Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sound Off Saturday

So, I waited for an extra day to talk about my lovely Friday experience at the Oregon Unemployment Office. Why might you ask? Well as my wife put it:

"Honey, back away from the blog before you write something you may regret."

REGRET?? What would I regret writing? I mean come on, this is my Blog and damn it, last time I checked I am still afforded my 1st amendment rights to free speech. Well, unless, say a person has to sign a said contract that states they cannot speak about another said organization or precious vales shall be withheld from the said signer. (but I digress) What? Would I regret telling everyone how demeaning, degrading and depressing the entire process and experience is of having spent 2 hrs of your life that you will never get back being made to feel like you are a loser, a failure and some kind of idiot so you can, in the end of this governmental assembly line, be lucky enough to get a pat on the ass and sent out the door with a half-hearted 'good luck' in your job search? Regret calling a spade a spade? I think not.

Breathe... in, out, in, out, breathe.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
— The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

So I get this letter in the mail telling me that I have to appear at the Oregon Unemployment office to formally register as unemployed. Dutifully I comply, but this compliance is not without its own form of what I can only imagine hell might be like one day when the reaper comes knocking on my door.

I show up and am told I have 3 tasks.
1. Take a skills assessment.
The assessment is a 3 part computer task. Answer 3 out of 5 questions correctly at each level and move onto the next. Just one major flaw in the program. 2-3 out of the 5 questions asked are literally subjective in nature. In another section I decide to take copious notes as to the fact that there is not enough information in the example to make a true assessment and be able to answer the question with any level of competency, but OBTW there is not an answer to select that speaks to that end. When I bring these observations to the attention of the supervisor I am told just take the test and do your best. (Anyone who knows me, knows that one thing I have no patience for is incompetence and answer dodging. Guaranteed like taxes & death, I will call you out on both. There is no place in society for either and those things have infected many of the roots of corporate America.) So in true form I call her out on this. The purpose after all of this State department is to help people become employed again. Right? If the skills assessment test has flaws, are they not serving a bad meal of disservice to the unemployed public?

2. Prove I am who I am and what I have been doing to find a new job.
I show my ID and all is good so far here. Then I pull out my Exel job hunting daily log. The log shows all contacts and calls to whom they were made, the phone numbers, the color coordinated activity, whether it be a conversation about a job, leads whatever. This also tracks to whom I have sent my resume and any interviews I have had and applicable follow ups. I also show my newly crafted resume and business cards. I have done far more than is expected by these folks. This ain't my first rodeo. But I am armed to find a job.
I am then asked if I am comfortable interviewing. A fair question.

"Yes ma'am, I have actually interviewed prospective employees myself and have been through extensive training on interviewing."

She makes a few comments and then I decide to mess with her. I ask an open ended interview style question.

" Share with me your interview response style and how you would coach a person in my position to best use that style."

She flops around her desk like a goldfish out of its bowl before arriving at a somewhat acceptable answer. I sit in utter amazement as though someone had just hit me upside the head. (Thinking in my head, but thankfully not uttering in my outdoor voice.) Are you fucking kidding me? At this point I quickly thank her for the info. She responds in turn with my question directed at me. (Oh, you really want to go down this road? Ok lace up your shoes, Hilda.)

" I would recommend utilizing a very simple response tactic known as the STAR technique. Answer all questions in a fashion that first addresses the Situation, then describes the Task within the situation and moves into the Action taken against the situation. Finally, round it out with the Result or Results of your tasks and actions to the situation. By following this simple format you show the interviewer your critical thinking skills. It also helps to keep your thoughts very organized so in complex responses you hit all of your intended target points."

She grabs a piece of paper and writes STAR, as I watch the stars twirl around her head. (Checkmate, Hilda.)

3. Go through a career, get out and find a job debriefing.

We did not debrief, per say. I think I made my point that I did not appreciate being treated like I knew nothing and was a second class unemployed citizen. After all, is there such a thing as a second class citizen? Furthermore, I walked out of there very depressed for those other unemployed folks who are looking to this office and its staff for help in finding a job. They are supposed to help people not treat them like idiots or some kind of assembly line parts. The system is one of processing people to document that they have no job and move them along. There is no goal setting or tangible goal seeking element to it at all that might help move a person closer to finding that next job. Whether it be digging ditches, building a home or selling bonds. No wonder our country is in so much trouble. Those who are supposed to help others get back on their feet could give a rat's big fat smelly ass about anything but keeping their job. Which is what again??


Deb said...

oh, tony, tony, tony, tony.... i haven't even read the whole post yet, but had to comment. i just got through #1. you and i are cut from the same cloth, my friend. i am getting so mad just READING about your lovely little field trip.

okay, so back to read the rest. i am sure i will comment on the 2nd half, as well.

Deb said...

part II, as promised.

well, there you have it... good thing we are going to turn everything into a government agency. this should do wonders for our economy.

lucky for you, though, all you need IS processing. you are way smarter than they are and certainly don't need their "services". however, like you, i do feel bad for those that actually do need help.

hang in there.

Halftime Lessons said...


Unbelievable experience, my friend. It must have been all you could muste not to stand up and scream "JUST GIMME MY DAMN MONEY!!! AND I SWEAR TO DO MY DAMNDEST TO NEVER HAVE TO SET FOOT IN THIS OFFICE AGAIN!!!!!

Hang in there, this will pass, and you will excel again.

Then you can look back on all this and say, "Yep I been through all that."

Jenn@mylifewiththecrazies said...

Tony, what a pain in the ass this all must have been for you. I am sure it will all work out in the end... keep bloggin til then!