Monday, October 17, 2011

It's Not My Fault. Right?

One of the hindrances I face getting a job is my resume. More specifically my job history. One year here, six months there, its horrible. I wouldn't put it on the top of my stack of prospects if it came across my desk. It's not my fault, its a good run of bad luck. But how do you convey that to a prospective employer without sounding like a sob story?

In the summer of 2007, I landed my dream job: Data Manager for one of the largest Meals on Wheels in the country. I finally got my break and got out of retail, which I had been doing for nine years while in high school and college. I found that I was quite skilled at number crunching, conducting data integrity analysis, hitting deadlines early, and not losing sight of the big picture. That big picture being that if the monthly reporting had errors in it, the county could cite us, citations led to loss of funding, and that would result in 3,000 impoverished senior citizens not being able to eat every day. I took my job very seriously.

Unfortunately, I had to resign after a year. At the time, I was engaged to a veteran of the Iraq War. He came home from the Middle East with a serious case of PTSD. His condition caused him to abuse alcohol and ultimately physically abuse me. So in order to protect myself, I resigned from my position and moved to another city so he couldn't find me. I knew I had a great thing going at Meals on Wheels, but I had to get away for my own safety. It was a very scary time.

Fortunately, I landed another job in the non-profit sector within three days of moving here to San Antonio. What great luck. My new position was as a union organizer for a very large labor union. Since I had studied labor unions in a class called the Politics of the Middle Class in college, I was thrilled and jumped at the chance. I learned more about life there than I had ever before. This time I was not behind a desk, but working in the field talking to workers, encouraging them to fight for their rights in jobs where they had no say in what was going on. These workers weren't asking for anything unreasonable. They wanted affordable healthcare for themselves and their families, a fair system of getting raises (there was a lot of nepotism going on), and the right to sit down with their management to discuss the dangers of their jobs to find solutions that would make their jobs safer.

They weren't asking a lot, but to their management it as like asking for the moon. It took a lot of work, a lot of early morning site visits to talk to workers, late night phone calls to discuss how to better their situation, and a lot of boldness on my part. It's difficult to empower a group of people that had been put down in their jobs for decades. Convincing people that had lost all hope that they could make a difference was a challenge. But in the end, the workers came together and were able to save 1/3 of the jobs on the chopping block by asking the company to find these workers jobs in other sector of the company. It was a great win for all of us. When this campaign was coming to a close, however, I was asked to relocate to California, a state that had lots of unions. Texas does not. Not only did I want to continue to fight for workers rights in a place that was so deprived of solutions, I didn't want to leave this city I felt safe in. My family lives here, and having been through such a scary personal ordeal not even six months passed yet, I still needed their support. So I turned down the relocation.

This took place in the beginning of 2009. I started my job search looking for more non-profit work. I couldn't find anything. In fact, the exact same position I had with Meals on Wheels (MOW are all independently run, there is no umbrella organization) was open in San Antonio. But now they required a graduate degree. I hadn't even completed my bachelor's when I was hired as Data Manager before. So I lowered my expectations. I found a recruiting job with a small, family owned employment agency. The pay was considerably lower, but I was happy to be helping people find work. It didn't last long however, the economy had really taken it's toll on the company and I was let go after a month. It was a sad parting, the owner was even in tears when she told me they just couldn't afford me at that time and I really had respect for them. They were great to work for.

So, there I was again on the prowl for a new job. Two weeks later I was hired at the only locally owned hotel in the city as a front desk agent and was quickly promoted to Revenue Manager. My pay was low, but if I could hit my revenue goals I could make a good commission to make up for it. But the economy was sinking lower and no one was going on vacation and business were cutting back on going to conventions. I did not get one single commission check. Having been told by the owner that they would not be allocating any money for advertising, I launched a social media campaign to get the hotel's name out there. I generated a lot of buzz, but it couldn't make the difference in actual dollars spent at the hotel. And then I figured out that the hotel wasn't really there to make the owner money. They didn't even want us to succeed in driving in business. The hotel was a tax write off for the owner's other, very successful companies. I had been mislead from the very beginning. And only making $25,000 a year. I was furious. I quit.

Two weeks later, I had found a new position as an office manager for a locally owned (do you see a pattern here?) medical device company. I really liked it, the company was making great strides with new, innovative products and I received three raises in six months. Then the other shoe fell. The owner had made some hasty business decisions and could not afford me. They could of laid me off, but instead they made up some story about an error I had allegedly made. But they wouldn't allow me to prove my inculpability in the matter (I had emails and documentation that would prove them wrong), they fired me. Later, the owner told me that I did not have the skill set he needed. However, I met all the requirements laid out in my job description. That was the summer of 2010.

Since then, I finished my bachelor's degree and I have been searching for a job. So far, no luck. My job history is terrible. I take responsibility for some of it, but I really got dealt a bad hand. Several times. So what do I do now? Do I doctor my resume? Not only is that illegal, but I can't bring myself to lie. Especially since I didn't do anything wrong. I guess I just have to keep on doing what I'm doing. I know my job history is holding me back, but there's nothing I can do about it. Ideas?

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