Friday brain-melt

The job interview was yesterday, and… I have no clue about it. Here’s the run-down:

* 3 separate interviews with 3 different members of the team. – Those all seemed to go pretty well and I think I made a good impression on all of them.
* Writing test. – I think I kicked ass. (Actually, Dave’s boss told me that mine was way better than the other candidate’s that he saw. Nice to have the affirmation.)
* Lunch with Dave, his boss, and another engineer. – Fun. And the food was awesome. (Japanese, one of my favorites.)
* Teleconference interview. Singular: interview. With 3 people at the same time. Yeah. Three engineers in two remote offices (two guys in Texas, one guy in California), who btw were all asking me questions at the same time. – Holy mother of God, that was intimidating. For one thing, since it was on the phone, I couldn’t read anyone’s facial expressions and see if they were responding well to what I was saying. For another, two of the three guys aren’t native English speakers (one guy is French, and the other one is… I don’t know, maybe Indian? I couldn’t place his accent), and the conference room speaker phone was fuzzy, so I think some things might’ve gotten lost in translation. But besides that, some of their questions just threw me because they were completely not “technical writer”-y questions and it was just really, really strange.

The whole interview process took about 7 hours (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and was unbelievably exhausting. I was showered and in my pajamas before 6:30 last night. It kicked my butt, to say the least.

So, honestly? I have no idea how it went. I just hope I find out one way or the other soon, because I hate waiting. Patience is not one of my virtues, to say the least.

Moving on! Guess what we’re doing tomorrow?

(Apologies if this song gets stuck in your head for 10,000 years. We’ve been singing it around here for days.)

So, yeah. The North Carolina Zoo is in Asheboro, which is about 60 or so miles from here. It’s about the halfway point between here and Charlotte, so my brother and sister are going to drive over and meet up with us there. Catie is unbelievably psyched. I can’t tell if she’s more excited about seeing Tracy and Chris, or if it’s going to see all the animals, but either way, she’s practically bouncing off the walls about it.

You can expect about a million pictures when we get back. Should be fun! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

How many engineers does it take to hire a technical writer?

I mentioned a while back about how I was interviewing for a job I really want? Well, it’s been a slow process with this company. I applied for the job way back in early August, and I had my first interview with them before Labor Day. And tomorrow, I have my fourth – and hopefully final – interview.

Here’s the one sort of weird thing: this job is with Dave’s company. (If you know who he works for, good for you. I’m not outing his employer on my site.) So even though we’d be doing different things – he’s an engineer, I’m a technical writer – we’d be working in the same office building. Which could be really cool, or really weird. I’m not sure which, but I’m leaning toward cool. Especially since I already know from his experience that the people who work there are generally really awesome, and they’re flexible about letting you work from home when you need to (i.e., if you have a sick kid, etc.), so it would really be an ideal set-up for our family.

Of course, since Dave is an engineer and not in management, he has no say whatsoever as far as whether or not I get the job, which is why I’m now getting pretty nervous. (Where’s the nepotism when I need it?) All I know from him is that they’re interviewing at least 2 other people, so my odds are in the 33% range. I wish he had more “insider info” to give me. Instead, these are the kinds of exchanges we have:

Dave: So, they’re interviewing another docs guy.

Me: They’re interviewing someone named Doc Guy?

Dave: No. A docs guy. You know, someone who creates documents? As in, a writer? That thing you do for a living?

Me: Oh. Right. Well, it would be pretty awesome if there was a tech writer named Doc Guy.

**Both of us die laughing. Nerd humor FTW!**

The HR person who set up the interview told me to allow at least 6 hours for the interview because they want me to meet with several members of the team. I’m taking that as a positive sign. Also, I got the heads-up that at some point, Dave and his boss are going to take me to lunch, which’ll be nice.

So, yeah. Big interview tomorrow. I’m nervous. Cross your fingers, send good vibes, say prayers, light candles, what-have-you. I’d appreciate it. I really, really, really want this job.

in which I get offered and lose a job in the same day

Trust me, this story is not nearly as tragic as that title makes it sound.

Ok, so the week started like this.
* Tuesday – I had an in-person job interview for a job that I really felt totally indifferent about. It’s a short-term contract job that’s way the hell across town, the hours suck, and I didn’t really care for the place. (Call it a personal bias, I’m not a fan of working in places where I have to go through a metal detector to enter and leave the building, as well as let a security guard rummage around in my purse. Not a fan at all.) On the positive side, though? The pay for that job was sweet. Like, a week’s salary would’ve covered a month of daycare, with some left over. But you know, a short-term contract job means no benefits, which is why they usually up the pay rate.

One of the annoying things about that job was that they didn’t know how short-term the job was going to be. They said the contract was “one to four months.” During the interview, I asked for a more specific timeframe, and I didn’t get an answer. Just that they had this project that had to be done, and they estimated it would take somewhere in that range. Kind of hard to make plans around non-specifics like that.

* Wednesday – I had a phone interview for a job that I WANT I WANT OMG I WAAAANT SO BAD. I don’t want to talk too much about that one for fear of jinxing it, but as far as the combination of salary range, hours, commute, and work/family balance? It’s pretty much the most perfect scenario I could ask for. And the phone interview went really well. So well, in fact, that they’ve already contacted me about doing a follow-up interview with a different manager; however, the manager won’t be able to interview me for two weeks due to scheduling issues. Which, hey, that’s FINE. I just really, really want this job.

* Yesterday (Thursday) – I got a call from the recruiter from Tuesday. And they offered me the job. The job I don’t care about. I asked if I could have some time to think about it, and I called Dave in a panic.

Here’s the deal: I don’t want the crappy short-term contract job. I’m holding out hope that the job I DO want (which, btw, is a permanent gig, not a contract) will come through. But I also know that it’s going to be at least two weeks before I do a follow-up interview, and the crappy job wants me to start on Monday, and wouldn’t it be nice if I could be making some money in the meantime?

So I told the recruiter that I could commit to the project for one month (the minimum time on the contract), but since I’m currently interviewing for a permanent position, I can’t commit to the full four months right now. I thought that was reasonable, and you know, HONEST.

Over the next couple of hours, my anxiety at the thought of accepting a job I didn’t want kicked into overdrive. I freaked out. I don’t like starting something when I know I’m only going to be putting in a half-assed effort at best, and let’s face it, my heart was not in this at all. Quite honestly, my only motivation in accepting the job was the money.

But the main thing I worried about was Catie. The hours for this job meant that I’d have to leave for work before she wakes up in the morning. I’d get to see her for a couple of hours in the evening, and on the weekends, but that’s it. And you know, lately, mornings are my favorite with her. That’s when I get all the best snuggles and kisses. The idea of missing that, even though it was only going to be for a month, made me want to cry.

A little while later, the recruiter called me back. He said that he spoke with the managers, and while they certainly understand my wanting to pursue a permanent opportunity, they want someone who can commit to the full four months. Even though they have no idea if the project is going to take that long. So they’re going to keep looking for candidates. Basically it was a “thanks, but no thanks.”

Honestly, all I felt was immense relief. I think that was a sign that this was definitely not the right job for me.

Now, in light of this crazy week we’ve had, we’re off to the mountains to celebrate Dave’s birthday weekend. (He turns 39 on Sunday. Old man.) I’m planning on leaving my laptop at home and enjoying the time with my family. I mean, I’ll still have my iPhone, though. It’s not like I’m a total cavewoman.

Hope you all have fun-filled weekends as well.

Big News, and also: Delurking Day!

First of all, it’s apparently National Delurking Day.

Delurker Day!

So if you read this site but never comment, today is the day that you’re supposed to say something. Even if it’s just a simple “hi.” It’s kinda nice to know who’s out there in the big bad Internet, you know?

Ok, moving on to the BIG NEWS of the day…


If you read this post last week, it’s the one I referred to as “Job A.” It’s full-time, working-from-home. I don’t want to get into too many details about what I’ll be doing because I’m not sure how prudent that is. It’s still in the IT industry, although it’s in an area that I have absolutely ZERO experience with, but it still sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Now, I just have to figure out how to accommodate Catie in all of this. She already has daycare two days a week, and that’s great. I think I have a temporary solution for the other three days of the week for now. The main thing is going to be finding a preschool for her in the fall. And of course, most of the preschools around here are enrolling kids, like, right now as I type. I’m not worried, we’ll figure it out, it’s just going to take some research to find something that’s a good fit for all of us.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go wake up my baby girl from a nap and take her to the movies to see “The Princess and the Frog.” Because days like these needs a little celebration.

my expert phone interview tips

I’ve had three or four job interviews over the phone in the past week, and when I started thinking about it, I realized that I’ve probably had hundreds of them in my lifetime. I usually interview pretty well over the phone, and it usually gets me to the next step, which is the in-person interview.

So, since I’m starting to think of myself as somewhat of an expert on job interviews, here are a few of my tips. You know, just in case you happen to be in the job market yourself.

1. If you have small children at home, get rid of them. Find a sitter or whatever, but nothing is going to make you sound unprofessional faster than your 2 1/2 year-old shrieking, “Mommy! I need more juice, pweeeeez!!!” in the background. Personally, I take Catie to a drop-in daycare facility that’s only a mile or two from our house. It costs $8 an hour, and I consider it money well spent.

I did one interview on a day that Dave happened to be working from home, so I let him watch Catie and I locked myself in our guest room for my interview. Of course, Catie had a huge screaming tantrum while I was on the phone because she wanted “Moooommyyyy!!!”, and I’m pretty sure that the interviewer didn’t hear her because Dave did a good job of keeping her at the other end of the house, but I could hear her, and it was more than a little distracting.

2. Tend to all personal needs before the interview. That means go ahead and use the bathroom, so when your 10-minute interview runs for over an hour, you aren’t doing the pee-pee dance around your living room by the end of it. Not that I have any experience with that one myself. *ahem*

3. Have a glass of water nearby, in case you get dry-mouth. Note that this does not apply to soda, as that will likely just make you burp during the interview. And most interviewers – I’m guessing – deduct points for belching. Water, though, probably won’t make you burp and it’s better for you anyway.

4. Don’t try to multitask. During one of my interviews, I thought that I would take advantage of the fact that Catie was at daycare and tidy up the living room during my interview. It’s not like putting toys in the toy box requires a whole lot brain power, right? Um, wrong. It didn’t take long to realize that I wasn’t really hearing anything that the interviewer was saying, so I stopped, sat down and concentrated on making my best possible phone presentation.

5. Don’t curse during the interview. This might seem really obvious, but you’d be surprised. Years ago, I had an interview right after a major dental thing, and I was on painkillers, which is my excuse for this huge blunder. But I said the word “crap” in the middle of the interview – I honestly cannot remember the context or why I said it, but I know I did. The interviewer kind of paused for a second, then wrapped up our conversation and I never heard from them again. So, yeah. Learn from my mistakes, y’all.

There you have it. Clearly I missed my calling as a career counselor, no?

on the prowl (for a job)

Last fall I got a part-time job doing some freelance technical writing for a small software company that’s based here in Raleigh. I enjoyed the work that I did for them, and I was excited for some of the projects that they had coming up. However, they’ve had some major employee turnover in the last month or so, and now it seems that things like “have our freelance writer produce more documentation about our awesome software” and “pay our freelance writer’s invoices” have gotten pushed to the back burner. It sucks, but what can you do?

So, new year, new opportunities. I decided to start looking for another job. Obviously I’d prefer to work from home, but I’m not opposed to an office job either. I started sending out resumes, but I figured that it would take a long time to find something that would be a good match for me. And suddenly this week, I’ve come across two different jobs that both sound really good, both companies seem very interested in me, and I’m not sure which one sounds better.

Job A: Entirely work from home, and while it’s in the IT industry, it’s a side that I have absolutely no experience with, but it sounds like it would be a LOT of fun to me. And even though it’s work-from-home, it would involve a lot of talking on the phone, so I’d still get that need for adult interaction fulfilled, and not feel all isolated and hermit-like (which I know is a downfall of a lot of work-from-home jobs). However, the pay is just so-so – it would be more than enough to cover daycare expenses and still have some money left over, which I guess is the main goal.

Job B: It’s an office job, but it’s straight up technical writing, which is what I’m used to. (And I really enjoy technical writing, so that’s not a bad thing.) It would challenge me, which I love. And the salary would be… well, a lot more than the Job A, that’s for sure. It’d probably be enough to bump us into another tax bracket.

Now keep in mind, I don’t have hard offers for either of these jobs, I’m just in the early stages of interviewing with them. But, how do I choose between two seemingly great opportunities? Do I go for the work-from-home job, and take a chance on my gut instinct that’s telling me this would be a good fit for me? Or do I stick with the side of the industry that I know, and accept that security (and ok, the money) in exchange for having to commute to an office every day? Is it all about the dollah-dollah bills? Or is job flexibility the key to happiness?

How would you choose?