Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Job hunting is a stressful thing.

I am not yet unemployed; that won’t happen until I graduate in May. Even then, I’m lucky to have enough in savings (*cough* hoarded student loan money *cough*) that I can be unemployed for a few months if need be. Still, it’s stressful. I can easily imagine how much of a nightmare the process must be for someone who is currently unemployed and who has already drained his or her savings.

This is the first time I’ve gone job hunting in the US since 2002, and the process has become a lot more internet-based in the intervening twelve years. While there were some online application websites back in 2002, most of the jobs I applied for back then either required me to snail-mail hard-copies of my application materials, or asked me to email the relevant documents to the individual in charge of the hiring process. Nearly all of the jobs I’ve applied for in the intervening twelve years have been overseas EFL teaching jobs, and they, too, merely required that I email my resume, cover letter, and references’ contact information to their HR person. While there are a very small number of job openings (in my field, mind you) here in the US that do simply ask for documents to be emailed, most seem to rely on online job application submission websites. These things are responsible for a lot of the stress that I’ve been feeling lately.

Here are some of the thoughts I’ve had while dealing with these job-application websites:

  • If I am able to submit my resume to the job application website, why must I then manually copy and paste every single section of my resume into teeny-tiny little boxes? Surely one or the other should suffice!
  • I swear, half of these websites must have gone live a good ten years ago or so, and are desperately in need of an update to become more user-friendly.
  • PLEASE enable a save-as-you-go feature. Nothing like using an application website that doesn’t allow you to save until you have spent several hours filling in all the little boxes… especially when, right before you hit submit, your cat jumps onto your laptop and closes the browser.
  • Dear Job X: I see that you have been advertising the same positions over and over for MONTHS now. The reason why no one is applying is that your job application website is broken. After potential applicants spend several hours completing their application, the website tells them they can’t submit the application until they answer Question X. Except that they have indeed answered Question X. Even attempting to provide different answers to Question X or attempting to apply via different browsers does not solve this problem. I would contact you directly to inform you of this issue, but the only contact information you provided was this broken job application website.
  • If you are advertising a position on a third-party job-search website that allows applicants to apply for positions directly through said website, but you do not want applicants to use this function, please make this clear sometime before the applicant completes the third-party site’s application submission process.
  • If the instructions clearly state that letters of reference must be submitted directly from the reference himself/herself, why won’t the application website let me submit the application until I upload three letters of reference? You do realize that if I am uploading them, they are not coming directly from the reference, right?
  • UPDATE: If your website doesn't recognize *.docx files, even when it specifies Microsoft Word files only, your website is in serious need of an update.

It’s not just the job-application websites that are stressing me out, although they’re a good portion of it. For one thing, there just are not that many full time jobs in my field. I don’t want to graduate with over $20,000 in student loan debt only to make $15,000 a year as an adjunct, but that might very well happen. When faced with the option of making so little as an adjunct or going back overseas, I definitely start considering the option of going overseas again. I’ve even been corresponding with a potential employer in Kazakhstan and looking at job ads at Korean universities… although notice how that wouldn’t help me to take some of mom’s dogs off her hands. Not to mention that I feel all kinds of stress when I think about the logistics of international travel with Charlie and Mochi. Arrrrgh. Lastly, very few places seem willing to get back to applicants. How much effort does it take to email a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ form letter? So far, I’ve gotten one. ONE. Does that mean the others are still considering me? Have they hired someone else? Have they thrown my application in the trash and are looking for someone better? I have no idea.

Sigh. There’s not really any point to this post; I just wanted to vent. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Keeping my options open

I’m not really a fan of Orlando. I don’t like theme parks. I don’t like strip malls. Orlando and the surrounding communities are, to me, little more than overpriced neighborhoods linked together by theme parks, strip malls, and toll roads. If I’m missing out on something superawesome about Orlando, please feel free to clue me in, but I’ve been here for a year and a half now and this is what the place seems like to me. I mean, you can drive from Orlando to Winter Park to Casselberry without any sign that you’ve gone from one community to another. It’s all strip malls and boring, identical, overpriced neighborhoods. You head west and you run up against the Disney nightmare. I am not a fan of Disney, theme parks, or crowds, so you can guess that I head west as seldom as possible. Luckily I live in East Orlando.

I’ve pretty much decided that unless I get offered something spectacular overseas, I’m going to stay in the US. Ideally, I’d like to stay in Florida – although I’ve been looking (and applying) at jobs in Georgia and Tennessee as well. Ideally, I’d like to get away from Orlando, as pretty much anywhere else in this state is more appealing. However, I want to keep my options open – especially since there are a lot of jobs in my field in this area.

Assuming that I get a full time job in the US, I am going to buy a house. I don’t like renting. I want to be able to paint my house funky colors and fill it full of cats. I also need a yard to put some of my mom’s dogs in so that she won’t have to deal with them anymore. There are properties in Orlando and the nearby communities that I could afford… although they’re not exactly in the best neighborhoods. (OBT, anyone? Hah.) I started thinking about communities within commuting distance, and ended up checking out Titusville online – and discovered that there’s a good bit of affordable real estate there. Now, I’ve only ever known one person who lived in Titusville, and he has since been arrested for child molestation. He also said the place sucked and was full of rednecks. All and all, it didn’t sound like the most likely of locations. But, I could afford to buy a place there, were I to get a job in the Orlando area.

So, today I decided to drive over there – both to see how long the drive really was (albeit I didn’t do it in rush hour traffic), to see how sucky it really was, and to see if the affordable houses were all in terrible neighborhoods. My thoughts on Titusville can be summed up by saying Titusville: Surprisingly Not Horrible. I expected it to suck, and it didn’t. Yeah, there was a bit of a redneck vibe… but I grew up in north Florida, and (despite my current location) am a legal resident of southeast Georgia. Redneck is relative. The waterfront areas were lovely, the town had some character, and the houses I looked at were in reasonably nice neighborhoods. I’m not sure how I feel about the commute – it was 40 minutes in Sunday afternoon traffic – but it’s doable. Anyway, this is all just silly conjecture at this point, as I have only applied to one job in Orlando so far, but it gave me something to do this afternoon when I should have been grading essays.

Anyhow, here are some shots of the waterfront area in Titusville:

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