this is the good stuff.

Blowing the whistle

I did something this morning which may well get me into trouble, but is the right thing to do.

As I reported the other day, I’ve been at odds with certain sections and individuals in the business regarding what I believe to be unethical practices. Basically they are misrepresenting figures during the sales process to seal the deal. Formerly it could be argued it was the result of incompetence, but once I had exposed the flaws to then go on with it can only be wilful dishonesty.

That explains why basically I have been threatened after I persisted with my representations.

Forget the morality for a moment, there are strong business reasons to correct this. It may result in a small dip in sales, but it eliminates the risk of legal action, and the customers we have will be much happier and more likely to recommend us or extend their custom. And it should result in reduced handling times.

Regardless of that, it’s the right thing to do, and I must confess I was pretty surprised at how blasé about some people are – almost as if the rights and wrongs of it are irrelevant.

I went home Wednesday seething about the whole situation, and knowing I couldn’t let it go. My integrity wouldn’t allow that. And of course, once they threatened me I had no other option but to defy them.

This morning I had a quiet conversation with the Manager of our division. We get on well and he’s a good guy. I’d spoken to him about this at the outset, but in the conversations he was circumvented by my manager and sales. I updated him on the situation and outlined my reservations, from a legal, operational and moral perspective. I’m happy to agree that he agreed entirely, and he’ll be taking it to his manager, one of the directors.

I believe that as an organisation they have been happy to turn a blind eye to such conduct. I don’t know if they can do that now once it has been put to them formally.

Potentially this will make me very unpopular. I’m basically a whistle-blower. I’ve gone above my manager and likely to have put her in a tricky spot. She won’t thank me for that. On top of that the ethics of the sales team will be called into question, and potentially they’ll be faced with a humiliating back down. I may end up unofficially banned.

That’s assuming something is done about it. I don’t expect to do any particular kudos – I’m only doing my job. If something does happen then I’ll ride the backlash – and, who knows, I may even enjoy it. I’m funny like that.

Going against the flow

I had quite a typical conversation with my direct manager this morning. She has, from time to time, looked to modify what she perceives as my overly insistent ways. We have very different philosophies on this, mine being tread softly, smile, but be ready with a cosh. Hers is tread softly, smile, and go with the flow. Basically I figure my job – continuous improvement – is antithetical to going with the flow. I’m here to find a better way, and that will necessitate changing the flow.

In any case she thinks I go too hard sometimes, but as it’s almost impossible to get anything done in this place I figure I have no choice but to be persistent (which comes naturally), and often to the point.

The sacred cow in this organisation is Sales. They wield an unhealthy clout, getting the lion’s share of resources and influence. I get that they bring in the dollars, but having acquired customers we also need to manage them – seemingly a very distant second consideration in this organisation. More to the point some of the practices in Sales are unethical, counter-productive, and create a lot of extra re-work for the area I’m attached to, Ops.

I identified a serious issue a little while ago with potentially serious consequences. I advised the necessary people, including Sales, who are responsible for the function. When I received no response I sent another email and tried to call. When they went unanswered I went upstairs to speak to the manager responsible. The first two or three occasions he wasn’t at his desk. The fourth occasion he was there on his phone. Rather than risking losing him again I hung around, chatting to one or two others while I waited for him to get off the phone. When finally I got off the phone I was unsurprised to know he had hardly read my emails and knew little about it.

Last week I got feedback about this. Apparently he was upset at what he perceived as badgering him. I was amused more than upset. As I told my manager, if he answers my emails, my phone calls, then there’s no need to badger him – even if that could be legitimately construed as such. I told her that if I don’t keep at things then nothing ever happens. And I told her that I want them to know I’m on their tail. I’m not here about to be shaken off.

More than anything I felt contempt. What a trivial thing to complain about, especially when if they had done their job properly then there would have been no need for it. Even so, if they want to complain then I come from the old school that says you do it face to face, you don’t weasel with it dobbing someone in behind their back. What a softcock thing to do, I thought. As always in such circumstances, I smelt blood.

The problem is I’m told to backpedal. Can’t upset sales. They’ll blackban you if you keep this up. Really? I thought. How fucking ridiculous. That’s how fucked this place is, not only that that could happen, but that people could go along with it. Unfortunately my manager – who used to work in Sales – is the Neville Chamberlain of this joint, but there’s a cabinet of other appeasers. There are those out of step with that, but we’re all the newer people who have come in from other places.

Bottom line, I made my point sufficiently that Sales ultimately decided to do something about my concerns, but not until next financial year. Apparently they have to figure out what the sales impact will be if they provide accurate figures – says it all really.

As for the guy that complained – I’ll reckon I’ll give him a cheesy grin next time I see him, but he’ll know I’m onto him.

Being viable

I’ve ramped up my search for a new job. I’m having coffee with a consultant on Wednesday, and I’ve probably had half a dozen enquiries over the last fortnight about potential jobs, which is about half a dozen more than I’d received in the previous six months. Unfortunately none were suitable, including a couple of roles in Sydney. I’ve updated my LinkedIn profile and I even posted something to Facebook on the weekend, sending the vibe out into the world. I’ve never done that before, and in fact I was always inclined to do everything independently, unwilling to seek help or even admit to need. How silly I was in those days. I’m completely different now.

In my mind I figure I’ll be out of here by Easter, and just the thought of it adds a spring to my step. It’s funny what such a realisation does for you. Suddenly you wonder why you put up with it for so long. You realise you’ve been tolerating things that really you shouldn’t, and it becomes so bleeding obvious that you have to move on. As I told someone, it’s good for my soul.

Of course there’s no guarantee of anything coming my way. History makes that clear. I know that the vibe counts for little, if anything, but this time around I feel a completely different vibe. Once more, it feels in retrospect that I was never going to get the job I wanted because of the state of mind I was in. I was hopeful, even positive, I worked and strove hard for it, but it was all effort. It wasn’t in me. I was closed off. It was like running head first into a closed door, picking myself up and doing it all over again. I was not a viable option because really I wasn’t a viable person. I feel I am now.

There is a possibility I may stay on, though in a different role. There’s a bunch of senior managers in the company who think I’m the bees knees. Just this morning I received very strong positive feedback on a proposal I’ve been pushing a long time. There’s a select group who think I’m very capable, who look to utilise my skill, and defer to me in some matters. If push comes to shove I think there might be one or two who will look to pull me into their orbit. There’s certainly one option I’m open to, but mum’s the word for now.

If you’re busy and you know it clap your hands

Busy days for H. Work pisses me off often times, and with good reason – but right now I’ve sunk my teeth into some juicy projects, as well as the haunches of a sloppy area of people. I’m tasting blood, but they have it coming.

Otherwise everything else seems busy too even if not much is happening.

I’m a bit busier socially than normal, which is welcome. Off to see Benjamin Law tonight, which makes a nice change. I guess I feel caught up and busy from a psychological aspect to.

I set myself a challenge this year and I’ve really settled into it now. In truth it makes for about a 10% difference in me, which is not a lot really. Early days it was tough going and uncomfortable and because I didn’t know how to go about it the way ahead seemed as if navigated by a compass too close to magnets. As I said, I’ve now adjusted, much of me is as I’ve always been and pretty comfortable with that, and the rest is becoming easier and more natural. It feels the right thing, and as if I’ve opened the door for some long overdue good karma.

I was asked yesterday in my examination if I was stressed or unhappy. The usual answer when it comes to stress is that there’s plenty to be stressed about, but I don’t really feel it. As for how happy I am? Things could be better, but I feel I’m on the right road and that counts for a shitload. On balance I’d say I’m hoping for better times, but content they will come.

The girl is a curly part of that, but as I say, I’m pretty fatalistic about it. I felt some guilt early on thinking she might believe I’d taken a set against her. I’m now comfortable that I’ve proved to her otherwise – what she wants to do with that is up to her. I’ll take my lead from her – right now it means we’re polite but not talking. It feels sorta strange and unsustainable. We work close by and even if it’s different now were close before, on top of which I’m back in top form and I’m hard to avoid like this.

That’s one of the other goals I’ve set myself. Stage 2, if you like. Many moons ago H was a much more expressive character who took great delight in language. Maybe I was a bit of a show-off, but really I just got a kick from the rich vein of expression that flowed from me, and I was as funny as hell. I got high on the performance and at my best I’ve have an audience just waiting to applaud. I was in my early 20’s then, full of every conceivable male pheromone. I had swagger, in the walked and in the way I talked.

I don’t want to get back to that, but I want some of it back. What happened is over the years I became more reserved. Some of the delight went out of the performance, and suffering from the occasional heartache and disappointment I had less reason to be ebullient. Came the time I didn’t care what people thought, whether they liked me or not, whether they thought me witty and smart or everything otherwise. I couldn’t give a shit basically and so rarely made the effort.

It seems a bit sad when described as that, but there were occasions throughout when I’d randomly fire up, either because the chemicals were just right or because I chose to let it rip for a change. It was all the more surprising when people encountered this version of H when all they’d known before was the other H. (To be square, there are people who think I’m charming most of the time, and certainly there have been women I’ve turned it on for – from my perspective though there is a world of difference between who I was before and who I became).

So, I want to be that person more often. I want to care about it, and I want people to enjoy – and even delight in – my company. I want to dazzle occasionally with my wit, and look forward to my insight. This is a part of opening up – the things inside being brought outside once more. I’m aiming for a February start, but am feeling it already.