So I went into the unemployment office this morning for the orientation workshop–the first of four mandatory classes. I actually had to wake up to my alarm clock, something I haven’t done in a month. I don’t miss that at all. Ugk.
The class itself was only marginally informative, but I didn’t expect it to be a “next coming” sort of experience anyway. The most insightful thing I took out of it is that applying for jobs is much like sending unsolicited submissions to editors. The same things which will get you discarded immediately by an editor will get your resume/cover letter likewise circular-filed by a prospective employer. Basically, it behooves a writer/applicant to know the market/company they’re approaching, do their research, don’t unload personal grief in cover letters, etc. etc. It makes me feel a little better about the whole job application thing, thinking of it as a sort of unsolicited submission, which I’ve got tons of experience with, rather than something I haven’t done in nearly eleven years.
I also did a lot of people watching, the writer in me taking notes and trying to eavesdrop on conversations during breaks. Couple non-employment-oriented observations I made:
1. The people in business suits seemed to radiate more of a lost and helpless aura than the people in casuals. There’s a deer-in-headlights ambiance coming from them, especially the older ones.
2. The presenter, when he first introduced himself, exuded an air of professional efficiency. He was articulate, relaxed, and impeccably groomed–custom tailed French cut shirt with silver cuff-links. He did have a tendency of dropping the “l” in “help” so that it came out “hep,” which I found distracting (especially since one of the bits of paperwork he kept referring to was the “How May We Help You?” form). But overall he gave an excellent first impression, all “I am a font of sound advice, respect my authoritah”-ish.
In a “we’re all in the same boat” spiel, he commented that something everyone had in common in the room, aside from being unemployed, was we all had a story, which of course blipped my radar. And then he went on to give a brief overview of his. Apparently he was writing a novel and was so wrapped up in it he missed all the sinking ship signs at his previous place of employment. That is, until the pink slips started going out. During the break, I had to ask him how his novel was coming along.
Him: “Fantastic, it’s being published in June!”
Me, writers ears perking up (networking, ooo!): “That’s great! With whom?”
Me (ears drooping): “You’re self-publishing?”
Him: “Yep, I’m self-publishing. It’s the only way to maintain all my artistic rights. I firmly believe it’s the only sane way to publish these days–”
And suddenly, all the credibility he had with me is completely down the drain. I could almost see the red stamp on his forehead which read “SUCKER” and the big neon “I’VE BEEN SCAMMED” placard around his neck.
Whereas there are legit reasons to self-publish, “maintaining artistic rights” and viewing it as the only “sane” approach to publishing ain’t them. Ah well. No doubt he can still give me good pointers on writing a punchier resume . . .