I was right, oh yes I was! I went to outplacement today, and exactly as I predicted, we were urged to "market" ourselves, develop a "brand", and create our own "30-second commercial", which we're supposed to use every time we're introduced to anyone new. I WAS going to just sit there snickering and thinking snide thoughts, but then the facilitator forced us to actually present our 30-second commercials, right then and right there. Damn it.
I'm not painfully shy or anything, and I really have no fear of public speaking. That is, as long as I'm publicly speaking about any topic other than me. I really don't like to talk about myself. At all. Especially not to strangers. So that was super fun. Once our 30-second commercials were over (and by the way, mine was no longer than 12 seconds. The guy next to me was just getting warmed up at 60 seconds), we were asked to complete a survey. What was your last job, why aren't you there anymore, what would you like to do next, blah blah blah. As we were working, our facilitator revealed that her first and middle initials are M and C. Her last name is Hammer. Everyone smiled at this, but no one said what I was thinking. I looked around and realized that although it was being offered like a canape on a silver platter, nobody was taking it. Nobody except me, that is. If there's an opportunity for a cheap joke, no one is quicker than I am to take advantage of that opportunity.
"So", I said, "then this must be 'Hammer Time'".
But then it was all downhill. Ms. Hammer asked us how we felt about our situation. Oh no she didn't, I thought, but oh yes, she did. Not only did she ask, but she whipped out the giant paper and the Dry-Erase markers so that she could write down our answers. Oh dear. My fervent prayer that she wouldn't once again go clockwise around the room and force an answer out of each one of us was answered (thank you again, Lord), and fortunately, a few people were kind enough to offer half-hearted responses, taking the heat off the rest of us. With about 10 words on the paper, she took a show of hands vote on each one, and wrote the three most popular words on another sheet of giant paper. (She broke it down! MC Hammer broke it down! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!) THEN she fired up the Power Point presentation. Which took us through the "stages of transition". Which included "anger" "denial" "acceptance", etc. Holy Mother of Sweet Baby Jesus, I'd have been openly rolling my eyes by now but for the fact that they'd involuntarily rolled back in my head. She asked us if the stages looked familiar? Anyone recognize them? Anyone? Anyone? The man next to me spoke up, and she gave him a "very good" smile when he correctly identified them as identical to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' stages of grief.
The session ended at 4 o'clock, 30 minutes late, and I was all but desperate to get out of the room by then. We were sent home with thick binders and folders full of materials, including a step by step tutorial on how to use their vast library of online resources. Did I mention that she spent 30 minutes reviewing this printed tutorial, page by page? 'Cause she did. And I suspect that her "hard skills" aren't as finely honed as her "soft skills", because she kept telling us to save a certain document "to your database". I think she meant "drive". God, I'm snarky. She was a very nice, kindhearted lady, and I'm sure she has helped many people find fulfilling work. I'm just having a hard time looking with composure upon a job search that involves personality inventories (I shall be extending myself on this topic at a later date), knock-off Kubler-Ross, and use of the word "branding" in any context other than cattle-rustling. When I got home, I couldn't get the work clothes off my body fast enough. I'm not sure I'm ready for this.
Tomorrow, I'm chaperoning my son's field trip. Two of his classmates spent a day with us during the holidays, and they spent quite a bit of the afternoon working on their arm-farts. They have not quite mastered it; they pump vigorously, but none of them have managed to produce any sound. That, my friends, is what's known as a "hard skill". There are 15 boys in his class, and given the choice between confinement in a schoolbus with 15 fart-obsessed second-grade boys and confinement in a conference room with a career counselor armed with Power Point and Dry Erase, it's not even close.