Saturday, August 16, 2008

a few good things

Ok, so for starters- Jon has a job.
I took a job working as an in-house recruiter (like a corporate recruiter in the US) for AEA, an environmental consulting firm.
I will be starting in about 2 weeks and will be recruiting scientists, engineers and IT people. It will be a nice challenge and a new role, working on-site at a secure facility for 1 client (the guards at the gate have guns and you can see the nuclear {pronoucned nuk-u-lar} towers a couple of miles away...
I could have started sooner but with the bank holiday coming up and with our trip to Scotland it just made sense to start a bit later (as per their request). Plus, they pay a generous car allowance, which will be awesome and help our finances!!! Robin is already in Scotland, I head out tomorrow AM for the week+. We have some cool trips booked and look forward to seeing Glasgow, Edinburgh, Loch Ness, Inverness, Highlands, Stirling, Wallace monument, etc...
Also, we have a CAR! I found a Honda Accord I really like and drove it today. Ok, so driving on the other side of the road was not as big of a deal as I thought it would be. So, it's like an EX in the US- sunroof, leather, etc. It has 93k miles so it's a baby of a Honda and a great deal. I plan to pick it up the day I get back from Scotland (a week from Tues). The fellow needs it for another week as he's waiting for a company car to be delivered and his wife has a baby due- congrats!
Also, Robin goes back to the US in about 2 weeks to get Felix and Jack, our little buddies. Well, I look forward to seeing them both and they actually get back on my 1st day at AEA.
I think that about sums it up. Great news and good times in the UK.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Aug 12 job, etc. update

Well, suffice it to say it's great to have Robin back in the UK as of yesterday morning. Jennifer and Kevin's wedding went off without a hitch (well, without any bad hitches, there was one hitch-ing) and everyone had a great time! So, now Robin is back in the grind after enjoying a bit of R&R working from home yesterday.

We are now thinking that having a car is essentially a must-have. Just something decent to get us around for our time here, nothing too fancy (maybe I can get that 5-series when we're back stateside?). :) It would just add a lot of options for weekending, commuting, running errands, taking the dog places, picking up visitors at the airport (ahem, ahem) etc. So, I'm giving it a bit of thought and shopping around a bit. Though an older BMW or Audi would be nice I have found a few Accords that have decent power and still good gas mileage. There are a few Toyotas around here as well but it tends to be the smaller ones like Yaris and Corolla; I think something slightly larger would be worth the trade off in mileage. I like Nissans but they only imported the really small ones for a long time; the name- Micra, should tell you something. So, time will tell.

As for the job search, it's still in limbo at the moment. I have 1 company that I had final interviews with last Wednesday and they seem to want to make me an offer, just haven't gotten it quite signed-off yet. One of the ladies is out sick today but is hoping it will be formalized today, though we've been hoping for a few business days now so... I had my interview for the government chartered job working with women in Science, Engineering and Technology last Friday and it seemed to go quite well. They said they'd get back to me this week and I'm pretty sure one of them was quite interested but got mixed feelings from the other lady; not bad feelings, just more of a poker-face... I'd be the only guy in an all woman-office and a 100% woman-oriented job so am wondering where their heads are on that dynamic; all the names they mentioned in the organization in other hubs were female as well. Also, they were advertising the job as full or part-time and it seems they are not behind any aggressive initiatives or anything and just need a little extra push so I can see how they would prefer to go with someone part-time as a full-timer might get a bit lost/bored and the obvious fiscal savings. I told them I was open to P/T so we'll see what they say. I haven't gotten a "no-letter" in the mail so at least they didn't pass on me right away (the domestic post here is very fast, about the only thing that is fast here... international not so much). I have an interview with the regional manager for Manpower on Thursday in Oxford, so that is promising, though it has take a long time to set-up (he was on vacation and has a very full calendar) so I hope we don't miss our window. He is looking at me for internal recruiting roles and on-site roles with clients (Microsoft, HP, Xerox, etc.). I lean toward the on-site role as it's where I see myself once we're back in the US. I could make more $ here in a branch/commissioned role but, given the option, I'd rather go in-house/corporate (the grass is always greener, right?). I have been informed that August is basically the biggest holiday-time-burning season, so, aside from December, arguably the worst time to find a job- just too many folks out of the office. So, I get good feedback from recruiters/managers and they know I'll get nabbed, it's just slow going. I have another interview being scheduled for me on Tuesday, a phone interview with BT iNet, a Cisco patner, that is looking for an onsite HR adviser/recruiter/program manager. So, it's the right role, the right location and with a technical company. The salary is pretty solid, right in the middle of things, but seems to be the best overall option (Cisco hires on-sites and has a big presence in Raleigh/Durham). I may have to buy some time if/when I get these other offers but don't want to put them off, either. Hard line to walk- balancing that bird in the hand (of course, I've had to wait for the bird, and am still waiting for it....). I also have another recruiter with Hudson Global (the folks who started though she's been slow getting back to me. She was working from home yesterday so I'll try her again today; many folks here are not exactly as proactive as I would like but so it goes. Trying to show initiative and patience at the same time...

So, now that Robin's gotten back from her week and a half in the US she's going to Scotland (Glasgow) for a little over a week on Saturday for work. The following Monday (25th) is a national holiday, so the plan was for me to come up for the 2nd weekend and travel together after the conference. I may actually head up sooner as I'm not keen on spending another week at home alone. Plus, I would love to have some more time up there ("free" hotel and all). 1 job might want me to start this Monday but I think I will seek to hold-out until the 26th as a start date, to try to give every option a fair shake. That way I have the extra time to travel yet my resume picks back up in August, so not a huge gap; though I imagine a gap won't be interpreted poorly- international move in-between them and all.. Of course, I could get an e-mail any minute that this AEA job wants me and if I want the job I have to start Monday... doubtful scenario but possible; not sure what I'd do but will cross that bridge if/when...

Anyway, things are looking promising and I'm hoping the timing of everything works out for all parties.

Ok, off to do housework and then go biking- the weather is pretty nice today. It rained really hard last night for hours but has cleared-up, for now. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Today was our second wedding anniversary, and sadly we spent it on different continents! We'll get to celebrate together next week, and some more on the upcoming trip to Scotland, but it's especially hard being apart today. I can't believe it's been two years already- so much has happened in our lives!

I'm having a fantastic time in NC right now, seeing friends and looking forward to Jennifer and Kevin's wedding (at the Carolina Inn!) this weekend, but I can't fully enjoy it without my hubby. It will be nice to go to a wedding at the Carolina Inn and actually get to enjoy the food that we didn't get to eat at our own wedding! Still, it won't be the same without Jon to share in the fun. He's diligently looking for jobs, and hopefully one of this week's interviews will turn into an offer! It's so nice to hear him excited about the new prospects, especially considering all of his *interesting* work experiences in the past. Please keep your fingers crossed that he finds something wonderful!

I really think it was a bit too soon after the move for me to come back to NC. Since we're not completely settled in the UK yet, it's very easy to get nostalgic about the great life we had here and everything we gave up for the move. Seeing old friends and coworkers is great, but it makes me so sad that we don't get to see them more often. And say what you will about the sweltering heat, but I do love the hot weather! I do, however, still stand by my assertion that English Diet Coke is far superior, so at least the UK's got that going for it. I've ridden by our house (got a little bit teary-eyed) and it looks like the tenants are taking good care of it for us. Mom even brought Jack down from his vacation home in Maryland to visit with me. We are really looking forward to the end of the month, when we can finally bring our little buddies over to join us.

North Carolina has really become my home over the last 9+ years, and I really hope that life brings us back here after the English adventure is over. In the meantime, we hope to have lots of visitors from the USA!

Friday, August 1, 2008

job search update, Friday Aug 1

Ok, so it's August already and Jon needs a good job. Well, Robin is gone from today until a week from Monday and I hope to have accepted an offer by the time she gets back. Maybe I could even start by then but my guess is getting all options explored will result in starting the week of the 18th. It just so happens our trip to Scotland is that weekend (Robin will already be there that week for work) as the 25th is a national holiday. Woo- Scotland, here we come! What a great way to cap all this hard work- applying, interviewing and, hopefully, accepting a J-O-B! Also a good way to celebrate (albeit a touch late) our 2nd anniversary and her b-day. :)

Ok, so here goes my unsuccessful attempt at a long story short. Also, hopefully these companies aren't reading my blog... :) Interviews this coming week:
-Monday: 1 company was looking at me a few weeks ago for an engineering recruiter role and passed on me but is now leaning toward me for an IT recruiting role... not keen on the location but planning to meet the IT lead guy anyway. I highly doubt this option will work out; I'm not a fan that they've taken so long and been wishy-washy about me. I like the managing director but time kills all deals (plus they passed on me once already).
-Tuesday: 2 interviews. #1 is for an IT recruitment role 8 miles from our home that is in the middle of nowhere so would 100% mean getting a car. However, it would be a predictable 15 minutes every day each way- way doable! It has the lowest base salary by far but strong commissions so we'll see... It is also on a huge campus in what sounds like a very nice setting. Interview #2 is for an in-house/onsite recruitment role on a contract (what we would call a corporate recruiter). It's all IT and Engineering for an environmental firm that is growing like crazy. It's basically a major international "green" agency and would be great experience and could turn into something longer-term and/or be a great way to get into in-house recruitment. Honestly, it's quite challenging to get into corporate recruitment in the US, let alone for a Yank in the land of pork scratchings- would be tough to pass this one up. They just called me today and it is currently (subject to change any second, and then back to being) my #1 choice. They had me do some writing samples and basically seem to have gotten their "grilling" out of the way. After the writing stuff and the time on the phone the lady indicated the meeting Tuesday was going to be informal and she'd basically just want to ask me a few more questions and introduce me to folks... all signs that her concerns about me are gone. Oh, and they pay a solid monthly travel/car allowance, which is grrreat. There would also be some domestic travel (all expenses paid) but not a ton of it so a good way to see places but not be out nights on end. Toward the end of our last call she actually joked about me starting this Monday- they need someone yesterday and the location is good (not quite great) for me/us but I could see how finding talented individuals for this project/location could be a challenge.
-Wed or Thurs I am supposed to meet with the Manpower fellow who is on holiday this week; he will look at me to manage a new Manpower branch in Swindon. The commute would be 50 minutes or so initially but once we move toward the other side of town (saving Robin tons of time, too) it'd be more like 35-40. This option is a very close 2nd though I could see it locking me into the staffing industry and I'd really like to "go corporate." So, hopefully they can confirm this meeting early next week and also give me an update on my timeline to meet the other fellow about the Regional Sales Manager job. I believe he is on holiday, too. Either job would come with a company car and would make a strong resume-bulider.
-Friday is the interview with the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Eng. and Technology. It's taken them quite a while to get moving on this. To be fair, they are government and on a college campus so probably much of the problem is folks on holiday between semesters but even then, it's been sloooow. Anyway, I have my initial interview with them and they said there will be more rounds so fear they'll take too long to get through the process. It's close to home and would be meaningful but the funding is not guaranteed for very long and the pay would not be in the same category as the others. Again, time kills all deals 101.

Ok, so I think that sums it up. I look forward to having pepperoni pizza, pork chops and steak while Robin is gone but definitely miss her already. All quiet on the Oxford front.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Almost August #3

Ok, so more news on the job front from Jon...

Manpower is opening a new branch in Swindon and is considering me for being the Branch Manager! Swindon is about 40 minutes by car and the job comes with a company car, so wow! I should be meeting the higher-up/decision maker next Wednesday or Thursday and the people I have met thus far are all quite confident he'll like me and they think this is the best role for me (in their minds better than the regional sales manager role which is also still "in the works"). The branch manager job has excellent training, support and the ability to find/bulid my own team. The branch role is a better path to upper management as well, so they say. The RSM role would put me more at the mercy of a different set of factors, limit my other internal options a bit and would have some very aggressive targets to hit. The branch position would be more empowering, have more room for creativity and is equally interesting to me; it will have targets as well but new branches take time to build so wouldn't be quite as "sink or swim." I haven't seen much about the comp structure but they seem to think the roles can be about even- depending on the region and, obviously, the results. Plus, it'd be less time travelling, working, etc. and focusing on 1 market instead of a whole region and a dozen or more offices (could get hard to keep track of who's who:). It's still sinking in but this is a job I could definitely see myself doing, and doing well. They are also looking at me for an onsite role with Microsoft in Reading but that is moving slowly due to so many folks on holiday.

Haybrook IT is looking at me for a recruiter role running a full desk. They're about 8 miles from our current home and set out in the country on 2000 acre campus. They're one of the biggest IT firms in the UK and seem to have a solid reputation and a pretty cool building/layout. I interview in-person there on Tuesday of the coming week. The salary would be lower than the others but is very competitive on commissions. And I would have to have a car- on my own dime. This option came out of nowhere (through a recruiter) but could be an ok option. It's basically at the bottom right now.

The UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology interview 1 is happening a week from tomorrow (Friday). It's a contract and a government agency/charter. It has moved quite slowly but it looks pretty promising as well. It's close to home, would be meaningful helping folks get back to work- after having kids, etc. and the money is pretty good. Long-term it is a bit dodgy as the contract is under a year but they said there's a chance it will renew... This job was #1 until the Manpower stuff came and took the top spot. Still, could re-take #1...

We'll see, great to have some promising options.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Almost August #2

Well, I just heard from Manpower and they're considering me for a position internally as a regional sales manager. No joke- regional sales manager! It is the answer to a lot of our problems/questions/objectives and would be a highly visible and challenging role. I'm excited about it. Finally the job search has me with 2 good, do-able options! Yessss! Time will tell. The person I'd report to is named Simon and he's the director of key accounts, so hopefully we hit it off..... They need people in a few different locations and 1-2 would work so we shall see... fingers crossed!!!

Almost August

Hello all! It's been a couple of weeks so I figured an update is past-due. We're doing well and settling in more and more. We still love our TV and our new sofa far surpasses the junky futon that was left here for us. We also bought a king sized bed (what we would call a queen they call a king) and moved around the furniture in all 3 bedrooms and much prefer the new layout. We've been getting better sleep on the new bed and got a great deal on it as well so we're both quite pleased. :)

Robin is going to NC for just over a week Aug 1-10 for Jennifer and Kevin's wedding and she'll also be doing some work while she is there. Her mom will also be visiting so Robin will get to visit with her and our little terrier buddy, Jack, is coming, too. :) Our 2nd wedding anniversary is a week from today (the 5th); how time flies! Robin also has her birthday coming up on the 13th, so though we'll miss being together for our anniversary, she will be back in the UK for her b-day. She got one present from me early- a Radley handbag, which is pink and features a little terrier as the mascot... So, suffice it to say she's quite keen on it. :)

The job front has been pretty crazy for me but seems to be pointing in the right direction now. London is off the radar; the jobs pay better and it would be a great experience to work there but the commutes are just too long given the somewhat unpredictable buses and the fact that it takes 35-40 minutes or so to get to the train station. Once we live closer to it commuting to London would be doable; in the interim it is the Oxford area and Reading has some good leads. Reading is only 1 train-stop away and more of a technical city than Oxford seems to be. The trains are predictable, fast and, though a bit pricey, better than dealing with the cost of gas (about 10 bucks a gallon at the moment). etc. Plus there is the price of insurance- the quotes I got for just me on an older car with modest coverage were over 4x what we were paying in the US for full coverage on 2 newer cars and 2 drivers... then there is the cost of the car, maintenance, etc. Enough about that, I do have an interview a week from Friday for a job I really like (on paper anyway) working with women who have been out of the workforce back into the workforce in science, engineering and technology jobs. It is a contract with the UK Resource Center for Women ( which sits on-site at a local college and would be an interesting combination to complement my skills, education, motivations... and they said it could extend long-term, pending good results and funding... Either way it would be good pay, meaningful, close to home and get me some UK-experience. Many companies here are hesitant with me as I have no UK experience. I am also working with Manpower as of late last week as they are fairly sure they can find me something quite good. We had a great 4+ hour panel interview and they work with Microsoft-UK, Hewlett-Packard-UK and basically any other big-name-IT company which has a presence here (Manpower is essentally the largest US recruitment firm and has been around over 60 years). So, between those leads and a few other loose-ends something should stick soon. Prayers, patience and persistence seem to be paying off. Ooh, alliteration- I am still Presbyterian! :)

Speaking of church, we still attend at the Holy Trinity church where CS Lewis is buried. It is small, obviously Church of England, and the people are nice. We have yet to hear the head fellow preach but look forward to that. He's been out much of the summer so maybe as Fall approaches we'll see more of him.

Ok, I think that about covers it. We miss our little buddies and look forward to Jack and Felix's arrival in late August. And, of course, we miss you all, too!!!