Friday, February 23, 2007

The Hot Seat

AB and I both had our time in the hot seat today. He is in the market for a new job after his most recent “part time” expedition ended less then favorably last week. He was left stunned, ticked, and happy all at once. Stunned that the job ended, ticked at how it ended and happy he never had to go back there again.

Today one of his goals was to head out in person to a few engineering firms and walk in with resume in hand. I really think in today’s computer age, this is a good way to get someone to actually look at your resume. I don’t know how many countless resume e-mails or online postings AB has done and then never hears anything about. I am sure companies just get so many submissions, many from unqualified applicants just putting their resume out there with a click of the mouse “just in case” and the qualified applicants get lost. It gets so frustrating. Figuring out how to stand out in a crowd is key. Last summer he very nearly landed a position with an engineering firm with this method, walk in, introduce self and hand them the resume. Although the firm really liked him, they couldn’t drum up enough work for him without his degree in hand. (They were on the list for a visit in the coming week.)

This afternoon he called me from the road having just dropped off his resume with the firm of interest. Hangs up the phone and evidently they phoned him asking him to turn around and come in for an interview (and sorry about the short notice). Sorry? No need to be sorry when you are asking someone for an interview!

Anyways, AB can hardly sit still. The job is his “dream job” and evidently he told them so! They ended by telling him they would talk amongst themselves and then call him back for a second interview. AB is so worried he is being overconfident and letting himself get too worked up and excited about this prospect. But wow, for the first time in five years a job that he actually wants and is gung ho about? It could be huge!

My hot seat was a little different. My performance review was this morning for the year ending in 2006. My manager, after consulting with her last week about an issue I was having with a coworker, remembered that I am hugely pregnant and by the time she got down the list to do my review, I would likely be out on leave. She had her admin fit me in today.

We sat across the table from each other, with a box of Kleenex in between us for our respective (albeit mild) colds (thank you children). She went over my written review, which was far more complimentary to me then I ever expected. She told me I had “performed solidly” at my current level and I earned a “Meets Expectations” as I had expected I would and she had told me I likely would last year at this time. She told me that everything in my feedback forms were positive from my coworkers, that she couldn’t even pick out anything negative to harp on me about. (Making me feel a little guilty when I write my feedback forms… I always look for something, even a minor little nitpicky thing, that the person could work on in the coming year. Hey, it asks for it in black and white!)

I have no complaints really. There are days when I am not 100% happy here, but for the most part as long as I am busy, I am happy. There are things I want to see change, I want more funding, I want more responsibility for my own projects, but I have to earn these things. I don’t desire a promotion at this point and I fully recognize I have a lot to accomplish before even hoping for a promotion. Right now my number one priority is my family, providing for my family through my job is obviously way, way up there. But it is hard for a 9 month pregnant woman to walk in and say “my job is my number one priority, everything else can go by the wayside”. Truly I don’t know many women who could pull that off, particularly with a woman manager who has three children.

Sure, I want the cash that goes along with the promotion to the next level. But truth be told, I earn a good wage where I am. I got a nice raise in January and we make ends meet (better when AB has a job, of course).

The only thing I can say that really got me excited and made me really perk up in the review was her mentioning her desire to establish a writing support and mentoring program within our group. My division is notorious for not publishing, mostly due to the nature of the work, but also in part due to it being a haven where people who don’t like to write hang out. Personally, I see this as detrimental to my career if I don’t publish because I don’t necessarily see myself here (be it in this division or on a larger scale at this lab) my entire life. I have to keep up my publishing record (which has already fallen way behind my peers) if I hope to compete anywhere else. Plus, I like to write.

She asked me if I would be interested in helping in this program in our group. In my feedbacks, there were compliments on my writing skills. I am tapped regularly to help assemble papers even for the group I left a few years ago. This thrilled me. I told her I would love the opportunity to work with others in my group to not only help them pull together their research for papers, but if there is need, to do technical writing for people who plain don’t want to do it. I hope to see this develop in the coming year.

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