The Eternal Job Seeker
I can see I’m not the only one who has been through the wonderful world of being “Laid Off”. Such an interesting term and I would love to meet the Human Resource person who came up with it. All I know is that one day I was making a pretty good living with Eastman Kodak and the next I was being given a severance package worth about one third of my paycheck. Thanks for coming, now please leave. Not “fired” and not “hired”…laid off. I think confusion and frustration set in first, then anger. Lots of anger. The funny thing is that I had seen the writing on the wall for about 3-4 months and started looking for another job. Most of my other co-workers at Kodak thought I was nuts and just being overly dramatic, after all..this was Eastman Kodak. A few months later I was on my way to my first appointment and was called by another co-worker on my cell to turn around and go home that we no longer had a job. I laughed, they didn’t. I had missed the conference call that morning in order to get out early as I had a two hour drive to the appointment. That was how Kodak laid off 230 ADS’s across the country. Awesome.
Ironically I used some of the severance package to start my own photography business slash web design slash graphic design slash everything else. Good idea, bad results. I was at a total loss of what to do next. Money was disappearing at a stellar rate. Bills piled and piled. The hole got deeper and deeper until almost all the light was gone. Then I finally landed a Sales Position with a motorcycle dealership. I had driven past the large reader board and saw “Now Hiring Sales People”. I almost wrecked trying to pull in to get an application. I had told myself a long time ago that I would “NEVER” do used car sales techniques or work for someone who did. It was dirty, slimy, underhanded work that “someone else” was good at…not me. It’s amazing what you will do when you are totally desperate. I looked around at my friends who were also starting to get laid off. My new job was looking better and better. I had money. I actually had fun working around motorcycles and hearing about a group of people I knew nothing about. I caught the bike bug bad (still have it today). But this was a sales world that was down right hardcore. “Always Be Closing”. Words to live by in sales…especially this type. My manager actually made us watch the movie “The Boiler Room” after work one night. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. After having jobs where I would deal with Division Managers, CEO’s, and give sales presentations to 200 people for large chain accounts…I was now watching The Boiler Room learning how to sell things the “right” way. Needless to say, I was NOT going to force someone to buy something, but in essence that is what they wanted. A killer on the sales floor. Someone who had all the moves and words to knock people into submission, to wear them down. The greasiest way to get it done. I ended up using “my” techniques when they weren’t looking. I actually tried to build relationships with our customers and have them come back…what a novel idea. The dealership didn’t really care if they came back, as long as the sale was done.
Then the craziest thing happened…they laid me off and about 6 others. There was nobody coming into the store. It’s like the customers all moved away. Lesson number 1 on motorcycle sales: people don’t NEED a motorcycle. Lesson learned. Now I was back to square one…again. I decided to take up the photography profession again, only sticking with wedding photography. This way I could continue to look for another job and still make money on weekends. Another great idea, mixed results. I didn’t have the money to advertise and relied on word of mouth to help me. Very very very slowly did word trickle out. All my clients were very happy with my work, they just had actual lives and didn’t really focus on helping a photographer out with referrals. Totally understood. Plan Y. Find another real job. My resume was now starting to look like I had multiple personalities. I was turning 40 soon and time was not my friend. All the little college graduates were getting released into the big world and taking positions with companies that underpaid them and knew they could use and abuse them. It’s much cheaper to hire a college graduate at entry level pay than to employee a person who has had a taste of the good paying life and expects to go back there. Then things changed again.
After numerous odd and I mean very odd jobs. I finally landed a position with a pest control company. This is after I had to quick sell my house and move into a one bedroom apartment. Again, I was willing to try anything. Or so I would think. I had seen ads for pest control companies on Careerbuilder and Monster all the time and quickly moved past them. Selling death to bugs was NOT something you go out and pursue. But I found out that there are people who can excel at pest control. I remembered my time selling motorcycles. Now I REALLY had no idea how to sell this stuff. I knew there were alot of bugs in this world and that most people hate dealing with them. So I put on my smiley face and pumped myself up to jump in head first. After my first week with this company, I quickly decided that I seemed to be the only one concerned about my training. They lost my sign in information for the computer training (yes, video after video of watching very very bad acting showing me how to identify insects). They actually sent me home at noon every day the first week because they didn’t know what to do with me. I was in the way. I was supposed to also have a company car with a gas card. After about 3 weeks into my time, I was given a car from another sales guy who had quit after my first week (there were 2 sales guys that quit within my first 2 weeks). That was my first red flag. Major turnover. A huge revolving door of sales people and technicians. There was no college degree required for this position. I was a body. Someone who had a college degree (which really doesn’t matter now days) and lots of OUTSIDE sales experience. Key word..Outside. I found out after going through 4 weeks of training (very spotty training) that this is more of an inside sales position. Telemarketing. I kept and keep telling myself that I have a job. That it could be worse. Well, I go on straight commission in one month. I have seen why these sales people don’t stay. There are no residual sales for any account. You sell, you eat, you sell, you eat…The Boiler Room all over again. I am still paying for the gas on my personal car and their company car. I am almost paying them to work here. So here I sit. Still looking for a normal position (if there is such a thing anymore) in an economy that seems to be heading in the direction of a total welfare state. Looking down the road and waiting for the next layoff. Companies can tell you what they want(this company boasts that they haven’t laid anyone off ever…because they all quit or get fired because of low sales numbers, that’s why). I look back over my experiences and why this happened to me. I count my blessings every day. One thing I have learned more than anything…don’t ever give up and keep faith in yourself to pull through.
This post was submitted by Chris.