Dog in a blanket

Today has been a bit overwhelming

Today has been a bit overwhelming and unfortunately, not in a good way.

Wednesday, I had a great day. Yesterday was not too bad, but today has been terrible and I fear that I am sinking into oblivion. Like many people across the globe, I just need a break.

I’ve done my time looking after relatives, looking out for friends, volunteer and charitable work. I had hoped I would have had sufficient in the positive column of the ‘Account Book of Karma’ just to get a job. It doesn’t have to be a fantastic job. Just enough to pay the bills and have a little spare left over.

Once I had got through feeling miserable for myself, I had to gain a little perspective. Living on your own, it can be hard some days when that significant other isn’t there to motivate you or tell you to get cracking, to keep that sense of perspective.

But, I got through the dark period I did. Especially when I forced myself to really consider how much worse things could be. That made me feel guilty.

So today I am trying to say “Let’s have a fresh start. Let’s make this day 1. Let’s make this the first day of the rest of my life which I am determined to enjoy as much as I can.”

Do not count your failures, count your blessings.

So if you have got through my whining and read this far, what I am trying to share with people is no matter how lonely you feel, no matter how isolated you feel, no matter how bad your situation feels, there is always someone worse off that you.

Crawling out from under a rock

Some of you may have noticed I have been a little quiet on here over the last couple of days or so.

In truth, I’ve been feeling really downhearted. I had nothing positive to say and did not want to burden the world by moaning on here.

Things have not been going too well on the job search front and I had got myself into a little bit of a state, thinking I was of no use to anyone and that I’ll never find work again.

It all turns on an email

I got a very polite rejection email last night. Someone actually put the time in to say thank you for your interest, but on this occasion, you have not been successful. Now years ago, a rejection email would have been cause for consternation, but oddly, the fact that someone had taken the time to write a personalised email to me lifted my spirits.What a paradox! How could a rejection have a positive effect?

For months now I have been applying for jobs, sending off CVs and simply not hearing anything back. Since the new year, I have dropped my salary expectations significantly. It is getting to the stage where any work is better than no work. That wall of silence from potential employers has a cumulative effect of negativity.

Now the email  I received may well have been automatically generated. Some of the content of it suggested it wasn’t, but even it was, it has left me with a very positive sense of that employer. In short, I believe that they care about people. Not just their own people, but people in general.

That was sufficient to give me a lift and drag me out of my dip in spirits.

So perhaps that old saying is true after all? In every negative there is something positive. You just have to seek it out.


Drilling for Black Gold in the Los Angeles Oil Field, 1890s

Los Angeles and Oil Field. Not two concepts you would put together today, but I do find these old photographs absolutely fascinating.

The Homestead Blog

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

As mentioned in the first installment of the “Drilling for Black Gold” series, the origins of greater Los Angeles’ oil industry were in the mountains in present-day Santa Clarita starting in 1865.  F.P.F. Temple, son-in-law of the Homestead’s owner William Workman, invested heavily in projects in that area with his Los Angeles Petroleum Refining Company having limited success before the failure the Temple and Workman bank in early 1876 ended his involvement.

Later that year, Star Oil Company hit a gusher in what was then known as the San Fernando oil field.  A decade later, William R. Rowland, the son of the other owner of Rancho La Puente, John Rowland, and his partner William Lacy successfully located oil wells on part of Rowland’s land on the rancho and launched the Puente Oil Company.

The early 1890s brought two new players into the regional oil game.  Edward…

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Looking down at the water

Feeling down

Sorry but this one is going to be a bit of a whinge, but I hope I can write it out of my system and bounce back.

It’s all about the work

I’m taking a bit of a gamble writing this. What if a potential employer comes along and sees it? But every since I first started work, I have used it to define who and what I am. When I’m enjoying what I do, I’m the sort of person who will be first in the office and last out.

My work consumes as much as I consume it. So this period of time without work is hurting me. I feel as though I lack identity and it is starting to affect my self-worth.

I am trapped in a situation where on top of whatever I do for work, I have to provide carer services to elderly relatives. That in itself does not bother me. In fact at times it can be quite fun. However, it is having an negative impact on my career. When I say trapped, I mean I am stuck in a location that is not great for picking up new jobs. In fact you could say it is very lean pickings round here.

If I go for something that really inspires me, it tends to be outside my commutable area. This is not a problem if the employer would consider the role for remote working. Unfortunately there still seems to be a perception that remote workers cannot be managed and do not put in the time and effort they should, even though all the surveys say the exact opposite, that organisations get more bang for their buck from employing remote workers.

That leaves me applying for jobs that I can do, but employers regard me as being over-qualified. Now I have no problem in switching careers and starting back at the bottom, to work my way back up. In fact, there’s a distinct benefit in doing that, but it seems my CV gets sidelined at the sifting stage.

I feel as though I have bucket loads of transferable skills; I’m numerate, literate, an analytical problem solver, customer service skills. Yet I seem to be failing to get that across to potential employers, despite doing a number of free online courses since the work dried up.

One area where I know my position is weak is networking. I need to get out there and do more. I’ve looked on and once again, there are no groups to plug-in to in my area. The nearest hotspot is 35 miles away, so I will need to allocate some of my budget to getting to and from there.

Are there other sites like Meetup?

My hopes

As I already mentioned for me a job is so much more than a job.

I have to keep pushing on to try and find that role, any role really, that will let me pay the bills.

If you asked me what my ideal role would entail, it would include writing, perhaps short bursts of travel (that would allow me to get carer cover in), something where I would be helping people, something where I would be learning new things, something where my contribution would be valued, something in a positive, upbeat environment. Hard work does not phase me. In fact I relish it, which is probably why this stint is driving me nuts.

I am sure there will be light at the end of the tunnel eventually. I just hope it isn’t a train coming in my direction. 🙂

Anyway, if you have read this far, thanks.

Silhouette against the night sky

How weird is too weird?

We all have our little quirks and nuances don’t we? Well whether you’re prepared to admit it or not, we do. I know I do. From my hobbies, to the books I read, to the fact I don’t have a TV. People have told me I’m eccentric, quirky even.

But when does quirky become weird? And how weird is too weird for a potential employer.

We all want to stand out from the crowd when looking for work. Yet there are some people who take standing out to a new level.

As someone desperately looking for work, I would look fairly conventional at interview. Best, no make that my only suit, collar and tie, clean and polished shoes etc. A typical office bod. But is that enough? Am I just another faceless suit in a long line of faceless suits?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to dye my hair bright red or blue, but how do you stand out when making that all important first impression?

The broad smile? The firm handshake?

What is it I should be doing to make someone ask “Oh what about that one who……?”

Palace of Wesminster from the south bank of the Thames

Breaking the London stranglehold

When will organisations learn? When will they realise?

People don’t live in London. They survive London.

Throughout the whole of my job search experience one thing throughout has been consistent. If I was prepared to sacrifice quality of life, I could go and work in London tomorrow. Having such a high level of vacancies in one place is not good for businesses and organisations based there. It is a simple supply and demand dynamic. As supply goes down, costs for hiring new employees goes up and for getting the right employees, they skyrocket.

Speaking to organisations recently, particularly in the Third Sector, they still seem totally unaware of the possibilities opened up by remote working. At best they appear to see it as a way for London based employees to dodge the commute a day a week.

If organisations could break themselves free of this London-centric view, they would suddenly find that not only is real estate much cheaper outside London and the South East of England, but so are the people who bring the skills and talent to the organisation. We work longer (even basic office jobs work longer hours outside of the capital, 37.5hr/wk v 35hr/wk if adverts are to be believed), for less money and from my experience deliver greater efficiency.

We do not have the congestion or the commuting problems the capital face either. In my area, the last figure I saw for average commuting times was 17 mins door to door. No need to fall asleep on the Underground, Train or Buses. During the week we are able to have a family life outside of work that consists of more than getting the kids off to bed and then having dinner.

Why do organisations insist on having so many staff based in the capital or the South East of England? A core may be need there for services to be delivered locally, however, with the advances in communications technology, can there really be any excuse given to shareholders to have anything other than a skeleton staff in London?