Posts Tagged With: writing jobs

What to do, what to do?

IMG_0927This article is about panic. So if you aren’t panicking yet, why not? You should be. Or maybe that’s just me.

So, as regular readers of this blog may have gathered from my most recent posts, i once again find myself in Oslo. I’m not sure how much detail i’ve left in the other posts but let’s just say, for the moment, that i am in limbo. In fact, i’ve been in limbo for a long freaking time and it’s been getting on my blasted nerves. So what do you do when you can’t do anything? Why, panic of course!

A little back story: Almost exactly a year ago, i left my job on the hope that i would be residing in Oslo. I got a ticket, came to Norway, stayed with my wifey and hoped against all hope that we would figure out a way to let me stay as at that point we’d already been married for about six months and, as you might imagine, kind of liked the idea of actually being together. To make a long story short, it didn’t quite work out. Not that we’re not still together. That hasn’t changed. She’s wonderful and delightful and the best wifey you could ever want in spite of the fact that she reads books at about twice the rate i do and i’m no slouch in the reading department. Rather, i had to leave Norway 90 days after arriving because that’s as long as you can stay on a visitors visa.

Which sucked.

After that it was back to the states which were in no better condition than when i’d left them. Only now i was jobless. So i did what i usually do in those situations – i hit the temp services. It made sense considering i was already planning to return to Norway for christmas. (By the way, if you haven’t been to Oslo at Christmas you are missing out. Book your tickets now. Norway IS Christmas. You legitimately expect Santa to be standing around the park sipping an epleglogg.) In the intervening months from august to december i worked. No big. It was the usual thing – typing stuff into a computer system i barely understood, trying to hold the line between order and chaos until the person whose job i borrowed could return from maternity leave.

Christmas comes… (Seriously… come to Norway for christmas. Go to the julefest by the palace along Karl Johan’s Gate. Get an epleglogg. You will not regret it. It’s the best thing ever. Hint: do NOT speak to native norwegians about the proper julebrus. They all have their opinions and you are likely to be wrong 50% of the time) And i had a wonderful time. You may not be aware but Christmas in Norway means you open presents on Christmas Eve. And Christmas is about four days long. All of them glorious. I will have to write a post about it at another time because i’m totally getting lost.

Around the middle of January, i am forced – once again – to leave the wife and head back home. It sucks but we were prepared. Ish. America hasn’t changed for the better yet again. I am depressed. And i do the usual thing – hit the temp services for a job.

This time it doesn’t work out so well. I get one contract that lasts a few weeks – long enough to get the ticket back to Norway that i’d been aiming at, but not long enough to earn up the requisite cash for a good long stay as we are now aware that we CAN – in fact – apply for my permanent visa.

Here’s the thing about the application process that i might have mentioned. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: it takes a while. It was necessary to file the visa paperwork FROM Norway though because, from everyone i’ve spoken with, filing it anywhere else means it takes even longer. As in eight months longer. Which would have put me somewhere in winter – again – before i could return. During the time that your paperwork is in process you can’t come back to Norway. If you’re IN Norway, however, you can’t leave it. And WHILE your paperwork is in process, you can’t work.

Hence the panic.

So now i am in the unenviable position (though it’s okay if you do decide to envy me because i am at least in Norway and that’s much much better) of being here without a job. So what does one do when you’re in a foreign country and can’t apply for work there? Yup. You guessed it. A variation on the temp thing – freelance work.

So now i am actively seeking freelance work. Something i can do while sitting on the couch. And hey, i’m a writer and a pretty good one, i think. But have you SEEN the offerings out there for freelance work? I mean… holy crap. What do these people think we eat? Air? In the last 3 hours i’ve seen more job postings offering $2/per hour than i’d ever care to think about. That isn’t a typo. TWO dollars an hour. I saw one that offered 1 cent per word.

So… what to do, what to do?

Well… i’m so glad you asked. The answer is – you write a blog post about it. Oh, and you go for a lot of walks. And you lose weight because you’re now eating air. I aim to learn how to cook (always a good idea in Norway because they don’t do an awful lot of processed food here and what they do do in that regard doesn’t last long because they haven’t nearly the number of preservatives we do in America.) Also… cooking is far far far cheaper than hitting a restaurant.

Luckily for me, Norway is a great place to walk in. There are parks everywhere. Literally everywhere. I mean, half the country is basically a park. Not that i can get there because, no money. But anything in Oslo is fair game and seeing as Oslo is 80% forest, it leaves for plenty of excellent options. It also happens that taking a nice stroll someplace beautiful is a VERY norwegian thing to do and has the added benefit of heading off the employment/dwindling bank account panic i am currently experiencing.

So you MIGHT see me post a few things in the future about the joys and horrors of attempting to freelance while overseas. And by horrors i mean the pay scale (looking at you bulgarian job poster offering 4 dollars an hour or the ‘I want a travel writer in the US to write about travelling… but only if you live in the US’)

On the other hand… Come to Norway for Christmas. It literally is the best. Stay for New Years because you haven’t seen anything quite as spectacular as the city of Oslo basically exploding on New Years Eve. I will be existing on those memories for a while because they’re slightly more filling than air.

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The Quest for Unemployment

I am probably not in the proper mindset to be writing a blog on the art of being unemployed. But then again, perhaps the rage, frustration, and nearly comical quixotic-ness of the whole thing is exactly what i should be writing about. I don’t know. Let’s just say when i get into a furious snit over the mind-boggling stupidity of it all i just have to take a few moments and write my way through it before things start getting broken or becoming airborne and seeing as it is physically impossible to launch websites or job postings from a catapult while tied to a Buick, it might be a good idea to at least TRY to write through it.

So as you probably have surmised from many of my other scribblings, i fancy myself a fairly capable and talented writer. For reasons that cannot be adequately explained in a small amount of time, i have never been able to pursue a career in following my talent on a professional level at the expense of the pitiful amount of shrapnel i have been able to glean from working at my ‘real’ job. It’s absurd really, but the fact of the matter is that the eleven dollars an hour that i have choked down like regurgitated offerings from the proffered beaks of my employers has been a necessity because the alternative is an unpaid internship somewhere – which i can’t afford.

Well, as so often happens in my unchosen line of work, i am once again unemployed. For fear of incriminating myself i will not relay what employment i did not chose to toil in for 12 years – as it seems these are the only jobs i am even remotely qualified for and i would actually like to be employed again.

But that brings me to my point. I have just found a job posting that i would like to apply for. So i started doing just that. It’s for a copywriting job in Redwood City working for EA Games. This sounds absolutely perfect even though i don’t know much about copywriting. I mean, i’m a pretty talented writer as you can obviously see, i enjoy playing video games, i would really like a discount on the upcoming Mass Effect 3, i have interest, drive, talent, untapped skill, and generally a positive outlook on things.

But here’s the problem. For almost every job you CAN apply for out there there is a different method of applying for it and each method of applying for it is designed by evil goblins from outer space whose only qualification is to cause the greatest amount of psychological damage to any soul who dares apply. The website which i was supposed to go through to apply for this rare gem of a job is a huge waste of space (and if you’re wondering so you can avoid it like the brain plague that it is it’s caljobs.com – the website that is supposed to help provide jobs to californians, which i am not one but in this day and age and given the drain of Wisconsin’s jobs it helps to cast a very, very wide net.) It doesn’t work. You cannot upload a resume much less look for the particular position that was advertised. They require you to fill out ‘their’ resume which barely qualifies as a Burger King application, and then their forms and fields allow so little information that you are forced to abbreviate whatever experience you might have as if you are writing a tweet.

This is not the only problem with job searching. Every job site, job board, posting, what have you generally has their own particularly sadistic method of applying which will eat your time and your mind for absolutely no result. On average you will revise and rewrite your resume for about two to three hours EVERY time you find a posting that is suitable at which point you will rapidly become aware that the courtesy expected is entirely on your side. The prospective employer is in no way obligated to give you even the meager hope of a cursory response to your submission.

And finally there is the tiresome issue of job specificity. As an example i will happily hyperbolically concoct a scenario of a job posting:

Pooptech Publications Inc. is looking for an experienced wordsmith with 2-4 years of experience in articles relating to animal fecal matter. Please provide samples of your writing. We are interested in Bovine Fecal Matter, and Equine Fecal Matter specifically, though Canine and Porcine is also acceptable.

If you do not have 2-4 years of experience writing quality award winning articles about Bovine Fecal Matter please do not apply.

Do not contact, call, write, or submit an application on this site. Go to etc. etc. etc. and fill out our thirty page, proprietary application, upload twelve writing samples, submit yourself to a drug test, take our psychological battery questionnaire and then wait for the rest of forever for us to possibly, maybe, someday, contact you if and when we feel like it.

If we contact you it in no way obligates us to speak with you, nor does it preclude the possibility of an interview.

Now, of course this is fantasy but it isn’t all that far off. Go look. I’ll wait. Better yet, see if you can withstand three hours of job searching, including sending out a resume.

In short. If you are wondering why we have so many employment issues, or unemployment issues in this country it’s simple. We don’t know how to adequately use the people we have, we don’t know how to find the people we need, and the people who are capable for our employment can’t find us. That and the economy is a nonsensical train-wreck run by bumbling, idiot greed, infused hobgoblins who would much prefer finding intelligent job candidates in far off lands so that they can regurgitate morsels of western wealth into their beaks while ensuring that their bellies remain full on the offal of the rotting carcass of the middle class.

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