Monday, September 6, 2010

And now, a word from our sponsor...

Every now and then, I figure I need to center on the purpose of this great enterprise - finding a job for Bob.

With a BS degree in Marketing and an AS in Business Administration, my work experience for nearly two decades had been tied to technology. I began with corporate sales of systems and software in 1990, moving into networking and large-scale systems sales for K-12 school systems on the west coast in 1994. In 1997, I became the creator and webmaster for the Burlington County Times - the first news website in South Jersey.

After getting the system up and running, I maintained a staff of four while moving to the next step - the creation of the regional news website, Phillyburbs incorporated my site and two other Calkins properties under one roof, which allowed us to use our man-hours more effectively; while the webmasters of the other two sites continued to maintain the site, I moved on to creating special content sections - the first news website in the country to create web-exclusive content.

Creating these sections required me to create the entirety of a site - from the shtml pages to the navigation design, graphics, includes, images and written content. These vertical sections initially outstripped the page views of the fledgling news site content by more than 200%, garnering reviews and kudos by the Newspaper Association of America, Yahoo Internet Life magazine and site reviewers from ten different countries. As the site grew to maturity, my vertical sections maintained a 20% share of total viewership during their release months.

In addition to my duties as special sections editor, I maintained a weekly column, daily blog, and handled the duties of both news and sports editor as needed.

It was fun while it lasted. Newspapers crumbled, and costs were cut - "No Heavy Lifting" became the watchword of the day, and a web-only content creator became a luxury Phillyburbs could no longer afford. They gathered their content from the news bullpen and free advertorial content, and I gathered unemployment.

With a decade of experience in online news, I've handled a variety of Content Management Systems,  Webtrends traffic analysis software, Search Engine Optimization, FTP (naturally), Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office software. I have practical experience with Joomla, video editing, and design mockup. I can build computer systems from component parts, administer small networks, and troubleshoot software and hardware. I have degrees in Business Administration and Marketing.

Next week, I start work as a janitor, to attempt to keep a roof over my head.

Bob Needs Job. Tell your friends and HR people - $15 dollars an hour gets all this, and a $2.00 raise for me.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My other car is a shopping cart

On a recent expedition to fill the pantry one last time, I discovered that I had not entirely exhausted my mobile bum possibilities. America is a country on the go, and I see no reason why the more stylish homeless shouldn't have a dependable means of transport - let me introduce you to to the Lean, Green Bum Machine.

The XTI27 has a maximum speed of 4 MPH, and a range of 40 miles on a single charge. Just the thing for a run to Great Adventure; of course, it would be a leisurely 8-hour drive, but what good is bum-liness if you can't stop and smell the roses? With an MSRP of $2,400,  we're entering the felony phase of hardcore homelessness, but three squares and a bed gratis make for an acceptable option for settling in for the winter.

The 27 has a load capacity of  750 pounds, leaving a huge 550 cargo capacity... but with very little space to store it. The all-metal frame allows for ample modification, however - I'm thinking an overhead awning with a Yamika Rocketbox for an all-weather solution to sidewalk sailing.

The main problem with the "Mart Cart" is the pathetic factory front wheels. Barely an inch in radius, the drag coefficient on anything but the most even surfaces is atrocious. Fortunately, with rear-wheel drive,  the free-wheeling front can be modified easily to accept more agile replacements. The main problem with this is that the square frame would severely limit the turning radius using any wheels that extend above the frame. I may need to install some pneumatic lifters...

Weight distribution is also a problem. I was thinking about a rumble seat, to pick up some homeless honeys along the way, but the XTIs are engineered for weight towards the front. And the basket has to stay: that's where my stuff goes. I guess I'll just have to settle for more porn on my Ipod.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Ugly Stepsister Effect

The worst part of casting about for employment is the deafening silence; you throw your resume to the wind, and then silence. A phone call comes in - you speak to some enthusiastically interested party, and then silence. You go to an in-person interview, and then silence.

It certainly shines new light on the "Cinderella" story; if I were half-related to some hottie that got all the attention while I languished, shunned in her shadow, I'd be bitchy too.

Sure, competition is steep out there. Jobs are hard to come by. But you'd figure that, somewhere in 600 resumes, there'd be somebody out there desperate enough to hire a ten-year veteran of Internet Publishing. I can take being second best... but so far, the 600 folks that somehow have proven my betters have left the field. How much farther down the list do I rate? Am I Hot or Not?


At All.

I could take this personally, or I could blame the lazy damned mice in my apartment. Not one of them have done so much as measure me for a decent suit. Bitches.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Going Bi

The idea of homelessness, ideally, is that you start to denude yourself of excess possessions, leaving yourself with a horseblanket, a couple cans of soup, and a fern named Harry that you chat with when you get lonely.

I seem to be doing it wrong.

This weekend, I reclaimed an old friend from the landlord - a bicycle. A lordly beast of the byways, I picked this up a few years ago to navigate the town in green fashion and did so only long enough to figure out I'm not the "green" type. With gasoline creeping back towards a happy meal a gallon, however, green is becoming me, whether I like it or not.

So I am now a bum on a bike.

As you can see, there's not much on-board storage capacity, so either Harry and the Horseblanket will have to be assigned a GPS spider hole, or I'll be the first vagrant  in town with a rickshaw. I'll keep you informed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Philadelphia would like to tax my blog.

From the Strange-but-True Department: The City of Philadelphia has decided to tax blogs.

Generally, I'd be immune; first off, I'm living across the river from the City of Brotherly Love. Secondly, I haven't attempted to eek any income from my rantings - as revenue streams go, blogs aren't one. And, finally, I've already incorporated in Delaware.

Still, it's a telling move of desperation. Government, like any business, is sensitive to economic reversal and loss of income. Mayor Nutty has been casting pretty widely for revenue to staunch the city's hemorrhaging deficit, most recently attempting to tax soda pop and tea by the ounce. By extending the existing Business Privilege Tax to the micro-monetized blogging community, Philadelphia is hoping to receive 300 dollars from anyone hoping to put their two cents in... at least, from those who hope to get a dollar or two back from it.

The Numbers Game

Coming in here from the outside, the whole 'Unemployment Thing' probably seems like a nebulously bad thing. It is bad - but it doesn't need to be nebulous.

The fine folks over at the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently compiled a report that makes things pretty clear, on the local level. You can go on over and study it in detail, or you can follow the easy breakdown below:

Burlington County:
2008 June Unemployment Rate: 4.8%
2009 June Unemployment Rate: 8.8%
2010 June Unemployment Rate: 9.1%
2010 August Unemployment Rate: 9.9%

Philadelphia Metro:
2008 June Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
2009 June Unemployment Rate: 8.1%
2010 June Unemployment Rate: 9.3%

Camden County:
2008 June Unemployment Rate: 5.8%
2009 June Unemployment Rate: 10.2%
2010 June Unemployment Rate: 10.6%

Camden Metro:
2008 June Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
2009 June Unemployment Rate: 9.6%
2010 June Unemployment Rate: 9.9%

In all cases, the number of jobs lost in the area has doubled, or nearly doubled, over the course of the last 104 weeks. Anyone unemployed for 99 weeks has no source of income, twice as much competition for the few available jobs on the market,  and no source of food or shelter provided by the county, state or nation.

No longer nebulous. Still bad.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Well, it's been some time since that has happened...

Yesterday's dental detour proved to be a headhunting firm - always an ego boost. And then you remember that the people who have shown such keen interest in you are not actually the folks who make the hiring decisions; sure, it's nice, but it's nowhere near a done deal. But it's another line in the water, and, as a writer, I've always wondered what its like to have an agent. You go, boys - earn that 10%!

Actually, these guys are the very best thing that can happen to you - they bridge the gap between needs: yours and the company's. And unlike the shmoe on the street, they do have direct access to the company decision maker. Treat them kindly, lads, and be capable - they're the closest thing to Santa Claus out there in this economy.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Like Pulling Teeth...

A rare third entry today: Today at 3PM, I was set for one of my very favorite pastimes - dentistry victim. Numbed, dumbed, drooling and prostrate, my personal tooth fairy was coming at me with a tiny boat hook when my phone rang.

'Scuse me... I have to take this...

And, naturally, it was a rare return call from some prospective employer. My timing has been uniformly impeccable lately.

Now, there are those who say that a vocabulary is an important asset in impressing hiring managers; I would like to add proper diction as a equally valuable tool. Sounding like a stroke victim does absolutely nothing for prospects during phone interviews.

Hopefully, my burbling explanation was sufficient to hold him off until tomorrow morning. Wish me luck - I'll keep you informed...

John Lee Hooker testifies

The President Needs Me. To Work. For Free.

This morning didn't bring any joy on the job front, but I did get a letter from Jackie Cornell-Bechelli, the new State Director for Organizing for America in New Jersey. She's looking for volunteers to help the president with the November election, and, since I have some time on my hands, naturally I came immediately to mind.

Always polite, I excused myself in my RSVP, explaining that my free time is spoken for in search of a roof and the occasional bowl of gruel. I hope she understands.

However, the missive got me thinking: The political machines are missing a real resource by ignoring the Beggar's Guild. We already carry signs, occupy high traffic areas, and are used to importuning pedestrians. In exchange for a few square meals and a flop, we'd be glad to have them sponsor us.

For a few square meals, a flop, and twenty bucks, we'd probably be willing to pretend we were sponsored by the other guy.

Our local highways are littered with people in cow suits waving at passers-by, bored college kids holding up signs shilling for Going-Out-Of-Business sales, and, in one particular case, Betsy Ross on a swing set inviting us to buy fudge. I think a wino with vomit down his shabby tee-shirt holding up a sign saying "Vote for Wally - He Made Me The Man I Am Today" would be worth at least a Jackson to somebody.

Have your people call our people - we'll work out a deal.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bum Tech

Hobos, scavengers, tramps and moochers have been a constant in human history; I feel fortunate to have entered the field in the 21st century, the first period in which the well-prepared down-and-outer can share most of the luxuries of the gentry. Let me give you a run-down of my gear list.

1) A Handheld Global Positioning System. First and foremost in my arsenal, a handheld GPS solves one of the most difficult dilemmas of life-on-the-hoof: safe storage. With a few dollars invested in Home Depot paint cans and a collapsible shovel, a network of waterproof supply depots can be buried in the night, unseen by man, secured from jealous contemporaries, protected from the weather and instantly retrievable with the coordinates stored within its electronic guts. The idea using several billion dollars worth of satellite technology to find a fresh change of underwear and a Playstation Portable amuses me no end.

The next time you see a raggedy man wheeling down the highway, you can wonder - is he just shambling aimlessly, or heading off to a secret stash of Oreos and Speed Stick?

2) Rechargeable Batteries and Back-Up Power Supplies.  America runs on electricity, and today's hobo need not be Luddite. A covert rendezvous with an outside power socket can yield days worth of juice for anything from a flashlight to a laptop. The well-packed tramp should not be without a power strip, appropriate chargers and a brace of batteries.

Beyond batteries, technology's latest boon to the bum includes the portable power supply, capable of charging devices with USB power connections and the ability to directly power AC devices for a limited time. If I must huddle under a bridge, I refuse to do so without my Ipod, portable DVD player and transistor radio.

3) Wifi Internet. Every house on every street is bleeding free Internet for the tech-savvy homeless. Cracking a WEP-protected network is not difficult, and even WPA will fall given the proper onboard tools and some patience. Keep up with your email, check your stock portfolio, start arguments on 4chan - the world is yours from the comfort of a sheltering brace of bushes or the haven of a carelessly unlocked domestic shed.

4) A Digital Trunking Handheld Scanner. Living life on the lam means that the roofed residents and local constabulary are not fond of you. Avoiding legal entanglements is easier if you are not where the police are, or where they intend to be. A capable Uniden scanner with the local trunk monitored keeps you informed and ahead of your friendly neighborhood peacekeeper.

5) A Cell Phone. An interesting but vital piece of trivia: cell phones without plans or subscriptions can still contact emergency services. This can come in extremely handy for those most likely to suffer calamity with no normal means of summoning aid. And, of course, during quiet moments you can indulge in a few games of teeny tiny PacMan.

6) Crank Flashlight/Radio/Charger. The Swiss army knife of vagrant living, one never needs to be in the dark, out of touch or out of power with one of these babies at the ready. One of the most galling aspects of homelessness (after frostbite, exposure, starvation and heat stroke) is isolation. With minimal effort, you can pass the night listening to college radio, while considering the practical applications of Camus' "The Stranger." Living grubby doesn't mean you need to be uncultured.

Monday Employment Round-up!

Welcome to the first Monday Weekend Round-Up!

Here, we'll be reviewing the positions advertised as available in Sunday's job sections within a twenty mile radius of Center City. The stated population of the area is 1,447, 395, with an 11.8% unemployment rate - that would make the number of local mooches 159,213.

Today's magic jobs number: 72

This includes:

16 positions within the Navy
14 positions within Software and Network Engineering
13 positions for Experienced Management in various fields
9 positions for various Medical professionals

leaving 20 positions listed Sunday for the rest of us bums. Let's get crackin'!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Wedding and Two Funerals: Monster-Mania, Day Two.

Well - things started well enough.

Somewhat guiltily, I approached Herschell Gordon Lewis Saturday morning, in search of self-marketing advice. I had imposed myself enough on his time already, and the last thing I wanted to do was become a bother. Not surprisingly, however, he was every bit the gentleman I had come to expect, and more. After a quick analysis, he shared his opinion on my best approach and target market, and then, incredibly, offered himself as one of my personal references.

That was... astounding. From both a business and entertainment standpoint, Lewis has long been a man I've held in the greatest admiration, and his offer of endorsement made me feel like Jimmy Olsen getting a slap on the back from Superman. In addition, of course, a man with his monumental standing in the Marketing community can't help but to carry weight on a resume.

(Sad-but-true addendum: After spending so much time with him in discussion, I frankly did not dare to ask him for an autograph - it seemed beneath our discussion, and I didn't want him to think less of me. So I had my friend sneak me one under pretense.)

After what I considered a spectacular public Q&A later in the day, sudden storm clouds gathered on the horizon. The organizer had scheduled Herschell's film premiere at the same time as the Q&A for director John Carpenter, cutting deeply into his prospective audience, and there was additional friction of a business sort that I immediately distanced myself from. As a guy who works 40 hours in a weekend for three pizza slices, I was not a party to - nor, in this case, did I want to be party to - financial dealings between a promoter I've worked with for eight years and a guest I have admired for twenty, and especially one who had proven to be a true friend and ally this weekend.

My fractured relationship with Sid Haig still fresh in my mind, I am all too aware of the concept of guilt by association. I hoped that things wouldn't get worse. But I fear they may have.

After nine hours on my feet and active, I found my time at Lewis' premiere a little shattered - no one gave me a memo on the Saturday Pizza CARE package, so I was driven to grab a quick bite, and a subsequent call of nature made my presence - and sporadic lack thereof - all too obvious, I suspect. At the finish of premiere, we shared no words... Troubling. I hope that time will allow him to separate his perceived slights at the convention from our earnest conversations.

At the very last minute, I was able to snag Bancroft's front desk number from my friend and colleague; sadly, with an apparently high turnover rate, she could not provide me with a contact name. Still, a number and a person on the inside pulling for me is a wonderful gift of coincidence for a position I applied for only a day before. Come Monday, I'll see if I can tactfully exploit them.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Opportunity and Adventure: Monster-Mania, Day One.

Networking, they say, is key to a job search in the 21st Century; it seems like they may be on to something.

Fan conventions may be a little carnival and geek-ridden, but there's a certain camaraderie that develops between folks that work for pizza slices to keep the show on track. I was surprised - and not slightly delighted - to find an unexpected ally in the ranks of the convention volunteers.

My last official application of the week was to Bancroft Neurohealth - a leading provider of programs and supports for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism and acquired brain injuries. They were looking for someone to maintain and build out their website, which seemed perfect for me - I had built out the Occupational Training Center of New Jersey's site last year, so I was well aware of their mission and goals.

My colleague at the convention mentioned that she worked for Bancroft, which led to a discussion and an alliance; I now have a number and name to go with that Internet advertisement, and - most helpfully - a person inside that may prove to be my salvation. Time will tell.

In addition, I had the opportunity to speak at length with Herschell Gordon Lewis. Attending the convention representing his film work, Herschell is better known in business circles as a Marketing Guru of the very highest water. My opinion of the man as brilliant, open and gracious was cemented within moments of the start of our discussion, and that opinion only blossomed in the hours of discussion that followed.

Tomorrow, if time, opportunity and grace allow, I believe I will attempt to bend that magnificent brain of his towards the subject of personal marketing and the job search in our current economy. If he will allow the interview, I'll transcribe it in full and post it here. For the job seeker, the opinions of a man with his qualifications are worth many times their weight in gold.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pre-Bum Personal Appearance this weekend!

Life goes on, and this weekend I'll be continuing an eight-year tradition moderating Q&A sessions at Monster-Mania at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill. It's old home week - I'll be talking to two old friends; Dick Warlock (Michael Myers in Halloween II, and Kurt Russel's personal stuntman for 25 years) and Herschell Gordon Lewis (The creator of the Gore Film and Marketing Guru extraordinaire, the first man to use product placement in movies, and the pioneer of direct mail marketing). In addition, I'll be chatting with Julian Sands (Boxing Helena, The Killing Fields, 24) and, depending on scheduling, I'll be hosting a reunion for stars from Friday the 13th.

Over the course of years, I've made hundreds of contacts in the film industry. Unfortunately, they don't mean much here on the East Coast, where a little influence would come in extremely handy right now. However, four shifts in front of an audience of 300-500 people does present a bully pulpit to bring "my" people here to

Herschell will be so proud...

This show will be bittersweet; the next show in Maryland is set for September, and will be the first I will  miss; by then, I will either be newly working, or on the street.

Neither option will allow for time off.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Man of Means, by no means...

The Debut of the BobneedsJobmobile!

The three primary rules of real estate and outdoor advertising are said to be "Location, Location, Location," and this afternoon I'll be joining FTD, Terminex and your local pizza delivery guy in trumpeting my cause to the world. Soon, I'll be a mobile fixture of the open highway.  I'll snap some pictures for inclusion later; until then, behold this startling re-creation.

Ordinarily, writers aren't the most extroverted of critters, and the idea of tooling down the highway in a decked-out clowncar should be incredibly embarrassing. Strangely, I'm feeling a little exuberant. Nothing else has worked in this economy, and there's something cheerful about making the workaday world a little more surreal.

Just to be on the safe side, I also ordered a smaller set, for use on "My Other Car Is A Shopping Cart." With only two payments left until I hit the magic "99 Weeks," I have to be prepared for any eventuality.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ground broken on

If you've happened here by way of my advertising, welcome to my temporary home away from homepage on Blogger. But never fear - ground has been officially broken on, the Joomla!- driven website component in my media blitz for employment.

To differentiate between these two sites, here you can track my daily foiled attempts at employment and subsequent personal appearances with a shopping cart on a street near you. On the proper site, we'll be tracking the day-to-day employment picture for the area by way of the local newspaper advertisements, and interviewing the local police, politicos and governmental agencies involved in keeping people like me off your streets, and possibly alive.

I know. I am, by definition, a person with too much time on my hands. But give me credit - I'm trying like crazy to reduce it, preferably by 40 hours a week or more.

You can't get there from here

My most recent rooting through the job listings turned out not one but two possible positions at Comcast - perfect matches for my qualifications and experience. One was an open position for a content creator, the other for an online editor; both jobs I maintained, simultaneously, for ten years.

As you can imagine, I was thrilled to forage through their four-page application, and I hit the SUBMIT button with supreme confidence. Within minutes, I received an email confirmation.

"Thank you for applying for the position of Staff Accountant (2)..."

No. That's not right...

An exhaustive search of the site offered no options for contacting the company's Human Resources department - or any department at all, for that matter. Vexed, I simply assumed that there was some tremor in the Interwebs, and applied again - with precisely the same result.

Obviously, the human touch was needed.

I moseyed down to my local Comcast office, and sought out a pulse. Not surprisingly, the locals don't handle Human Resource tasks - surprisingly, however, they don't handle technology or communications issues, either. "That's the Internet - you'd have to get in touch with them."

How? They knew not; like Zardoz, the Internet - and Comcast's presence on it - was some mystical sentient machine that hovered someplace fifty feet in the air above a wind blasted prairie.

Feeling especially flexible, I decided to beard the monster in his lair. I chatted with the Internet.

The Internet, after understanding that my service was not endangered, I had rebooted my application and the problem lie in a database glitch, assured me that the problem was not the Internet: it was a Human Resources mistake. Contacting Human Resources, however, was beyond its ken. It suggested the local office, the website FAQ, and finally settled on the idea that my best course of action was to apply a third time through the Internet. Is there anything else it could help me with? I thanked it, and told it I didn't think so.

I took two courses in accountancy during my Marketing degree - perhaps the exercise was not completely in vain. But y'know... what Comcast really needs is a good, experienced online editor.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Solicitations from Senator Lautenberg

It's been a month since I played pen-pal with Senator Frank Lautenberg, and guess who just called me?

No - Zach did.

Zach works out of the Senator's Trenton office, and he sent many happy returns from Frank; specifically, he happily returned me to Senator Diane Allen, and the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders. It was explained to me that the Senator doesn't really actually involve himself with the state of the state so much. Not as such.

He's more of a hands-off kind of guy.

I was informed, however, that if at any time I needed to call his office for help, don't hesitate. I asked Zach what specific kind of help I can call the Senator for.

He hesitated. That was a bit of a stumper.

It ends up, I can call Zach to find out who else I can call that isn't Frank Lautenberg, preferably Diane Allen. This is a great comfort to me; of all the folks I did contact, Diane Allen is the only one who didn't bother to check my pulse. Now I can call his Zach to get her Zach.

Clearly, progress is being made.