Tuesday, April 24, 2012

16 Months of Unemployment

*disclosure...WHOOPS guess I forgot to finish up this blog post...so here it is 1 1/2 years late ;) *sigh*

Just typing out the title depresses me. Now that I actually have a job I feel like I can type this out without hating myself.

I started looking for a job in May 2009...two months before we were scheduled to move from Hampton Roads, VA to Jacksonville, FL. It seemed as though the world was out to get me from the get go. It seemed to me that any of the jobs that were even remotely related to my field had one nasty requirement - "local applications only." Yeah, no one wanted to hire a person who couldn't start for two months. So I stopped looking. We moved to Jacksonville in July 2009 as planned and I started looking for a job. I got notifications from Careerbuilder.com...however they were scheduled to come every Sunday, due to the job market I was lucky if I got one once a month. The Florida Times-Union had squat...and I mean squat. That may be a little exaggerated, but not by much. The most I ever found under Accounting/Finance were TWO positions...yes TWO. Most times there were one and other times there were none. It was bleak.

My sister-in-law helped me out, she periodically sent me jobs that came to her attention. Funny thing about that? She sent me jobs I was better qualified for than their automated system. Way to go State of Florida!! I did google searches, swagbucks searches...at one point my mom pointed out that craigslist had job postings. I signed up for Monster. At one point my mom told me I wasn't trying hard enough...what a blow! I wasn't sure what else I should be doing. I laid in bed, with my stomach in knots because I didn't know how I was going to pay the next bill coming up, or the one after that. So I got up and searched for more jobs. I applied to every.single.job that I was remotely qualified. I had contacts with several staffing agencies. One staffing agency was great and sent me on several interviews...all of which seem to go to "an internal candidate" which I started to think was code for "no you sucked so they went with someone else." Up until June of 2010 it seemed as though every job posting NOW had another little nasty requirement - "Bachelor's Degree required." So I'm feeling very optimistic once June 2010 rolls around and I finally have that Bachelor's degree they were talking about...guess what? Now every job posting has "Master's Degree required." Seriously?? WTF?

Things were starting to get scary, I made an appointment with the local WIC office, and started receiving WIC checks - something I never imagined myself doing. It did help us out a little though. I finally started applying for part time jobs at Walgreens, Target, and Panera. Well Panera was opening a new store by my house...which is why I even thought to apply there "applications are being accepted now log on to"...blah blah blah...you get the point. I started the application process and got to this extensive questionnaire, I got through the whole thing exhausted and then lo and behold there is ANOTHER set of extensive questions. So I said to myself "eff it" (really I said the 'naughty' word) and saved my application and decided to do it later. Hmm, well the next morning I get a call and hey it's the manager from the new Panera and he wants me to come in for an interview. I get completely dressed up go down to another Panera and meet with him for all of about 5 minutes and he offers me the job YAY. But let me tell you...this job SUCKED, I may as well not have worked at all, after the store opened I was working 10 hours a week at minimum wage, not really worth it in the end.

I can't remember exactly when this took place but I think it may have been the end of October 2010. I got a call from someone who received my resume I submitted through Monster. I set up an interview and then proceeded to research the company. Just logging on to their front page I started crying. This was the job I was meant for. They were a non-profit and what they did was amazing. I was so excited for this interview. The interview went great, I was feeling very confident and manager of the accounting department seemed to really like me.

I called back a week later and the manager confirmed that she really like me and that I was her top pick but we had to get through the background/reference check, the drug test and the CEO's approval. I knew the CEO approval was out of my control, but of course I was confident in the background/reference check. Even with the problems I had providing them with appropriate references (my previous job does not give references period) I was still feeling confident. Then a week went by, I called and left a message. Another week went by, I called and left a message. Finally a week and a half later I call again, finally reach the accounting manager and she says "Oh, they were supposed to send out letters. The CEO decided to go with an internal candidate. I am really disappointed."

I burst into tears. I wanted this job so much and it just seemed perfect for me! At this point I decided I may need to look into doing some daycare in my home to cover the expenses we couldn't *quite* make. But even then, after placing ads on sittercity.com and care.com I got no responses, I applied to several positions through those websites and only one person even responded...and that was just to say the position had been filled. A short while later I finally interviewed for and was accepted for a job AT a staffing agency. In late November 2010 I started my position as a Commissions Accountant for this large staffing agency. Thus ending an extremely long and tiring unemployment streak!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Job Hunt

*Disclaimer...I started this entry in November or December...with one line, I'm finishing it up as though I finished it when I started. Next blog post coming up will be my current thoughts on the subject.

It is FINALLY over! Oh my was that an interesting ride! I never expected it would be this difficult to find a job. I left two great jobs to move with my husband. The first of which I would be reaching my 10 year anniversary in August had I stayed. WOW! I am old enough to have worked for 10 years! Anyway...for those that are unaware, or I forgot to mention it in a previous post...we moved to Jacksonville, FL from Norfolk, VA on July 11, 2009. I had started the job search prior to moving by updating my search criteria on careerbuilder.com, and looking at what was here. About 2 months before moving I was getting weekly emails with dozens of job postings. Most of which wanted someone already living in Jacksonville and could start right away. About a month before moving down here I either stopped getting emails or there would be 1-3 job postings. YIKES!

Okay, so it is July, we move to Jacksonville and I start looking harder for jobs. I get in contact with a staffing agency specializing in accounting. I meet with a wonderful lady who starts working on finding me a job. August 18 rolls around...and WOOPS, I find out I'm pregnant! Aaron and I had discussed the possibility of having another child, but we had financial goals we wanted to accomplish before making a decision. Little did we know there was little person growing in my belly already. But...it is still early I still continue on my job search. I am sent on several interviews through the staffing agency as well as a couple I found on my own (thank you careerbuilder.com and craigslist). All coming back to "someone internal" or "someone more qualified." BLAH Then 20 weeks gestation rolls around and I get a call from my recruiter "are you still looking for work?" My response..."um, well, kind of." And explain to her that I am pregnant and when I'm due. She seems genuinely happy for me (and as it turns out she had recently found out she was pregnant too :D). She tells me about a job, I tell her I'm interested. She says I'm already ahead of the game because every female they've placed with this company has gotten pregnant within a few months of being placed. Ha! So this was the one and only interview I went on where they knew ahead of time that I was pregnant. It was really nice not having to dress to "hide" my pregnant belly...but I still think it was a hindrance even if they don't say they won't hire me because I'm pregnant. ANYWAY...after that interview I didn't try as hard...knowing that I would have a baby in just a few short months I knew it would be unlikely to get a job while I was pregnant...especially if I couldn't find one otherwise. So while I still looked and applied for jobs that may be perfect (Hello Dr. Pepper!! I seriously applied for a job working for Dr. Pepper...how sweet would that have been!). I may have had one or two more interviews, but that was it.

Now April is here...and my sweet, beautiful Abigail is born! She is awesome! But of course she grows...like a weed...and is soon 5 weeks old! Knowing it takes time to find a job, interview and get a job I started hitting the ground running at 5 weeks postpartum looking for a job. I applied anywhere and everywhere. I hooked up with a few more staffing agencies...none of which actually helped in getting interviews. We were coming to a braking point...we had no more "extra" money coming in and we were struggling to pay bills...so I started applying for "retail" jobs (shudder). I saw that a new Panera was opening near where we live, so I applied for the job. The next morning I had call for an interview, had an interview the next day that lasted all of 5 minutes. I had the job. Woot (I think LOL). I started working for Panera and it was miserable...I was making half as much as I could be making working in an accounting position...an entry level accounting position at that! That only lasted a couple of months. And I was still looking for a "real" job. So finally one day in November I quit. My boss mumbled something about burning bridges...but I hope to never have to even put that job on my resume. I will casually mention it when a prospective employer asks me about my gap in employment...but the type of job I am looking for? I don't think they really care that I worked at Panera right?

About a week or two later I get called in for an interview for a staffing agency...only it is a direct hire position to their company! So the interview goes well and a couple days later I get called in for a 2nd interview...always a good sign! Except, well that interview didn't go as well as the first interview. The plus side was the manager I was interviewing with wouldn't be my manger as the manager for the position was out.

Well, I am pretty certain it was less than a week later that the first lady I interviewed with called me back to offer me the position! I had another interview in the meantime, however that one went horribly, horribly wrong! (I was late, couldn't call because I didn't have a number...and I'm sure she just did the interview as a courtesy since I was already there) So of course I accepted the position!! I am finally employed!


I know many of my internet friends who use Swagbucks and have since convinced me to try :D. I signed up for Swagbucks in May 2010 and by July 2010 I had racked up enough "swag bucks" to earn a $10 gift card to Starbucks. I know what you may be thinking, that seems like a lot of work for $10, but it really isn't. Think about how many times you "Google" something, if you use Google at least once a day then you could benefit from Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a search engine, it functions the same way as Google or any other search engine. If I would normally run to Google for something, now I run to Swagbucks instead. You won't receive codes every time you search, but if you search the web as much as I do, you will benefit. Many (if not all) of my friends use their swag bucks to get and stock up on $5 Amazon gift cards. This seems to be the best deal as it takes very little time to earn the swag bucks needed and people tend to accumulate enough to get big(er) ticket items (like $45 - $50). I have my personal reasons as to why I won't redeem Amazon cards, so I set my sights on a $10 Starbucks gift card.

I do have to admit that when I first signed up I was a little be more aggressive trying to obtain swag bucks, my goal was that $10 Starbucks card. Since I earned that gift card I have slowed down on trying to earn those bucks. However now that we are in November I need just over 200 swag bucks to earn another $10 Starbucks card...or I could get a $10 Barnes & Noble card which would come in handy as I plan on getting a Nook after Christmas.

There are many other ways to earn Swagbucks, but I'll leave that up to you to discover based on your comfort level. However...I DO ask that if you are interested you sign up using my referral, as that is one of the ways you can earn Swag Bucks (from the looks of it, and I would have to verify this - when you earn Swag Bucks, I earn Swag Bucks).

I have posted a "Widget" to the right and there is a button to sign up, or you can use my referral link: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/MickiJ100878.

Friday, June 18, 2010

She's here!

Little Miss Abigail Lyn Johnson that is! My precious little surprise baby is here. She arrived at 11:22 am on Friday April 16 as I "laughed" her out. I spent all of 20 minutes pushing...and pushing is putting it mildly. When the doc checked me at 11:00 am he said I was only at station -2 but since I've already given birth before he would leave it up to the nurses whether or not I could try to push. We all agreed I would try...well there was no try after oh about 3 contraction with 2-3 pushes each I could feel the pressure of her head and I say "oh I can feel her down there" and I start laughing. The nurse looks down and then calmly looks at me and says "stop laughing" and then proceeds to yell for the doctor. He barely made it in the room and her head was out! One or two more pushes and we got her shoulders out and of course the rest is smooth as silk. I swear the placenta was longer and harder to deliver than my 8 lbs 9.2 oz little lady! Yes she was my biggest baby...and she is still so big!

She turned 2 months old on Wednesday June 16 and she had her check up. She weighed in at a whopping 12 lbs 5.5 oz, and measuring 23 1/2" long (they did not give me a measurement at her birth). She is doing great, and then had her 2 month immunizations. She did great, she of course cried when they put the needle in, but as soon as they were done and I picked her up she was back to being my happy baby.

She is smiling up a storm! She is mostly on a night time schedule that is AWSOME! She goes to bed around 10:00/10:30, and sleeps until 5:30. At 5:30 I give her a bottle and then we lay in bed and doze off until about 7:30 when big brother comes in to wake us up. It is at that point that I look at her and she is just smiling away. It is a pitty that my camera sucks, or that she stops smiling the moment I take that camera out. I did capture a smile this morning, but because of the setting I had to use to avoid the annoying orange light and flash makes the picture incredibly dark.

Class of 2010

Yep that's me! Or at least it will be at the end of this week!! I have one final due by Sunday and I will officaly be a college graduate!

I will say though...it sure took me long enough! I am 31 years old and I just NOW have a 4 year degree! OUCH! Anyway, I am DONE...no masters, no doctorate LOL I am done!

Okay so that may change...I am considering my five year plan to be me getting out of the accounting industry and learning how to be an ultrasound tech. But who knows where life will lead us next.

But YAY I am finally done with school! And hopefully I can find a new job now...one that pays more than I was hoping for when we first moved to Florida.

Well Crap!

I just can't seem to get this going! I would like to schedule a time that I sit down and add to this blog, but my life is so unpredictable right now that I don't know when I could do that.

I have a couple ideas for a sem-"professional" blog...the first is to highlight some of the areas I've lived in, kind of for military families who are moving to a new area etc. I would try to take a collection of stories from other military families as well. This would just be a nice little blog so that someone can look at it and see if there is any "real life" stories on their new home.

The second idea is similar, but a collection of tips and tricks from moms...that one would probably just be for fun.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Not much of a blogger am I?

Whoops! Anyway, I'm going to try working on this, as I am planning on doing a separate blog that may help me professionally if I decide to go into journalism (one of the two change in career ideas I have).

UPDATES on the Johnson family:

Aaron...is back from deployment, well has been since March, then went to Field Medical training in Camp Lejune NC until July. The day he "graduated" and came "home" we loaded up our cars with what didn't go on the truck and headed down to Jacksonville FL where we purchased a brand spanking new home.

Michelle...I left a great job to relocate for my dear husband, and have yet to find a job here in Florida. I have had several interviews, and I work with a staffing agency from time to time. Buuuut, I also found out about a month after we moved here that I was pregnant with Johnson Monkey number 3. Turns out this happened the week we moved to Florida. So I have put on hold my job search, since I am due in just over 2 months. I am also still going to school persuing my Bachelor's degree in accounting. I will have two more terms after the current one I am in...this puts me with graduation around September. Life should be a little less hectic by then, so I plan to resume my job search then.

Aidan...holy moly this boy is growing, he will be FOUR in May! He is a smart little dude...and picking up everything and I mean EVERYTHING that Aaron says...good and bad! Yikes...I am anticipating lots of trips to the principal's office in my future. He loves his sister and seems excited that he will have another sister soon. He misses "school" (daycare) but luckily Florida has a program for kids his age and he should be starting pre-school in September. He is fully potty trained now so he is ready to go!

Amethyst...my little lady is not so little anymore! She will be TWO in just a few short weeks. I'm not sure where the time has gone! She loves to "pick on" her brother, she will take things from him she knows will make him upset. Her vocabulary grows on a daily basis and amazes me. She is now sleeping (well that's what we call it) in her big girl bed. Around New Year's day she figured out how to get out of her crib and we decided there was no point keeping her there. She is also my little escape artist...she runs away from me every chance she gets! This is proving to be complicating the further along I get in my pregnancy.

Well there you have it folks! A very short version of the last year. Not sure how I'm going to format this in the future as our life is not THAT exciting, but we'll just see how it goes. I will update on my new blog once I get it up and running.