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View Full Version : Unemployed, going broke, need a job. . .



underthecity
03-23-2006, 01:28 AM
For the past two years I've worked through a temp agency that services a national investments company. I've been in five different departments since I started, all data-entry types of positions.

In the second week of February I was let go from the department I had been in for a year and a half, and was then unemployed for a week and a half before another position opened. Thank god I had just written an article for a magazine and was able to get early payment to cover the week I was off.

During that time off I did small house projects and worked nonstop rewriting my fourth book. I was able to finish it much earlier than planned and I am subbing it to agents right now.

They found me a new position where I worked for a month when I was unexpectedly let go last Friday, March 17th. Same reason as all the other times, a decrease in volume. When that happens, they cut the temps.

Once again I am unemployed. Thank god we got our State tax refund (half of which paid the Federal we owed). The rest of State went into our account, covering what my recent check would have covered.

I hate the job and the company. I am so sick of working in one department only to be let go a month later. Therefore I have been working very hard lately on finding a "real" job. My background is technical, so I have decided to return to the technical field, which I swore after losing my last "real job" in 2003 that I would never ever return to.

The job market sucks just as much as it ever did. I have been searching hard for writing, editing, and technical and engineering jobs. Everything out there I'm underqualified for. There's no way I can change the type of education and experience I have so I can get a job right now. I am not an aviation engineer, nor am I a mechanical or electrical engineer. I am barely an electronics engineer as my education and experience is in radio engineering. But I can't quite motivate myself to even try to return to radio--not that anyone's hiring anyway. Nobody is.

I just found one job online that pays well that I am absolutely perfect for in every way. BUT, there are only two points of contact listed in the ad: an email through the job board, and a fax to the agency staffing the position. I sent a fax with an awesome cover letter and my resume two days ago. I followed it up with an email later that day. Yesterday, nothing. I followed up with another email this morning. Nothing yet.

It doesn't list the name of the company, and the staffing agency doesn't have any online presence, so I'm stuck.

I really want that job, but how the heck can I get it, or even find out if they received my info?

I'm sure my temp agency will find me another short-term position, but it might not be til next week. Or the week after. Meanwhile, the bills keep coming and we'll have to dip into our savings, which will not last long.

I get a royalty check in April, but if I'm still unemployed, that will get eaten up too. Which is too bad because I always put the entire royalty check in savings.

I can't keep searching for a job because they only add one or two every day. I spend the rest of my time researching agencies and sending queries, but will have to stop sending snail mail queries since I won't be able to keep paying for postage, and my ink cartridge will run out soon anyway.

To top things off, my wife just got the flu. Since I'm unemployed I took her to the doctor and am caring for her. Medicine and doctor's visit cost $50. I know I can't put a price on my wife's health, but that was somewhat unexpected. She works full time, but now has to take the rest of the week off because she's practically comatose.

Advice? Comments? Job offers?

allen

PS, with nothing else I can do today, I finally started a blog (http://allensinger.blogspot.com/).

rich
03-23-2006, 01:37 AM
It'd be something of you said where you lived.

underthecity
03-23-2006, 01:39 AM
I live in Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati. Guess I could've mentioned it. . . .

allen

PattiTheWicked
03-23-2006, 01:44 AM
Well, heck, Allen, this sucks. I don't have any job leads for you to speak of, but I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope you find employment soon.

I could train you to be a Pampered Chef consultant, but I have a feeling that's probably not what you're looking for :)

Hope the wife gets better, and a full-time gig rolls in.

Stew21
03-23-2006, 01:50 AM
I'm a recruiter for contractors. I do primarily IT but our company does a lot of engineering, tech writing, etc and in a lot of different "verticals" so a vast range of types of company to choose from. The company I work for has branches all over the country so we may be able to find something close to you.
Send me a resume and I will see what I can do!

ketch
03-23-2006, 02:14 AM
Have you tried talking with various IT and technical placement agencies (recruiters). They often have technical writing positions to fill - both short term and permenant. Is that maybe something you would be interested in? It seems to be right up your alley.

Stew21...I'm a fellow St. Louisan looking for a new Technical Writing position...could you possibly help me out too? (sorry Allen, I don't mean to steal your thunder!)

Stew21
03-23-2006, 02:24 AM
Have you tried talking with various IT and technical placement agencies (recruiters). They often have technical writing positions to fill - both short term and permenant. Is that maybe something you would be interested in? It seems to be right up your alley.

Stew21...I'm a fellow St. Louisan looking for a new Technical Writing position...could you possibly help me out too? (sorry Allen, I don't mean to steal your thunder!)

PM on the way with my contact info Ketch!

underthecity
03-23-2006, 03:47 AM
My first post was much longer than I intended, sorry!

Stew, thanks for the offer; you got my PM.

Ketch, I used to apply to every classified ad I saw for a technical writer. I can certainly do it, although I have never done "technical writing." I am a writer with a technical background. I never received any responses from anyone I contacted for technical writing positions. I later spoke to someone on this board who said that the only way to get a technical writing job is to have technical writing experience. Soooo, by that logic, it is impossible for me to get a technical writing job, so I gave up.

What a great Catch 22: The only way to get a technical writing job is to have done technical writing. The only way to do technical writing is to be hired to do technical writing, which isn't gonna happen if you've never done it before.

Does your head hurt? Mine does. That logic makes my head spin.

allen

mdin
03-23-2006, 03:49 AM
Hey. I get your screen name now.

Puddle Jumper
03-23-2006, 10:30 AM
I hate job hunting, especially in today's job market.

I guess my only thoughts are if you really need a job, just go out and apply at places, even if it's not something you think you'd enjoy, at least it would be an income. Places like retail or restraunts. If your local newspaper has job listings, search through those. A lot of places will have you fill out an online application which you can do from your computer at home. If you have the option of giving them your resume, make sure you give them a really nice cover letter as well. If you haven't heard anything about two to three business days after applying, give them a call, let them know you're really serious and interested in the job. If you get an interview, after you go home write and mail them a thank you letter for the interview reminding them again of your qualifications.

I believe my follow-up letter is what nailed me getting my first job with the company I now work for because after I hired on, one of the people who interviewed me complimented me on that letter to another employee.

Though you probably know all this stuff. Dress right for the job, typically is dressing up, you definitely want to look nice. Politeness and relaxation I think are keys.

Dawno
03-23-2006, 10:35 AM
Allen, I have a lot of contacts in the IT consulting world - PM me if I can help you via my network.

oswann
03-23-2006, 02:03 PM
If you speak fluent French and want to move to France I could probably pull some strings too...

The bummer with this is I want you to be a writer Allen. It's a shame for you to have to row through these muddy waters. Good luck.



Os.

dahmnait
03-23-2006, 05:45 PM
I am also looking for a Technical Writer position. I am fortunate that there are more opportunities in CA then where you are. (Although I am still working on that very important interview step, at least my resume is out there.)

As for your experience, have you had anyone check your resume? I don't have any jobs on mine with the specific title of 'Technical Writer', yet I have a lot of experience in the field. I had to work my resume to showoff my tech writing and requirement gathering skills. Another thought, do any of the fields you have been working in have a specific skill/requirement that will be helpful in producing technical documentation? For example, I have knowledge of HIPPA requirements, which has produced hits for technical writing in the medical field.

My point is that you may have more marketable skills than you think. Most of the time exact knowledge in the industry you are looking at is preferred, but not required. I have posted for every job I can unless it specifically states that the knowledge is required. My new motto: Don't hesitate to apply, there is always research.

Following are a list of sites I am using for my job search. I have listed all of them just in case there are any that you don't have. The two that have generated the most hits are dice.com and careerbuilder.com. I know there has to be more out there, but these are the only ones I have so far. If I run across any more I will post them.

www.dice.com (http://www.dice.com/)
Society for Technical Communication (http://jobs.stc.org/home/index.cfm?site_id=360) (job board) You can't view detail on jobs for the first 14 days after a job is posted unless you join. Since I need a job for the money to join, I have been using their site as a starting point. They do show bare details, like the company name. From there I check out the company sites.
www.techwr-l.com (http://www.techwr-l.com/) (There are not many jobs posted here, but there is good information on resume writing.)
www.yoh.com (http://www.yoh.com/)
www.infopros.com (http://www.infopros.com/)
www.careerbuilder.com (http://www.careerbuilder.com/)
www.monster.com (http://www.monster.com/)
www.net-temps.com (http://www.net-temps.com/)

I hope something here helps. Good luck and I hope that your wife feels better soon.

jenngreenleaf
03-23-2006, 06:26 PM
Okay, here's some things I found:

(1) Seeking a publisher:
I worked for the Maine Construction News as editor in chief last year and dealt directly with the publisher daily. This is the same company, only a different state. They're looking for highly organized individuals who can dedicate 40 hours per week, be able to communicate with contractors by phone and in person and a variety of other tasks. I did this job without any prior construction experience or knowledge at all:
http://cincinnaticonstructionnews.com/contactus.htm

(2) Men's magazine seeking freelance writers:
http://cincinnati.backpage.com/employment/classifieds/ViewAd?oid=oid%3A149287

(3) And, then, there's always craigslist.org:
http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/wri/

I know it isn't much and I'm sorry for that -- I'll keep digging and see what I can come up with. Good luck to you and your wife -- I know exactly what you're going through. :Hug2:

Yeshanu
03-23-2006, 07:08 PM
The bummer with this is I want you to be a writer Allen.


But what does Allen want?

What is your long term career goal, Allen? To work for a company in a permanent salaried position, or to be a self-employed writer?

I'm in the position where I actually quit a permanent job, and am looking for a pert-time drudge job in order to pay the bills, so I have more time and energy to do what I should be doing -- that is, write.

Whatever your final goal, you obviously want to make some money writing. Look at this hiatus from paid employment as an incentive to start coming up with new ideas, cranking out text, and sending out queries and submissions. No, it won't relieve the immediate income crunch, but it will give you the sense that you're doing something positive about your situation.

At this point, can you decrease your cost of living to match what's coming in from your wife's job? If your long-term goal is freelance writing for a living, are you willing to use your savings to fund that dream?

Instead of blindly searching for another job, any job, use this time to evaluate what you really want out of life, plan your path, and go for it!

(Can you tell I'm talking to myself here?)

ketch
03-23-2006, 07:16 PM
Allen,

While it's true that it's easier to get a tech writing job with tech writing experience, it's not necessary. I was hired for my current tech writing job (which I've been at for seven years) with no tech writing experience whatsoever. I was given a writing test before they interviewed me - they asked me to write a procedure for making a sandwich, and a procedure for completing a task in any software application of my choice.

The fact that you have electronics experience and have non-fiction books published gives you a lot more applicable experience than I had to start out with. Have you tried sending a writing sample with your resume? If you don't have a technical writing sample, make one. Write a procedure on how to do something technical. Anything.

I have also found that it is also extremely worth your while to edit your resume each time you apply for a job. Employers will glance at your resume and want to see that you have the skill set that they have defined as necessary. If they don't see it, they will pass on you. Tweak your resume to clearly show that you have what they are looking for.

I know you are in need of immediate income and I'm going on and on about finding a more long term job...sorry if I'm ranting...it just seems to me like you have an excellent background to find a technical writer position. Anyway, good luck, and I hope things work out for you!

underthecity
03-23-2006, 08:43 PM
I appreciate the advice, links, and encouragement. I'll answer each post accordingly as I drink my fourth cup of coffee. My hands are starting to shake, so bear with me.

XthenavigatorX, I have considered changing my screen name to my real name, but I don't feel any compelling reason. I've always like the screen name since it's tied into my first book.

Puddle Jumper, I agree with what you're saying, but it's financially unfeasible to take a job that pays less than what I make right now, such as a restaurant or retail. We are comfortable at my current wage, but anything less would have us struggling. I've actually followed all your advice already regarding applying at companies I'd like to work for, filling out online applications, and sending follow-up letters to interviews. (I've had ONE interview two months ago. Not qualified.)

I PMed Dawno.

Oswann, it would be fun to go to France, but I can barely speak one word of French.

Dahmnait, I am checking out the links you provided. I have broadcast engineering experience, during which time I created studio instruction manuals for equipment operation, wrote for Radio World magazine, and did other technical documentation. It's all in my carry-around portfolio and posted on my website. At one time I contacted a list of broadcast equipment companies to offer my services as a copy and/or tech writer, but none were interested.

Jennhollowell, I'm checking out the links you provided. The construction-related job seems interesting. Can you provide more info?

On a side note, the last time I was unemployed, I answered a classified ad for a construction company that was looking for laborers. I've done a lot of new construction in my house and know how to use power tools, cut wood, follow plans, build walls, install plumbing, etc. I interviewed with the manager, and for reasons still unknown, they didn't hire me. And this was for construction!

Yeshanu said
But what does Allen want? What is your long term career goal, Allen? To work for a company in a permanent salaried position, or to be a self-employed writer? . . . Whatever your final goal, you obviously want to make some money writing. Look at this hiatus from paid employment as an incentive to start coming up with new ideas, cranking out text, and sending out queries and submissions. . . . At this point, can you decrease your cost of living to match what's coming in from your wife's job? If your long-term goal is freelance writing for a living, are you willing to use your savings to fund that dream? . . . Instead of blindly searching for another job, any job, use this time to evaluate what you really want out of life, plan your path, and go for it!

What do I want? Ideally I'd like to write full time and get paid handsomely for it. Realistically I have to work full time and write on the side. The last time I was unemployed, three years ago, I attempted to freelance copywrite. After nine months I had to start looking for full time employment. There's a huge story with what happened, but the short version is that I couldn't find work no matter how hard I tried, networked, called, emailed, and begged.

I'm still writing, and am currently submitting my latest manuscript to agencies. With my time off, I have submitted to 18 this week alone. That's enough for this week as I am using my remaining time to do other things, including take care of my wife, search for a job, start a blog, and post about my troubles on this forum.

Since I have to work full time, then what I want out of life is to work in a job I enjoy and get paid enough to do. Enough so we are comfortable, pay our bills, and save. If I can work from home and tech write all day, that would be awesome. If I have to drive to work an hour away for less than what I make now, that would suck.

And Ketch, if I can get a tech writing job somehow without having been a tech writer, then I'll be happy. So far, this thread has allowed me to network with two people who have connections in the industry, so something could conceivably come of it. Later I'll recheck the classifieds online and look for tech writing positions and try again. If you have further advice, please post it.

One thing that still bugs me about job hunting is that when I sound out cover letters and resumes, I never hear back. Ever. I don't even hear back when I follow up. And they don't like phone calls. So I never even find out if they received my resume or if I was even remotely qualified.

At least when I query agents they send me back a rejection. Even a rejection is better than hearing nothing at all.

There is a house project that I have been putting off for months and I am going to do that today. It involves cutting into a plaster wall and using a reciprocating saw to cut sections in old house beams.

allen

jenngreenleaf
03-23-2006, 08:56 PM
Jennhollowell, I'm checking out the links you provided. The construction-related job seems interesting. Can you provide more info?

On a side note, the last time I was unemployed, I answered a classified ad for a construction company that was looking for laborers. I've done a lot of new construction in my house and know how to use power tools, cut wood, follow plans, build walls, install plumbing, etc. I interviewed with the manager, and for reasons still unknown, they didn't hire me. And this was for construction! In the beginning, it's very intensive because you're getting to know your freelancers, editor and advertising department. Everything writing and phone call related is done from your home office. Meet up's with editors (and sometimes freelancers) happen occassionally depending on the contractors being featured. (for example, a CEO of a company may request that you attend one of the interviews with the person writing the piece -- this happened once with me) You'll be required to perform various tasks:

set up the editorial calendar
plan future features based on current ones (i.e. are the contractors working on a project 6-12 months from now that would work as a nother feature?)
hiring an editor if you lose yours
hiring the advertising person if you lose yours
training new staff (after you've been trained, of course)
picking up the slack for advertising if needed
writing an on-site editorial
. . . there's more . . . I just can't think of it all right now LOL
I can mail you a copy of the issue we put out if you're interested in seeing what a finished copy looks like. It's a really gratifying experinece. The owner works out of Canada, but is frequently in the country. Other editors from various states also network together offering support, feedback and advice.

ketch
03-23-2006, 09:00 PM
Well, hang in there Allen. I just found out a couple weeks ago that the company I've worked for as a tech writer for 7 years is reorganizing and is eliminating my position. Instead of laying me off with a nice severance package, they decided that I shall be retrained in the accounting department. Apparently I am such a good employee that they rather make me miserable than set me free.

So, I'm looking too. And it's frustrating. Yes, it would be nice to get a reply for every resume you send out, rather good or bad. I've sent out many many resumes over the past couple weeks and heard from one person. Luckily it's for a really good job at a really good company. I have an interview next week. But, I'll probably go interview and get even more excited than I am now, only to be let down. In the past when looking for work, I would have HR people call me and get my hopes up and then never hear back from them again to schedule an interview. It's a horrible cycle of emotional ups and downs. Looking for a job can turn you into an emotional wreck. It can make you doubt your abilities and your worthiness. Just hang in there. Something good will happen if you keep looking. I'll send good thoughts your way!

Oh, and I found the job that I have an interview for through www.ajb.org (http://www.ajb.org). I don't think that one's been mentioned yet if you want to give it a look. And if you're not already, make sure you search for words like "documentation" and not just "writer". A lot of companies like to call writers and tech writers things like "documentation specialists"

underthecity
03-23-2006, 09:10 PM
Ketch,

I appreciate the lead. I checked on ajb for tech writer positions, and one that I checked says this:
The ideal candidate will have 1-5 years technical writing experience with IPCs or IPBs using Arbortex, Framemaker or Oracle software. Candidates with ATA 100 or SGML a plus. Candidates with GE engines or Airborne Express experience are preferred.

I can think of ten different things listed in this job posting I have no experience with. I don't need to name them all since about every word in there is unfamiliar. How do I get a job like this when I don't know what IPCs or IPBs are, or Arbortex, Framemaker, Oracle, ATA 100, or SGML? And the closest I've ever been to a GE engine is looking at one through a plane window.

allen

tjwriter
03-23-2006, 09:24 PM
I am in the same boat, Allen. In fact, I am searching and applying today.

But from the job description you just listed, it only mentions ideals. That means you still have a shot because they may never get the resume from the ideal and you could be the next highest ranked applicant. Research the things you are unfamiliar with and be able to acknowledge that you know what they are even though you have no experience with them. If you can prove that you have other desirable skills and have a desire to quickly learn the other skills, you still have a chance.

Good luck with your hunt,

TJ

ketch
03-23-2006, 09:25 PM
Well, that's one that you just have to pass up. I mean, they are obviously looking for someone with very specific knowledge - and if you don't have it, you don't have it. I personally wouldn't send in my resume on that one because I know I don't have what they are looking for and wouldn't be able to perform the job.

A lot of job listings are going to be like that, and you just have to pass on applying if you aren't qualified. But, then you'll come across one that matches your skills. Or maybe they just list one software package that you haven't used...well if you think you could learn it quickly, then apply and explain that in your cover letter. Say you've used something similar and are a quick learner when it comes to new software applications.

I know it's tedious and emotionally draining...I'm getting sick of looking at job ads too...especially ones like that that just seem ridiculous. I bet there's one person out there though that's going to read that ad and say "hey, that's exactly perfect for me." I guess I'm out of advice and just rambling now...I hope you find something soon though. I'm not very good with advice...I just wanted you to know that it is possible without experience, because I did it. I just kept looking and applying until the right thing came along. And it looks like some people here might be able to help you...so good luck!

underthecity
03-23-2006, 09:53 PM
Don't get me wrong, Ketch, you've been very helpful. In fact, I'm taking your advice to apply for tech writing and documentation jobs that I have a remote shot at. I figure I have nothing to lose. Emotionally draining it may be, but I don't have a lot of time, so I'm pretty motivated.

Combined with what tjwriter said, I'd say I've gotten some excellent advice.

And why am I just now finding out that Knight Rider is on TV Land at 1? If only I had known about this Monday.

allen

dahmnait
03-23-2006, 10:16 PM
Don't get me wrong, Ketch, you've been very helpful. In fact, I'm taking your advice to apply for tech writing and documentation jobs that I have a remote shot at. I figure I have nothing to lose. Emotionally draining it may be, but I don't have a lot of time, so I'm pretty motivated.Bills are always a great motivator aren't they? :D I am glad you started this thread. I have gotten a lot of good information here too. (Thank you Ketch, for posting the American Job Bank link. One more place to put my resume.)

Quick Question: Has anyone else put their resume on ajb.com? I ask because they are missing so many Job Titles for IT. I am curious what job titles people have used for Technical Writer.

Good luck to all of you looking for work (and me too:))!

Stew21
03-23-2006, 10:29 PM
DTNg (AW member) has a website that lists freelance writing jobs.

check it out!

http://writersrow.com/deborahng/freelancewritingjobs.html

threedogpeople
03-23-2006, 10:34 PM
If you are looking for seasonal work to pay the bills (until you find your dream job) I would suggest that you cold call some accounting firms since they are in the middle of tax season.

Jean Marie
03-23-2006, 11:28 PM
Allen, just reading this thread. Hang in there http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/EmoteHug2.gif

jenngreenleaf
03-24-2006, 05:56 PM
Here's some more I found: (some of these require experience, but it NEVER hurts to try)


Technical Writer: http://www.nationjob.com/job/pdsi2985
Content Developer/Technical Writer: http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/wri/137794954.html
Many opportunities with this company: http://www.patheon.com/career/cincinnati.htm
Many opportunies on this site: http://computerwork.com/Jobs/Cincinnati/
This one might be a stretch, but I think it's still worth posting: http://jobs.msn.careerbuilder.com/JobSeeker/Jobs/JobDetails.aspx?IPath=JRGT&job_did=J3I8D96NX1V76P295M8
I hope this helps! I'll try to find more when the time presents itself! :D