Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | August 10, 2012

How do you look for a dream job?

So, here I am musing about what a dream job is.

Things haven’t been absolutely fun at the day job lately.  No.  The word “craptastic” comes to mind instead.  It’s not so much the paperwork or the changing priorities that  make me crazy, but the lack of acknowledgement of the work that I do, regular procrastination of my superior that leads to an avalanche of projects with identical deadlines hitting my desk on a regular basis,  and the occasionally  bad tempered  client (who makes me question my safety) or cranky superior (who makes me question my abilities vs. his/hers) that makes me demotivated to go to the office.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the supposed perk of being very close to home and some family scheduling friendliness is not worth the low pay, the expectation that I’ll not take time off, and the routine having to tell customers that “I’ll take a message and someone will get back to you” with the routine result of pissed off customers who are frustrated when I answer the phone.   It’s been enough of a drag that I’m starting another job search.

One friend keeps saying that I need to start my own business.  Another good friend of mine was saying for the umpteenth time that fear is keeping me from taking a leap of faith.  But if you are going to start your own business, you should have a clear idea of what kind of service or product you want to build a business around, and I’m not sure what that service or product would be.

Which brought me to the question of what  my dream job would be.

All the job/career tip guidelines say that you should do a skills and passions inventory, that one should take stock of the things they are good at and like, and the things that they are bad at and don’t like.

So here is sort of stream of consciousness list of strengths and weaknesses.  You’ve been warned.

What I’m good at: Basic office administration.  Working with a team and working on my own.  Prioritizing.  Planning.  Scheduling.  Breaking down a project into it’s pieces.  Consistency.  Being able to look at the big picture as well as the small picture.   Good customer service.  Taking piles of paper and sorting them into some rational organization.  Clutter busting (except for my own stuff).  I am a quick learner.

Things that I like to do:  Meet with people and figure out what they need help with.  Making lists, reorganizing files, figuring out where resources may be available, calling people and asking questions.  Writing.  Designing and sewing costumes.  Gardening.  Cooking.  Spinning.  Looking at how one thing can be used to make something else.  Thinking creatively. Working with students.  Working in casual clothes.  Organizing chaos.  Helping co-workers with projects and problems. Showing that administrative support into something to be respected.

What I don’t like: Isolation.  24/7 stress and deadlines.  Poor planning.  Liars.  Inflexible hours/timeclocks.  Bookkeeping.  Working with students full time.  Conservative business attire.  Having to mop up after someone who doesn’t do their job or doesn’t deliver what they are supposed to complete.  Poor communication or a total lack of communication between co-workers.

What I want to do/like in a work situation:  Fresh air and light.  Regular hours, with some flexibility.  Casual dress.  Working with a team of people. Ability to work with my hands.  A competitive salary, with benefits.  Streamlining processes to create business documents (read that as correspondence, reports, proposals, etc.).  Co-workers with a sense of humor.  Respect.  Creative projects or projects/industries that contribute positively to society/community/industry/environment.  Purpose.  Community focus or philanthropic giving.

Unfortunately, if you want an industrial focus,  I can’t nail down a field.  I’m not an orthodontist, anthropologist, or engineer.  I’ve always been a support person, with heavy emphasis on document production, who helps specialists (chiropractor, lawyer, Highland chief…) get their work done.  I’ve taken my administrative and organizational and customer service skills to environmental consulting, horticulture, recreation, education, landscape construction/installation/maintenance, law, theater, hazardous waste management, and historical reenactment areas.

I find that I work best when I’m surrounded by creative people who like working in teams.  I started as a technical writer, moved to editing and document production, managed a document production team, then took time to raise my daughter.  I’ve stayed with my best jobs for 4 to 5 years.  While raising my kid, I’ve stayed at part-time jobs until they ended or it was a dead end.  I’ve volunteered with organizations that are educational or support education.  I may be rusty on various technologies and software, but I love learning, so I pick things up quickly.

I keep thinking about a couple of things:

  • The Universe wants us to be happy.  The Universe is abundant and can give us what will make us happy.
  • I have skills that are useful and valued by a company.  There is a company out there that needs and wants me, including my humor and common sense and blunt manner.

So back to that comment about fear keeping me from taking a leap of faith.  I know that I tend to stay the safe path – “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”.  Another person says I don’t think big enough.

That made me think.  Career experts say that networking is the best way to find opportunities.  Yes, I’ve joined Linked In.  Yes, I’ve posted my resume on a variety of job websites.  Yes, I’m telling friends that I’m looking for a job.  Yes, I’ve updated my resume again and applied to job postings.  But maybe I need to really shout it out that I need help.  Maybe I can get help from the Universe…and maybe I need a little help from you, my reader.

I know that the competition is fierce out there as a bunch of people are looking for work.  The last three years have been brutal for many of us.  I am also now an “at risk” candidate because I am over 40.  Ageism works against many of us looking for work in this climate.  My current boss hired me with the phrase, “Well, maybe we’ll try maturity this time.”  Like it was a risk.

Dude, my maturity is called EXPERIENCE.   I know things that a typical 22 -year-old doesn’t know.  I may not be as up to date on the technology because I’ve had to take part-time work with small companies, but I know about how to work with difficult clients,  where to ask for help in bureaucracies, and use tenacity and tact that isn’t part of the repertoire of that youngster that you think has more energy to bring to the job.  

The other thing that has driven me nuts in the last 10 years is that I CAN’T really use my full experience when sending a resume to a job because then I’ll be considered “overqualified”.    I’ve actually had to dumb down my resume in order to get a foot in the door for an interview.  So…since it’s my blog, and I’m asking for your help, I’m going to to post my skills resume here.  And I’m going to put a more comprehensive list of my experience on the resume.  You will get to see more about my skills than the usual HR person will see.

If you know of a company, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, that can use  me, drop me a line/comment.  Serious leads only.  Don’t spam me.  You’ve read my blog, you’ve gotten a sense of who I am and how I dive into projects and challenges.  Now think of people you know who may be looking to hire an assistant, a coordinator,  or an organizer.  Maybe there’s a match you know about.

So.  There.  I’m putting it out there.  A dream job is where I get to use my experience and interests in a friendly, productive, balanced environment and get paid a fair wage.  A dream job is an opportunity to learn new skills and work with great people to provide a great product or service.

My resume follows.  Help an auntie out!

Aunt Magaidh

Aunt Magaidh’s Skills Resume

(I can provide a complete resume and references)

 

Highlight of Skills

 

Office Administration/Organization

  • Streamlined administrative support and office organization, including phones, filing, supply inventory, equipment maintenance, personnel, and staff and client scheduling.
  • Provided customer service for product use and sales, including processing phone, mail and website orders from intake to shipping and follow-up.  Updated client, vendor, and supplier account data.
  • Supervised, hired, and trained support employees.
  • Researched and recommended supply and equipment purchases.
  • General office administration, including invoicing, phone support, general correspondence, report generation, miscellaneous documentation, file maintenance, research.

Project Support

  • Conducted internet research for product development, presentation materials, branding information.
  • Assisted with labeling and branding design selection for company identity and product line.
  • Coordinated media events (press and television).
  • Acted as liaison and support to vendors and commercial customers for product launches.
  • Worked with vendors to source materials and equipment.
  • Provided basic landscape and arboriculture information for customers calling office.
  • Worked with Landscape Maintenance Manager to identify opportunities to implement bay-friendly and “greener” landscape practices.
  • Created drought resistant and bay-friendly plant lists for landscape renovation projects.
  • Aided staff arborist by drafting arborist assessments, scheduling tree jobs, and collecting field data.
  • Drafted legal documents, both as Word documents and as judicial council forms (Adobe) for legal cases.

Writing and Publications Support

  • Provided technical writing and editing for papers, essays, manuals, applications, cover letters, resumes, general and follow-up correspondences, reports and technical documents.
  • Coordinated regional publications support for environmental and engineering consulting firm.  Developed and streamlined publications departments to provide word processing, editing, and graphic services.  Developed and established document tracking system that recorded technical review process.  Wrote draft version of regional style guide, co-authored proposal for regional documentation consistency program, and contributed articles for regional newsletter on word processing, writing, and documentation.
  • Coordinated document production staff to collaborate with project managers and technical staff to improve report and proposal production.  Reviewed, rewrote and edited technical reports, business proposals, marketing and in-house documents for clarity, accuracy, liability, logic, organization and style. Designed and implemented scheduling system for word processing, graphics, and review.  Reduced production cycle from 3½ weeks average to 1 ½ week average.  Reduced backlog from 1½ week to 2-3 days.
  • Converted computer system design documentation into user training and reference manuals for warehouse personnel.  Designed layout and format for user training manual.  Edited and wrote operator and programmer documentation for software and hardware system.  Assisted with quality assurance and software testing.
  • Created boilerplate library of  text and Excel tables for  proposals, letters, reports.
  • Developed various forms to streamline office documentation and operations.

Community/Youth Organizations

  • Experienced with working with students Kindergarten through Grade 12 in educational, recreational and “hands-on” settings.
  • Volunteered with middle school and high school drama productions, coordinating costumes and sourcing props.
  • Researched and planned environmental and community gardening workshop for youth and tutors.
  • Former AmeriCorps tutor working with students in grades 9 through 12 in classroom and out of class sessions.  Researched materials and developed individualized lesson plans for students.
  • Self-taught in organic gardening, composting, and worm composting.  Helped research and set up worm composting project at Chabot Space and Science Center.  Worked with youth volunteers and public during weekend “spotlight” activity on worm composting.
  • Helped plan and present cultural celebration/education workshops for AmeriCorps tutors and staff.
  • Worked with recreational camps program staff to edit and update the camp staff training manual.
  • Assisted teen programs supervisor to compile updated youth services directory, write internal documents and reports to recreation department, city council and advisory board.

 Employment History

Legal Secretary

Provided organizational and administrative support to single attorney practice, drafting legal documents, providing client support, gathering case information, file maintenance, performing reception duties, calendaring/appointment scheduling, bank deposits, accounts receivables and payables.  Created document formats to transition files and documents from WordPerfect to Microsoft Word.

On-call Substitute Teacher

Taught high school students on substitute basis at a charter school.

Historical reenactment volunteer

Helped with volunteer recruitment and orientation, demonstration of historical crafts.  Researched period clothing and cooking techniques, materials, and ingredients.  Volunteer mentoring for new guildmembers.  Rewrote and coordinated updated guild member guidebook.

Costume Designer/Volunteer Coordinator at local high school and non-profit youth theater

Volunteer position designing and acquiring costumes, scenery and props for various high school plays and musicals under direction of drama teacher/director.  Coordinated volunteers and students who provided costuming and properties support before and during stage productions.  Researched period costumes and fashions; constructed and acquired costumes.

Freelance Garden Coach and Aesthetic Pruner

Worked with homeowners to assess their garden desires and teach them gardening skills, concepts and practices.  Emphasis on bay-friendly, organic, edible, and family friendly designs.  Prune small trees and shrubs with an aesthetic focus.  Create planting designs and lists using native, drought resistant, edible and ornamental plants to create water thrifty and wildlife habitat landscapes in residential settings.

Office Administrator

Provided organizational and office support for business manager and project managers. Database entry and revision.  Researched and updated chemical regulation lists for regulatory reporting.  Updated employee/human resources files to comply with HIPPA law.  Entered receivables, created work orders, and revised Word merge documents.

 Professional Services Administrator, started as Receptionist/Office Administrator

Provided organizational and office support to landscape maintenance and tree care divisions at a landscaping installation and maintenance company. Worked with Landscape Maintenance Manager to identify opportunities to implement bay-friendly and “greener” landscape practices.  Created drought resistant and bay-friendly plant lists for landscape renovation projects.  Aided staff arborist by drafting arborist assessments, scheduling tree jobs, and collecting field data.  Developed various forms to streamline office documentation and operations.  Worked with vendors to source materials and equipment.  Provided basic landscape and arboriculture information for customers calling office. General office administration, including invoicing, phone support, general correspondence, report generation, miscellaneous documentation, file maintenance, research.

Garden Volunteer/Coordinator at local elementary school

Volunteered in school garden during school day and after-school with students in Kindergarten through Grade 5.  Taught students about conventional and organic gardening, composting, culture and nutrition, and garden ecosystems. General garden maintenance, propagation, and restoration.

Literacy Tutor and Mentor

Worked with high school students at alternative high school.  Assisted teachers in class activities and provided one-to-one tutoring and mentoring in literacy, safety, life sciences, English, environmentalism, critical consumers of information, art, culture.  Trained on literacy, multicultural issues, environmental/conservation education, conflict management, learning disabilities, and diversity.  Worked with team on problem solving, team building and youth empowerment projects.

Office Administrator at chiropractic office

Reorganized office systems, including client files, mailing lists, and business files.  Handled office and client correspondence.  Scheduled client visits and made reminder calls for appointments.  Updated client, vendor and supplier account data.  Researched and recommended supply and equipment purchases.

Classroom Volunteer at local elementary school

Volunteered in classroom with students in kindergarten through Grade 3.  Chaperoned during field trips.

Office Administrator/Executive Assistant at start-up company

Streamlined administrative support and office organization, including phones, filing, supply inventory, equipment maintenance, personnel and staff scheduling.  Provided customer service for product use and sales.  Processed phone, mail, and website orders from intake to shipping and follow-up.  Updated client, vendor and supplier account data.  Researched and recommended supply and equipment purchases.

Freelance Technical Writer/Editor

Provided technical writing and editing services for papers, essays, manuals, correspondence, proposals, reports, resumes, applications, and other technical documents.  Provided portfolio critiquing, job search coaching, and practice interviews.  Also limited transcription, including transcribing voicemail messages and sending transcripts to client via email.

Regional Reports Coordinator/Publications Manager/Technical Editor at environmental consulting firm

Developed and streamlined publication departments to provide word processing, editing, and graphic services for branch and district offices of national environmental consulting  firm.  Coordinated production of documents with project managers and technical staff.  Developed and established document tracking system that recorded technical review process.  Designed and implemented scheduling system for word processing, graphics, and review.  Reduced document turnaround from 3 ½ weeks average to 1-2 week average.  During peak cycles, reduced backlog from 1 ½ weeks to 2-3 days.  Reviewed and edited technical documents for clarity, accuracy, liability language, and style.  Established and implemented writing standards and consistent formatting.  Participated in district wide quality review of document preparation and tracking.

 Academic Profile

  • Bachelor of Arts, Special Major, Career and Technical Writing
  • StopWaste Certification as Bay-Friendly Professional Landscaper
  • Certificate in Landscape Horticulture
  • Aesthetic Pruning Award
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