Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Value of Confidence is Dignified - and Damaging?

“…I can promise that meeting with me will not be a waste of your time. I will make myself available at your convenience. You may contact me at 404.1111.1212 or  Thank you for your consideration.”-Brian E. Payne

That’s my Closing on/in my cover letter. A friend of mine shared her cover letter with me a few years ago, and I decided to ‘borrow’ the closing remarks. It tickled my interest then – and it definitely fits my personality now. So, it is my non-cliché Closing. It is my way of projecting confidence prior to meeting me. 

At one time in my life I was incredibly shy. I was so self-conscious…having a large head and dark skin can challenge your self-concept. I recall how I would position my head in such a way that would not reveal its enormity. Basically, I avoided the profile view. But, I never allowed my unappreciated spooky complexion to defeat me. Light skin has played out…well, not completely. Herman Cain is not liked by politically-leaning African Americans for one conscious reason and one subconscious reason: he is a conservative Republican and he has that coonish skin. 

Avoidance or some degree of it is extremely popular for teenagers and young adults. When we are that age we try to do everything right so that we are not ridiculed by friends and friends of friends. As we age, grow into maturation, we…well not all of us…become more confident in are physicality and in ourselves in general. Confidence grows and evolves…

Confidence is a subjective characteristic that’s typically gauged by others. Actually, one can be the most insecure person but project bold confidence – and that’s usually what people walk away believing: ‘She is so confident.’ But, truly, she may in reality be one of the most self-doubting persons on earth. Thus the reason our conclusions regarding confidence are subjective. 

Conversely, I am filled with a tenacious confidence. Not as a result of something invalid. No…I am self-assured because of the results I have produced academically, athletically, and professionally. So, when another friend indicated to me that she likes my cover letter - but has an issue with my Closing. She said, “It reads a cocky.” That ensued a pause…a double read…a stop! 
What did she mean “cocky”. Knowing my friend I know she is only trying to help. She wants me to gain employment. I certainly understand that. I appreciate her because she has been in my corner without any judgment of me for almost 20 years. We have also provided each other with affection and companionship for what feels like a lifetime. 

Perhaps, a HR Generalist, Hiring Official, a resume/cover letter Reviewer, or one of these faddish life coaches my find my Closing cocky - but in my two decades of reviewing over 1200 resumes and cover letters, hiring up to 90 job seekers, nominating and placing well over 500 Peace Corps applicants, and approving 25 plus men/women for employment - I have determined that self-assurance is valued in the workforce. I definitely understand that there may be some intimidation that some feel. I am a big black guy living in red Georgia! That in itself terrifies white and BLACK people! 
BUT I refuse to lower, adjust, or downplay my High Point and Howard University-groomed competency and country boy likability to appease someone sitting across the interview table from me. I just can’t do it. Sadly, in a moment of doleful desperation during this stint of unemployment I have. The sense of ego loss and shame from dishonoring Minnie Payne’s guidance (a larger than life Humanitarian Legend) that I felt while sitting there looking anxious is probably what caused me not to get selected. I shrank myself to appease an overpaid, fat, full of himself, bad breath black House Negro. 

When I left that make-shift interview I decided then and there that I would NEVER EVER ‘hide my confidence’ for anyone or sacrifice myself for any amount of money! Since that day I have been at peace: Jobless – Non-Salaried – and without a Plantation Job. Yes…I have a higher level of dignity…not perilous pride. 

I will remain unemployed if I have to belittle myself to work for and with men/women who do not appreciate what the Samson of the bible displayed: 

Muata Nowe

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Waiting for Notification…but do I really want the Notification?

You wake-up every morning wanting it to be different from the other mornings:

See an email notification in your Inbox that's promising...a job that meets your skillset and experience.

You spend part of your day hoping your cell phone rings...rings with good news, not a Christian’s Good News (‘Hang in there at least you are living.’) Although appreciated…but:

A hiring manager on the other end preparing to invite you in for an interview.

You spend another part of your day praying that you will receive an invitation to interview via electronic message:

'We are pleased with your resume. We would like to invite you in for an interview. Is Monday, the 15th at 9:30AM good for you? Please respond via email. 

Waiting on that Notification can be extremely nerve-racking. So much is consumed in the notification: self-esteem, self-value, recognition, education/experience acknowledgement, and bill paying preoccupation. Waiting for Notification is nothing like the wait a sexually active person experiences after a HIV/AIDS screening…please get tested:

All the unemployed desire/want is some level of 'outside' empowerment. It helps when we, the nation’s 14 million unemployed, are acknowledged. All the unemployed want is a job! It would be great if the job was within the professional scope of his/her background. If not, a job outside of the resume scope will suffice e.g. day labor, raking leaves, trash pick-up. Most of us are not above what is deemed as ‘demeaning jobs’. A job…any job builds confidence and self-worth. It helps the one who has endured a lengthy unemployment period to massage their ego. Unfortunately, we –the United States of America- have created an environment where our identities are attached to our work. I say 'unfortunate' because in the throes of unemployment we –the job hunters- are desperately seeking 

NOTIFICATION. We live to work, and not live!

Notification is what I received a month ago. Thanks to President Obama, EUC will benefit me. Emergency Unemployment Compensation was extended by President Obama earlier this year. I am thankful for the extension…guess my vote was with purpose! That’s about all I have received from my constitutional right. A right that many ignore. One time in my life I would ridicule those who do not vote – but of late (the past 3yrs) I have changed my tune…simply put, voting in a federal election does not make sense considering the deciding factor is usually the Electoral College. Nonetheless, I will vote again with annoyed trepidation. 

I need EUC…which is tagged as a handout by many Republicans considering I linger in employment uncertainty. Well, I am backstroking outside of my training…I do whatever it takes to make the ends meet - and with this new survival motivation that stems from my need to make money, I must admit that I am thankful that I am experiencing Unemployment at this stage in my life…it is another joyful opportunity to experience Humility and build Dignity. 

My ancestors picked cotton so that I could acquire the White Man’s prerequisites! Don’t be fooled everything that people of color reach for is what the pilgrim’s descendants approved. 

The task now is to keep mine eyes on the prize. I must not get too content. I must not stop searching for a job that will provide health insurance for my boys. I must not become lazy. Shiftless. A deadbeat. A societal burden. And, believe me it is relatively easy to fall into that pitiful place:

To NOT Wait for Notification

EUC in some ways is a double edge sword. On one end the unemployed need the extension to survive and on the other end the unemployed can become mighty comfortable for two years doing nothing to get back into the workforce. Nada! I am at ease - but not so comfy that I do not rise each day hoping for NOTIFICATION.

 So tempting…EVERY Morning

However, I must confess that it is quite enticing to just roll over and play with myself…it is safer too!
It is also easy to collect a check each week, to not have to worry about anyone from the Dept of Labor checking up on me, to not participate in any of the mandatory trainings/classes that the Dept of Labor indicated the unemployed would have to, and to never go back to the Dept of Labor for anything. All we –the unemployed- have to do is communicate with…well not communicate but listen to a voice automated system and press the right buttons on a smartphone. 

Automation Made Easy...just like today's Unemployment made easy by the United States Government…the government has no other choice…There be no jobs out der!
Muata Nowe