The paperwork needs to catch up and I’m probably making myself a tempting target for Fate by even breathing it aloud, but the word is that I’m in the process of completing the world’s shortest temporary promotion. In fact, it’s been so short that it isn’t even effective yet and won’t be until this coming Sunday. About a month later the powers that be have decided they’ll convert the temporary assignment to a permanent promotion. Still non-supervisory. Still in the same office I’m in now. Basically we’re formalizing the fact that I’ve been doing the job for the last few months without benefit of pay or grade. I can’t deny that it’s nice that they’ve noticed I was punching well above my weight class for a while now. Through a fortuitous convergence of other personnel departures, the fact that I competed for the temporary position, and a few other bits of administrative minutia, it seems that all things are possible.
As is my custom, I’ll be nervous and jerky every day between now and then from knowing nothing is real until the paperwork says it’s real. I’ve been burned one too many times on that front to be fooled again. Still, fingers are well crossed in hopes that the human resource professionals don’t fine a way to foul the lines between now and the end of February.
If anyone needs me I’ll be in my corner trying not to say, do, or think anything that might somehow inadvertently change the course we’re currently following.
I hear it in the hushed conversation over cubicle walls. I see the grins and sly thumbs up offered by our own HR staffers. Somewhere just beyond my field of view, the wheels of the great green machine are in motion. We’ve got a heartbeat. It’s faint, but there. After the torturous road this process has taken just to get to the “tentative” stage, I don’t dare to think of it as a done deal. The probability of success is definitely increasing, but that’s a long way from a signed set of orders and a new desk. Nevertheless, I’m raising the confidence meter from cautiously optimistic to hopeful.
Experience has taught me and millions of others that the Army is a serious player in the game of hurry up and wait. I’ve got the waiting bit down to a science. It seems that we’re about to get a lesson in extreme hurry up. I’m confident that in this case, hurry up is far preferable.
That’s the time I’m going to officially commemorate as the moment of my redemption. The exact time when my voice from the wilderness was heard. Precisely when the shear volume of resumes I’ve loaded into the system broke through the morass (385 if you’re counting). That’s assuming, of course that I pass through the last widget in the process. I’m now in a period of HR purgatory between receiving the official tentative offer of employment and the official final offer of employment. This is the land of voluminous paperwork, of validating security clearances, pay-setting, benefit determinations, and yet more waiting. It’s the last moment for things to go horribly wrong. You didn’t think this was going to be a post about unbridled joy and optimism, did you?
I’ve waited for this moment for the better part of a year. Poured untold hours into crafting the perfect resume. Cursed fate for dragging this process down into the interminable frozen springtime. And now that it’s arrived, I can barely breath it for fear of it breaking apart at this late hour. This is a moment of hope beyond hope… and it is so close to reality and yet still painfully just beyond reach.
And so we’re moving along tomorrow to interview #3, which is a good thing. Of course it’s also an Army job, which means it’s probably subject to the hiring freeze just like the others. That’s the part that’s less than good. In keeping with my casting of the wide net, I can only speculate that the more interviews I have between the now and when our dear friends lift the freeze, the better the opportunity that one or more of them will come in with an actual offer in the fabled land beyond the human resource permafrost. If not, getting the occasional interview gives me the illusion of actually making progress. In the absence of actual progress, I’m good with the illusion… for now.
P.S. Selecting officials, if you’re poking around the internet doing an informal review of names on your referral lists, please take note of the single minded determination I’m showing at achieving this objective. It’s this kind of fortitude and commitment to mission that I can bring to your office and put to work for you.
We are now at day 75 of the thirty-day hiring freeze. Surely we’ve attritted off some of those overhires by now, right? Seriously, we even have a budget for the rest of the fiscal year now. So, come on already Overlord of Personnel. Let’s get the hiring process thawed out.
I haven’t racked and stacked my list lately, but the total number of resumes released into the wild stands at 335. I’d estimate that about a third of those are still in the “open” category. Probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 are sitting on the desk of a real human being. I’ve had two interviews for positions that are “frozen” and have another one coming up later this week. I didn’t particularly want to go outside of DoD, but they’re making it very hard to show the love right about now… so Treasury, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Coast Guard, FEMA, and a host of others are being fed into the mix as of about two weeks ago.
My search grid now extends from Philadelphia down to Richmond and from the Shenandoah Valley east to Norfolk. Like Grant contemplating a similar piece of real estate, “I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.”
Such is the ferocity of my desire to catch the last train out of Crazyville.
If you have a cube with a direct line of sight to the Executive Office of the UberBoss, it’s really best not to fall asleep watching the TV mounted to the wall across from you. It makes you look like a dumbass. Far more importantly, it makes me look like a dumbass.
Maybe I should just confiscate their desk chair tomorrow. It’s probably harder to fall asleep if you’re standing up… Though I’m not sure I’d be surprised to see it. I wonder if that’s even legal. I think that’ll be on the list of things to ask the lawyer tomorrow.
Editorial Note: This is part of a continuing series of previously unattributed posts appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.
If you would have told me back in August when I decided it was time to pull the plug on my Memphis experience, that I’d still be firing off resumes on the first day of spring in the following year, I simply would never have believed you. The irony of coming here in the first place was that I’d alwayherdsrd that getting back to the DC area was easy because no one from outside the area had any interest in going there. That may or may not be the case, but I’ve found that in most cases for jobs inside the beltway the typical number of resumes submitted for consideration is somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 with some running north of 500. I’ve got a healthy level of professional self confidence, but the odds get pretty long when you start talking about numbers like that.
There are still a couple of “maybies” out there that I haven’t written off yet, but it’s definitely slot slower going than I remember the last job search being. The department’s hiring freeze extending over the last two months, of course, hasn’t helped. The personnel office points only to the most recent memo that calls for the freeze to be reevaluated by April 1st to decide if it will be extended or to announce how hiring might be handled moving forward. It’s not reassuring that the hiring system will get back to something approaching situation normal any time soon, even if it starts up again in April. With a two month backlog and a notoriously slow process to begin with, things could be ugly for the forseeable future.
There doesn’t seem to be much to do now other than to continue piling my name onto as many heaps as possible and hope it turns up at the top of one of them. The federal government’s a big place and something will come along eventually, but this exercise in patience is wearing very thin. In hindsight, I’m sure this experience will be character building or something, but in the moment it’s enough to drive a man around the bend.