Saturday — Something Personal

Saturday, August 22, 2020 

typewriter vintage office desk Jill Wellington Pixabay
Jill Wellington at Pixabay

Forgive me, my chuckaboos.  Since 2013 I’ve been writing weekly serials, that you can read here at no charge.  It would be nice to live in any of the worlds I’ve created… but this writer has a real world mortgage and utilities to pay — and more importantly, prescription cat food to buy.  I’m working on a time sensitive real world, intensive editing project. So, I had to put my stories on hold for a little while.

That said, I thought you might like to know about this part of my “past life.”  I held a very unique position. While I wasn’t anywhere near the top of the food chain of federal government jobs (USA), for most of my career I worked with Senior Executive Service staff. I was an editor and writer for them (everything from communiques, to user guides, to presentations, and any written product you can imagine — and images too). Editing is considered a higher-level function than writing there — that’s not a topic for this post. However, I was not in a typical editor-writer role at all. I won’t try to describe how federal jobs are structured. It’s so complicated that your eyes would cross and your stomach hurt. Just accept that my job wasn’t typical.

George Washington National Masonic Memorial tower Alexandria VA Tim Evanson Wikipedia
George Washington National Masonic Memorial tower Alexandria VA, Tim Evanson at WikipediaFor details about this photo click here.

My point is that my unusual position gave me the right experience and insights to create the job application packages to help executives land those high-level jobs.  No, no… doing that wasn’t part of my actual job. However, after hours I sometimes did that kind of work, to help candidates I felt could shine in those senior leadership roles.  I helped shed light on their brightest qualities, putting them in the best context. I’m pleased to say that most of their applications resulted in interviews. (I couldn’t resist the “light” puns. This landmark is near my former agency. Many years ago, the federal “Department” under which the “Agency” exists provided the equipment for lighting the exterior of the building and tower as an aid to aviation. It seemed like a suitable photo.)

This is not ordinary resume writing. Horsefeathers!  The things are books. They must conform to a particular structure and content, and meet all sorts of requirements.  In reviewing these huge applications, most Federal Agencies give part of the preliminary tasks to people who have never held such a job, for arbitrary “scoring,” based on key word searches.  So, the applications also have to include certain wording.

Navigation pane from my computer showing a small portion of the application package
Navigation pane from my computer showing a small portion of the application package

Creating the application package takes more than spiffing-up the job-seeker’s resume.  In addition to specific form-type information and employment histories, there are essay questions. How many varies depending on the agency and the job. This one had eight essay questions.

To do this well, writing and editing isn’t enough either. Insightful interviewing of the person is critical. You have to ask them the right questions to pull out the best stories and find the challenge, context, action, and result for each essay. I also want to know as much as they can tell me about the people on the board or committee (group reviewing and selecting candidates to be interviewed for the position). That helps me present their qualities in a more relatable context.

Javier Rodrigues at Pixabay
Javier Rodrigues at Pixabay

Now you know what I’ve been doing the past two weeks, and my excuse for not being at the river today.  The Delta Pearl will be here next weekend. We have to find out what happened to Victor, Jet, and Cal… and if Emeraude ever gets dressed or ends up being seen in her nightgown by the entire riverboat. I hope you’ll come back to the steampunk riverboat next weekend.  Hugs on the wing!

PS:  I remind everyone that this is my sanctuary. As I would not come into your home and disrespect or insult you, I demand that in return. I take insults to my integrity seriously. I am a blog-tater. And yes, I am absolutely a bitch.

 

 

This serial is made possible in spite of (not because of) the deplorable lack of Internet service from TDS Telecom.  They are even worse than the government about claiming no problem exists in the face of  failure.  TDS Telecom meets every complaint and service call by saying they find no problem. Their technicians come to my home and refuse to do any work or replace equipment, even when their offsite managers have instructed them to do so. They brought equipment that they openly state does not work properly. They refuse to let me talk to a manager. They refuse to promise to send someone other than the previous do-nothing tech.  They refuse to make sure the technicians have working hardware with them. My letters, emails, and tweets go unanswered.  Dear readers, please do not comment here in response to this paragraph. Just be aware of my awful experience with this so called provider.

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2016 and 2020 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 


78 thoughts on “Saturday — Something Personal

  1. Before I forget, Teagan, what’s a “blog-tater”, please. For the uninitiated 😊.
    And now … what a skilled job and I’m sure the ‘clients’ have every faith in your work on their behalf. It makes my interviewing techniques feel quite shallow! Your description of your work with the Agencies and Departments brought back memories for me, Teagan. Having worked in government as a PA to ministers, I remember taking notes from several speech writers as they worked with the minister to get the words right. It took hours and hours, and pages of my shorthand note book, with much … “read that again” … and crossings out. But at least I wasn’t doing the thinking … your work is indeed a skillful and professional art. Thanks for the insight.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Cecily. Oh, “blog-tater” is Teaganese. LOL. It’s just me playing with words — and calling myself a dictator of my blog. 😀
      Effective note-taking is a skill unto itself, and a difficult one.
      A few times, I would be “loaned out” (sounds like passing around a piece of property, and it does feel like it too) and asked to “establish a voice” for an executive. That part was interesting too. But it did little good when the future communiques were handed to someone else. It also annoyed me hugely when I would ask for a brief meeting with whatever executive, so that I could have an idea of his “real” voice — and be told he didn’t have time. In other words, the work wasn’t important. Wishing you a great week ahead. Hugs on the wing.

      Like

    1. Rae, you just made my month! I’m honored that you read Atonement, Tennessee — and thrilled that you enjoyed it.
      I call it an “urban fantasy” because it has magic, but is set in our real world.
      Until recent years, fantasy stories did tend to have a strong romance element. (Twilight in particular changed that perception.) It would fit a paranormal suspense category though.

      Yes, there are more Atonement stories. The second novel is “Atonement in Bloom”. Here’s a universal link: rxe.me/5RRBLH

      I also have a small collection of “snort” stories featuring the pigs. It includes a “prequel” to Bloom, featuring Robin. Here’s that link: rxe.me/LTBDNH

      I always had a third novel in mind, that would tie up the romantic element, but never have settled on how to approach the story.

      Heartfelt thanks for letting me know you enjoyed your visit to Atonement, Tennessee. ❤ Hugs on the wing.

      Like

    2. PS: I’m sorry. WordPress is not cooperating with making the links click-able. I know they don’t look like regular links. They’re universal links (good for any country). Just copy and paste into the address bar at the top of your computer screen.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t have the brain capacity to do what you’re doing, Teagan. No wonder your stories are so creative and whimsical – your mind wants to expand and have some fun! We’ll be here waiting for the Delta Pearl – and I have no problem with Emeraude wearing her nightgown for the rest of the story.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Teagan, thanks for telling me about your interesting past. My first job after graduate school was writing for the government too.. I wrote articles about expereimental programs that were sent to sites around theworld.. It was great exposure that led to new opportunities in academia. and to my writing books.

    I hope you are feeeling good and that your cats are too. Al lis swell here though the weather is much too hot.

    See you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi David. My federal career actually started quite late. I started to take my (fiction) writing seriously in the months leading up to my (long overdue) divorce. Unable to make ends meet on the low level jobs I’d always had, I structured my future plans around the need to work with words.

      I took out student loans (sadly still paying for them decades later) and got a high tech degree, with the intention of using it for technical writing. Five years later, that path took me to a government contract for a health agency where a mentor helped me learn my way around how the permanent jobs were obtained.
      Oddly enough all my jobs were in the information technology (IT) side of whatever company/agency I was with. People talk about the egos and arrogance of surgeons… I worked with a few. Those egos “ain’t got nothin’ on” the IT egos. I had to use every iota of insight and observation to figure out what they refused to admit to not knowing — all so I could write. These job applications were side work. Although one boss (mistakenly) thought he could bully me into writing one for him, along with resumes for his wife and a couple of favorites…That one was eventually exposed for his incompetence, but they didn’t take away his big paycheck.
      Sorry for the morning ramble. I need more coffee. 😉 I’m delighted you are doing well. Keep cool. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Teagan, Isn’t it cool how interesting our lves have been in hindsught-( yours, for example-)-I did that and then that and that led to that other stuff and that changed my life because of new insights and of course I met her and she changed my life more and on and on till we wind up where we are thinkiing My God I acomplished a lot.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. It sounds like you had a very interesting job, Teagan, and you were able to help others you felt were right for a particular position.

    I always enjoy what you choose to write and post here. Thank you!

    All our collective best to you and Crystal. I did not know she was on prescription food. Yes, that can be quite expensive.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Lavinia. That wasn’t my whole job. I only got to do the good things once in a while. I’d still be there if I had been allowed to use my talents. Unfortunately, my later bosses considered a competent employee a threat.
      Yes, Crystal has prescription food. Bland, hardly any scent. It’s hypoallergenic, not medicinal. Poor thing just can’t tolerate anything else. It took years to find a vet who got around to that for her inflammatory bowel disease. It was really bad. Now I feel guilty anytime I have something good to eat. LOL. A lot of the really high end food is just as expensive. I’m just limited to having to use a prescription place. Hugs and chin rubs to you and everyone there.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing….I find the whole process fascinating and admire your talent and ability to facilitate the need. No worries on waiting for the next riverboat installment…..you do have a fair amount on your plate! Question: have you ever been tested for whether you’re more right brain or left? You have sound like your pretty even, which means you need to challenge both sides on an ongoing basis. Just curious….I had one done somewhere along the way in corporate America…I’m even which explained to me why I need to challenge both aspects on an ongoing basis. My middle daughter is also which works brilliantly for her TV production work. Just curious! Take care and have a great rest of the weekend and week ahead!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Kirt. That’s a fun question. Yes, I’ve taken that test a few times, probably in more than one format. (I mean probably similar tests but may have been produced by different entities.) I took the “real deal” one in the mid 1980s at college. I always forget which side is which… But I scored so far on the creative side that it was surprising that my head didn’t lean over for “taco neck.” In more recent years, it’s still heavily to one side, but not quite as extreme as when I was young.
      When I work with those job applications, I think I tap the creative side to figurer out how to accurately and honestly relate the required skills and experience to the specific essay questions. The experience is there — it’s just a different thought process to show how it is relevant and transferrable.
      If I was writing a speech for an exec, it still felt creative. I was working with words, and figuring out (creating) the best words to convey the exec’s idea/message to the particular audience.
      That might not seem creative to most people. And I’m not comparing myself to a great artist or sculptor. But the sculptor sees the wood or marble and then envisions his creation there. It feels similar to me. The creation is there in the block of that “idea” and I have to find the right words to chisle it so it can be seen (understood) by the audience… God that sounds horribly self-important. I don’t mean it like that.
      Have a great new week. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. This is fascinating about you!
    You owe no apologies for not blogging, or writing wonderful exciting serials for us to read for free, on a regular basis.
    I am happy to read what you write, when you write it. This blog, as most I follow, are a joy, not a job.
    Be well, dear Teagan!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Robbie. There actually were a few people, that knowing the truth about them, I refused to help.
      One old friend warned me when I took the job over ten years ago, about the kind of environment — but he had no first hand experience. I said I could try to bring about change from within. Not really believing I could, but to show him that I wasn’t part of the “establishment” or politics. The times I got to take a role encouraging others were the good times. Otherwise it was pretty awful. As the overall politics changed, the work environment went from bad to unbearable. I couldn’t take it and left before I should have. But should or shouldn’t, isn’t relevant — it was all I could do.
      ( PS: LOL, thanks Robbie. People tend to think nice is someone they can push around. And I am nice — until I feel disrespected.) Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I can imagine that it became a difficult environment to work in, Teagan. Sometimes we have to make the right emotional and psychological choice for ourselves. I have trashed the odd comment on my blog, Teagan, when I’ve felt it is rude to me or any of my visitors.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Mr. Ohh, there are a lot of “slime molds” out there, and I was stuck working for some for several years. It led to me “retiring” before I should have, but I just couldn’t deal with it. 😀 However, I would not include any fiction in the applications I write. Granted a lot of people do put outright fantasy in them. This one is 100% real. I know the person, and was present for a lot of the work described. Thanks for taking time to visit. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow, Teagan. That seems so different from the whimsical worlds you create in your fiction writing. I can understand why it takes all your concentration. Get it done, girl. We are just fine waiting for your stories to resume. Don’t stress. Sending hugs. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That was fun and helpful to better understand what you did and how to manage the cumbersome federal application process. I must admit to giving up on applying strictly on how long and obtuse the application process is. If I ever decide to apply, I will enlist your help Teagan. Thanks for a fun peek into your past and the mysteries of govt. bureaucracy!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t blame you Brad. I had that reaction at first, myself. Fortunately I had a mentor who explained the processes and pushed me. Now, for general jobs, most agencies have streamlined the process. I enjoy working with this person, so was happy to help, and enjoyed “getting back into my grove” and feeling like I was good at something. However, I’m glad to be away from all the politics (to put it nicely). Have a peaceful weekend. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Believe me, Brad. If it wasn’t cheap, I couldn’t afford it. Aside from major cities and resort areas, the southwest is no more than the rest of the country, and much less than a lot of it. I looked at towns across the country, researching for several years. However as job availability (in towns anywhere) increases, so does the price of housing. Small towns are cheaper, but have fewer jobs…

          Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m not sure I understood what I just read. If someone wants to apply for a senior level executive type role within the US government, they have to complete a 47ish page tender, in a prescribed format, using specific terminology?

    I haven’t had my morning coffee yet and my brain isn’t quite firing so I’m not quite sure how to react to that. Wouldn’t the end result be cookie cutter applicants with cookie cutter responses?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Impressive degree of understanding — amazing for a pre-coffee state, Joanne. 🙂 But yes, that’s right. Not cookie cutter responses though, since the responders have different jobs and experience. However, their experience has to be presented in a way that “clicks” with the way the job they’re applying for is described. And many times they use a “first line” of clerks to go through the hundreds of applications, scoring them for key word searches. *Supposedly* that filters out applicants who are not qualified.
      After that, it’s all a gamble depending on politics and cronyism. If an applicant is lucky, the hiring people were not able to get their (not admitted) person to qualify. Sometimes, when that happens, those in charge just cancel the job, and then go through a different process about posting a job opening — in hope that their (not admitted) person can score high enough to qualify (so he/she can be interviewed and hired). Sometimes they eventually give up on their person and hire someone who really is qualified. Very stinky, isn’t it.
      Sorry for a mindboggling post. You can understand how this made it impossible for me to switch gears to my steampunk world. The Delta Pearl will be back next time. Hugs on the wing.

      Like

  11. Oh, Teagan, that is excellent work you do. Having been involved in the employee interview process for some time, it seems as though our candidates are either out of their league, they are lazy at trying, or they need someone like you to help them understand what we are looking for, how to present themselves and say the right words, and how to perform better at their interview. It’s been very frustrating, so kudos to you for helping people with success in obtaining their position.

    I don’t mind this week’s break and I wish you success and good fortune in fulfilling Crystal’s dinner needs! Hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ❤ Thanks so much, Mary J. My federal career started late in life. I took a contract job in support of Indian Health Service. If it had not been for a GS-14 with past experience (different agency) in your line of work, who helped me understand the ins and outs of the hiring process, I would never have gotten there. As it was, with her help *and* a very good mentor it took over a year for me to land my job. (The big obstacle being that all my work was in DC and I was in Albuquerque.)
      I really hope to see this person get the job — a terrific leader where that quality is desperately needed. Yet we had to focus his responses on everything but leadership. (He was able to get one consultation with a board member and shared those comments with me, before I started this one. That made it clear that leadership was not the issue. I could be kind and say that at that level, they probably *assume* leadership qualities are there.) Thanks for taking time to visit. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The feds make everything way too complicated. Responding to RFPs for federal contracts is a long and tedious process like that application package you are working on. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh! I’ve been involved in that too, Tim. In some ways it’s even worse. I get that they have to winnow things down from thousands to just a few… but it doesn’t make things any easier. Thanks for taking time to visit. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Maggie. It’s definitely a specialized skill-set. There aren’t that many of the SES jobs, but like the rest of the federal employee population, they are retiring, so jobs continue to open. Creation of the packages can be a big ticket item. But I only did it in my spare time, for people I knew. Since I knew their work and agencies, it didn’t take me as much time — so I kept the cost down. Working on the scale that the “big ticket” specialized editors charge would be a full time job. But yes, a much better payday than fiction editing.
      Thanks for taking time to visit. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, John. I was disappointed to see that the agency-specific essay questions on this one didn’t even touch on anything to do with leadership. (The general “ECQ” questions [some shown on my navigation pane shot] do, but they’re just stock questions. What the committees look at are the ones [not shown] related directly to the agency. Good leadership is desperately needed, but practically nonexistent. I’d really like to see this person get the job, because of those leadership qualities. Thanks for taking time to visit. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I certainly understand real world priorities. The application process sounds like it would make my head explode. I wish you and your client all the best. I’d say he or she is in very good hands. I hope you have a nice easy weekend, Teagan.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This person would be good in the job, and I really hope it happens. But yeah, it’s quite a process, Dan. The one for my own ordinary-level job was huge, but this stuff is bigger. (Although in recent years they’ve “simplified” it for regular jobs. Unfortunately that just made it easier for cronyism… that happened regardless, but at least the old way made them have to put more effort into giving the jobs to friends or people who helped hiring managers get the people their execs pushed them to hire.
      I enjoyed the DIY post at your place. Extreme DIY. 😀 Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I remember the federal applications, Teagan. “I won’t try to describe how federal jobs are structured. It’s so complicated that your eyes would cross and your stomach hurt.” So true! My father worked his entire career as the deputy director for civilian personnel for the Army…I think his stomach hurt every day! Good luck…you’ll get it done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, then you have a good idea, just from hearing your father talk about work. It’s not something I could deal with for an extended time, or if all my work revolved around it. That had to be a nightmare for him. The military departments have their own processes, but there are plenty of similarities for all the agencies. Many of them have streamlined hiring processes for the general staff, although there are valid reasons why that’s not necessarily a good thing. Happy weekend. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so kind, GP. Focusing has been such a difficulty for me this year. This took intense concentration. Thankfully I got back into the swing of it. However, I didn’t have any focus left to work on my stories. Thanks for taking time to visit. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Your screen shot: page 1 of 47, 14k words . . . OMGosh! I bet the attention to detail required in your job carries over to the descriptions and actions of your fictional characters. Hope you’re having a fab weekend, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL.. Yep. I thought you would relate to that, Priscilla. That page count does not include any of the supporting documents either (like certifications, transcripts, recommendations).
      Funny, I hadn’t thought of it, but I think it’s actually the reverse. Processes I developed for tracking my characters and stories, I sometimes carried into my work. But it goes hand in hand, both ways. This weekend, I’m trying to focus on relaxation — my brain is tired! I hope you can relax too. Hugs on the wing!

      Like

  16. I remember you had told me bits about your job, but it is so complicated, my mind boggles! You’d be fantastic as an advisor helping people who are looking for government jobs, as you know all the ins and outs of the process. Thanks for sharing this, and don’t worry at all. We’ll be back for the next chapter of the story when you’re ready. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Oh my goodness 😳😳 my stomach is in my head right now! I can imagine as I know you to do your work as perfect as possible, how hard it can be 😜 don’t worry dearest, your readers are patient because it is worth 🤗 just take care of yourself and stay safe. Hugs on the wing ☺🥰💖💖😘

    Liked by 3 people

    1. LOL, I’m sorry about the tummy-head, dear Magician. Yes, those applications really do have to be perfect. Executives tend to resent having to do the work of reviewing documents — yet when they have to hire another exec, this has to be done. So, they can get “stuck” on minor errors or wording and be “turned off” to a person when they see little mistakes. It’s just human nature for them to be that way. It is part of what I try to work around. I enjoy this kind of writing/editing, but would not want to do it very often. Have a beautiful weekend. Hugs on the wing — right back to you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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