Finding a job

On June 20, I began working at a retail store that specializes in marked down merchandise and seasonal products. I was among nine people during orientation that day, but I can guarantee I was the only one sitting there with two master’s degrees. I told myself that I preferred any work to unemployment.

Promised 20-25 hours a week at $7.25, I took the cashier job hoping to get another part-time job to match up. Two weeks later, I got another part-time job that should have yielded almost 15 incredibly-early-in-the-morning hours per week at $8.25. There was little overlap between the schedules yet I was finding myself only working about 25 hours a week with the two jobs.

And I applied for jobs in my field. I was reminded of the crazy process of a few while reading “Ask The Headhunter: Unemployment — Made in America by Employers” by Nick Corcodilos because I would get a phone call or email and I could tell from the questions that the person doing the screening had no clue what the job entailed. The time between the application deadline and when I was contacted was so long in one case that I had deleted the materials I submitted the week before. 

It was with this search that an appointment was made for a screening interview and they didn’t call. When I emailed them (since I didn’t have their phone number), I was told in non-grammatical English they had Internet problems and hadn’t been able to contact me. And then we set another appointment. When I passed the screening, I was offered one possible time to meet via Skype with three people from the organization. When the video interview began, there were five people present and only one of the people matched what I had been told.

Next week I start a full-time job, which I interviewed for more than a month ago. Mind you, I interviewed with the manager and the assistant manager (who somehow hadn’t gotten the message I was coming in), so when I walked by the store and there was a sign saying they were hiring I assumed I hadn’t gotten the job.

Among the “why didn’t I hear anything about my application” spots have been retail stores where my hobbies (sewing, knitting, crocheting, mixed media art) would be especially helpful. I applied to Michael’s, A.C. Moore and JoAnns. I did work at one for a while doing replenishment or unloading the truck. But it didn’t utilize those skills and, truthfully, just about anybody can unload items from a truck.

My point is simply this: We have a lot of people who have been looking for work, who have been confounded by the people who do the hiring. And sometimes the hirers are so incompetent that the job seekers gets frustrated. I know, I’ve gone a couple weeks without submitting anything because the unanswered calls when they ask you to get in touch and you leave a message or the missed appointments make you wonder why someone so incompetent can keep their job and keep you from getting a decent job.

Budget?

So, I’m now working at two retail places doing two different jobs: cashier and replenishment. Replenishment is done early (5 a.m. start three days a week), which means I’m still available all afternoon and evening as a cashier (say, 1 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.) those three days or from open to close four days a week.

I was excited when I got the second job because it would mean I was close to full time in hours. So, I want to review my hours for the last couple of weeks.

June 30-July 6 = 30 hours = $217.5o
July 7-July 13 = 23 hours = $166.75
July 14-July 20=14 hours as cashier and 8.5 as replenishment = $171.63

The newbies are only doing replenishment two days our first week, which makes sense because we’ll be able to learn how the store organizes everything without the pressure of unloading the truck our first day. In future weeks, replenishment will be more like 14 hours or so.

I told the scheduling people where I’m a cashier that I would be working mornings. I hadn’t gone to orientation yet so I didn’t have all the details on the schedule yet. The thing you need to know about my schedule is I went from 5 days with 5-8 hour shifts to 4 days with 3-4 hour shifts.

That’s a 24% decrease in one week. I’m looking at this and I’m trying to figure out how in the world I’m going to be able to budget my rent, food and gas. I can understand why people faced with making this little money go on unemployment. You see it’s not that I don’t want to work (note two jobs) or that I’ve done something wrong to get my hours cut. But I have two jobs and I’m working fewer hours next week than I did last week when I only had one.

I realize my hours fluctuate because of sales, but that’s not something I can control. My need for food and gas doesn’t decrease based on sales. Nor will my landlord accept less rent because of low sales. I can understand the allure of unemployment – it’s a steady amount coming in while you look for other work, which means your bills will be taken care of.

ADD ON: An NPR story on part-time work in the fast-food industry.