Sunday, May 2, 2010

Transitions...the Final Chapter

Friends, I haven’t updated the blog in a while, but it’s not because I don’t care. I do…really. It’s just that, well, I couldn’t afford for there to be a public record of my thoughts and decisions over the last few weeks. If you’ve talked to me at all since early April and/or can read between the lines of my last few blog posts, I’m sure you understand.

That said, I'm writing today with great news. Beginning Monday, I will once again contribute to society instead of being a drain on it...that's right, I got a job! (Full disclosure: I retain my right to be an EMPLOYED drain upon society).

Next week I will start my work fundraising and marketing for Concern Worldwide -- a non-governmental, international, humanitarian organization dedicated to reduction of suffering and eliminating extreme poverty in some of the world’s poorest countries. Concern works primarily in the countries ranked in the bottom 40 of the United Nations Human Development Report, implementing emergency response programs as well as long-term development programs in the areas of livelihoods, health, HIV&AIDS, and education.

My job will be to grow Concern’s fundraising and brand awareness in the Chicagoland area. The agency is based internationally in Dublin, Ireland and has a US headquarters in New York; I will likely be traveling to those cosmopolitan locales, as well as some of the most impoverished communities in the world in order to better tell Concern’s story. It will be an immense responsibility with overwhelming implications…and I’m incredibly excited about getting started.

In the three months since I lost my job, many of you have reached out to lend your support and ideas, your friendship and love. I’m so grateful for all of you. Truly, deeply, immensely grateful. Thank you all…words can’t express how much your words and deeds have meant to me.

With that, I’ll leave you alone. Finally. If you want to know more about Concern or my role with the company, drop me a line and I'll do my best to share a story about which I only know a small piece.

And once more, to paraphrase the words of those immortal scholars Bartles and James, I thank you for your support.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Our Long National Nightmare is (Almost) Over

My fellow Americans, the past nine weeks have been trying ones. Natural disasters are striking at alarming rates. A team from Duke now calls itself the national champions. And, oh yeah, I’ve been unemployed. But one of those horrors is about to change.

Friends, this morning I received a job offer.

Who is my new employer, you ask? Well, that’s a good question…and one I cannot definitively answer. Here’s why:

The job I was offered is with the agency that canceled several interviews and later assigned me an insanely difficult task in preparation for my second interview. Apparently, I aced it! The recruiter called this morning to tell me the good news, as well as the job’s salary. She did not know, however, the other benefits and promised those would be sent to me within 48 hours (the executive director is out of the country on business).

So why am I not yet calling myself “employed?” It’s odd, because although I only spoke with them on the phone for an hour, in recent days the school has emerged as my preferred employer. That may change after my two-day interview scheduled for April 19 and 20, but I want to explore every possible opportunity before committing to one. Am I crazy?

My plan is to accept the job offer, assuming the salary and benefits packages are acceptable. I would ask to start on Monday, April 26 and then be liberated to attend the school interview one week earlier. If it’s still my top choice, I would sit down privately with the school’s chief administrator (and my prospective boss) to say this:

I can’t presume that I am your, or the Board’s, first choice to fill the Development Director vacancy. But I can tell you this – you are my first choice. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always give us our first choices and I have been offered a very enticing position with another agency. I don’t say this to pressure you into choosing me; I say it because of the circumstances I’m in. If I don’t hear from you by next Monday, I am going to start the new position…and I can’t imagine leaving the job after starting, even if you decide to extend me an offer.

What do you think, gang? Does that sound reasonable, professional and/or fair? Any and all recommendations for this potentially awkward conversation would be greatly appreciated. And, of course, I will continue to update the blog until I have made my final decision.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Feeding Frenzy

In my last post, I expressed my concerns about juggling prospects – I currently have no less than four potential job leads that have progressed beyond the initial application stage. And in the days since Monday’s post nothing has happened to diminish the possibilities; if anything, things have progressed even further.

This afternoon I will have an in-person interview with two senior staff members at a medical industry foundation. This is the job titled “associate” with a director-level salary and responsibilities. I had a 15-minute phone interview on Monday that went well and they have invited me to meet in their Evanston offices this afternoon. For some reason, my level of anticipation is not as high for this interview as it has been mere hours before others…a fact that may be due to doubts about the job, my familiarity and comfort with the interview process (after being on so many) or simply due to the fact that I have other compelling prospects and don’t feel the level of desperation that I did a few short weeks ago. Oh well, I’m sure my preconceived notions will either be confirmed or eliminated before the end of the day.

I also got a call this morning, finally, from the Board Member at the community museum. She apologized for not calling Monday as promised; we are scheduled to meet tomorrow morning. I don’t have a feel for her, but I really enjoyed meeting the museum’s executive director and another Board colleague, so I am optimistic that tomorrow will be more of the same.

Next is the private school. Not only did I get a call today from the director asking me to come in for a second interview, but he (confidentially) told me how excited the entire Search Team was after my initial phone interview. Our in-person interview will be comprehensive, to say the least. I’m to meet a large group of staff, volunteers and Board Members over a two-day period – 9-3 on one day, 9-12 the next. While nine hours of face time may seem a bit daunting, I am incredibly impressed with the school’s thoroughness and commitment to finding a Development Director who can fit in with all its diverse constituencies and excel in all areas of job responsibility. The only catch is that these meetings won’t take place until April 19 and 20. But hey, I can be patient.

Finally, I’ve yet to hear back from the New York-based international agency, but I’m harboring no anxiety over that one. As I wrote, I could not have represented myself any better than I did in last week’s second interview. If I don’t get the job, it simply wasn’t meant to be. Damn…that’s a liberating feeling!

Of course, I know I should continue to apply to more jobs since I can’t assume any offers are impending…but the sun is shining, it’s 80 degrees outside and for the first time in a while, things are looking up. I’m definitely going to enjoy the ride.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Juggling Prospects

Tomorrow marks the eight week anniversary of my job “consolidation,” a two month period marked mostly by frustration, inactivity and occasional bouts of self-pity. All of a sudden, however, the flood gates have opened and I’ve been besieged by job prospects from all angles.

(Quick tangent: shouldn’t we have a better word than “anniversary” to mark the time elapsed since something bad happened? The word anniversary has a positive connotation, but losing one’s job is far from a good thing. Perhaps “shamiversary”? Maybe “dreadaversary”? Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.)

I’m not complaining about my sudden good fortune, but where I recently felt starved for employment options, I’m now trying to juggle multiple balls without letting one drop. And while no one has made me an offer yet, instead of being elated about one opportunity, I’m now trying to rank my prospects and determine exactly which is best. Sure, it’s a good problem to have…but it’s still a problem.

Let’s examine the contenders, shall we?

Prospect #1 – the agency that had to cancel several first interviews because the executive director was stuck in New York. My second interview was scheduled for Friday, but 24 hours before, I received an assignment that seemed overwhelming. In order to test my fundraising acumen, I was told to imagine that I had 24 hours to prepare for an opportunity to meet two high-level CEOs who represented funding prospects. I had to deliver a 10-minute pitch and prepare supporting documents that spoke to the agency, its mission and its case for support. I also had to generate a complete budget. These tasks would be difficult enough had I enjoyed a long employment tenure and a full understanding of the agency, but I had to rely on the (mis)information on the agency’s website. Fourteen hours of prep work later, I completed my assignment, got a few hours sleep, then met with the executive director and a Board Member. I may not get the job, but it’s hard for me to imagine any other candidate spent more time or produced better results on his or her assignment.

Prospect #2 – the north shore community museum at which I had an interview two weeks ago. Less than an hour after returning from my second interview with the New York agency, the museum director called to set up a second interview too. I am to meet with one of their Board Members later this week.

Prospect #3 – the local private school. Maybe I’m putting the cart before the horse, but I killed it in my phone interview with the “Development Director Search Task Force” and am optimistically expecting an invitation to interview in person next week.

Prospect #4 – the new contender. As I was preparing today’s lunch, I received a call from a national health foundation who wants someone to oversee their comprehensive development portfolio. Interestingly enough, the job title is only “Associate,” but the required experience and attached salary are firmly in line with what I expect.

That’s just four contenders, but the crazy thing is that I applied to all four of these jobs in early February. What if, contrary to my fears, my resume actually does resonate with prospective employers and I start to get calls based on the jobs I applied to in late February and all of March? I mean, there are potential red flags associated with all of the prospects above; does an almost unrealistic interview assignment mean working at prospect #1 would be a sea of unrealistic expectations? Is there enough of a scope for prospect #2’s mission that I could actually succeed and grow in the role? Am I being blinded by the idea of free tuition for children years away from conception that I’m placing too lofty a status on prospect #3? If I choose to accept the position, does prospect #4’s entry-level title set me back career-wise?

It’s funny how far I’ve come in eight weeks and I wouldn’t wish the highs and lows of the job search process on anyone. Well, maybe the highs…but you know what I mean. Any advice, people? Am I making things too complicated? Should I just be happy if/when one acceptable offer comes in?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Interview Blues

I just wrapped up with the “Development Director Search Task Force,” which, despite the overly bureaucratic name, ran an organized and efficient telephone interview. The job is with a local private and progressive school, a workplace where collaboration and enthusiasm seem to be ideals held on par with experience and valued far more than individuality. I’d like to think they responded extremely favorably to my answers, but as always, there’s a distinct possibility that I totally misread the situation and the Task Force hung up the phone and collectively said, “Well that was a huge waste of time.”

You know, because I get that a lot.

The only negative about today’s interview was the speed of their hiring process. The director talked about in-person interviews not starting until mid-April, with the Development Director to “begin in the summer.” At best that means June 11 – the last day of the school year. But what if they mean July or August? Ugh. Things could get ugly at home (and in my bank account) if my search takes that long.

I still have Friday’s second interview to think about…even though I don’t yet have a confirmed time, location or even city. But hey, a second interview is a second interview…right?

I applied to even more jobs today – a task I’m finding more and more mind-numbing and depressing. But every time I feel like I’ve sent off as many resumes as humanly possible, I remember that I like fancy things and a job is the best way to ensure I can continue living the lifestyle to which I’ve grown accustomed. If only I were more bohemian…

Monday, March 22, 2010

Madness Intrudes

You likely have been wondering what happened to the blog. Either that, or you forgot about me and my narcissistic musings. But I’m going to go with wonder…and now I’ll fill you in on the past week.

Last Tuesday I took advantage of the brilliant early Spring weather and played nine holes of golf – one of the rare conveniences afforded to a man with an abundance of free time like myself. Thursday and Friday I did something I hadn’t done since college – I spent two straight days inside bars watching the NCAA tournament, drinking, gambling, eating horribly and, in general, being a buffoon. It was awesome.

But now that all but 16 teams have been eliminated and the rest of the western world is back at work, I find myself back here blogging. This week is shaping up to be a busy one; I have a phone interview tomorrow (with a nearby progressive and independent K-12 school), a second interview on Friday (that may or may not be out of town) and I hope to hear back from the agency with which I had a great first interview last week. Oh, and there are plenty of new jobs to apply to as well.

I will, of course, keep you updated on any developments and promise to avoid all college basketball. Well…at least until Thursday.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Could this be Good News or Did I Stumble Across the Wrong Blog?

Distance Traveled to Date: 3.10 Miles

Today’s post was meant to be titled “Back to Work” -- a tease for the seven hours of manual labor I did on Saturday helping the Future Missus execute an office event, and earning me $70 more than I had earned the previous six weeks. Then…something happened. More accurately, multiple things happened…but something good happened. In fact, TWO good somethings happened!

I should have asked if you were sitting down. Sorry for any coronaries caused and/or liquid spit out.

At the end of last week I was called by the director of a North Shore community museum. I had applied for their vacancy in the first week of February, but she told me they had just started interviewing candidates and asked me to come in Monday (today). From the job description, I inferred a large part of the role would be to launch a capital campaign, so I spent the weekend researching a type of fundraising I had read about but never directly managed.

Sure enough, the capital campaign questions came at me from all angles…and I was prepared for each and every one of them! I even prepared an answer for my nemesis question – “What would be the first thing you do on the job (to launch our capital campaign)?” And, if I may modestly say, I effing nailed it. Not just the question, but the entire interview. Maybe I’m getting better at these things the more interviews I’m on – or maybe it was just a desperation Hail Mary – but I was “on” like I’ve never been before.

Smug and satisfied, I treated myself to Chipotle on the way home. And while that was awesome, it was not the second good thing I teased above. No, the second good thing was a first: my first second interview!

That agency that rescheduled our interview several times? The executive director flying in from New York? The meeting, as explained above, in which I feared my answers were too general and not specific enough? They want to meet with me next week – an interview I think will be in New York!

So yeah, I’m pretty excited right now and struggling for the appropriate words to end this post. That’s why I’ll leave it to one of the masters; as William Butler Yates once simply wrote, “Today was a good day.”

Or was that Ice Cube? I always get them confused…