Thursday, December 23, 2010

Counting Down the Minutes...

This will likely be my last post until after Christmas since the next couple of days will be filled with festiveness and family.

I'm currently sitting in my office. Only four out of six of our staff our in and there's absolutely nothing to do. The phone isn't ringing. No one is returning emails. In short, it's a dead zone around here. We've all stood around and looked at photos from past office trips. Apparently, every year if you meet a certain quota, you get invited on a fancy trip somewhere tropical or touristy. It sounds like fun except the quota makes me nervous.

Still, I'm not worrying about quotas until after Christmas. For now, my thoughts are filled with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. Well, not really because I'm not entirely sure what a sugarplum looks like. I call my puppies "sugarplum" once in a while so now I just pictured them dancing. This will, of course, lead to me wanting to dance with Sookie tomorrow to ensure my parents have a white Christmas up in Indiana where the pups and I will be staying for the next ten days.

Down here in Cincinnati, we're going to get a fair amount of snow. I have my fingers crossed that we'll get it in Indiana too.

I'll be on my way up there in a few short hours. First I have to go home, release the 'hounds from their crate and let them run around for a bit while I pack up my clothes, load the car and get ready to go. I have my Christmas CD's ready for the road. My gifts are all wrapped.

In short, I'm ready for Christmas. Tomorrow, being Christmas Eve, is my favourite day of the year. As I've said before, I love the preparation and the anticipation. Christmas Day is always a little sad because it's the culmination of weeks of preparation.

Nevertheless, tomorrow is tomorrow and there's baking and cooking to be done. I believe there's also shopping since my dad has to finish up and as the Designated Personal Shopping Assistant to my family, I've promised to assist him. Still, I'm making him follow my lead of getting up early to beat the crowds because the best bargains are to be had in the earlier hours of the day. Also, that means we'll be home by noon.

The loveliest part of today is that because I finally took some time off work, I have a full week of vacation ahead. It's nice to know that I can actually sit around without having anything I HAVE to do. It'll be my last week of being a bit of holiday glutton and not worrying one little bit about calories before I hit my usual New Year's need to get in shape. I intend to enjoy every last calorie before the end of the year.

So, all that's left before my vacation begins is to get through the next hour of work before we're dismissed and Christmas vacation begins. It's not quite the same as it was when we were in school but, in a way, it's better because I get to decide when I'm taking off work and when I'm going back. Also, being a grownup is a bit more fun at times. Especially when it involves wine and other fun holiday traditions.

Now...back to work. Or, at least, waiting until it's time to leave. Then it's off to have a merry Christmas.

To all my blog readers out there in the webosphere, I thank you for following me and reading my daily rambles. To all my friends, I appreciate you dearly. To my family...I'm a very lucky Monkeypants because I have a good family, especially my mum.

Merry Christmas to All!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Strange Irregularity of Time

Time is a funny thing. Sometimes, it goes so quickly that it's impossible to hold onto as much as a single minute before it's gone.

Then there are times when it slows down so much, it stops.

Today was one of those slow times. It seems that in the recruiting world, the holidays are already here. No one is answering their phone. No one is answering emails. Half the staff of our office have already left until after Christmas.

The other half of us are here through tomorrow morning and then we, too, can leave.

It hasn't been a bad day. It's just been very, very quiet. I tried to work but when you're leaving messages and sending emails into a great empty universe, it makes it a little hard.

Ironically, in contrast, the time away from work is passing at a record speed. Fortunately, my 'to do' list for the holidays has been whittled down to merely needing to pack to spend a week at my parent's and load up the car. I've shopped and wrapped and watched almost all of the Christmas movies I love to watch.

The exception is "Love Actually" which I plan on watching shortly with a glass of Baileys, two puppies on my lap and with the glow of the Christmas lights in the background. It's almost time to stop preparing for Christmas and actually letting it be Christmas.

I'll be sad. I've enjoyed the parties and holiday gatherings this year. Last night, we had the gathering at my bosses house. The chicken Wellington turned out rather well although it's not something I'd probably ever make nor order from a restaurant. It's just not my type of thing. I think it's a childhood thing. When I was a non-foodie, an extremely finicky child, I much preferred 'teas' to dinners. This meant I'd rather have toast or a sandwich than a real meal. I never liked casseroles or other 'gravy' type of dinners. I only like simple, plain things that weren't 'messed around.'

Most of that has changed with age. With my love of cooking and food, a sense of adventure also arrived so I'll eat almost anything. However, as a rule, I still don't really like casseroles and things very much. While it didn't resemble a casserole at all, Chicken Wellington is one of those meals that as a child, I wouldn't have touched because it was heavy and 'fussed around.'

As a grown-up, I ate it. It tasted good. It just wasn't something that really...suits me and the type of food I like to eat.

Still, it was nice to learn that my boss is a very good cook. Also, he has an amazing house. It's one of those catalog-homes you see where it's beautifully decorated and every single thing in the house belongs where it is. There's no clutter. The kitchen...well, let's just say if I were the type of person to covet (which I'd like to think I'm not), I'd covet that kitchen. Also, he had a real Le Creuset dutch oven. I have a lovely dutch oven of my own- a Mario Batali. However, there's still a part of me that sees the Le Creusets and tilts my head with an "ooooh."

You'll be pleased to hear I did not steal my bosses Le Creuset dutch oven. Also, when he showed me the rest of his Le Creuset cookware in response to my compliments on his cookware (yes- I'm a huge cooking geek), I also did not steal those.

It was nice to get a taste of where he lived. It's a very nice house. It makes my homey little house seem very...homey. When I look at a home like that, I wonder if it's the type of place I'd really like to live. After all, I tend to like just a wee bit of clutter but not enough to make a mess. I also have a lot of things that don't belong in a place like that- my Harry Potter collectibles, in fact. In a house like that, collectibles are relegated to the attic or a basement room where visitors won't see it.

The whole evening was nice. As expected, my coworkers got a little sloshed. We exchanged Secret Santa gifts (I got a $20 gift card for Barnes and Noble- yay!) and we ate far too much. It was very nice holiday party.

Of course, when we got to work this morning, half the staff was dragging a little from the night before which didn't help with the overly quiet atmosphere.

Still, it made for some fun teasing which sped time up for a little while.

Tomorrow is my last day at work for over a week. We're only going to be in the office for about three and a half hours.

I have a feeling they may be the longest three and a half hours in the world.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Fever in the Office

Today was definitely not a Monday. I woke up in a far better mood and managed to have quite a productive day at work. This is actually quite a feat since the holiday spirit has hit everyone in our office and everyone is a little more relaxed.

My office is an interesting place to work. There are six of us altogether and it's an interesting bunch. It's the kind of office where you're just as likely to be discussing work in our daily update meeting as you are the, uh, sexual prowess of a pig. Today's meeting ended up with one of my coworkers going online to see if she could, in fact, confirm that a pig's penis was really the same shape as its tail.

In case you want to know, it seems that it is.

I can't tell you how we even began this discussion. I think it was a coworker who just wanted to share something he'd seen on National Geographic.

My point is that my office is rather laid back at times. Today, for example, the three men in the office were taking turns playing golf in the open space we have.

It's a nice change of pace from my last office where even having a conversation in my cubicle felt like a crime. The nice thing is that everyone works. There's no one who doesn't pull their weight but we're still allowed to have fun.

It's nice to have fun at work. It makes it easy to get up in the mornings and go into the office. I haven't once had that "Oh, no, I do NOT want to go to work today" feeling that became so familiar in my last job. I mean, granted, it's not like I'm leaping out of bed in the mornings and saying, "YAY! I GET TO GO TO WORK TODAY" because, well, let's face it, given a choice, would any of us really be that excited to go to work if the alternative was staying home in a nice warm bed?

Yet I don't mind going in and the days tend to go rather quickly. They go very quickly on days when we are in an urgent rush to fill a position. Those are the days where I look up and it's lunch time or it's already time to leave.

Then there are days like today where the holidays are almost upon us and even though there's work to do, it seems more fun to stand around and converse about random things. Today's topic of conversation was dinner at our bosses house. He's planning on making 'chicken Wellington.' Me, I think this will be interesting but then, as a foodie, I'll pretty much try anything once, especially if I don't really know what I'm eating. Chicken Wellington will be no feat for me but we have some finicky eaters in our office who are the type of people who order a dish in a restaurant and then say "no X, X or X" so, when they're done ordering, they've pretty much ended up with a tortilla and cheese or a potato and cheese or a cheese sandwich. They're all a wee bit nervous about the food. I'm quite excited- I like it when people cook interesting things and our boss has promised us that he'll have plenty of alcohol so if it's bad, we can compensate with liquor.

I won't be drinking that much because I have to drive home and, also, I have a personal rule about not drinking too much with coworkers, regardless of the setting and how comfortable I am with them. Besides, it's often more fun to watch other people get a little silly when they drink. One of my coworkers has already requested a designated driver and I can tell you, she's entertaining when she's had one too many glasses of wine. She's the type of person who pretty much says what she thinks anyway but with wine, there is no filter and no topic is off limits.

I haven't had a real office Christmas party in a while. At USC, we had a rather formal lunch every year. At my last company, we didn't even have any type of Christmas gathering last year so to have one that's already guaranteed to be interesting is going to be a pleasant change.

It's nice that the holidays have taken control. I suspect that for the rest of the week until we leave at noon on Thursday, things are only going to go downhill as far as work and topics of conversation go.

Given that today's topic of conversation was pig penises, I'm a little afraid.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, December 20, 2010

An Unfortunate Case of the Mondays

I’m sad that today was a very Monday sort of Monday. Being that it’s the week of Christmas, I wasn’t expecting this. I don’t really know what I expected but it wasn’t a run-of-the-mill day where even getting up felt like a chore.

Instead, it turned out to be a Monday. It wasn’t a bad Monday- someone I recruited accepted a job we offered her which made up for another candidate of mine who was supposed to interview today but, instead, decided to start work at a new company instead thus leaving us in the lurch.

It was more just a mindset. I felt grumpy when I got to the office. My brain never fully woke up and each time I tried to concentrate, I found myself wishing I was at home, doing fun festive things instead of being here at work.

It probably is because it’s the Monday before Christmas. It seems like a shame to work. I suppose I had the option of taking a vacation this week but I opted to take all of next week off instead. While I’m excited to not have to work for an entire week regardless of the fact that I like my job, it’s going to make this week drag by.

It’s not like we’re not being festive in the office, either. My coworker brought in yet more cookies for us all to eat. I think that’s nice. My problem is that I’m really not a cookie person so while I love the idea of homebaked Christmas cookies, I tend to not actually want to eat them as much as I want to look at them.

Tomorrow, we’re having a Christmas dinner at my bosses’ house. He’s cooking for us. We’re also going to have a Secret Santa exchange

My Secret Santa gift is for the other recruiter in our office. I took the easy way out and got him a bottle of his favourite vodka and some candy. It’s not original but it’s something I know he’ll appreciate.

It’s nice to work in an office where they do things like that. My old office never used to. Ironically, this year, they apparently did have a Christmas ‘party’ where they had a catered lunch, played games and got to go home early. I can’t help but slightly arrogantly take partial credit for this since during my exit interviews, one of my biggest complaints was that our office was boring and we never did anything fun. I mentioned the Office Olympics that we’d had and how much fun we’d had during that time especially the scavenger hunt. So, when I heard they had a scavenger hunt as part of their Christmas party, part of me was happy for them.

Of course, the meanie in me wants to know why it took my leaving for them to start doing stuff like that and wondering why it didn’t happen while I was there but given that I moved on to bigger and better things, I’m making the meanie in me be quiet.

So, it’s not that things aren’t festive at work. It’s just that there are a lot of things I’d rather be doing. I still have to gift wrap. I still haven’t had my annual viewing of “Love Actually.” I want to bake. I need to figure out what I’m taking to my parents when I load the puppies up and we head out for the holidays on Thursday afternoon.

I hate being grumpy. The easy solution would be for me to stop being grumpy but that’s one of those things that’s easier in theory than in practice. Still, throughout the day, my grumbles did subside which was a very good thing.

It also helped that, at the very end of the day, I got to meet one of my 'recruits' who just accepted a position with us. She was so excited and happy to accept the job that she gave me a huge hug and couldn't stop thanking me. It's a nice feeling to know you're appreciated and to know that you've done your job well. It's something I haven't had in a while.

It's a good way to end a day especially when it started out as a bad case of the Mondays. It made me feel decidedly less "Scrooge-like" and far more in the spirit of things.

Which is far better this time of year, don't you think?

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Festive but Fast Weekends...

This weekend went by very, very quickly. Perhaps it's because it's the last weekend before Christmas but even compared to other fast-moving weekends, this was exceptionally quick.

However, for me, it was a very festive weekend which made it nice. Friday, I had a relaxing evening though I did do a little work. The thing with being a recruiter is that sometimes I get phone calls in the evenings from consultants who can't talk during the day. I never mind. It's nice that people feel comfortable calling me during their off-times. Still, I managed to kick back with the puppies, enjoy the season with some mulled wine and just relax.

Saturday began early. I've discovered that the key to a successful shopping trip is to beat the crowds. Since my parents' had planned on coming down this weekend for their annual Jungle Jim's Christmas Shopping Trip, this meant I got to prepare lunch for them. As an aspiring cook, I might get a wee bit too excited about this. I don't get to cook for people too often so when I do, it's an event.

This, of course meant that I had to take a trip of my own to Jungle Jim's on my own. I have learned through my time in living in fairly close proximity to the store and in being a foodie that it's hard to be a hardcore shopper when it's crowded with newbies and visitors from afar. Thus, when armed with a list and a purpose, I go during times when it's less busy. For me, this means before 10 a.m. on a Saturday or on a week night between Monday and Thursday.

Thus, I arrived at Jungle Jim's around 9 a.m. It was quiet. I managed to not only get everything on my list but also have time to look without being surrounded by too many people. Being the holidays, I did have a few splurges. I had to buy some nice wine, for example.

Then, of course, there was the chanterelle mushrooms.

I've been looking to try these for ages. They're popular on all the cooking/food shows I love. They're used a lot on Iron Chef America and I've been longing to try them. I even emailed Jungle Jim's to find out when they would have them. Thus, when they did have them, I bought some. I couldn't resist. I haven't tried them yet but I can't wait. I love mushrooms in general and they look fantastic.

And, on the plus side, I did resist the black truffles that were sitting beside the mushrooms even though I've been longing to try those too. In time, I'm sure I will. For now, I'll work my way up.

I managed to complete my Jungle's Jim trip by 10:30 a.m. and finished up my Christmas shopping by noon. By the time I was done, the crowds were beginning to be out in force. There's nothing more satisfying than getting ready to leave just as everyone else is arriving.

I spent the rest of the day cleaning my house. Then I got to spend the evening with a good friend having a lovely festive time ordering pizza, drinking wine, watching "The Holiday" which is one of my favourite Christmas films and drinking spiked hot chocolate. It put me in the Christmas spirit. I love that feeling.

Today, I got to spend the day with my parents. I made them lunch which was a nice treat for me. I tend to go a little overboard but I think it was worth it. Today's menu was:
  • Arugula salad with toasted walnuts, roasted pears, gorgonzola cheese with shallot vinegarette
  • Spaghetti with brown butter and Mizythra cheese (yes, the Old Spaghetti Factory recipe)
  • Gingerbread cake with vanilla whipped cream (thanks, Ms. P., for the whipped cream suggestion!)
  • A nice chianti

I had no liver and fava beans to go with the chianti but I think it was probably better and less bloody my way. It turned out pretty well, I think. We all ended up rather stuffed.

Afterwards, we went to Jungle Jim's. It was a nice trip but far more hectic than the previous days' visit. That's the thing with the holidays. Everyone has to shop. This means the shelves were more sparse, the crowds much thicker and it took a lot longer. Still, I always enjoy looking around with my parents'. It's always a new perspective. I think as a 'local', I get a little jaded as to the luxury of having such a nice store so close by. With my parents', I can appreciate the fabulousness of having such a place at which to shop.

Now my parent's are headed home and I'm ready to relax with the pups. They're currently out frolicking in the snow, hunting bunnies. One was sighted this morning and thus Sookie has been standing guard all day. Rory, meanwhile, got board with standing guard and has taken to licking the ice patch that has refroze after some icicles on the roof melted onto the patio this morning. I'd chastise her for it's ice and she's a dog. There could be worse things she could be doing. Just as long as her tongue doesn't freeze.

It's just hard to believe that in a week, Christmas will have passed by already. It's sad. I'm trying not to look ahead and simply appreciate the now so that I can appreciate the time I can spend being festive and enjoying Christmas before it's all over for another year. I, personally, would be quite ok if we could also spend January baking cookies, decorating the house, watching Christmas movies and having parties.

I suppose we could but, well, it's just not the same, is it?

Nevertheless, there's still almost a week until the holiday and I, for one, intend to be horribly festive and twee in my efforts to salute this time of year.

I love Christmas!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

For regular readers of my blog, you know I like snow. No, I love snow. I’m very happy when it’s snowing. I love to play in it. I love to look at it. I love to walk in it.

The only thing is that I don’t like to drive in it.

It’s ok when it’s the good snow- the kind of snow that falls fluffily from the sky but leaves the pavement and road wet as it melts when it hits their surfaces. I just don’t like it when it’s the bullying type of snow that won’t slow down for anyone, won’t let the plows do much with and it refuses to go anywhere, never mind melt.

We had that type of snow this morning. I’m very, very lucky. I live five minutes from the office via car on a normal day. On a snowy day, it’s fifteen minutes. This may not seem like much but when every part of it is on thick, slippery snow, it feels much further.

I made it to work without too many problems. The worst was trying to get into my office parking lot. We’re up a hill. Normally, it’s a slope. When it’s snowing, it’s a hill. There was about four inches of snow all the way up the hill and my little Corolla did not like the idea of going up. For a few moments, I got stuck. Then I began to slide backwards. By the time I thankfully made it up the hill, I felt as though I’d run a marathon because my hands were shaking and my whole body had tensed up.

Still, I did make it. It just continued to snow for most of the day. This meant that my boss didn’t want anyone leaving for lunch because he was worried about us. He was kind enough to order lunch in so we didn’t have to go out. For me, a normal lunch is running home, reheating leftovers and letting the pups out.

That didn’t happen today and I spent the majority of the day worrying over them. Given that they’re two weeks shy of being a year old, their bladders are much stronger than they used to be. They can get through a night without getting up and sometimes don’t go out before bed. I knew they’d be ok but still I worried. I don’t like being a bad pet-parent and the idea of leaving them shut up for seven hours was hard.

They were very, very pleased to see me when I got home which made it all seem better. It didn’t make the guilt go away but a couple of treats later, I think we all felt better. Given the way Rory physically dived at my head to try to lick me to death, I think they forgave me for leaving them shut in. Also, when they went outside to play, they soon realized that it wasn’t as easy going as usual. If we get much more snow, I might have to buy them both snorkels. It’ll be like in that movie, “Tremors,” where you see the ridge beneath the ground before the giant worms pop up. Fortunately, my giant worms are significantly cuter and far less deadly than the worms in the movie. Unless, of course, you’re a bunny or a squirrel or, when they’re especially quick, a bird.

I think the puppies like the fresh snow. They seem to enjoy running around in it. When it gets more packed and hard on top after a day of sunshine, they’re far less fond of it. This might, of course, be due to the fact that they think they’re safe as they walk on it and then, bam!, they suddenly find themselves sinking and their tummies get wet.

Then they come inside and sit on me with their wet tummies. I think they think they’re being kind by snuggling up to me but I also think it’s their way of saying, “hey, we’re wet, why aren’t you?” This is sometimes reciprocated by my seeing a little black nose peeking through the shower curtain if they push open the bathroom door while I’m showering. They can’t figure out why their ‘mummy’ is standing underneath a torrent of water getting soaked but they’re fascinated. They seem to like it when the water sprays them a little but not so much they want to climb in. They’re also intrigued by the bath. They like to inspect the bubbles and the water but, fortunately, they don’t attempt to dive in. I’m rather glad about that. There would be nothing more interruptive to a relaxing bath than a tub full of wet puppy.

They, of course, don’t like baths of their own. In this case, they sit there looking pathetic while I shampoo them and then rinse them. Then, when I try to dry them with the towel, they run off and rub up against everything, especially the carpet in an attempt to dry off. This is often followed by them running around the garden outside, rolling on the grass to dry off. Yes, in case you were wondering, this does make me feel a little like I just wasted my time because they’re suddenly covered with grass, leaves and dirt. Then, when they’ve dried enough, they come in and sit and shiver looking mournful and sad and they must be held and cuddled because I’ve traumatized them with the bath.

And yes, I am fully aware that my puppies are spoiled rotten.

This is why they each have their own blanket while I have mine and on snowy evenings, I cover them with their blankets as they snuggle on the couch while I attempt to try to salvage enough space for my own bottom on the same couch.

All in all, today was the type of snowy day you wish you could enjoy at home rather than from the office. I was supposed to have a cooking class this evening too. It’s more of a cooking ‘prep’ course- it was called “Hone your Knife Skills,” at a local place. They ended up cancelling my class. On one hand, I was very disappointed. I’ve been looking forward to learning how to chop like a pro for a while. On the other hand, I was very relieved that once I was home, I could stay there.
Snow for me is like any great love. It’s a wonderful thing but it’s not perfect. No relationship is. For me, my relationship with snow is that I love it and will continue to appreciate it and the beauty and stillness it brings to the world.

Yet as with any relationship, it has its rocky moments. With snow, it’s when it makes it tough to drive. It’s belligerent and stubborn and isn’t going to give.

Nevertheless, for all its stubbornness, it can be a wonderful thing which, in the end, makes it all worth while.

I just wish that sometimes, just sometimes, it would be a little more cooperative on weekdays.
Ah well, it keeps things interesting.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Nature of the Recruiting Business....

One of the things that I’m learning as a recruiter is that sometimes there are people out there who just feel like a change in their lives.

This can come in the form of someone who’s had the same job for fifteen years, someone who hasn’t been in a job very long but knows it’s not a good fit or someone who just simply wants to do something different.

In the IT world, this can be a tricky business. It’s easy to be pigeonholed as a programmer, help desk person or a network administrator. The problem with these sorts of jobs is that in order to move up or do something different, you have to have the skillset to match. It’s admirable that someone who has been doing technical support for five years wants to move up and be a database programmer but unless he/she has been doing database work or been training on how to do it, it’s hard to move up. This is a cold hard fact; employers very rarely want to train someone to do a different job. Instead, they want to hire someone who already has the skillset and can jump right in and get started.

There are exceptions, of course. There are nice companies who know they have a good employee and don’t want to lose him/her so they make it possible for the employee to stay and have the chance to move up by helping them get the training they need. But, sadly, this doesn’t happen very often. Instead, they stay where they are or they quit. Some of the people who quit go back to school and get the training they want and need. This is an admirable thing but it’s still hard to find those people a job. Without practical, read-world application of their new skills, employers aren’t very willing to take a chance.

Again, there are exceptions. Some employers deliberately look for ‘puppies’- fresh-out-of-school candidates who they can mold into their type of employee and not have to pay very much to do so. Unfortunately, in this case, many of the times when the ‘pups’ grow up, they realize they can get paid far more in another company and they quit that job in favour of a newer, higher paying one. It’s a natural growth process. In our business as recruiters, we have all sorts of ways of finding candidates. The best way is referrals. It’s nice to be given resumes for good candidates. It makes life easier. We also have a database that allows us to log former candidates and keep track of what they’re up to now. If they’re contracting for us or another company, they can often be persuaded to consider a newer, different contract often for a little more money or, as I mentioned before, because they just want a change.

We also use the common job sites online to post positions as well as look for resumes. and are our two main ones. The trouble with both of those sites are that our company isn’t the only one that uses them. When a position is open, there’s a strong likelihood that it’s been given to several different recruiting companies and it becomes a race to get to those on Monster/Dice first before someone else gets to them. Once a company ‘locks in’ a candidate, no other company can submit them for the same position. Me, personally, I prefer finding candidates through referral or by sending out an email to people in our database with the skillset that we need to see if anyone wants to learn more about the position. It’s a little more personal and, often, far more effective. We also post our jobs on Monster to see what resumes are sent to us. This, I think, is the most interesting way of getting resumes. I say this because there are a lot of people out there who are looking for a career change and not just in the field of Information Technology.

It’s interesting to see the resumes I get in response to my ads. The most interesting responses come in for help desk positions. These are usually for large companies who need someone to come in and do technical support as well as help set up computers and other tasks like that. The thing with these positions is that in some cases, they’re entry-level. With the entry-level positions, we tend to look for someone who may have recently graduated/soon be graduating with some type of IT degree. Or, we look for someone who has done help desk in some way shape or form. What we don’t look for are people who have a computer in their house and have installed Windows on their own PC.

This sounds slightly cold and snobby but it’s the truth. For every help desk position I post, I’d say 60-70% of the resumes I get are from people who are working in a completely unrelated field such as waitressing, roofing, truck driving or being a secretary. While I understand that they’ve all used computers to do their jobs and thus probably know more about them than lots of other people, it doesn’t mean they’re qualified to work in an office where there are 300+ people to support and a working knowledge of LAN, WAN and TCP/IP is necessary.
I think it comes down to the fact that many people are unhappy in their jobs. They do what I used to do in my old job and they go online and find anything for which they might be vaguely qualified. In my case, I only applied to jobs that I felt like I could do because I had experience. In many of the job-seeker’s cases, they figure, “what the heck, I’ll apply anyway!”.

It’s frustrating because on one hand, I commend their initiative at a)having a resume ready to send, b)taking a chance and c) being ready to make a change. On the other hand, it’s quite time consuming to sift through 30 resumes and see that Joe from Indianapolis who is currently working as manager of the Olive Garden would like to move to Cincinnati and become a tech support person for a large insurance company.

If Joe had, at any point, worked in tech support, I wouldn’t dismiss him. However, chances are, before the Olive Garden, Joe worked for a landscaping company or for another restaurant. In other words, Joe hasn’t ever done tech support but a recent success in getting his computer to download a file or upgrade to a new software package gives him the confidence to think he could do it for a living.

It’s sad. The human softie in me wants Joe to find a career that makes him happy but Joe hasn’t been to college or vocational school or even taken any classes at all in IT related subjects. I simply can’t do anything for him even though he might be the nicest Joe on the planet.
I spend a lot of times making sure my job postings are accurate and they clearly list the skills and experience the position requires. Thus, when I get a resume like Joe’s, I get a little frustrated that Joe hasn’t read my carefully worded job posting. Perhaps he has and because he doesn’t understand terms like “PC Imaging” or “Lotus Notes”, his brain just skips them and he decides he’s qualified.

I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt but I don’t spend all that time typing up ads for people not to read them. Another case is yesterday, I posted an advertisement for an Information Security Analyst. Within the ad, only a line below the title, I list a plethora of technical skills, software and certifications we need.

So, what do I get? Yup- security guards and loss prevention resumes. While I’m sure that Mr. Loss Prevention is quite good at his job in making sure shoplifters are caught, it doesn’t do me a whole lot of good when I need someone who had do ethical hacking and compliance auditing.
In some ways, the out-of-place resumes keep my life interesting. They make my day far less run-of-the-mill. On the other hand, when I’ve put the ad out there because it’s quite urgent that we find someone quickly, the time it takes to skim the resumes is taking time out of my day where I could be using other channels to find candidates.

It’s all part of a day’s work. While there might be several Joes for a position, there will also be at least one resume I get that gets me excited because, on paper, at least, they seem exactly the person for whom I’ve been searching.

Paper, of course, is one thing. This is why I do in-person interviews as well. Now those…those can be interesting too.

But that’s another story.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Seeds of Doubt and Insecurity....

There are some things in life than can make you feel just a wee bit smaller than you want to feel, a wee bit less than you want to feel and, overall, a wee bit more insecure than you want to feel.

Insecurity is a thing that hits first in your teens, I think. I think insecurity is born in you as a tiny seed. It exploits itself at a young age but doesn't take root until the beginning of your teenage years. In some cases it hits earlier or later but in the majority of us, the teenage years are where it really hits.

I watch my four year old niece. She is, as many four year old girls are, adorable. She has no qualms in the world. She's clever. She's funny. She's naughty but she can get away with it because she's adorable and she knows it. When she walks into a room with other children, there's no hesitation; my niece knows she's important and she doesn't expect anyone to feel otherwise. She's a presence and a positive one at that and there's absolutely no doubt in her mind that everyone should be delighted she's there.

And the thing is, everyone is delighted she's there. What's not to love about a beautiful little girl who knows who she is, has no doubt that she's loved and just simply wants to be part of everything?

That, to me, is a gift. It's something that I think every child should have. Perhaps every child does have at first and maybe it's life and experiences that take it away.

Or, perhaps, there are some children that don't have it because it's not born in them.

It's hard to say. As a child, I was always shy. I preferred the company of books to people once I learned to read. With my friends, I was always the type of child to prefer the company of one or two 'best' friends to a plethora of social cohorts. As a teen, this continued. I had a circle of friends I could trust, who would let me be me when I was with them.

I suppose everyone else was 'the enemy'.

It all came from insecurity. In my youth, I had friends who were cute or pretty. Me, I never felt that way. I wanted to be the pretty one but it never turned out that way. My best friend in my childhood was a very pretty girl of whom people would stop and say, "wow, that "X" is a pretty girl!" and there I would be, suddenly feeling lumpy and extraneous.

It's silly when I look back on it but that's when it started. It began the minute people began to recognize others around me but left me feeling...there. It's not such a bad thing. I mean, no one ever said, "look at that [Captain Monkeypants]! What an ugly child she is!" or "Wow, that [Captain Monkeypants] is an unpleasant child."

No, I was lucky that way. It's just that when you start feeling extraneous, extraneous you remain. It follows you through life. You can get through the teenage years and feel awkward, shy and useless by believing that life gets better.

And it does. College hits and you find the place you belong. That's a fun feeling. You begin to establish who you are in life. You may not be the cute, pretty one but you have a purpose and when you find the right set of friends, you feel like that purpose means something.

Insecurity starts to vanish. You start feeling like you matter. The horror of high school is gone and the reality of life sinks in.

But if you've felt insecure before, you'll feel insecure again. That's how I feel. Sure, as you get older, you can start to rationalize things. When someone says, "That "X", she sure is pretty!" you still have an urge to look in the mirror and wonder why no one has ever said that about you. You may not even care that you're not really pretty but still, when someone acknowledges someone else's cuteness or prettiness, you suddenly do care. You start to wonder what that cute/pretty person has that you don't. You start to look at them and analyze their makeup or skin regimen.

In short, you secretly start to feel small again even though the most insecure years are behind you. High school is over. Becoming an adult is a rite of passage. Being concerned about one's attractiveness should be behind you. never is. It's always there.

For example, in my current office, we have a woman who comes in from one of our branch offices. She's young. She's 'cute'. I know this because when she's come for a brief stint and left again, most of our staff sit around and say, "that "X" is so pretty!"

And she a way. An insecure person, say, like me, would look at "X" and say, wow, she wears too much makeup. Her eyebrows are plucked too much and if you removed the five layers of eye makeup, she wouldn't be pretty!"

But, doesn't matter. The seed is planted. The nag of insecurity has risen its ugly head. It results in instant comparisons, of wondering why I've never felt that 'pretty' in my life.

It's pathetic, really. It's a fatal flaw of human kind. We see that which others have and we instantly compare our lot in life. I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying it's true. I'm being honest.

We can spend years building ourselves up, of convincing ourselves that we're good enough, we're smart enough and, gosh darn it, people like us.!

But it all comes down to that sudden, unexpected moment of insecurity. No matter how hard we work to look good, it just takes one compliment to someone else, not to us, to send us into an instant tizzy.

As I said, it's pathetic. It's self-involved. It's...wrong. Why should we care? That person is not us! We're special.

It's all a question of self-perception. I'm not asking for pity. I'm not asking for compassion. More than anything, I want to know if it's just me. We could be the smartest/prettiest/coolest person in the universe but it only takes someone else to upstage us for a moment before we begin to doubt...right?

It's all rather silly really, particularly when, for the most part, in my life, at least, I'm happy. I'm not unhappy with how I look any more. Granted, looking like a Victoria's Secret model might have been more beneficial in life but since I don't have two heads, I have most of a working brain and I have a plethora of creativity, it's not all so bad.

But it still doesn't stop me comparing myself. It's in everything. Why is Stephanie Meyer a bestseller with the Twilight series and I can't even get an agent to read my entire manuscript? Why am I not married as so many of my friends are? Why is the paint on my walls splotchy when my friends' houses look professionally painted.

The list goes on. It's life. It's insecurity. I'm sure everyone has it. I'm sure it's normal. It just sucks that even when you're a grown up, happy with your life for the most part, you can find yourself stopped dead in your tracks by something you didn't see coming, something that makes you suddenly feel insecure.

It's life. It's human. Yet it makes us feel far less so. In my case, at least, I start feeling even more angry with myself that I feel so useless and ineffectual. It's a vicious cycle. It's all rather silly. Perhaps the moral is that you never truly escape from high school, even as the years pass.

Or, perhaps, the moral is that you can escape from high school. It's just that you need to believe in yourself and not compare yourself to others and wonder why your life isn't like theirs.

After all, if everyone's life was the same, life would be a boring place.

Insecurity sucks. Perhaps that means it's time to kiss it goodbye.

Happy Wednesday.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Longing for Some Days of Yore

There are times in life when sometimes, I wish things were a little less modern and we could go back to the way things were in earlier times.

I'm a big fan of many things in the modern world, don't get me wrong. Medicine and technology has moved us leaps and bounds ahead of where we were even a few decades ago. Modern inventions like TV and radio have given us forms of entertainment so that we never feel completely alone. In theory, transportation has made everyone reachable although flying has become far less convenient thanks to terrorism and the price of fuel.

In short, our modern world isn't bad at all. It's actually quite clever and convenient most of the times.

It's just that it moves so fast.

I watched "Meet Me in St. Louis" on Sunday for the first time. For those that haven't seen it, it's a Judy Garland musical about a family in St. Louis who may have to leave their beloved city and move to New York leaving behind boyfriends and the 1903 World's Fair.

It's a movie that's a bit silly at times as any musical is when people spontaneously break into songs that feature made up words to simply rhyme with things.

Yet it's also a sweet movie that makes you wish for simpler times in a way. There's something rather nice about watching everyone get excited about a Christmas ball. Back then, balls were a common form of entertainment. These days, if there's a ball, it's a contrived experience, manufactured to create a them instead of being a perfectly natural way to socialize.

There's something rather lovely about watching people waltz about in pretty dresses and tuxedos where finding a partner to dance with was the biggest worry.

Nowadays, we have parties and clubs. They're far less organized and structured. Parties, in my experience, usually involve a lot of standing around making awkward conversation while scoping out the h'ors d'oevres and trying to resist having another drink because you a) have to drive hom and b) don't really want another drink but it's hard to stand around at a party without a drink.

I've never been a fan of clubs. I've never been able to dress for clubbing because I'm more of a 'classical' dresser than a trendy one. Also, my form of dancing in public involves me stiffly shuffling from foot-to-foot and trying to look like I have rhythm. In private, I can be quite a wild dancer, flailing and swaying with the best of them. I look silly, I know but it's fun to 'dance it out' and let it all go. It's just that the minute I'm in public, Awkward Dancing Mode kicks in and I'm no longer able to just dance it out and, instead, become the human robot.

So, I'm all for balls. Balls involve organized dances. You don't have to shake your booty, you just need to learn the steps. Shows like Dancing with the Stars have made the dance types popular again although to me, many of them look a little too flamboyant and booty shaking to be true ballroom dances but still, I appreciate that it's not a dead form of expression.

I also liked the party scene in "Meet Me in St. Louis" where all the young folk do a rendition of "Skip to My Lou" and other popular songs and have a little organized dance. That was much easier than going to a party, standing around and contemplating if you really want one of those Pillsbury Savouring things or not because like many appetizers, they'll end up being better in theory than practice.

I used to like birthday parties when I was a kid and there were games. In England we played "Pass the Parce" which was my favourite. Basically, you take a small prize and wrap it in a bunch of layers of paper, newspaper, wrapping paper, whatever you have on hand. Everyone sits on the floor in a circle and an adult plays music on a cd player and the parcel gets passed around. Then, the music is periodically stopped and whoever is holding the parcel gets to peel off a layer of paper. If you were lucky enough to unwrap the last layer, you got to keep the prize. The best version were when there were little pieces of chocolate between each layer because that way, everyone got to have a prize of some time. There was also musical chairs, of course as well as pin the tail on the donkey.

My point being is those are my kinds of parties. I guess the grown-up equivalent is a board-game party but those tend to be more gatherings of friends who just sit around and talk and play games rather than an actual social party.

I think it would be fun to have a party where you got to dance in the way they do in movies like "Pride and Prejudice" or "Meet Me in St. Louis." They made it easier for the more socially awkward, like me. I'm ok if I know most people at a party but if I go and I know maybe one or two people, I find them tiring and slightly stressful. I've never been one to walk into a room and say, "hey, everyone, fabulous me is here! The party can begin!"

It's not just about the parties and balls, of course. It's about nifty things like having ice delivered to your house or saying hello to the milkman. It's far less socially engaging to run to Kroger and buy a bag of ice and a quart of milk than it was to know your friendly neighbourhood milkman/ice delivery person.

I'm sure that there were problems in those days. The muddy roads with horse drawn carts were probably not fun in the winter. Not having central heating was probably cold. Not being able to order supplies for a party online was probably far more time consuming than it is today.

But then again, don't you sometimes think it would be nice to live in a world where you can go out to dinner with someone and have them not check their cell phone while you're out?

I'm guilty of it too so I'm not being accusatory. It's just so easy to do and you get so much into the habit of it that manners tend to be a little secondary when you see that red light on your Blackberry blinking.

It's just that sometimes, the old fashioned way of doing things seems friendlier some how. It's nice to see people gathering at a ball or party, actually talking and working together at a dance to make it flow. Everyone had to know the dance but that was a party of society- you learned the dances at a young age.

It was a much slower world back then and as much as I appreciate the convenience and speed of our modern world, sometimes it would be nice to step back and slow down.

Just as long as it doesn't involve spontaneously breaking into song. That's one part of the old musicals I could probably live without.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Cold and Snowy Evening...

Here I am again on a Sunday evening, wondering how the weekend managed to go quite so fast. It's currently snowing hard outside, the wind is blowing and I'm glad I get to be inside and appreciate winter's beauty from inside. As much as I love snow, it's nice, sometimes, to curl up and enjoy it as part of the landscape rather than get too up close and personal with it.

I did get a little up close and personal with it this morning. I went to my parent's house for the weekend. I got to do some Christmas shopping with my mother and just have a nice relaxing weekend. As I mentioned on Friday, I knew it was supposed to snow today so I'd already planned on leaving their house much earlier than usual so I could make it home before the snowstorm hit.

I did leave early but I still managed to run into some tricky driving conditions. I forget that Indiana is a little less reluctant to salt/plow their roads as Ohio. As a result, I spent an hour and a half of white-knuckled driving going 35 miles an hour instead of the posted 55 mph limit. The road was snow covered and icy so I had to be careful to stay in the tracks other cars had made.

By the time I crossed over from Indiana to Ohio, I was exhausted. Driving that carefully and alertly makes for a stressful time especially with two puppies in the backseat.

Fortunately, the roads in Ohio were merely wet rather than snowy and it was a much more relaxed drive the rest of the way home. It was snowing but not very heavily- just wet, small flakes.

I hadn't been home more than an hour when it began to really snow. I'm talking the thick, fluffy flakes that accumulate really quickly. The wind began to blow and the snow seemed to be falling sideways. Needless to say, I was extremely relieved I hadn't stayed any longer at my parents.

The puppies are enjoying the snow. They've been running around in it for a while now. It's deep enough that their little tummies keep getting soaked. Dachshunds, with their short legs are very low to the ground for a dog and so it's comical to watch them bound through the snow, almost seeming to dive between steps. They don't mind. They run around and chase each other just as they do when there's no cold, pretty white stuff on the ground.

Sookie even gets excited when we do the snow dance. We did it last night. This means it's probably our fault that it snowed. I probably could have timed that a little better but given that we made it home before it started coming down fast and furiously, we also could have timed it worse.

The nice thing about snow is it makes you feel a little less guilty if you're dreadfully lazy. For example, this afternoon once the stress of driving had worn off, I spent the afternoon with two puppies curled up on my lap, drinking a mug of peppermint hot chocolate and watching "Meet Me in St. Lous." I think there could be worse ways to spend a snowy Sunday afternoon. There are probably more productive ways too but every now and again, it's just a luxury to be lazy.

I plan on continuing that tradition for the rest of the evening. I've decided this is my 'snow day' and I'm going to appreciate it. Every last minute of it even as time goes by as quickly as it always does during the last hours of a weekend.

Still, even if time does move fast, on a cold, snowy night, it's nice to be home to appreciate the minutes, fast as they might move.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fast Days and Impending Snowfalls...

Today was a busy day. It was a good type of day but one that just got away from me. I don't mind days like this. They make time fly at work and they make me feel like I'm doing something right at work.

Of course, not everything is always right at work. I discovered today that not only do job candidates lie but so do employers. I've been working with a super nice candidate for a while and he's this close to getting a job. Then, today, the night before his third and final interview, they want to pay him a lot less than they originally said. He's a candidate who needs a job. Badly. He's been out of work for a while and he really, really wants to work. Yet now it seems that all my hard work and his hard work may be in vain because he's got another job offer that he's been stalling on accepting because of this job I've been working so hard for him to get.

Still, this happens. I've been told. I just hate when it happens to me and to someone who is just generally a nice person who deserves a break.

Ah, well, 'tis the nature of this business, I'm told. It's not all like this but for every good opportunity that arises, there's badness too.

Keep your fingers crossed for my candidate that he falls on his feet. It's the holidays. Everyone deserves a break. I just hope he gets his, even if I'm not the one able to give it to him.

Nevertheless, good or bad things, my day went fast. This meant that I got to go home, hang with the pups and spend the evening very festively writing Christmas cards while watching, "While You were Sleeping"- one of my favourite 'Christmas' movies. It's nice to drink a glass of wine, take in a movie and address Christmas cards. As long as I don't drink too much wine. I wouldn't want a Bridget Jones-esque situation on my hands where I drink too much and send absolutely everyone I know a card with how I feel about them in it. My post-traumatic work disorder from my breakup with my ex-boss is still fresh enough that I can just see myself sending him a card that says, "Dear X- thanks for being such a miserable sod and not wishing me well in my new job. Just so you know, I'm doing great and my new boss is FABULOUS!!!! (Way better than you, anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)." This is why I simply have ONE glass of wine while addressing Christmas cards. It's safer. Also, my handwriting is better.

I love nights like this. I also love that tomorrow is Friday. I have a weekend planned with my parents and doing some festive things with them.

The only thing is that there's supposed to be some significant snowfall on Sunday with the possibility of freezing rain on Saturday. I don't mind the snow, obviously- just look back on my blogs or simply search for the word "snow." You'll soon see- me and snow are best friends. I don't even mind driving in snow provided the roads are plowed and I can see the asphalt beneath my tires.

The problem with Indiana and Ohio is they don't always plow. They do eventually get around to it but there are times when there is no plow to be seen but plenty of snow on the road. I'm hoping Sunday isn't going to be a problem. The pups and I will simply head home earlier than normal and hopefully avoid the worst of the weather.

Still, that's the thing with the time of year. It's a trade off. For every wonderful snowfall I get, there's driving to be done. For me, for the most part, I don't have to go far but every now and again there's a bit of stress involved when there's a distance to be travelled and the roads aren't great.

Nevertheless, when I and my family don't have to travel, life is good. It's the best excuse in the world to slow down and appreciate the season. Sometimes it's just nice to slow down.

And sometimes, it's just nice to slow down.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Time Goes Fast Around the Holidays...

I find December a hard month to work. Even when I enjoy my job, as I do now, I still feel like it would be an absolute luxury to have the whole month off. This way, I could do all my shopping, bake, cook and generally let the holiday season pass by slowly instead of at the mad speed it seems to go when you do have to work.

I manage to squeeze in a fair amount of festive activities. I've been shopping since October so I get to avoid the mad dash of last-minute shopping for gifts. I've got my tree up. The Christmas cards are bought but just not written. I've managed to squeeze in a couple of Christmas movies.

But it'd still be nice to have the month off. It's such a buildup to Christmas, if you celebrate, obviously that it would be nice to have it come in the form of blocks of time to enjoy the season rather than the more likely little snippets of time we actually find.

Still, I can't complain. A year ago I was working for a company that didn't even bother to have a holiday party never mind give us any form of 'gift'. We didn't even get the mini candy cane in our mailboxes that we had the year before. This year, my company actually celebrates the holiday. Not only are we having a holiday happy hour for all of our consultants but my office is having a private party for just us employees at my boss's house. We are doing a secret Santa gift exchange. We also get a little bonus in the form of a gift card from our company.

It's nice. It makes me appreciate the fact that I got fed up and I found this job. Even though there are days like I had yesterday, there are also many, many good days where I realize that my boss actually wants me to have fun at my job and enjoy what I do.

This is still a new thing for me. I'm still waiting for someone to jump out and tell me its all a mistake, that I've been punk'd. I think I'm still suffering a little from post-traumatic-boss-disorder. To have a boss who makes sure he lets me know he appreciates my hard work at least once a week and who, when we've not had the best week, takes us all out for a beer and closes the office early...well, this is the type of job I've always wanted. It makes me feel like I'm part of something, that I'm a person and not just a body who is supposed to come in, do a job and not be allowed to have an opinion.

So, even though I can't take the entire month off, I'm lucky enough to work for a nice company who is perfectly content to let us leave a little early if we need to, provided we still get our work done.

It makes it a little easier to get errands run that are hard to do over lunch. Going to the post office, for example. I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of the post office. I love letters. I love stamps. I love that sense of completion you get when you drop a package or bundle of letters off to be mailed. It makes me feel like I've done something productive.

It's just that sometimes, well, actually, almost always, the lines at the post office are long. They took away the stamp machine so if you want to buy stamps you either have to wait in the very long line or you can go to the automatic postage station. I like this station because it lets you mail out everything from an envelope to a large box just by hitting a few buttons. However, I don't like this station when all I want to do is buy some stamps and I'm stuck behind a person who has an entire bag full of packages to be mailed all over the world. Each one has to be entered, weighed and labeled properly. That's a long time to wait but it's still quicker than waiting in the post office.

So it's nice that I have a job that allows me to go to the post office before it closes. It makes the fact that squeezing in holiday activities between work and life a little easier.

Of course, if I found a way to take the whole month off and still get paid and still have a job, I wouldn't sniff at that either.

But since that's not likely to happen, I'll take what I can get.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Peril of People...

There are some days when I think it's best to not be around too many people. For me, today was one of those days.

This is actually somewhat ironic since one of the many reasons I left my last job was because I missed working with people and found interacting with my computer and our software to be soul-sucking and dull.

So, I found a job where I could work with people. Most of the time, I enjoy working with them. People are fun. I like nice people. I've met quite a few nice ones in my short time in this job. I have a new buddy down in Kentucky who is just the sweetest lady ever and I'd love to find her a job but unfortunately, the market isn't cooperating. There are other nice ones too. The ones I like most are the ones who take job searching seriously. They know I can help them and they're willing to cooperate with me.

Unfortunately, they're still people. People lie. It's a sad fact but it's probably one of the truest statements ever. I think Dr. House would agree since that's his personal motto.

Everybody lies.

It's true. I'm learning it on a daily basis. I don't think there's any malicious intent in them. They don't lie because they're mean people. They lie because they don't want to tell the truth for whatever reason. The reason can be as simple as not wanting me to know they're working with other recruiters in case I take it personally or as complex as them wanting a new job that fulfills them but, when it comes down to it, it's all about the money.

It's often about the money. I find that fascinating. As a recruiter, it's my job to find out why someone sent me their resume or they're on the great wide interweb looking for a new position. They all want to be more fulfilled by their jobs. It's common sense. We, as humans, are looking for happiness and soul-satisfaction.

Yet, it very often comes down to the money.

I try to match people up with jobs. I take into consideration the commute, the amount of hours required off-the-clock, the salary and their background. I like to get to know them, find out if they have young children which might prevent them from wanting to work too far from home or if they've been out of work for a while, what they've been doing to pay the bills.

It all helps. I like getting to know my candidates personally. It's fun.

It's just that they lie. What they don't tell me is it's not really about job satisfaction as it is about that big paycheck. I try to get them the highest salary possible but more often than not, they hear a high number and they start to wonder if they can go higher so they look elsewhere as well.

Then they tell me they're not close to getting another job or they're not really looking. Thus, I do what I can to make sure I find them something. I have a soft spot for the desperate. It sucks to not have a job, especially this time of year. I work harder for those candidates than the ones who have a job but want to do something else.

So, often, my candidates get submitted to positions. They get interviews. They get second interviews. Then, just when I know they're going to get the job, they phone me to say they've accepted another position.

It's happened more than once. It's very, very frustrating because, all along, I asked them to let me know where else they were interviewing. Not only does it let me know where our company stands in their job search but it makes sure we don't submit them somewhere where they've already been submitted. I don't take offense if they're working with other companies. It's sensible. I just hate when they lie about it.

It always makes me feel cheated. I've worked hard to get them to the point where they're going to get a job and boom! They no longer want it.

I understand the knee-jerk reaction, particularly for the unemployed. A job is a job. Yet when you have a candidate who quit his last position in protest of them laying off half his staff, you don't expect him to take another position where the same thing is going to happen.

How do I know the same thing is going to happen? It's my business to know. We know which companies are in the process of outsourcing to India and which ones are going to be cutting jobs. As cutthroat as it sounds, we have to know this because we can help the people getting cut find new jobs. You have to be quick.

I sound bitter. I'm not. I'm just a little tired of getting my hopes up that I've succeeded in getting someone a job. It's not about the small commission I earn on each placement, it's about me feeling like I'm a success. I've had three candidates in the last week get close enough to be offered a job but before we can get final confirmation, they've taken another position.

It makes sense. Panic sets in, the automatic response is to accept whatever comes your way. It's a bad economy. Jobs are scarce.

I just wish it wouldn't come as a shock each time because my candidates have told me they weren't close to getting another position so, therefore, I don't expect it.

It's not all like that. When I do work with a candidate and he gets a job and he's happy, it makes everything worthwhile. It makes me happy that I work with people.

Overall, I love my job. I love the idea of helping people find satisfaction in life. It's just that sometimes I wish it wasn't so much about the money as finding the right job for the right person. Still, there is enough of that on somedays to make up for days like this when I feel a little like a failure because I've lost a good candidate to another job.

It's all a learning curve. As I said before, it's the side-effect of working with people. They're not automated software that can be rebooted if it crashes. They're walking, talking living creatures with their own minds and opinions.

It's what makes the job fun.


Now, about those lies...

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Complicated Hat Situations...

It was a very cold day today. By cold, I mean it's the type of cold in which the formerly beautiful, fluffy festive snow has been turned to brittle, hard ice. It started to melt yesterday so it lies on the ground in a mottled patchwork quilt of green and white.

It's the type of cold that you feel before you even get out of you warm nest of a bed in the morning and know that the minute your feet hit the ground, they're going to get cold.

When I let the puppies out this morning, they started to do their usual mad tear from the back door, all the way across the vegetable patch where they generally stop and inspect for squirrels and bunnies. They usually then proceed to the toolshed where they see if, by any miraculous chance, my blockades to stop them getting underneath the shed have somehow evaporated and they can now get underneath. Fortunately, this is not likely since I used cement blocks and bricks. They can move the bricks but the cement blocks aren't budging. This doesn't stop them from trying to dig but the most they can do is create a furrow that isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

This morning, however, they started their mad tear. Then you could see them stop, look about and stare at one another as if to say, "dude, it's COLD! What's up with that?"

They promptly did their business, looking horribly offended at the frozen snow-mottled ground as they did so and then came in. They did not, as they normally do, run in and out multiple times before I finally made them come in for good. This may have been because I usually leave the back door open a crack since the family room which holds the back door is not heated but today, that was not happening. When you can see your breath before you even expose your breath to the outdoors, you know it's cold out there.

The puppies are seemingly fans of snow but not of bitter cold. They actually jumped into their crate of their own free will after coming in this morning for the final time. This is normal for Sookie who knows when it's time but Rory is my little rebel and I usually have to show her the 'crate treat' she's going to get before she's actually in the crate.

Still, winter is upon us and we'll all get used to it. It's technically only been a couple of weeks since it became full-on coat weather. We were still having balmy enough days that it was feasible not to wear a coat in the mornings because it'd be warm enough by lunchtime that a coat was irrelevant.

Now it's not only coat weather, it's scarves, gloves and hat weather. I don't actually own a hat. I want to own one because I find them very practical and they warm the ears. However, I think I'm one of those unfortunate creatures that doesn't do well in hats. At least, I don't think I do. This is because everytime I try on a hat when I'm shopping with someone, they tell me to 'take it off, it looks silly.'

This makes it rather hard to know what type of hat to wear. No one wants to be told they look silly in a hat, after all. I've tried a beret style which ended up not so beret-like and more like a fabric flop on my head. I tried a simple wool hat on but my sister said I looked silly. I'd try one of those earflap hats which, while warming, really aren't my style. I don't think I can pull off an earflap hat.

I'm not sure what other type of winter hats there are, honestly. When I was a child, a simple bobblehat would suffice and no one thought twice about you wearing one. Nowadays, it's all about trying not to look like a doofus while simutaneously trying to keep your ears warm. I obviously shouldn't care that I look like a doofus but, alas, I do. I blame the catalogs. They show these beautiful women in classy hats and coats marching across parks and things. They make everything seem so glamourous. In actuality, if the weather were actually appropriate for the hats and coats that the models are wearing, the models would also probably have bright red noses, shiny eyes because the cold brought tears to them and far less neatness to the newness of the coats.

Of course, this might just be me. Try as I might to be catalog-model worthy in my winter wear, I never look that...neat and tidy. If it's snowing, my coat will be covered with melting flakes. If it's raining, my hair will be stringy around my face because I don't have a hat of any type, doofus-making or not. If it's cold, I don't have time to saunter across a park. Does anyone? Pretty much, when it's cold enough for the full winter wardrobe- hats, scarves, gloves and thick coat- there is no sauntering. There is only bustling around trying to get from warm point A to warm point B.

Still, cold or not, I love winter. I love winter coats, scarves and gloves. I'd love to like hats but, well, there's the doofus-factor. I'd use another word but there's just something amusingly juvenile about the word doofus. I heard it for the first time when we first moved to the U.S. from the U.K. but it's just a fun word to use.

Anyway, on cold days like this, a hat is sort of a necessity. Fortunately, aside from getting out my car to bustle to my building (no sauntering here!), I'm not exposed to the elements that much. It would, however, be nice to have a hat so I could do things like walk the dogs in a fashionable and trendy manner, ala the catalog models but, well, frankly, I'm guessing they don't walk their dogs when it's 23 degrees outside with a windchill of 15 degrees. Perhaps this means I shouldn't walk the dogs either. That would be the sensible thing.

Nevertheless, I'd still like a hat.

Provided it doesn't make me look like a doofus.

Happy Tuesday

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Festive Snowfalls...

Sometimes there are days which seem so right that you wonder if they're real.

I had one of those days this weekend. It was Saturday. I woke up to a gently prompting puppy. Specifically, it was Rory. She has this way of licking my ear when she needs to go outside in the mornings. It's quite gentle but it's her way of saying, "Hey, mummy, I quite need to go out but you seem like you're sleeping so I'm trying not to jump on your head and say, "HEY! I NEED TO PEE."

So I got up and let Rory and Sookie outside. To my delight, I realized it had been snowing and the ground was covered with a layer of white. The pups, confused at the change in landscape, did their business then promptly came in and wanted to go back to bed. Given that it was only 6:30 a.m., I was happy to oblige.

When we got up properly at 8 a.m., the snow had continued. The puppies went out again and this time explored the snow. They came in, their noses covered in white, soaked to the skin but seeming excited.

I ran what errands I had to run that morning so I could spend the day at home. I'm glad I did because it continued to snow, non-stop all day. To my delight, the puppies seemed to love the snow as much as I did. They spent ages outside, rolling in the snow, burrowing in it and just having a great time.

They came in periodically. They warmed up by getting under their blankets. As soon as they were warm and dry, they wanted to go out again.

Naturally, this made me rather happy. You have to understand, my last dachshund, as effective as he was in the snow dance, hated snow. He looked at me as though I'd betrayed him whenever snow fell and he got wet. Thus, it was to my great delight that I discovered both Rory and Sookie seemed to genuinely enjoy the frozen white stuff.

We went for a couple of walks. Somehow, we seemed to choose the time when the snowflakes were falling heaviest and thickest. We got soaked but it didn't stop me from turning my face up to the sky any more than it stopped Rory and Sookie from exploring snowbanks and divebombing into them.

By the time we got home, we were all soaked. I put the girls coats which, by now, were wet and mucky, into the washing machine. I made myself a cup of peppermint hot chocolate.

I can say, there's no finer way to see in the first real snowfall of the season than a mug of peppermint hot chocolate.

Unless, perhaps, it involves putting up the Christmas tree while drinking peppermint hot chocolate.

This turned out to be our Saturday. I put up my Christmas tree, decorated the house and drank peppermint hot chocolate while listing to the very festive sounds of the Tran-Siberian Orchestra. The puppies, meanwhile, watched. They were a little alarmed at the tree. They're not happy that I hung bells on the lower level of branches to deter them. They don't understand why a large, fake Christmas tree is adorning our living room.

I'd much rather have had a real one. I'm sure they would too. However, it's hard to manage a real tree when you're a singleton. Also, as much as I like the smell, the dropping needles are a bit of a pain. Also, I hate having to put the tree out to be recycled at the end of the season. It's just plain sad.

So I put up my 6 ft, pre-lit tree every year. I make up for the sparse areas by decorating those areas more heavily. I have a lot of decorations. I have so many that next year, I'm hoping to be able to get a second tree for my family room.

Still, real or fake, there's something wonderfully festive about getting ready for the holidays, especially while the snow is falling.

By Saturday evening while the snow was still falling, we had a very festive house. We celebrated by watching "Elf," wrapping gifts and being happy that I'm doing well on my Christmas shopping.

That's the best way to celebrate in my opinion. I usually spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my parents so it's nice to be able to squeeze in the festive moments at home while I can.

It's especially nice when the snow is falling gently but firmly outside and it really feels like Christmas. I'm a sucker for tradition and when the snow comes down during the Christmas season, it makes me feel exponentially more festive. I don't need an excuse for loving snow but this snowfall was perfect. It fell on everything but the roads and sidewalks. It was the type of snow that makes everything looks like a Christmas card.

Sunday was less snowy but we had a few flurries. Each time, the pups ran out as if to embrace it. During one of our snowy walks, I realized I might have been slighly crazy to be out and about it such a heavy snowfall but given that the pups were with me, turning their faces upwards, I didn't feel quite so alone.

Sometimes, that's just a lovely feeling. Whether the company is human or canine, to celebrate something as wonderful as snow with another creature is just the most rewarding feeling in the world. It's nice to see the puppies outside, embracing the twirling, swirling snowflakes and then have them come in to be cuddled with a blanket and to watch out the window with me.

Even if I'm a little crazy to love snow the way I least I have company!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Good Ideas are Not Always Good (But They do Sometimes Lead to Interesting Sandwiches)

It was a very cold day out there today. Temperature-wise, it wasn't that chilly, according to the thermometer. However, there was a very cold wind chill that made the temperature feel 20 degrees colder.

Naturally, this was the day I decided to try to be quickly festive after work. Generally, when I get off work, it's getting dark, thanks to Daylight Savings Time. On days when it's been cloudy, rainy or snowy, it's pretty dark by the time I come out of work. On days when it's been sunny, like today, there's still a smidgen of daylight left.

Tonight, I got home with that smidgen shining enough that it didn't feel later than it was. Normally, after work, I try to run errands. Last night it was the library, the night before it was the dollar store. Tonight, however, I had no errands to run.

Thus, I thought I'd take advantage of the waning daylight and finally take down my autumn leaves that are wrapped around my little lamppost in my front garden along with the scarecrows that have been outside since mid-October. I managed to do that and, not thinking too hard about it, I decided there was enough light to replace my leaves with my faux-pine garland that wrapped around the lamppost. I managed to do this although by the time I was done wrapping the garland and getting it to stay in place, my fingers were suspiciously numb.

Meanwhile, all the time I was outside, I could hear the yipping of Sookie from inside the house. Rory isn't as much of a yipper. Sookie, on the other hand, likes to be on alert for any alien movement outside. She sits on the back of the sofa and watches out of the window. I always know when someone's walking their dog by our house or Son of Dog Whisperer is playing in the street with his friends.

So tonight, as I wrapped my garland, I had a soundtrack going on. Sookie was clearly alarmed that I was outside not inside with them. Also, I'm sure she and Rory were both wondering what bizarre thing I was doing to my lamppost.

The wrapping didn't go as well as I'd have liked. My fingers, growing number by the moment refused to cooperate as I tried to secure the garland in place with the plant wire I normally use. I managed to get it wrapped around the post, slightly haphazardly. I even managed to clumsily stick a bow on the top. I couldn't get the second one on the opposite side of the lamppost because my fingers would no longer cooperate.

I suppose the moral of my story is that sometimes, what I think is a good idea may not really be one. It seemed smart to put my outdoor holiday decor up this evening but, really, I should have waited until the weekend like I'd originally planned.

Then again, sometimes good ideas that may not seem wise to others do turn out to be good. For example, a few years ago, I invented the brussels sprout sandwich. It's quite simple. You get some of those frozen brussels sprouts by Green Giant that are microwavable and in a low-fat butter sauce. You microwave them and then scoop the sprouts out, put them between slices of bread and, voila! the brussels sprout sandwich.

Personally, I find it quite a tasty invention. Others seem not to agree. I suppose it does take some affinity for brussels which I personally have. I adore the things. Other people, I know, think they taste like feet. How people know they taste like feet, I have no idea. However, it's probably along the same lines as my thinking that chysanthemum tea tastes like dead ladybugs. I've personally never eaten dead ladybugs but that's what I think they'd taste like.

Anyways, what I'm getting at is that sometimes, bad ideas turn out to be good. Tonight, my good idea turned out to be bad. Still, I do now have some semblance of Christmas decor outside even though it will need to be adjusted to make it look properly right.

Still, I'm hoping that when I go out to fix them, it's not quite so cold. I'd rather my fingers didn't go numb.

Of course, I could wear gloves. Now there's a good idea. Why didn't I think of that before.

Ah well.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Mystery of Penguins at Christmas...

I got my wish today. I woke up just as daylight was starting to creep in only to see that it was snowing.

Needless to say, this made me quite happy. It didn't please the pups quite so much, however. I made them wear their little pink coats since it was cold out and they didn't like that very much. They went out but then they came in and sat still, sulking until I took them off. They promptly ran outside again. I'm hoping they get used to them since it was cold today but not as cold as it's lightly to get.

As the day past, the snow fell a little faster and a little heavier. I had at least three people ask me if I'd done the snow dance with Sookie or worn my snowflake necklace. The answer was, in fact, yes. Hey, it's December. Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance for snow.

It was good snow. It fell enough to put the thinnest coating on the ground but not enough that the naysayers could complain that the snow was a problem. It was nice to come out of work, turn my face up to the sky and let the flakes fall.

It's still snowing a little out there. When I came home from work, I decided that even though it was cold, the puppies and I were going to celebrate the first official snowfall of winter by going for our walk. This time, I made them wear their coats. I think they look adorable. They have twin mock-Burberry pink fleece coats that cover their middles which, being dachshunds, are quite long. They walk side by side down the street and it's just plain fun to watch.

They didn't seem to mind the cold although it occurred that their feet might be cold. The pavement had to be pretty frigit. Yet, does that bother dogs? I don't have a clue. I know they make shoes for dogs but to me they've always seemed like a vanity thing rather than a practical thing. I mean, there are some dogs like huskies that are made for cold climates and you don't see them wearing boots or shoes. So I'm hoping that the puppies feet acclimate to the colder temperatures. I don't fancy putting shoes on each of their four feet. It's hard enough velcro-ing Rory's coat closed as she wriggles around.

Still, we enjoyed our walk. With my gloves, comfy shoes and coat, I stayed warm except for my ears. The puppies didn't seem to get too cold. They liked to sniff at the little dollops of snow that had accumulated on the raked piles of leaves. This time of year, it's nice to walk because everyone's putting their Christmas lights up. I like to see whose decorations I think are the best. I am not, sadly, a fan of the giant inflatable...anything. It might be a giant train with penguins on it, a giant snowglobe with blowing snow and penguins in it, a tree with a mini Santa hanging from it, blowing in the breeze...I don't care. I find giant inflatable holiday decor to be, uh, tacky.

Also, I find much of it involves penguins. Why is that? I mean, I rather like penguins. They're cute. They're comical when you watch them at Seaworld and the zoo. They're fun to watch on the nature channel.

But why are they really associated with Christmas and the holidays? I mean, ok, so they live in a snowy climate and, Christmas, typically, in this hemisphere is often associated with snow. However, there are also other creatures that live in the artic...walruses for example. Do you see giant inflatable walruses? How about musk oxen? Wolverines? Whales? (yes, I googled "arctic creatures" in case you were wondering.) Do you see giant inflatable musk oxen? Nope. So why penguins?

So, these are actually the things I ponder as I walk the puppies and look at the Christmas decorations. The puppies are a little puzzled by the giant inflatables anyway because their air pump thingies make a strange whirring noise. Also, if they flap in the breeze, that tends to make the puppies jump.

We prefer the classically decorated houses with their lights, wreathes, pine, bows and snowmen. There are a few on our street that are beautiful. It's nice to walk by and see them up close because it's never quite the same when you drive by.

On nights like this, with the Christmas lights and snow, it makes me happy I moved back to the midwest. California for all it's balminess and prettiness was never the same in the winter. I could never get used to the palm trees being decorated with Christmas lights.

Never mind it never snowing. That...I could never get used to for all the years I lived out there. Snow, how I've missed you. Welcome back!

Happy Wednesday!