In January, before I knew anything about the coming pandemic, I decided to change my life. I was at a point that many people have been, hated the world, had no drive, didn't care about much and most of all cringed at the thought of going to work. I had felt miserable at work for some time. Sure, it was not always that way. Throughout my career, I had the pleasure of working with some very intelligent and gifted individuals. At times I know I made a difference to the world, if only in my local community. For over two decades I was a Deputy Sheriff in a correctional facility and for over a decade I was a shift Sargeant. Let's face facts, all good things must come to an end, eventually.
For years I had watched people with less talent get promoted, the less committed get glory assignments, and far less trustworthy get the best of the spots. In twenty years I bided my time, waited for opportunities, and watched them get handed to yes men, the lazy and the quite honestly dumbest of candidates. Guys that would later go on to be let go or fired for cause come to mind. Part of it was me, I'll admit that. I couldn't bring myself to tell someone I could do things that I knew I wouldn't always be able to do, mostly because I knew the nature of the place better than that.
I took a little time to decompress. After I left it was exciting and scary all at once but I had faith that the skills dealing with people, the public, drama, and the constant crisis situations could be utilized. I knew that my ability to use computers, technology, becoming a skilled writer, as well as the hundreds of hours of specialized training I had acquired would be usable. I was in middle management for over a decade and that had to account for something.
Boom! Like an explosion, the world changed. The interviews had slowed up and I was seeing a negative trend. What was happening? It was the pandemic, the thing we called the Wuhan Virus, then the Coronavirus, and finally Covid-19. Here I was, at only forty-eight, too young to be retired and in a world that was crashing down around us all. Suddenly, the booming economy and jobs reports were all turning in the opposite direction of what they had been for nearly two years. Unemployment was on the rise and businesses were closing their doors to non-essential visitors, if they remained open at all. Just like that, I had gone from being essential to one of the millions of unwanted.
It was time to hunker down and figure out how to survive, no, thrive in a new world. We were all going to be wearing masks for the foreseeable future and have this new threat to our way of life, looming over our heads like the executioners' ax. What was it that I needed most? Knowledge, the knowledge of the current job search market and tools. I hadn't been looking much over the past twenty-plus years, I had been comfortably stagnating while I waited for my big break.
The Resume, the most important piece of paper that you don't think about often. This became my hammer in my toolbox. It's a precise tool, meant to hit a particular spot. It's the hand that knocks on doors for you, getting you the invite in. Nobody spends much time looking at your pesky piece of paper, a sad truth that I would come to learn. So, as it was, like a college kid doing research, I set out to find what I was missing. What was the one thing that could keep me on the sidelines, burning through the small accumulation that was my life's savings, investments, and plans for the future?
The answer to my question was my favorite toy. That's right, you're sitting in front of it even as you're reading my story. The computer is now the door that your resume knocks on, through the very first doorway, you're steps are going to be via the internet instead of across tile, marble, wood, or carpeted flooring.
There are hundreds of services, free templates, and instructional guides on writing and critiquing resumes that can be found online but what to do with it after you are satisfied. When your resume tells you, "This will get me hired or this will get me an interview," what comes next?
Monster.com, Indeed.com, and Careerbuilder.com are probably the preeminent employment sites online this year. Sure, your state's job service or employment security office will have listings, but those sites are government run, managed, and often harder to navigate. I spent time looking at all of them but at the end of the day like the three main ones for a shortlist of reasons.
Monster actually has a resume assist module to help you put together your information. They all send you regular emails with new job listings. Indeed is perhaps the easiest to manage and you can hone your search the easiest here.
Still, after six months, I hadn't found the job that really intrigued me. My first gig came in the form of an online company hiring for work-at-home workers. In the midst of a pandemic, it seemed like it was worth a try and money was starting to become an issue. Two months into sitting from mid-afternoon until two o'clock in the morning, answering non-emergency calls for an out of state police agency, I was finding myself bored and my mind frequently wandering.
I was still getting regular notices from the job services online. One day, I amused myself scrolling through them, not expecting to find anything of interest. As I read the different titles one popped out that I clicked on. Now, I find myself with a challenge. I found myself in a position to observe the job, or at least, as it would be, seventy-five percent of what it entailed. I had no actually training or skills with the technology other than the fact that I'd seen it worked on, it looked simple enough from what I could tell and the where of it all. I sent in my resume with a cover letter and waited.
A month or so passed by and I noticed that this was still listed. A note that I'd pass onto anyone seriously looking for an opportunity, pay attention to how long a job is listed or how many times you see it relisted. Some jobs are inherently harder to fill than others and employers will get desperate to find someone, believe me, it happened in this case. If I had simply relegated myself to what curveballs this year had thrown at me, I would have had to sell my house, file for bankruptcy, and move. Much like the famed Rocky speech, I was willing to take the hits and get back up, I just needed to forge my own opportunity.
I researched the company that listed the job. Found some notable talking points, when it was founded, the name of the founder, a tech company founded by and run by mostly women and in a male-dominated field. I searched further and found the company directory, including contact email. This, if you're not finding anything else usable, is your doorway. How do you enter, with a gentle knock or kicking it down?
I put together my package, my applicable training, knowledge, and experience around the technology. I highlighted the things that employers are looking for, accomplishments, leadership training, lessons learned, and side skills that I developed. The latter, an important addition as it speaks highly to your flexibility in the workplace and tells that you're not one of those that rest on the old adage, "It's not my job." I sent the email with the attachments to the vice-president of human resources, imploring him to give my package a thorough exam because I felt like I had something I could offer to a company willing to train and invest in its' employees the way theirs does.
Three weeks later, on a Friday afternoon, I picked up my phone to a call from Atlanta Georgia. Not with a whimper, but with a bang, the doorway had been opened for me. After a long talk about my prior professional experiences and what I had already learned about the technologies the company used, I was set up for a meeting with the head technician for the state of Illinois. A week later, the head tech tells me, anyone can be trained to do this job. I showed up, suit and tie, eager to show the best of myself I could and as luck would have it, nobody else came to the interviews. There were, I later learned, only three in the entire state.
I've heard this a lot in my life. "I can't find a job, nobody will hire me, I'm not qualified...etc."
As a twenty-one-year-old, I had a wife that left me with our two-year-old son. I had to drop of college to support him. I took a job with a Sheriff's Department and achieved the rank of Sergeant, not once but twice. I made the best of it and grew. Some would say that leaving was a mistake, and if it was that'll be a story that only time will tell. Less than a year later, after the pandemic of 2020 left even me doubting myself, I'm making the same money I was, working better hours, learning new skills, and have found the drive and ambition that I lost a long time ago.
To quote Sylvester Stallone, it's now how hard you can hit, it's not about how hard you get hit, it's about getting back up. That's how winning is done.
If I can do it, anyone can!
About the Creator
I have always enjoyed writing and exploring new ideas, new beliefs, and the dreams that rattle around inside my head. I have enjoyed the current state of science, human progress, fantasy and existence and write about them when I can.