Mixsonian Larry


Job Search

Julie took me getting laid off very well and offered encouragement about finding a new job.  I had some cash saved up so I knew we would be fine for a couple of months, perhaps three, even four if we spent wisely, but I needed to find a job.  I called my old friend and employer Elias first to see if he had any contract work, but he said he didn’t have anything at the time, but he would let me know if anything came up.  I called a few other friends and contacts but there was no contract work to be found in the local area mainly due to things still being unsettled from the tax law change. I checked the job ads in the local papers but there was not much available.  

Now I had never actually searched for a job before, every job I had up to this point just came along at the right time and place, I didn’t even have a resume, so I set out.

I had been getting the weekly Computer World newspaper for some time which always had several pages of job listings in the back, the only thing was the companies were all over the U.S. with most in cities where the computer companies were, with many in what had become to be known as Silicon Valley in California, but there were others in Texas, the Boston area and the DC area.  While Julie and I had talked about moving, sure California, Texas or the cold of Boston were not on our list.  I had suggested North Carolina because I liked it and had spent a number of vacations in the mountains there and loved the area.  But Julie always suggested Washington, DC as she was raised in the Maryland suburbs on the north side of DC.  After a week or so, at Julie’s suggestion, I went to the bookstore on Sunday and bought a copy of the Washington Post which had many pages of adds specific to the DC area.

I was impressed by the Sunday edition of the Washington Post, at almost two inches thick, it was larger than any paper I had ever seen.  I grew up with Dad getting and reading the Gainesville Sun every morning, something I continued after I moved out on my own, then switching the Florida Today when I moved to Melbourne in ’76, but neither of these compared to the Washington Post. Just one of the sections of the Sunday Washington Post being larger than an entire Gainesville Sun or Florida Today paper.  

This was when discovered the Washington Post, not just for the job advertisements, it was much more, with sections on World, Life, Politics and a comic section alone larger than the entire Gainesville Sun.  The employment section alone was huge with the computer jobs listings alone four of five pages long, and the Post still printed the full sized newspaper pages then, not the smaller pages newspapers use now.  There were probably a hundred or more job listings, some a single paragraph, some postcard size and some a quarter or even a half page. There were a few companies I heard of, like the aerospace company Boeing, but most I had never heard of, with each listing positions and job requirements.  It was all a bit overwhelming; I had never actively gone out a look for a job before, jobs had always just come my way.

At the end of each ad, it would say “Send resume to:”, and list an address, like in a U.S Mail address.  Email was in infancy at the time and was not widely used.   After reviewing the listings, I would cut out any listing I was interested in and tape to a piece of paper.  The first Sunday I cut out three or four, perfect job for my skills, I was confident that at least one would want me. 

To respond to a job listing I had to have a resume, something I never had written before, so I typed one up using WordStar on my computer. I decided not to include my first job working as a stock clerk at the University Shands Hospital as it didn’t seem relevant but did include my first computer job as a computer operator at the University Computing Center, but it was the years spent contracting and programming on many different systems that was the heart of my job experience.  At the end I listed under Education, “Bachelor’s in Computer Science”, I was quite glad I finished my degree.

That first week I sent out three or four letters and by the end of the week I had not heard back.  Well of course not, I impatiently rationalized as I put the letters in the mail on Tuesday, it would take two days for them to get the letters, a couple days to review letter, it might be a week before I heard back. The following Sunday I sent out five or six more when midweek got a post card from one of my first letters, “Thank you for your application but after review, it was determined not a good fit for the position.” Or something like that, some companies were nice enough, if you call rejection letters nice, to send a rejection card.  Most companies I just never heard back from at all when…

It was the third week after I sent my first letter, four weeks after being laid off, that I got my first phone call from one of the companies.  I talked to a man on the phone for a half hour or so and he said he would get back to me.  It wasn’t all that encouraging but, hey, at least I got a response.  After that first call and some forty letters later, I got several more calls, one had follow-up call the following day, things were looking more positive.  In April I wrote in my journal.

Journal Entry
April 4, 1988

So the job with Com/Soft fell through today. Actually, it may still happen but it seems unlikely.  

So this brings me to my current situation. I have been out of work for four weeks now. I sent resumes to over 30 companies. I have interviewed with three companies, one was Comsoft.  Also an employee of Lockheed met with some guy who has a company in Utah and they had come two or three software systems which they had interest in me. 

But things begin to improve, after responding to a dozen more listings, I got a few calls of which two seemed promising. One company was the large aerospace company Boeing that had a division in the DC,  government contacts they explained.  The other company was the computer company CCI which I had never heard of.  CCI, formerly Computer Consoles Inc., had a division in the DC area that had an office automation system, yeah, I knew something about that. After a second call with both companies they both wanted to fly up to DC for in person interviews.  Boeing was first to offer to pay for the flight and hotel for me to fly up, so I accepted and arranged for the CCI interview to be the next day.   Things were beginning to look up.

Julie was quite excited when I told her the news and the first thing she said was that I had to go out a get a new suit.  “A new suit?” I ask and she says, “Yes, a new suite, what do you think you are going to wear?”  Well, I hadn’t really thought about it, I suppose blue jeans and a T-shirt wasn’t quite appropriate so the next day we went to a department store and Julie led me to the Men’s section and we looked at suits.  Now I never had a suit before, the closest thing to a suit was a hand-me-down coat that I got from Uncle Corky.  I had never seen so many suits before, but Julie, who always dressed nice, knew her way around fashion and led me to the more expensive suits, “100% wool” she explained.   As soon as we started looking at the better suits a salesman shows up, “He needs a suit for an interview.”, Julie explains and after sizing me up, six foot two, broad shoulders, skinny at 180 pounds, he and Julie quickly narrow it down to a couple of choices which I then march off to the changing booth to try them on.  I put the first suit on, go out and Julie says no, not that one, and I go back to the changing booth and put on the second suit, the label says “Pierre Cardin”, it means nothing to me as I look at myself in the mirror in the changing room and immediately liked it. I exit the booth and walk over to Julie, and she agrees, it’s the one.  Of course, it was the more expensive one, at $120 I thought it was crazy, like I could buy several pairs of jeans at a half dozen casual shirts for that amount of money.

The only problem was the suit didn’t fit all that well.  Well, no problem the salesman says, and calls over an older gentleman who he explains is the “fitter”.  The fitter has me stand on a six inch in raised platform, takes out a measuring tape he had hanging around his neck and proceeds to measure my shoulders, chest, arms, and legs while I’m standing there wearing the suit. After making marks here and there on the coat and pants with a piece of chalk, he asks me, “What side do you hang?”  I say “What?” and he looks at me seeing I have no idea what he’s talking about, then he looks at my crotch and makes a mark on one side.   I was fitted. The suit would be ready the day before I was to fly to Washington for the interviews.

Updated: 09-24-2023

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