Uncategorized, Unemployment, Workplace Drama, Writing

When You Want To Grow

TP

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been unemployed for about 2 1/2 months now. Some days it feels like it all happened yesterday, other days it feels like it was years ago. It’s crazy how it can be such a blur to me, yet still so many things stand out. The good things stand out. The friends I made, and the people I would enjoy seeing every day. And, of course, the bad things stand out. My unhappiness, the poor way the company was run, and the gossip. Oh, the gossip was the worst! I don’t miss that part, at all!

When I looked at the calendar today and noticed the date, I thought of a few things. First, 25 years ago today, my grandmother passed away. Amazing how the time goes by, but I’ll never forget April 11th for that reason. Also, it happened to be Easter Sunday that day, so that makes the date stand out, as well. 2 years ago today, I started my job at That Place…I’ll refer to it that way from now on. Within the first month, I knew it wasn’t the job for me, but I had living expenses, so I dug in and I did it with a smile every day…well, not every day, I’m not perfect. 1 year ago today, I sat down with HR and told them being in my position for a year, I felt confident that I was ready to grow and move forward, and by moving forward, I meant moving out of my position, and of course, making more money. I left that meeting on a high since the HR manager agreed with me and made suggestions of areas where she thought I would be a good fit. 2 weeks later, my high became a low when she sat me down and told me she had spoken with “The Family”…aka the owners of the company. The conversation went a little something like this:
She said, “They like you where you are.”
“Does that mean I’m not doing a good job, and they don’t see that I have potential?” I asked.
“Oh, no,” she smiled, trying to reassure me. “It means you’re very good at what you do, so this is where you’ll stay.”
“Wait, what, huh?” I stammered through my response. “You mean they don’t want me to grow?”
“I’m sorry,” she said, shaking her head with pity.
“Seriously? Does that mean I won’t ever have an increase in pay?”
“Not at this time. I’m sorry. How do you feel?”
If I had told her how I really felt, I would have been fired on the spot. Who doesn’t want their employees to grow? It put me in mind of my time at Sephora. For makeup junkies like myself, it sounds like a dream job, right? At first, it was. It didn’t pay the best, but it fed my addiction with free products. About 6 months into my time there, I told the store manager I wanted to move into skincare. I thought she would be thrilled given the fact that, at that time, I had nearly 15 years of experience in the beauty industry. Halfway through my pitch to her about my deep knowledge of skincare and why I’d be a great addition to that team, she shook her head and very loudly said, “No. I’m sorry Brooke. You’re so good with the customers and ringing people up quickly, I can’t lose you there.”
Needless to say, my time at Sephora was short-lived after that. Not only was I told I couldn’t move forward, but it was retail during Christmas…at Park Meadows Mall. (My Colorado friends will totally understand that!)
I really wish my time at That Place would have been short-lived after I was told I’d never move up, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but even with numerous interviews under my belt, I wasn’t successful at finding a new job, and it just wasn’t possible to walk away from it. I have a family to feed!
Losing my job in January was truly the best thing that could happen. At first I felt elation, but that “up” was quickly followed by a “down”. I didn’t know what to do with myself with all this free time. Sure, the house could be cleaned, or I could jump into an intense fitness regime, but I haven’t done that. I’m writing, so there’s my blessing. I love to write! (Debut novel will be released soon…come on, had to do the shameless plug! Follow me on Instagram for updates!)
I’m getting better at meditating and praying, and I’m opening myself to accepting new possibilities. As I write this, there is very good potential for a new possibility, but that’s all I’ll say for now. I don’t want to announce anything until I have a firm offer.

I can’t be the only one who’s felt stifled at a job. I want to hear from you! Have you been in a position where you’ve been ready to grow, but your employer wouldn’t let you? I look forward to your response!

Uncategorized, Unemployment, Workplace Drama

When You Find Out You Worked For Liars

Liar

Nothing gets me more steamed than finding out I’ve been lied to. I was raised to be an honest person. I am an honest person, and I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility to expect that from others, especially my employer.

Before I dig into a rant on my former job, let me make one thing clear. I was not happy there. In fact, I hated my last job for 3 main reasons:

  • It was the wrong fit for me.
  • There was a ton of drama in the workplace.
  • It was a dead-end position with no promise of moving up. Ever.

When I was let go, I was brought into a large conference room. In said room was the HR manager, the HR bitch…sorry, not sorry…the VP of Finance and the CFO, who used to be one of the owners of the company before they sold out for millions. And I’m talking millions! (I’ll share more on the moment I was let go, and the HR bitch, in a different post.)
The CFO looked at me with tears in her eyes, repeatedly apologizing about the fact that my position was being eliminated. The VP didn’t have tears in his eyes, but he was very good at making it seem as though the fact that they were letting me go was killing him.
I was curious though. In a company where they had 2 people at the front desk because of its high traffic with calls and incoming visitors, why would they just eliminate this position without at least tapering off into a new situation? They let it seem as though it would be a very different set up. The phones were to be put on an automated system, eliminating the need for a human to answer. There would be one person at the desk to handle incoming visitors, but not in a customer service/front desk capacity. I was told to think along the lines of security guard, or lobby guard, etc.
Fine. No sweat. I was just glad to put that place behind me.
Crazy thing is, others who still worked there told me that there were suddenly temps covering the front desk…of course, that was followed up with a quick excuse that it was only until they could get things ironed out. I don’t care, but again, why the sudden decision, why not taper off and transition?
Just over a month has gone by since I’ve been let go. Today, just for sh*ts and grins, I got online and looked at the company website and checked out their job openings. I know, I know…it’s like looking up an ex on social media. You shouldn’t do it, but you just can’t help it!
Imagine my surprise when I went to the career section, and there was my former job posted as a new opening in the company.
Ok, this is where the lying comes in and this is what gets me fired up. Are you kidding me? I mean, I guess if they didn’t like me, telling me my position was being eliminated was the tactful thing to do. I can handle feedback on job performance and I appreciate honesty, but I wouldn’t want to hear something like that.
Maybe they were going to go one way, but then realized they couldn’t. Maybe they wanted to bring someone in to do the work of 2 people for the pay of less than 1. Maybe they’re just lying jerks. I don’t know what happened for sure, but I do know I’ll never learn the truth because there were too many lies leading up to this, and this was the lying cherry on the top. Plus, I’d never believe anything out of their mouths at this point.
I hold my head high every day that I’m not a part of that place anymore. I feel badly for those who are still there. More importantly, I feel awful for the poor soul who applies for my old position and gets it.
This was obviously a moment for me to let off some steam, but I want to hear from others! Have you ever been let go from a job, only to find out they lied to you? I know I can’t be the only one! I look forward to others sharing their story with me.

Uncategorized, Writer's Block, Writing

Writer’s Block or Unmotivated?

pexels-photo-267684.jpeg

Currently, I’m working on self-publishing my first book and I’m in the process of writing additional books that are included in the series.
Writer’s Block is something we’ve all heard of. You’re stuck. You don’t know where to go with the story. The characters aren’t doing what you want them to do.
I’ve experienced this and though it’s never fun, it is very real. But, sometimes I wonder, is it writer’s block, or am I just unmotivated?
The reason I wonder this is because when I’m not writing, it’s not because I don’t know what happens next in the story, or what the characters need me to write, it’s because sometimes I simply want to be lazy. But recently that laziness has been earned.

As I mentioned, I’m getting ready to self-publish my first book. As I’m putting the finishing touches on that, I delved into an intense edit of my second book. On top of all that, I recently lost my job.
Minus the money factor (that damn money!), I’ve loved being home and having the freedom to write all day. As soon as the layoff happened, I jumped in on the edit and gave it my all. My editor was loving my motivation. She wanted to read the book first to get a feel of the story and where it goes before she took the reigns and had fun with her red pen. (She really loves her red pen, by the way.) It’s very motivating to have someone reading your work as you go along. It really pushes me to finish.
Well, I finished my edit of my second book, although it’s nowhere near ready, there will be so much more work on the horizon. And I handed off my first book to be formatted to print, so what was I to do? It’s not like I don’t have plenty to keep me busy, but once I reached a stopping point and I actually stopped, I realized something:
I’m exhausted!

Writing is extremely emotional. I’ll sit here with my fingers flying over the keys and tears streaming down my face at times. Other times I have a scowl in place because I’m angry at the situation that’s being created, or I’ll giggle like a loon and make my family wonder if I need a mental evaluation. But, something I don’t think people take into consideration is how taxing it can be. I certainly never knew!

I have to feel good when I’m writing. If I’m bored and trudging through a chapter, I believe that will come across when someone reads it. The flow of the story has to be there, the emotion from the characters has to be there, even if it’s a simple moment of sharing coffee in the morning. One of my favorite writing quotes is, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” I love that quote and believe it to be true. If it touches me, it will touch the reader. If it bores me, it will bore the reader.

Sometimes I need a day or two, sometimes more. But this was turning into weeks. Weeks of me staring at a chapter and changing a word here and there, then justifying my time with playing Bejeweled or My Vegas Slots on Facebook, claiming that would clear my mind.

Since I’ve started writing, I’ve always lived by this rule: Ass in chair – write. Sometimes when I do this my writing resembles that scene from the movie Misery where he’s trapped with a psycho fan and he can’t get away:

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck, wrote Paul Sheldon as he emoted his frustration at being held captive by Annie Wilkes. I get it, Paul. I totally get it. (Sidebar, I love this movie and must watch it again soon!)

I start to freak out when I take breaks. I worry that my creativity is gone forever (I’m really good at worrying), I get frustrated with myself, I let my brain become inundated with every single doubt I’m sure every single writer has ever had.

So, what did I do to try to get my mojo back?

  • I started to read a book, but that didn’t help. When I get in these droughts, all I do is compare my writing to other writers and nothing good comes from that.
  • I got out of the house. Since I’ve been unemployed, I’ve become reclusive and it’s not always a good thing. Getting out of the house helps clear the mind.
  • I worked out. The treadmill does wonders for helping me find the words I’m looking for.
  • I drank wine. A lot of it. Another quote I love: “Write drunk, edit sober.” I’ve written some of my best stuff tipsy. (Not all of it, so don’t judge!)
  • I took a walk with my daughter.
  • I talked about it. Endlessly. To both of my daughters and my husband. I emailed my woes to a friend of mine. They all assured me I would find it.
  • I giggled. A lot. My oldest daughter has Fridays off from college. This past Friday, she and I walked to the store, made lunch together and laughed about everything and nothing. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
  • I finally sat my butt down and wrote.
  • And wrote and wrote and wrote.

Just like everyone told me it would, and like I believed deep down in my heart, my mojo came back.

I realize I never answered the question: was it writer’s block or was I unmotivated? It could have been either one, so I honestly don’t know. What I do know is, it’s OK to take a break. As I’m learning along this crazy road, some of these breaks are going to take longer than others. This was a long one. I didn’t like it, but it’s over. Eventually I found the words and the rhythm of the story again and wondered why they were ever lost.

Now I have to stop rambling and get back to writing, I have characters waiting for me to finish their chapter!

Job Interview, Unemployment

Group Interview

pexels-photo-416320.jpegIf we’re friends on Facebook, you’ve seen an abbreviated version of this post.

We all know “enjoy a flexible schedule” means you’re working nights and weekends. But what about other hidden meanings in the phrases we hear and the situations we find ourselves in when it comes to a job interview?

Recently, I was asked to attend an interview on a Saturday morning. My first thought was that it was strange, given this company’s hours were listed on their website as M-F 8-5. Then I thought maybe they’re conducting their interviews on a Saturday morning because business hours are way too busy. Ok, I can get behind that. But, when the email ended with, “Coffee and bagels will be provided.” Well, that just screamed group interview to me.

I loathe a group interview for so many reasons. First, it comes across to me as a company’s way of saying, “I don’t have time to weed out applicants, so please, come waste your time with us and let us reject you with a herd.” Second, in no group setting have I ever, EVER found a moment to let my credentials shine.

So, when I got this email asking me to join them on a Saturday for an interview, complete with coffee and bagels, I hesitated for the obvious reasons. But then I asked my husband is it fair and acceptable to confirm my suspicions that it’s a group interview? Having been in management for years, he gave me the nod of approval and told me it’s absolutely acceptable to ask that question. After all, it’s only fair that you prepare properly.

I sent my inquiry and got a response within the hour, praising me for my preparedness and then confirming what I suspected. Yes, it would be a group interview, but each candidate would be tested individually on tasks that pertain to the job. Then she went on to tell me she thought I would do great and could she confirm my attendance.
I didn’t want to say yes. I really didn’t. However, in finding myself newly unemployed, I know that not only is it a positive sign to get a request for an interview less than 2 weeks after I was let go from my job, but it’s good to accept any interview, because it keeps those skills sharpened.

I arrived the standard 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time. I was greeted by the owner of the company with a compliment to my punctuality. Also, she was the one who appreciated my preparedness. I took this as a good sign. And, when only 2 other women arrived shortly after I did, I took it as another good sign that there were only 3 of us and this would not be a large group.

The process started off ok. We were offered coffee and bagels and did the standard, “go around the table and tell us about yourself” exercise. Then the three of us were taken into individual offices with one of the managers who had a binder with tasks for us to complete.

Instantly, I felt a connection with the owner of the company. She was charismatic, sweet and seemed really nice, overall. Of course, I didn’t get paired with her. I got paired with a very nice man who didn’t know what the hell he was doing. I’m sure he’s very capable in his daily role as a physical therapist, but he was nervous, and then he felt like he was making me nervous, so not only did he leave the room to give me space, he freaking disappeared altogether.

Normally, this would not have been a problem for me if this wasn’t an area in which I wasn’t comfortable. This job interview was for an administrative assistant in a speech therapy clinic. I have not worked in the medical field, even though I’ve always wanted to. The tasks they were testing us on were simple at first:

  1. Type a memo to a doctor asking for a referral. Ok, I’m good at letters, so I had no problem with this. I got through it, typed my memo and printed. Piece of cake. (Oh! I’m starting to wonder if they have cake!)
  2. Log into a healthcare system I’ve never seen before and request the patient’s benefit eligibility.
    1. The system was not intuitive AT ALL.
    2. The steps they had written for the tasks didn’t make sense, either.
    3. Figured it out and printed the information.
  3. Call and verify insurance on a different patient.
    1. I’ve never done this before, so this would fall under the category of I’ll have to be trained.
    2. I rolled with the punches and called the number to collect the information and sat frozen when the automated system started rattling off numbers that didn’t coincide with the paperwork given to me.
    3. I smiled and wrote down what I could, but not before I knew this was the beginning of the end.
  4. Call the cell phone number provided and confirm patient’s appointment, following the script.
    1. Piece of cake! (Seriously, is there no cake?)
    2. I nailed this task, how can you not?
  5. Role play with the staff as they set up a scenario with a double-booked client and how to handle the situation.
    1. Not my favorite scenario, but one that’s definitely real. I have seen this happen in a day spa where I once worked, and while spa treatments are not doctor appointments, women who miss their manicures will tell you otherwise.
    2. I handled the conflict with patience and poise.
    3. Conflict was resolved with how I role played, and the managers were happy with the outcome.

At the end of all of this, I felt good about most of it, but I was starting to have some reservations. I mean, I get that you want to put a potential candidate into a situational interview to see how they perform, but if you already know they would need training in a certain area, wouldn’t you at least stick around to answer any questions they may have? That answer was no. This began a slew of red flags for me.

Red flag #1: The group dynamic. Should have listened to my gut on this one, but at the same time, it’s an interview, right? Keep those wheels greased.
Red flag #2: The nervous dude facilitating my interview. He didn’t know what he was doing, and any time I asked a question, he looked at me like a deer in headlights before he disappeared altogether.
Red flag #3: Giving me a task to do when you know I have no experience with said task, says to me: “Here’s the deep end with no life jacket, swim!”
Red flag #4: A Saturday morning interview and 90 minutes into it, when I asked how much longer I could plan on being there, they told me at least another hour. Hmm…any time I’ve ever been to a lengthy interview like this, the company has always prepared me for the space of time beforehand if it was out of the ordinary for a typical interview. The fact that they did not, tells me there’s not a lot of consideration for my time.

 

My takeaways?
Well, the first thing spoke volumes. If you don’t take the time to weed out your applicants with a phone interview to decide whether or not you want to meet face-to-face, that shows me a bit of arrogance.
If you’re going to throw me a task with no direction whatsoever, that tells me if I get the job, I’ll be thrown into it with absolutely no training.
And, most importantly, if you aren’t going to give me heads up beforehand that you are going to want nearly three hours of my time on any given day, that tells me you’ll never understand my work/life balance.

So, while I’m completely exhausted from interview after interview (Because I’ve been interviewing for over a year now.), I need to put this out there to any prospective employer: You’re not just interviewing me, I’m interviewing you! It’s important for potential employers to remember that.

Thank you for your time, thank you for liking my resume, but no thank you. If you can’t take the time to get to know me, face-to-face, one-on-one, and learn what I can bring to the role and see that I’m worth the time to train, then we don’t have a relationship. And, you know what? I’m OK with that, even if this is my 13th interview in the last year. YOU don’t fit my description of the perfect employer.

I want to hear from you! Tell me about an interview experience where you knew it was a no go! Fill me in on your thoughts and takeaways. And, seriously, does anyone have cake??

Uncategorized

Welcome!

pexels-photo-102100.jpegWelcome to My Writing Days! Thanks for stopping by!

Some of you may be familiar with my beauty blog, BrookeKnowsBeauty.wordpress.com and if you are familiar with it, you may be wondering what I’m doing starting another blog, especially when I haven’t shown BKB a lot of love lately. If you aren’t familiar with it, come take a look!

Well, my life has taken many turns in the past few years. We’ve relocated twice in 4 years and I wrote a book series. Which leads me to this…

A while back, one of my friends suggested I write about writing. Hmm, I thought that was strange because shouldn’t I just focus on the story I have within me? I didn’t do anything about that until now. And I kind of wish I would have when she suggested it, because any time I’ve felt blocked or burned out on my novels, I turn to blogging and it clears my head. It still allows me to write, but since it’s more like journaling, it really frees my mind and gives me that motivation I need to start fresh and jump back into the world with my characters.

And, on top of writing a series of books, I’ve recently been laid off from my job. I’ve always said I wanted to write full-time, so here it is. Possibly for the time being, until I find a new job, or maybe, if life goes the way I’m visualizing it to go, writing will be my job!

So, what can you expect here? I’ll be sharing my journey with you as I self-publish my first novel. Yikes! I’m so excited, but so darn scared, too! I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the writing process and what I’ve experienced. I’ll even share with you what it’s like to write a steamy sex scene!

I thought I would also share my experience with being newly unemployed and what I’m going through with trying to find another job: applications, resumes and interviews…I have strong, and sassy, feelings about all of these topics!

One thing you need to know about me though: I have a lot to say! So, any time you visit, sit back with your coffee, tea or wine and be prepared to stay awhile.

Hopefully you’ll stick around. I like to think I’m that enjoyable!