Background Checks & Fingerprinting – The Waiting Period

So I think I mentioned I was hired for a job with the local school system, and while it sounds great and all, I realized something…

This is more or less a waiting game.

You see, I still haven’t started that new job promised me the week of Easter. And, as you can imagine, I’d like to get started sometime very soon if possible. In fact, I called today to see what the hold-up was, and I was told… nothing. They’re simply waiting for all the background checks to come through before they decide to tell me whether I’m actually going to start or not.

Now here’s the thing: I know that unless my identity has been stolen, I should have zero criminal records of any kind. And they can check INTERPOL if they like, but to my knowledge, I’ve committed no international crimes during my various visits overseas.

So what’s taking so long?

I’ve already submitted all my personal information and agreed to their terms and basically signed my life away. I paid $45 on a fingerprinting test as well, which is rather irritating when you think about it. I don’t see why I had to pay to do something they have people do on a regular basis, but that’s really neither here nor there. There should be no hold-up.

In fact, I was approved for government clearance to access student loan files in a previous job faster than they’re getting back to me.

I get it, I do. We have to protect students and access to personal information. But I’ve never done anything in any previous jobs that makes me untrustworthy. I simply do my thing, and I do as I’m taught. That’s all. There’s no reason for me to do anything else because I probably don’t have time for that.

As they say, ain’t nobody got time fo dat.

And, yes, I’m a sistah, according to one of my old clients at the call center, so I can clearly say that.

All that said, I’d like to get this show on the road. It’s getting to be a long and tiring process for me to wait for information. And when I called today, I was told that they had no information on me either and the lady would call downtown to find out what was taking so long. Did she call me back? No.

Fernando’s beginning to think I should apply for another job since this one is taking so long to get processed. But I was so hoping this would work out.

I guess sometimes things don’t always go as planned. But either way, it would really be nice to start earning money again. Especially with my funds dwindling as they are.

We’ll see if I get a call back tomorrow or not. My guess is probably not. And here I am with lots of things I need to accomplish and no money to do it on.

I’ll be back to let you know if they ever get my information processed and get me started. Until then, I’ll be rereading The Chronicles of Narnia and debating about putting my story up on Wattpad. (I’ll let you know about that, too!)

RaeNez

The Perks of Part-Time

I mentioned in my last post I wanted to share a little of my vision for this blog and where I see myself going with it in the coming months. Now it’s time to share some news and give you that information. So, with no further ado…

I got a new job!

Yes, the turnaround on that was remarkably short, and I feel incredibly blessed to be able to tell you this. And as of right this moment, I haven’t started said job. I’m still waiting for paperwork to be processed. However, I’m incredibly hopeful that will be taken care of quickly and they’ll clear me to start working within the next few days.

What does that mean for me, my work, my writing, and this blog?

Well, first of all, it means income, a huge blessing considering how low I’ve been running these last couple of weeks. Fernando is thrilled about my new opportunity because it will take some of the financial pressure off of us, and that will make things much simpler for us.

Second, it means a shift in my work-life balance. This is totally different from how I have been working in the past. Normally I look for full-time jobs and positions where I can maximize my income, advance in the company and work diligently until better opportunities come along.

This isn’t that job.

In fact, this is entirely different, and I think it will make my work-life balance so much better in the short term and long run that it will positively affect a lot of areas in my life.

I say that because this isn’t a position I pursued. Inadvertently, yes, but this time around, no. Let me explain.

I got a call from the local school system about a resume I put in before Fernando and I were married for a clerical position that never panned out. The woman worked in a different department entirely and needed clerical help, wanted to interview me for a part-time position, and asked if I was still available. I agreed to the interview.

I came in and sat down for a chat, and before I knew it, I was really interested in the position. Not only will the position be a clerical one at 28 hours per week, but I may, upon proof of my performance, have the opportunity to split those 28 hours between clerical work and a higher paying position–specifically ESL teaching!

So when I got the call that I’d gotten the call, I was pretty excited. It’s with the county school system, which means it’s through the state. So even though the state is pretty adamant they don’t want to hire anyone more than 28 hours because they’d have to pay for insurance (thanks Obamacare); there’s the potential for a higher paying job within the criteria of 28 hours per week.

I’m looking forward to this opportunity, though, because it opens the door to a number of things I haven’t let myself consider.

  • I’ll be able to spend time on my novel writing and work on publishing some of it after doing rewrites and edits, which will be a great exercise in moving towards being a real author.
  • I may get back into a full-fledged TEFL Certificate course (120-hour accredited online program) and earn my certificate to gain more traction in the ESL teaching community and market myself better.
  • Fernando and I are even talking about both of us going back to college (he for another bachelor’s, me for a master’s), which would be a crazy risk to take but totally worth it, right?

All of this said, the job will allow me to do things to promote myself as an author, explore job options I might not otherwise explore, and be present in my marriage with Fernando.

And this makes me very happy indeed. 

I think the key to keeping up with my blog is simply to have and make time for it. You’ll see in the coming weeks that I’ll be posting about the books I’m currently working on. I’ll be writing about the plans I have to market myself, and I’ll be adding news links to this blog.

Fernando is also talking about making me a real author website once he’s finished teaching himself HTML.

How cool would that be?

In the meantime, I think I’ll take Dobby the House Corgi out for a walk and work on some writing, some reading, and maybe do a bit of dabbling in photography. Because in the end, anything I do to learn how to market myself is better than nothing, right?

– RaeNez

P.S. My mood might be slightly buoyed by the fact I tried my hand at a Paleo recipe last night that turned out fabulously. I made DIY chocolate bars (similar to Hershey’s chocolate bars) from unsweetened cocoa, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract, and (the best part!) sea salt.

Mouthwatering!! And, yes, I chopped them into bite-sizes, just like Hershey’s… I could get used to this. 🙂

How NOT To Conduct A Job Interview

I know I’ve talked about a number of different topics on this blog, and in the coming posts, I plan to tell you a little about my plans for the blog, my work life, and my writing. However, I wanted to touch on something that happened recently.

As you’re probably aware, there are a number of job related websites out there that are available for job seekers to search for jobs. These sites can run the gamut from compiling job listings from all over the web a la Indeed to allowing you to post your resume in a semi-public forum to use for applying to jobs and to allow potential employers to see your information and contact you.

Examples of the latter would be Monster and CareerBuilder.

I’ve posted my resume on both websites in the hopes it will speed up application processes. However, this has an adverse affect as well. It leads to what I’ll call the Wild Goose Chase.

The Wild Goose Chase occurs when I get a call from someone who “has my resume on file” and would like to interview me for a position they have available. Typically they give me very little information besides a company name, an interviewer name, and a date/time for the interview. Sometimes they even tell me there’s an actual position available!

Here’s the thing about this type of situation: if they give me a company name, I usually end up wracking my brains trying to remember when I applied to their company in the first place.

But I digress.

Recently I had just such a situation come up and found out the company was an insurance company. I’ll stop here and say that I’m immediately suspicious when I hear the words “insurance,” “sales,” or “agent” over the phone. So the fact they called out of the blue, “had my resume on file,” and had positions immediately available wasn’t giving them much credibility in my eyes.

That said, I did take a moment to ask whether this was for a sales position or something else. The woman told me they had “management” positions available in the office and other office positions available. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt and came in for the interview, which I was told would be with a woman named Vicky.

Great.

I showed up a few minutes early and noticed other people entering the building. I figured it could simply be people returning from break. Then I got inside, and a woman seemed confused by my name, told me to sit and “someone” would be with me shortly. I sat next to a woman who seemed in the same position as me. Another man came in who appeared younger than me and was told the same thing.

I started feeling irritated.

Then a woman and a man exited the offices from the hallway with a couple of people in tow. They were shown to a conference room where I glimpsed a room full of other people similarly dressed. I realized then they wanted to do a group interview.

Let me be very clear about something: group interviews really only work if you’re a big company (i.e. Apple) or you’re a low-budget sales company who doesn’t have the money to pay for the labor to interview individual candidates.

Oh wait. The latter doesn’t work.

I got walked back to an office with a woman who didn’t introduce herself, so I’m going to name her Shamequia because I feel like it and because she was painfully white. Yes, that may sound racist, but it’s not. I’m just making a point that it would have certainly helped if she’d had the courtesy to introduce herself.

So Shamequia and I sat for maybe five minutes, but it was probably more like three. In that time, she told me I was there to go through a presentation with Vicky about the benefits of the company. I was not there to be interviewed for a position in the office because there wasn’t one open, in fact. And yes, it was all agent positions. That was it.

But, she said, have no fear, because this, my dear, is not high-pressure sales!

Really? Because it sure was starting to sound like it. And with your lack of professionalism, you’re really making me want to walk out that door.

She wanted to get up and take me straight to the conference room then and there, but I stopped her and asked her definition of high-pressure sales (which she’d already said was being in a position where you didn’t have to twist a person’s arm to buy insurance policies they didn’t need). She looked at me kind of funny.

Then I said my definition of high-pressure sales was quotas, commission-only pay, and setting your own sales goals. Her face got a bit pinched, and she evaded my question by saying all my questions were great and would be covered in the presentation and I should really “give Vicky a chance.”

Oh sure. I’m here already. Let’s go sit through something I clearly am not suited for.

So then we walked to the conference room where a number of women were seated. I was handed an application, sat down, and began filling out the application. A man came in a few minutes later, and before I knew it, Vicky and another gentleman came in. I was still working on my application as was the last man to enter the room.

Vicky began by introducing herself and then pointing out the two of us filling out applications. “You can fill those out later,” she said. When neither of us stopped, she repeated, “Fill those out later!” Really? Manners, lady.

She introduced her colleague as French (he sounded Southern) and dubbed him Jean with some ridiculous sounding accent of her own. Through her presentation she called him Jacque and Joel. Again, I have no idea what his name actually was. For all I know, he could have been Frank.

I get the impression the only name I needed to know was Vicky.

She began talking about the company, the usual blah blah history, blah blah money, blah blah. Then she started on the spiel about what insurance sales had done for her life. At this point she stopped and told us she didn’t want to tell us her story because she didn’t feel like it. Excuse me?

I’m afraid I didn’t hear you correctly.

Captain Picard disapproves.

I came all the way to your office on the other side of town to hear you tell me your foot hurts and you’d rather not tell your fabulous success story? Talk about professional.

Let’s just say I tuned out at that point. I started watching the guy across from me instead. His body language was incredibly put out, and I was positive he was irritated by the presentation as well. It was fun to have a silent partner in my frustration.

By the time all was said and done, Vicky told us her salary, which, let’s face it, makes little to no difference in our lives. Quite honestly, when the owner of an insurance sales company tells future potential agents her salary, it’s like a human dangling a bone three feet above the head of a dog that has a broken leg and can’t jump. We know we aren’t starting there. You’re just tempting us unnecessarily.

She handed the remainder of the presentation over to Jean/Jacque/Joel, who botched it merrily. He’s 26, has never had a full-time job before, and quite clearly knew nothing about effective presentation skills. He could easily have put me to sleep. He got caught up on one point and chewed it up and spat it out like it was golden. I thought he was slightly moronic to emphasize the point so dramatically, but what do I know.

His point? You should always pay attention and listen to your mentors in the business so you can learn from them. Really? He also said that while he was younger than some of us, he knew more about selling insurance with that company than any of us.

No kidding, Captain Obvious.

That said, he tried. And by the end when I wanted to strangle him, I didn’t. He did tell us to stay for a second round of interviews if we were still interested. (I can tell no one’s worked with him on his sales skills. He should have assumed interest and created expectation for the interviews, but whatever…) He said if we weren’t interested to pick up one of Vicky’s cards on the way out and give her a hug.

A hug?? You don’t go give strangers hugs, dude. Not even here in the South.

He left the room, and I and all but one person headed out the front door without a glance back.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how not to conduct a job interview.

– RaeNez

New Jobs and Diets – Working Hand in Hand

I’ve managed to survive my first three weeks of training. Or so it feels. We’ve had so many snow days our training has been interrupted on several occasions, but it’s been a good thing for me because I’ve had a bit of difficulty getting back into the swing of a full-time schedule again!

That said, I’m learning the ropes of being both a director and counselor on this new journey I’m taking. Managing an entire store sounds like a terribly daunting task when you start the training. It’s the getting the hang of it that I still don’t feel very capable of.

I’ve been learning so much about how to manage the business while also learning about the business of the diet. It’s a lot of knowledge about how to balance your meals properly while constantly maintaining a specific type of diet during the weight loss phase of the program.

I know what you’re thinking.

Diets are so restrictive. I can’t do that. And truthfully, I won’t argue any differently about this one being more restrictive than other diets you might have done in the past. Even so, it all depends on the person whether you can do the diet.

The truth is, I always find a diet a matter of where your brain is.

Anytime you change how you eat, you have to consider that you’re going from one diet to another. So the fact that I’ve been on this diet that I’ll be selling for a little over a week and a half now simply means I’ve exchanged one diet for another.

It doesn’t mean that I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve definitely suffered side effects, especially in the first three days of the diet. I’ve got to say that changing the way I eat created some really interesting effects, including how often I use the restroom. Of course, it helps that I aim to drink at least 64 ounces of water per day.

The upside is that in the first week I’ve seen a 5 pound loss thus far. And the really neat thing about my job is that I’ve got a machine that tells me how much weight I need to lose. Before starting the diet, my ideal loss was determined to be in the range of 18 pounds.

Now I’m at 13.2 pounds to go. I’m excited.

So my new job has created lots of anticipation for me in that I feel able to take on the task of bringing hope to people who haven’t lost weight before and giving myself a chance to lose the last few pounds that would put me at a healthier weight.

I’m going to enjoy it. At least, I’m going to try to enjoy it since I’m quite certain once we get out of training and up and running it will be a lot like work!

So, off we go into the wild blue yonder of weight loss… Wish me luck!

– RaeNez

The Ethics of Job Blogging

This can be a rather dicey subject, and I’d best put out my thoughts on it now before I go too much further in my blog and let you all know more about the place I work and the people I work with.

There are lots of things I want to explain about the call center, and before I start, there are some hard and fast rules I have set for myself and this blog:

  • I will not name the company for which I work, its location, or any of the people within the company.
  • I may badmouth some of the business practices of the company, but I have signed nothing that states I am not allowed to do so, and I believe I am indemnifying myself by holding to point 1 above.
  • It isn’t wrong to blog about the company I work for, the conditions I work under, or the reasons I’m seeking work elsewhere, especially considering I have yet to find something else, and if/when I do leave, I will still hold to point 1 above in an effort to indemnify myself and absolve the company of any blame.

All of that said, it’s hard to blog about your company as an unsatisfied employee. When the problem is not that your customers are bugging you but that management is constantly offering up change that seems to make the place more unworkable and expecting you to adhere to standards you cannot meet, you begin to feel it necessary to find some means of venting.

Now, many people do this on the premises at my work, which is an ethical nightmare of its own. Not to mention any rational person knows this is a means to an end: literally an end of losing your job. I’ve heard it said any gossiping reported to our VP of Human Resources will report in immediate dismissal. Given the fact I work in a gossip den, I find that highly unlikely but don’t want to test my luck too much longer by venting with other equally unsatisfied co-workers for fear of getting lumped in with the group and going down in a heap of ashes.

Venting can take other forms at home or in other places away from the office. I’ll sit at the dinner table at night and rant to my parents or Fernando about this or that change that’s taking place. Our key phrase at work that seems to define everything we do is: “Change is Good.” And my sarcastic rants typically reiterate this in the most sneering way possible, followed by the ways in which this change will likely make my life hell for the next however long until the next change comes along.

While an adequate means of venting and while both my parents and Fernando (and even some girlfriends of mine) are good sports about my venting, I always feel it gets tedious for them.

I don’t want to become the next crazy person walking into the office with a gun and blowing people’s heads off because of workplace stress. Granted, I also don’t feel it’s gotten even close to that point. But I am taking my own measures to ensure it wouldn’t get near that point.

So here I am. I set up a blog unaffiliated with any of the other blogs I host, under a different name from those blogs, attached to a different email address. The secrecy may be unnecessary, but I would like to keep my anonymity. Should someone who knows me personally find this blog and read it and recognize me from the posts, I would hope they would come to me before running off to someone else to share the surprising content of the blog. However, I’ve decided to start this blog for my own form of catharsis from some of the things my employers do, and given the number of others who do the same, I see no problem with this.

As a side note, I have made sure not to associate this blog with a Facebook page or Twitter account or any other social media I am a part of. Why? I’m sure you can imagine. The ethics of hosting a blog like this demand I be polite and maintain a distance between my personal life and the truth behind my professional life.

It’s just good sense. That’s all.

I believe the content of this blog will be a mix of funny and sarcastic, angry and amused, witty and wondering as I take the journey of life outside the box. And it won’t all be about my job. But I have quite a bit of fodder gleaned from my time at the call center, and I believe it’s worth posting for people to read.

Besides, how many people have you talked to who worked in a call center? Do you really know what it’s like behind the phones and polite “May I speak to so-and-so” tones?

This is my ethical statement of purpose for writing this blog. I believe it’s perfectly fine to write, and I am not condemning myself or anyone else by doing so. Anyone who feels otherwise is more than welcome to make his opinion known to me, but I will continue to write my posts in the interests of maintaining my sanity in a working condition that has me wishing I were independently wealthy and able to live off nothing with my dog for company in a posh apartment where I could spend my days shopping and being vain about being wealthy and having done nothing for it.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

– RaeNez