The Offer

I got a “Thanks, but no thanks” email from Company B for Position 1.  It was disappointing, but I had my hopes up for Position 2.

During the whole time I was laid off, my friend and personal trainer, Nina Lomax, has been working out with me for free.  Oh!  I need to add Nina to “The Ripple Effect” if she’s not already there!  Regardless, I know I wasn’t very good company while I waited to hear about Position 2 from Company B.  I tried to joke about it, but I left my phone on during workouts and joked whenever I checked and it wasn’t Company B with either a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Well, since I got a rejection email from Company B for Position 1, I kind of thought an offer might come via the phone…

Finally, finally, finally, the HR representative from Company B for Position 1 called!  Well, she called around 9AM, and I’d been used to sleeping until somewhere between then and 10AM… 😉

“Is this a good time?” she asked.

“Oh, yes!  Of course!!!!” I said.

I got an offer!

I got an offer to work for a manager I really enjoyed talking with and a co-worker with whom I have a lot in common!

I got an offer to work on customer improvements for Company B – an opportunity to contribute to the bottom line; an offer to work on systems that will use and challenge and stretch my talents.

I got an offer for a lot more $$ that I didn’t ask for.

I am floored.

I accepted.

I start tomorrow.

I can’t wait!




The Interview(s)

Whenever I have a job interview, I think about Gerald in “The Full Monty.”  He’s being interviewed in a basement space with street-level windows behind the interviewing panel.  Gerald’s friends have stolen one of his lawn gnomes and set it dancing behind the interviewers’ heads.  Eventually, they lose their grip on the gnome and it shatters – much to Gerald’s consternation.  Gerald does not get the job offer.

In one week, I was informed that the company I really want to work for – let’s call it Company B (without the bugle boy!) – had two different positions they wanted to interview me for and that the company I applied to for grins – let’s call it Grins Company – also wanted to interview me.


I had a phone interview with Grins Company on Wednesday, an interview with Company B for Position 1 on Friday and another interview with Company B for Position 2 the following Monday.

The image of Gerald’s interview was in my head for all three.  It truly is a very funny scene in the film.  I hold the humor and let go of Gerald’s squeamish discomfort.

Grins’ interviewer is into my humor; I think he appreciates what laughter can mean to a work team.  The Decider is at a work conference this week, though, and he has other candidates to interview so I won’t know for a while.  I thought it went well.

Company B’s interview for Position 1 is in a conference room I’ve probably been in before.  I don’t know anyone on this team, but they do work with the data quality software I worked with when I was there before and we do know a lot of the same people.  We catch up on who is still there, which groups are moving to which location and what has happened with the software since last I used it.  I thought it went well.

I arrive very early for Company B’s interview for Position 2.  Monday is rainy and traffic becomes unpredictable in Northern Virginia when anything but bright sun is in the sky.  I check in with security and sit to wait for the appointed time.  I check my email – a friend has updated me on the difficulties he’s having on his travels and I reply with as much encouragement as I can.  When I look up, the hiring manager is waiting to check me in.  Security has called her and she came down a full half hour early!  We go to the cafeteria and talk for a good two hours.

Then, my potential Senior Analyst co-worker talks with me.  We discover we have some background in common – we both “grew up” as IT professionals and coded in Assembler and COBOL before we learned SAS and transitioned to data analysis and ad-hoc reporting.

“Can you be me?” he asked.

“Aside from gender and hair color, yes I can,” I answered.

I thought it went well.


The Search

I remember this from past job searches:

I run to the grocery store or I go to the Post Office or I visit a friend.  On the way, I pass office buildings full of people going about their business; doing stuff that may – or may not – matter to them; getting paid.  Why isn’t there a space for me there?  Why am I driving around in work-out clothes during the middle of the day?  What’s wrong with me?

There is one company I worked for in the past and I’m very interested in returning to work there.  I plaster their job site with applications and current employee referrals.  The VEC must not believe what I’m trying to do; they send me a letter about fraudulent unemployment filing.  Another company is within walking distance – well, biking distance – of my house.  I apply there for grins.  A friend who loves contracting puts me in touch with her current account manager.

One thing I discovered is that, when you make your resume “active” on LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Monster, TheLadders, etc., you get totally inundated with calls from contracting companies.  Some of these can be professional, to-the-point and right on target; others can be completely annoying.  One company called me eight times in one day.  They wanted me to sign an exclusivity agreement with them for posting at a company I’d already signed an agreement with another company for.  Totally unprofessional.  I blocked them.

After a while, I began sending all calls that were not from Virginia to voice mail.  I figured that employers from Virginia would have Virginia area codes, but there are contractors in Virginia, as well.

I guess I should have been glad that contractors wanted me – but it felt like I was chum and they were sharks; they all wanted a piece of me!  No matter whether that piece fit or no.

I got several emails about contracts in California, even though I’ve changed my address to Virginia on all job web sites.  I got many emails about contracts in New Jersey, Richmond VA, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin… even though I indicated I was not open to relocation.  I got emails about .Net, Java and SharePoint Administration – none of which are on my resume; none of which I am qualified for.

Soon, I learn who to add to my contacts and which calls to send to voice mail.

Virginia Unemployment

Filing for, receiving and staying in the Virginia Employment Commission’s (VEC) good graces is a mixed bag.

To apply for Unemployment Benefits, you go to the Employment Commission’s web site.  It took a while to figure that out.  Once discovered, it’s a pretty easy process.  Give them your bank routing number and account number, last day of work, severance information, etc. and they snail-mail you instructions for filing weekly and an all-important PIN.

I didn’t receive a PIN within the first week, so I had to call.  I needed to talk to people, not the stupid phone tree!  Selecting the option that results in an actual live person picking up your call is an art.  Sometimes, pressing zero is all you need to do; these folks haven’t updated their software or hardware in a long time.  Unfortunately, Virginia is up-to-date on their phone tree software.

When I finally did get a real honest-to-gosh person, she helped me immensely by filing my first week’s claim over the phone and re-sending me the letter with the PIN.  The all-important letter – including the PIN – arrived two days later.

The maximum benefit Virginia is ~$370.00 per week or ~$1,480.00 per month.  Nowhere near replacing an experienced Data Analyst’s salary.  You can elect to have taxes taken out or not.  I elected to have taxes taken out, which brings my take-home benefit to ~$340.00 per week or ~$1,360.00 per month.

In order to receive this generous benefit that my employers and I have been paying into for my entire career, I must answer a range of questions each week about availability for work, whether I didn’t get a job because of a pee test, any severance or vacation pay received, whether I worked for someone else of was paid for work I did on my own and I must list at least two employers I contacted / applied to during the week.  They do a random check on these, they say.

In addition, I must register on the Virginia Employment Commission’s web site and, if they send me a job, I must apply for it.  This web site is the most unwieldy I’ve ever seen.  I’m just looking for jobs – not career advice, not help with my resume.  I have a “dashboard” that indicates I’ve completed zero percent of just about everything.  In order to get above zero percent, I need to re-key my resume (there is no provision to upload one) and answer tons of questions about my skills that I’ve already answered on LinkedIn (there is no provision to use a LinkedIn profile).  I save my typing for filling out applications and leave my dashboard at all zero’s.


The Ripple Effect

When I was laid off, I was not the only one financially impacted.  I had to stop the following:

  • Figure Skating – $11.00 per session, five times per week = $55.00 – Ripple Effect: SkateQuest Reston
  • Figure Skating Lessons – $45.00 per lesson, twice a week = $90.00 – Ripple Effect:  Barbara Walker and Ross Lansel
  • Weight Training – $45.00 per session, once a week = $45.00 – Ripple Effect:  Nina Lomax
  • Pilates – $30.00 per session, once a week = $30.00 – Ripple Effect: Meredith Smith
  • Cleaning Service – $90.00 every other week = $45.00 – Ripple Effect:  Quiroga Cleaning Services
  • Various purchases of gas, groceries and meals

So, the immediate Ripple Effect of my layoff has removed $265.00 and change per week from the Northern Virginia economy and has directly affected four people and two small companies.

So far, I have been unemployed for seven weeks and have missed contributing $1,885.00 and change to the economy.

If I remain out of work for a whole year, that will amount to $13,780.00 and change.

My cats, Princess Gem and Han Solo, have had their veterinary checkups postponed until I am employed again – at least $64.00 x 2 = $128.00 deferred.  Ripple Effect: Pender Vet.

I have delayed my own doctor visits, as well.

I will add things as I think of them.


Beloved Community

I am a member of Bull Run Unitarian Universalists and attend worship almost every Sunday.  Most UU congregations have a part of worship called “Joys and Concerns” or “Joys and Sorrows,” where anyone attending can share what has had a significant personal milestone since they were last there.  At BRUU, we share our sorrows and concerns first, followed by joys.

When it was time for sorrows, I stood up and shared that I’d been laid off in the past week.  I thought I was all cried out, but it really choked me up to share this with my faith community.

After service, most UU congregations have coffee hour – it’s often referred to as “Unitarian Communion” – and I was overwhelmed then by the hugs and well wishes I received from my fellow BRUUers.

Over the next weeks, emails poured into my inbox with encouragement, leads and suggestions for temporary gigs to tide me over from friends and family – from my Beloved Community!

Can I Phone a Friend?

When disaster strikes, I phone my family and friends.  They listen sympathetically until I’m all cried out.  Ann Tomalavage, Bill Malarkey, Aunt Alice Boyle, Pat McGlynn, Patty McInnes, Kathy Owen, Joe Woodyard, Steve Hirshoff – you are my port in a storm.  It’s a comfort knowing you all are only a phone call away.

One of the great things about having Catholics in the family is that they light candles for you at their church that Sunday.  My sister, Ann, texted this picture to me and captioned it, “One candle with your name on it!”


One of the reasons I love these folks is that they have such marvelous senses of humor!