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Guerilla job changes on a shoestring

Posted May 10 2013 7:57am

The preparation for my job change continues, with some much-needed adaptations. I spent a fair amount of time over the past month or so, studying up on new material I felt I needed to learn and know, in order to move into my next position. I am highly motivated, and I know I need to move on to something more challenging in an environment that’s more high-performance. Right now, the company I’m with is pretty invested in chronic under-achievement — not because they can’t do better, but because they’d rather run around like chickens with their heads cut off and *feel* productive, than actually *be* productive.

Those of us who have years and years of skills and experience are on the outside — the folks on the inside who get to make the big decisions and influence people — are relative newcomers to the industry they’re trying to take over, and it’s just embarrassing, watching them make the decisions and do the things they do. When we speak up and try to help steer them away from the cliff, we are summarily dismissed. And I’m being paid about 20% less than I could (and should) be, which is just ridiculous. I have recruiters contacting me constantly for jobs that look great, so there’s really no reason to for me to stay.

What’s the point?

So yeah, I’m looking for a new job. That’s a no-brainer. But the timing has to be done right, because there’s a big project I’m working on that is affecting a bunch of people I’ve worked with for years, whom I really care about. I’m not going to ditch them before we finish up in September. Then, I am gone, baby, gone.

And in anticipation of that, I am “re-tooling” my skillset — brushing up on technologies and topics that are in demand, these days, so I can be more useful in the job market.

The only thing is, over the past couple of months, I have not hit the goals I had for myself — to study and practice x-amount of material each week. I have had the best of intentions, and I have really tried, but it just didn’t happen. And it’s been getting me down.

See, the thing is, I get tired. Fatigue is a huge factor in all of this, and when I’m tired, I don’t manage my time well, I don’t read or comprehend well, I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing, and it just pulls the rug out from underneath me. It’s been very dispiriting, seeing myself fall behind in my own personal goals, feeling my future slipping from my grasp. There is no way I can put myself out there as an expert in these areas and hope to compete with folks who are younger and fresher and more experienced than myself. It’s a real concern, and a very real issue. I can’t afford to have my reputation smeared, and I can’t afford to get into a work arrangement where I am out-matched by my workload and I end up melting down. It’s happened before, and it’s not fun.

So, rather than feeling badly about myself and undercut my future, I’ve stepped back (during my most recent vacation) and taken a closer look at what I need to do to make a move.

I need to:

  • Present myself as an expert in my field — I’ve been doing technical work since 1992, and it should show,
  • Have a skillset that is fresh and current,
  • Show that I have been doing this skilled work on a daily basis in my current and past positions,
  • Be up-to-date on the minutiae of my particular specialty,
  • Have a portfolio of real world results to show for my work, and
  • Have all of this in place within the next two months, when I will start my formal job search.

I figure it can take me up to three months to find another position that suits me, and I won’t be ready to move till late September. So, I need to have things in place to send out to recruiters — and I need to have a portfolio of results I’ve produced — around mid-July timeframe. That leaves me with about eight weeks to put things together, while I’m also keeping my current job going, keeping up on my rest, and going about my everyday life.

I do not have a lot of resources, energy-wise.

I do not have a lot of extra discretionary time, because my work is pretty consuming and I have a LOT going on.

So, I need to do this on a shoestring.

That being said, I’ve taken a closer look at my job history, and I’ve realized that there are a lot of things I do (or could be doing) on a daily basis in my current job that actually support my future job change. I have a lot of different aspects to my job, and it can be very confusing, figuring out which is which and what I am actually doing with myself. It probably sounds a bit dense, but I am so overwhelmed on a daily basis by all the details and “trees” that I lose sight of the forest. And I also get so caught up in putting out fires, that I don’t actually do the work that’s strategically aligned with my future. I am so busy chasing down missing pieces of puzzles and fixing things that are broken (by other people who don’t do their friggin’ jobs) that I lose sight of the big-picture work I am doing. I lose sight of the big picture, period.

As an aside, I have to say that this job has been about the WORST thing for my distractability issues. It’s tiring, it’s distracting by nature, it’s chaotic, it’s loud, it’s bright, and there is no real direction anymore. I know, I know — that’s how it is pretty much everywhere. But I have never ever worked in a place that didn’t actually allow you to block the line of sight to distracting movements with a wall of some kind, and that had absolutely NO barriers to sound and light. This god-awful place makes cube farms look like nirvana.

Anyway, I’m re-adjusting my re-tooling approach, and I’ve identified a bunch of ways I can not only add to my skillset with new abilities, but also make the most of my past and present experience. I’ve identified some core themes to my work history, which eluded me before — areas where I have worked a lot and had considerable responsibility, influence, and success. I’ve done some market research relating to salaries, and I see a new direction I should go in.

It’s actually not a “new” direction for me — I’ve been doing this for years. It’s a new direction for my mindset and philosophy and approach to this job search.

You know, it’s funny — I never had this much trouble with the job search thing before. I always just moved, and there was someone ready to take me on. The thing is, my past screw-ups and mistakes and mis-steps from the years right after my TBI have caught up with me. People look very closely at your resume, these days, because there are so many posers out there, and there are so many people who’ve gotten burned by them. I had a period where I was moving from job to job every 3 months or so, and during that period, my TBI was catching up with me and making it harder and harder for me to focus, concentrate, interact with others, keep my cool, and be the best I could be. And it’s been increasingly difficult for me to just pick things up and retain them the way I used to. My memory is not what it could be, which really sucks, when it comes to learning new things.

Apparently, that’s a common theme with TBI — learning new stuff can be a challenge.

On the bright side, my past abilities with certain types of work still seems very much intact, and I need to remember that. I’m pretty skilled in certain ways, and I need to identify those ways and make the most of them.

It’s all a work in progress… but now I’m a lot closer to my goal than I was just a few weeks ago, and that feels pretty good.


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