Category Archives: Employment

How to Apply for a Job

My friend and frequent client Brad Abare has a great blog post offering advice for job seekers. In a nutshell he says to forget about the resume and find a way to show your passion. It’s nearly impossible for a resume to communicate everything it needs to, so you need to find a way to make yourself stand out.

My wife did that with her current teaching job when she turned a pack of crayons into her resume. When school started the other teachers were still talking about it. I remember applying for jobs straight out of college and I neglected to do anything creative. I just sent out resume after resume (and it was a sharp looking resume). It’s no wonder I had only a single interview.

When I was looking for a job four years ago I remember having a hard time finding positions I could get excited about. I worked hard on creative cover letters to go with my sharp looking resume, but I didn’t do much more. And I didn’t get very many interviews either. (Sometimes I think it’s a miracle I’m able to make do.) I think you have to go outside the box to find and get a job that’s more than a paycheck. You can’t settle for the posted jobs (I ultimately didn’t; I started my own company), and you can’t rely on a typical resume (being typical won’t get you noticed).

Finding a job is never easy, especially in an economy like this one, but you have to stand out. I think Brad offers some good advice, and it comes from someone who has seen lots of resumes, interviewed lots of candidates and hired quite a few good folks.

Squirrel Causes Power Outage

I have a few projects due this week so I was working furiously today–had five billable hours racked up before lunch–when I heard a loud bang. My monitor flashed and went dead and the lights went off. I looked over my shoulder in the direction of the bang and saw the smoke coming from the utility pole in the alley. Something blew up and killed the power for the block.

Crap. I had work to do.

I gathered up the laptop and headed out, thankful that I’d just replaced the Geo’s battery and restored it to starting condition. I paused at the utility pole where I’d seen the smoke and noticed a squirrel, frozen in a grimace, lying on its side in the alley just a few feet from the pole. I think I found the culprit.

Thanks to that squirrel I spent my afternoon using the St. Clair Broiler’s wifi. Since coming under new ownership they’ve raised the prices and shrunk the menu (why does every restaurant drop my favorite items?), but you gotta love the free wireless Internet.

Waiting Around After Vandalism

You know, I was really starting to miss these late night trips to the King CDC everytime the security alarm goes off. Good to be back. In blog form.

My wife is a teacher at the King CDC, a daycare center operated by Bethel University in a building owned by the Union Gospel Mission in Frogtown, a low income neighborhood of St. Paul. About a year ago there were break-ins and vandalism all the time. A rock thrown through a window, people carting off really crappy boomboxes, people trying to steal sub-standard printers. Fun stuff.

After a while they installed a security system, which helped. Of course it hardly stops someone from breaking a window for fun. It happened again tonight, and the security company started calling people on the list. The call finally came to us and we came down to check it out. Talked to the cop, called the right people, and now we’re waiting for someone to come board up the window. And I’m blogging.

Continue reading Waiting Around After Vandalism

My Salary Pays for BG HQ

This fall the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will begin moving into their new $27 million headquarters. According to the Charlotte Observer the building was paid for with $17 million from the sale of the property in Minneapolis and $10 million worth of savings in “staff reductions and consolidation.” Not exactly the line they pitched to us during all those relocation meetings, but hey, now I can say my salary helped pay for the new BGEA digs. You’re welcome, Billy. Glad I could help.

In other news, the long-forgotten World Wide Pictures film Last Flight Out will finally see the light of day. The BGEA’s September TV special will feature the thrilling story of a washed-up pilot paid by the man he truly hates to rescue the woman he once loved from menacing drug lords (and their gringo body guard) threatening her isolated mission station in the jungles of Colombia. Whew.

I had the chance to read a few early scripts, and despite the incredible potential and current relevance in a story of a missionary being rescued from violent drug lords/terrorists, Last Flight Out is “intensely mediocre” (with props to Nick Ciske). I’ve talked about the film before, but it’s just a painful reminder of what could have been.

Check local times here and consider watching a non-Mel Gibson Christian movie. I’d tune in for laughs, but it’s airing during youth group here in the Twin Cities (Sept. 15 @ 6:30 p.m. on WB 23). (And no, I don’t think it’d be a good idea to have the youth group watch it)

What’s even more amazing than the mediocrity is the fact that the BGEA buys time on local TV stations across the country four times every year to air Gospel presentations. Sometimes they’re subpar movies and sometimes it’s a few Christian artists followed by a sermon from a recent crusade. But every time they do it nobody pays attention. Maybe it’s the subpar content, maybe it’s the lack of a single, national time slot, but whatever the reason nobody pays attention. It’s exactly what conservative Christians have been begging for, and nobody cares. I’ve never understood that.

I’m an Entrepreneur!

I started a small business class today. It’s nice to bring some reality and sanity to my business. I’ve never taken any business classes in my life, and even in the past few months I’ve learned a lot and I’ve even started to read Forbes and Business Weekly magazines willingly. It’s all kind of weird for me.

But at the same time, I don’t think of myself as some tie-wearing businessman. If anything it’s a means to an end. It’s a way to do what I really want to do and still provide for my family. That’s cool. It’s a way to be idealistic and pursue my dreams, and still accept and meet the practical reality that I need to put food on the table.

It’s actually kind of nice to still have that dreamer mentality but still have my feet firmly on the ground. It’s not easy, but it’s nice. And maybe I don’t get to be as idealistic as I want to be — I still have to write something that sells in the end, but I am writing. I never thought I’d enjoy writing postcards and brochures before.

And it’s fun because there’s definite changes with this new, create-your-own-schedule life. My wife’s noticed I’m a lot less stressed and grumpy than I used to be when I had to come home and vent about work. I’m also a lot more extroverted. It used to be I came home from work and I was ready to hole up with my computer and relax for the evening. But now I’ve been holed up by myself all day and I’m ready for some human interaction. I’m extremely extroverted in the evenings now because I don’t see people all day. I miss break-ity time.

This whole entrepreneur thing is kind of fun. I find myself dreaming with a new practical bent. Coming up with creative ideas and then trying to think of ways they might actually work. What a concept. Why didn’t I learn this in college?

I feel like Dilbert

I had to send a fax today and discovered that Office Max and Kinko’s charge $1 per page to send a fax. What kind of a rip off is that? It wasn’t even a long distance fax. For $70 you can buy your own stinking fax.

Which I’m probably going to do. Anyone have any advice on buying an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copier? I have no need for color, mainly speed and the ability to scan decent stuff, make black & white copies, and send faxes. A laser printer seems like the best choice, though they’re almost twice as much as the inkjets. Ouch. Anyone have any advice on lasers vs. inkjets for the home office?

(if you’re wondering, yes, my computer purchase is getting closer and closer, and I’m realizing my parallel port laser printer that’s served me dutifully for ten years will become useless, as will my scanner. That leaves me with a decent color inkjet, though my need for a scanner, fax, and copier, as well as the lack of usefullness for color are making me consider an all-in-one. )

Shall I show you to your room, or would you prefer to be dragged off kicking and screaming?

Being unemployed sucks. It also opens new opportunities. My life is at such a crossroads right now, I just don’t know what to think. One minute I’m pinching pennies, the next I’m trying to figure out how I can spend a whole lot of those pennies. One day I’m scouring ads looking for that perfect job–or even one that’s close enough, the next I’m adding up numbers and wondering if freelancing will actually work. One day I’m typing happily away, the next I’m envisioning an easier, simpler method of typing away and imaging what could be but isn’t quite yet.

I’m in between so many different things I just don’t know what to do. Part of me is suffering from a thirst to have the latest and greatest of everything. A month ago I wanted a new car. A week ago I wanted a new database-driven blog system. This week I want a new computer. I’m never freaking happy. It’s ludicrous.

When I had a job things weren’t so complicated. I could either afford something or I couldn’t. I added up the damage, looked at the income, and calculated how long it would take to save up enough. It wasn’t that hard. But now I’m unemployed. I oscillate between a prince and a pauper. I envision each freelance job paying for six different things, not quite realizing that it’s all less that what I made before. Reality hasn’t set in since I lost my job. I’ve been living in limbo so long I’m almost eligible to vote.

You’d think it would be so simple: Do you want a real job? Steady hours for a steady paycheck–sign me up. Or do you want to freelance? Flexible hours and a variable paycheck–sign me up. Oh wait, I can’t do both. But here I am, looking for a job and agreeing to freelance work left and right. It’s not like I mind the work. I love the work. Money is good. I just can’t decide where to commit myself. Do I give up the job search? Or do I fake it until unemployment runs out? Do I stop sending cover letters and resumes and start sending queries and manuscripts? There’s never enough time to do both. Or do I just crash my Geo through the gates of Calmwoods? Ooh, kicking and screaming, please.

And where is God in all of this? Where is the clear sign, the arrow from on high, pointing me in the proper direction? It just doesn’t come. God doesn’t work like that. And it drives me nuts. It’s like he wants me to sit here at my computer frustrated by it all. The process. It’s always the process. The already-but-not-yet of faith. The I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. You’ve found it, but you haven’t really. That’s where I’m at. It’s one big ball of insanity. It’s schizophrenianity.

The wolf’s at old Gil’s door.

Oh the woes of an Internet-addicted computer-phile. At the same time I’m contemplating shifting my blog to a new database system, which involves either getting my own domain and hosting or transferring my current hosting from a Windows server to a Unix server, my computer is flipping out on me, making me think three years might be the life span of a modern computer and I should just give in and drop kick it out the window. So much to think about. Where do I start?

How about urls? If I do decide to get my own hosting I’ll need to come up with my own snazzy url. I’m not sure where to go on this one. My first choice was, because my e-mail address would be, and I could offer such simple and easy e-mail addresses to all my family. My web site could be How cool would that be? But no, a man named Gay Hendricks started the Hendricks Institute and got the domain first. What really freaks me out about a man named Gay is that the background on his web site very closely resembles the shape of a prominent female body part.

Next up was, but apparently that’s a hospital in Indiana. Then I tried, which belongs to one of those e-mail providers that wants to sell me the privilege of using for $25 a year. No thanks.

So now I have to come up with something else that’s both efficient and multipurpose. I noticed that is available, and my favorite domain provider, NameBoy recommended, which I think is pretty catchy. Let me know if you have any bright ideas.

And what’s this crap about my computer dying? Yeah, it’s been cranky lately. Programs keep crashing left and right. I think tomorrow I may need to try reinstalling Windows. Sigh. Why can’t computers just work the way they’re supposed to? And before all you Mac people start snickering and saying I told you so, don’t give me that. Macs have the same problem PCs do: they crash. I’ve known many Mac users who’ve had just as many problems with their computers as I’ve had with PCs. They’re not the simple solution everyone makes them out to be. And if you’re so sure they are, why don’t you buy me one and I’ll see for myself?

The truly frightening thing about computers is the way computers and home entertainment are merging. While some companies envision the TV as the center of the new digital home, Dell thinks the computer will be the center. I’m guessing they’re right, I just hate the thought of my TV crashing the way my computer does. How ludicrous is that?

To top matters off today, the daycare center where my wife works was broken into again last night, the second time in a month (make that three if you count the trespassing and vandalism incident). The perpetrators would have been caught, but the VCR to the security system they stole the last time hadn’t been replaced yet. I know my wife works in the ghetto and crime happens more often there, but that doesn’t mean it has to be standard procedure. The building doesn’t even have an alarm system. The price of broken windows alone would have paid for that.

Apparently the Salvation Army and Bethel College have more important things to do. I, however, am unemployed, so I don’t have more important things to do. Tomorrow I’ll be drafting a letter of complaint to Bethel about the unsafe conditions my wife works in, a crowd of kids endure, their families pay for, and college students face (two of the three break-ins were first found by college students trying to set up for class). If that’s not enough, I think I’ll start contacting the media. It’s sad, but public embarrassment seems to be quite a motivater for non-profits.

On an unrelated note, if you’re looking for somewhere to pick up cheap electronics, third-hand office equipment, and overly used children’s books and videos, I know just the place. There is a risk of cutting yourself on the glass you had to break to get in, but that’s about the only theft-deterrent.

Wahoo! Three day weekend!

A day in the life of the unemployed:

7:00 a.m. – Alarm goes off
7:08 a.m. – Snooze goes off
7:16 a.m. – Snooze goes off, wife gets up for work.
7:20 a.m. – I get out of bed, take the dog outside
7:22 a.m. – Kiss wife as she leaves for work, gather household trash
7:25 a.m. – Scour yard for dog poop, take trash to the curb
7:35 a.m. – Feed dog, have a “mini-breakfast” consisting of a few gulps of OJ and a few spoonfuls of granola
7:40 a.m. – Depart on bike ride
8:05 a.m. – Return home, guzzle water, take shower (including a shave)
8:30 a.m. – Let the dog out, sort and start the laundry
8:45 a.m. – Turn on the computer, prepare real breakfast, let the dog in
9:00 a.m. – Eat breakfast while checking e-mail, morning news
9:20 a.m. – Switch laundry loads, let the dog out
9:30 a.m. – Search online job sites
10:15 a.m. – Change laundry, let the dog in, fold laundry
10:45 a.m. – Add names/contact info to networking database
11:30 a.m. – Write and send two networking e-mails
11:50 a.m. – Draft this silly log of my time
12:00 p.m. – Realize I haven’t brushed my teeth
12:01 p.m. – Brush my teeth
12:03 p.m. – Call wife
12:05 p.m. – Call window people who have been slacking about setting up a measurement appointment
12:09 p.m. – Break to check laundry and eat lunch
12:15 p.m. – Convince dog rain will not impede his ability to urinate
12:20 p.m. – Fold laundry while dog tests that theory
12:30 p.m. – Let dog in, notice that theory was proven correct; begin making lunch
12:35 p.m. – Eat lunch while reading Time magazine article about the Reagan Letters
1:00 p.m. – Check the mail, items of interest: unemployment check and job application rejection (this is rare, of the jobs I’ve applied to, I hear a negative response from only 20%. The rest don’t bother).
1:05 p.m. – Fired off seven more networking e-mails
2:05 p.m. – Change laundry, fold laundry
2:15 p.m. – Read some Johnny Cash, let the dog out
2:45 p.m. – Enter receipts, checks into Quicken, compare with bank statements
3:55 p.m. – Let the dog out, change and fold the laundry
4:05 p.m. – Check latest bank statement against Quicken
4:10 p.m. – Give up. Wife is home. At this point it’s time to start thinking about supper, cleaning up the kitchen, etc.