I have now been officially retired since April of 2009, and I am no officially going insane from boredom. Oh I write every day and see friends and “do lunch” a couple of times a week. But now that I am healthy and have recovered from my recent health scare I realize it is time to get back in the game.
For two reasons, first my pension covers all my basic needs and I am so grateful to have it, but that is it, it covers the basics but nothing else. I even had to turn off my cable and internet at home to save money, much to the disappointment of three kids.
Secondly I am able bodied and willing to work and I need a reason to get out of my house, because sitting around unshaven holding a TV remote in my underwear has become all too easy.
I have begun my job search in earnest in the past few weeks. I was a professional firefighter/paramedic for over thirty years; I started when I was 19 years old, so guess what? I haven’t a clue how to go about applying for a job.
The first thing I discovered was no one lets you actually apply at their business. Oh you can sit down at a computer in Target and apply that way, but you can’t talk to a human being, you can’t have that eye to eye contact and firm handshake that I rely on.
It is all on the internet now. Go to a website and wade through page after page of questions. I’m okay with that, but I put in at least one application a day and that is pretty much my limit because of the amount of time required to fill in all the spaces. You have your resume, your references, your education and the big one for me is past employers.
For the most part I have one, the fire department. I always had off duty jobs but most of those are from years ago. I can also list that I teach at the University of Colorado, that I was Director of Public Relations for the Pikes Peak Hillclimb for 12 years, that I am an author, former stand-up comic and the list goes on.
Then I got some feedback from a friend, they said
“Tim your resume needs to be more blue collar. You are applying at Cum and Go with this kind of resume? It won’t work, you need to dumb it down.”
“Dumb it down?” I asked?
“Yeah dude, people that read this will think you are an egghead, too smart to be a mindless drone, besides they don’t want to work with someone that will make them feel stupid.”
I hadn’t thought of that, so I have created two resumes now, one that is blue collar and one that includes all my past experiences. As I apply for a job now I have to decide which resume to attach. Oh and by the way I didn’t get the job at Cum and Go, I failed their assessment test.
The other big side effect of the blue collar resume is that it pretty much says that for over 30 years all I did was tear stuff apart, run into burning buildings and on occasion save a life. That may sound cool, but that isn’t a skill set that the local Cum and Go is looking for.
I have been offered some chances in sales but my ability to sell stuff is equal to my ability to hatch eggs, I have no skill at sales. So I keep looking for something, anything that I might have a slight chance at.
I have applied for security guard positions thinking I was a fireman all those years, heck I’m used to wearing a badge I can do that. No one has asked to interview me on that one. I have tried some restaurants, hell I was a great firehouse cook I could work at Taco Bell, no luck.
Because my firefighting career has caught up on my body, I can’t really do heavy manual labor anymore, so that eliminates tons of jobs. I made it to the face to face interview round with Lowes, and guess what? I was grossly unprepared for the process.
I don’t know if any of you have been through this kind of interview but it was my first time. I guess I should have done some research prior to my appointment, because they caught me flatfooted.
It consisted of about 15 or so situational questions. I sat down with a very pleasant lady and we began.
“Tell me Tim about a time in the past where you had a conflict with a fellow worker. How did you handle that situation?”
So right away I thought back to my days in the firehouse and I remember having a conflict (actually many conflicts) with another fireman and to resolve the problem I duct taped him to his bed while he was sleeping causing him to miss an alarm because he couldn’t get himself free in time to get to the fire truck.
Then I thought maybe that wouldn’t be a good example. I broke into a sweat, became very nervous, and I panicked. I searched my memories for a suitable example, nothing but a great big blank. So I lied and made up a story that I thought would show my skill at conflict resolution and demonstrate that I was a team player. I ended up either lying on all the other questions or only being able to make a fire house reference. Either way I wasn’t offered a job.
I need to find work. If any of you have some helpful tips, please, please impart them to me as I am an abject failure in the real world outside the protection of a fire house.
I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and I have no idea how to go about it.