Thinking

Earlier this week, I got a call out of the blue from a prospective employer, sort of a basic phone screen and sounding out of interest. This watos one of the “saw your resume online” calls, and was for relatively basic tech support.

That’s not my preferred idea of work, but it is one of the options that is both part of my search, and easily inferred from my experience. When asked about pay expectations, instead of the usual figure I have written on online applications, I came right out and told the guy what I needed to make minimum, and why. The wife is on disability, and at minimum I need to make enough to make up the difference. After any extra costs generated by earning it, that is. If we are talking about adding work to what I already have, not actually moving on from FedEx, I have to not quite double what I make there. Which pretty much means more money on an hourly basis for whatever I might supplement with, and somewhat more per hour for a total replacement job, plus enough for added commuting or such. Side note, the position was temp for a year with possibility of perm, so it wasn’t career-oriented, in a sense. You couldn’t move to be near it, and it wasn’t a fantastic stepping stone job. For that matter, it was in an industry I would loathe joining. But hey, a job! Someone actually called. Yay!

So they were paying $5 an hour more than my number that doesn’t consider commuting, and I said I was interested. I did that on the spur of the moment, even after learning it was in Burlington, a long commute. Not as long as when I drove for a year or so from Plympton to North Billerica, but close. The guy had only called me because he misread my location and thought I was nearer. He said he’d e-mail me and someone would call for a tech screen, but I wasn’t sure it’d actually happen. It didn’t.

In the meantime, though, I decided I couldn’t take it. A quick run through the math and opportunity cost, plus the caveats I mentioned, and it was a goner. At a relatively conservative gas price and MPG that doesn’t always happen, the gas cost was more than the amount above my minimum it would need to be. Which makes the amount I’d been asking seem much more reasonable, since it would, on that commute, be less than $10,000 above my bare minimum, which is an amount on which we’d been scraping by. Over $5000 in gas costs only considers gas, too. Not wear on the already shaky car. Not added maintenance or sooner replacement, neither of which it would leave money to do.

Nor does that consider tax consequences or opportunity costs. I calculated how much an hour it would work out to for the hours above what I already work, after gas, including a minimalist two hours a day for commuting (and forgetting the hour of lunch, bringing time involved to a minimum of 11 hours a day, nor considering food costs of lunch away from home and never being home for supper, costs of which I won’t explain here), and it came out to less per hour than I make at FedEx. It’s ugly, bottom line. If I’d had numbers clearer in my mind on the phone, I’d have dismissed it then.

All of which got me thinking about what do I do about the shortfall, and was do I want to do for income(s).

Sometimes I am reminded of my job hunt between college and the time I got into tech support. I searched for accounting work. Was I excited about it? No. But I had an accounting degree! Thus it was what I was supposed to find, what I was qualified to do. I’d just made the mistake of not wanting to be a CPA and not realizing I didn’t have to want to be a CPA to follow a CPA track to leverage myself into a business environment ASAP. Well, correction. I was excited about it, if it came down to cost accounting. I loved that and wanted to do it. I loved manufacturing environments (and have always loved shipping/receiving environments, so it makes sense it was always my fallback job). Of course, I also loved strategic management/strategic planning, but nobody was going to hire me as a CEO out of college. Turns out I love logistics and holding the entire flow/processes of an operation in my head, seeing how it all comes together and what needs to happen. I love economics. Considered minoring in it, but the minor was created rather late in my time in school. I seem to love arranging things just so, figuring out how that should be, and being completely accurate. There’s the trait that gave accounting appeal as a major. I don’t always prefer dealing with people, but I love helping and enlightening them, helping them know how to figure out things, leaving them more able than they were, even above and beyond what they specifically asked/needed.

Anyway, I looked for a kind of work I didn’t necessarily love the idea of getting. Eventually someone read more than that into my resume and I was in tech support, a job option that had not been on my radar at all.

Now reminds me of then. The obvious thing I am looking for is tech support. I can do it, and well, and even happily in the right environment. It just doesn’t fire me up. I am also looking for analyst work, be it called systems, business or data analyst, or some other variant. It appears there are a range of things construed as business analyst, with the top end being extremely well paid and credentialed, well, a bit above my level, even if not so much I couldn’t figure it out. High or low level, it harkens back to my education plus business background, as well as feeding on my tech side to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the details. At the lowest levels it seems you’re a glorified clerk and number cruncher. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Those were the closest I could think of to something I could and should legitimately pursue and wanted to, but even at that… sometimes I feel like there is the equivalent to the jump into tech support lurking out there, waiting. I feel like the way recruitment works these days, nobody would ever see it the way they did in the early nineties. Leaving it up to me. Except I don’t see it either.

So I’ve been thinking harder… what would I do if I could do anything? What would and could I do if I were striving only to add to my existing income, not replace plus add to it? What do I love? If I only take work I really want, what would that be?

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