Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bucket o' Puppies

Anyone? Great Pyrenees. Good momma and pappa dogs. You too can own an abominable slobber dog.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Tale of The Tape

It's official. I start my new, "permanent" job tomorrow. Relieved is probably the best descriptor right now.

Since I was laid off just shy of 10 months ago, I've been on quite the roller coaster ride. I had to keep a spreadsheet of all the jobs I applied for several reasons not the least of which was to keep track of all the online login information for each company's career website. That gives me a little bit of nerdy data to offer up in lieu of real content.

First, I submitted 128 applications (plus or minus a few). I say plus or minus simply because there were a few duplications (submitting directly on the company website as well as a recruiter website for the same position, submitting for the same position more than once when it was reposted, etc.). The for real, actual number is still well north of 100 and probably no less than 120, but I have 128 positions recorded on the spreadsheet. So, that's what we are going with. 

I submitted resumes to about 95 companies. I have to say about because it's hard to tell what company you are applying to through a recruiter unless they tell you. I have 95 discrete employer/recruiter entries on my spreadsheet, and I'm pretty confident that there are only a few overlaps because you start to see patterns in the wording of the job postings. 

I applied for jobs in 46 cities. At my current career level, there are only so many senior level, high paying positions available. You have to be willing to go where the work is. I hamstrung myself somewhat by refusing to apply to positions in places like Chicago, New York or Boston (or Liberal Hell as I like to call it...where a lot of insurance companies call home) where I would be miserable for one reason or another. The one exception to the liberal hell rule I made was for my wife, The Queen, who has dreamed of moving to California for as long as I have known her. She wants to live on a beach (or at least in the same county as a beach) in the worst way. So, several applications were made to cities in the Peoples Republic of Commiefornia including San Fransicko of all places. 

Yes, it made my skin crawl to do so. But, such are the things I do for my love. 

Those 46 cities were scattered across 18 states. Most were in the south and west, but there were a few attempts at the northeast. See the "liberal hell rule" above. 

Of all those applications, only 14 companies decided to check my teeth with an interview. 


Of those 14 companies, only 4 or 5 of them lead to serious final interviews. The Florida job was the closest I got before the now new job. I was in the final cut of 3 or 4 for that position. For whatever reason, They liked someone else better. 

This whole process has taught me a lot. 

First and foremost, is always take what's said with a grain of salt. Six weeks before I was laid off, I had a great review with a healthy bonus and discussions of development for the future. Less than two months later, I'm out the door with a blatant lie for an explanation. I have since proven that at least part of the explanation they gave me (eliminating my position) was an outright lie. The real reason I was let go will probably remain forever a mystery unless I run into one of my former coworkers at a bar after they are deep in their cups. I continue to have my suspicions, but closure will probably await Judgment Day. 

Second, sometimes hard work isn't enough. When I arrived at my temporary position, I was told they never hired temps. I found out later that several of my coworkers there had been temps before being hired full time. Within 3 weeks, I was approached about whether I would consider going full time as my work had been noticed and appreciated by the client (a major soft drink company). I allowed as how full time employment was my goal, and what did they have in mind? The short version is that their salary range for the position was well below what I was being paid as a temp, and there was no way we were ever going to be able to bridge the gap (it would have meant a permanent 50% pay cut from my previous full time salary not including bonus). 

That brings us to the third takeaway: flight risk. It is almost impossible to avoid giving a prospective employer your prior earning history the way online application systems are geared. In those cases where I could not hide it and we got to the interview stage, the salary and bonus from my last job was a stated concern for several of the employers I talked to. When a supervisor position came up at the company I was temping at, they didn't even give me the opportunity to reject an offer as they felt the position would not challenge me enough and the salary would have me moving on to another position in six to nine months. 

Another lesson learned was that getting an interview was as much a matter of timing as it was hitting the right keywords in the resume parsing software. It is a reality today that the first "read" of your resume is a computer software program parsing the data looking for certain keywords. I could probably have gotten more interviews had a tailored my resume for each individual position, but that is a tedious process to say the least. 

Finally, it is still a popularity contest once you get passed the HR cyborgs. My new boss is someone that I knew somewhat peripherally at another company. There is also someone at the new company that I have known since my first job in insurance (20+ years ago...and I still have the tie she gave me as a Christmas gift about that long ago). I'm pretty sure those two connections in conjunction with my experience were the deciding factors. 

There are other takeaways that I will try to mention in the near future, but work starts early tomorrow. I'm outta here. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

I Thought It Was Funny

It's been a while, but I'm still here. I've just had lots going on. I promise to write an everything update soon. In the meantime, here's a little slice of workplace humor from earlier this week.

So, my supervisor puts a note in the file:

“Put monkey on back of [the attorney] or [the claimant] to get us [the property damage] info or else we close [the file] in 7 days.”

My response in the file notes:

“Monkey installed on [claimant attorney’s] back. Monkey not happy being so close to an attorney.“

They really should install a snark filter on the claims system. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Well...That's Not Nice

Submitted my application for a job for which I am qualified this morning at about 7:00 AM. Had a rejection email in my inbox in under two hours. That seems...a tad harsh.

Perhaps I should refrain from applying to jobs on April Fool's Day.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fold, Spindle & Mutilate

So, I got this package in the mail today. The company I am currently temping through thought it would be a good idea to send me a birthday present. I wasn't expecting it since I don't spend a lot of time thinking about my birthday or the fact that I'm on a one way banana peel ride that ends in a pile of ashes. So, kudos to the company for sending a token gift.

The U.S. Postal Service, however, gets no such kudos.

Before I show you the results of the expert package handling skills of the USPS, we must first set the stage.

When I opened the package, there was a lovely birthday card upon which some anonymous staffer had handwritten a birthday greeting. There were a few pieces of candy for enjoyment. A business card...presumably in case I forgot who sends the paychecks.

And this...

Drinkware you say?
There was some rather suspicious rattling in the packaging which I initially attributed to the aforementioned candy. Imagine my amusement when I saw this come out of the package.

It was drinkware-like at one time
Sadly, the tips for enhancing the enjoyment of my new drinkware were rendered moot.

It was the thought that counts I suppose.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Insider's Guide to Claims Adjusting for Outsiders

Patience is a virtue.

Look. We get it. You just had an accident. Your upset, frustrated and maybe a little hacked off. You want your car fixed, your medical bills paid and you don't want hassles.

Calling your adjuster's phone line once (or more) every minute, for several minutes is NOT going to help matters.

Your typical claims adjuster is trying to work upwards of 150 claims at any given time. Though, one adjuster I spoke with at a major personal auto carrier said their average pending was up around 260 active claims. Of that number, a typical adjuster is getting anywhere from 5 to 10 new claims a week. More if there has been a severe storm of any variety recently because people apparently lose the ability to drive when faced with a small glob of spit on the road much less a massive thunderstorm.

If an adjuster is particularly good at time management, works efficiently, types VERY fast, etc....they might get to work, really work, 20 existing files a day. Working a file means being able to put quality thought, analysis and documentation which takes a minimum of 15 minutes per file per touch. When you parse that out to a typical workload over a business day/week/month, it means that, at best and on average, a good adjuster is going to be able to touch your claim once every 7 business days.

New claims take up a lot more time because of contact requirements, recorded statements, assigning appraisals, etc. New claims take away from the time an adjuster has to devote to existing files. A new claim can take anywhere from a half hour to an hour to get off to a good start if an adjuster is lucky enough to get a hold of everyone on the first call, doesn't get interrupted, etc.

That doesn't count working incoming mail, email, voicemail messages, making payments, presenting claims at round tables, being out of the office for business/vacation/illness, etc. which all takes time.

Being out of the office is a nightmare at best for an adjuster when the time off/out is planned. It usually takes about a week to recover from being out of the office for 1 planned day. Unplanned days off are worse. It's like throwing a bomb at your diary screwing up every bit of carefully planned out and prioritized work.

We do not get some perverse joy out of making you wait. We want your file closed as much as you do. Probably more so so we don't have to deal with your cranky, impatient butt anymore. Contrary to popular belief, we do not get bonuses for keeping files open or denying claims or settling claims for less than they are worth. We get measured on how efficiently and timely we handle claims, if we make initial contacts within a certain time frame defined by the claims standards, whether we make payments timely, etc.

That's not to say we're not human. When we get a difficult claimant who yells at us, calls us incessantly and just generally acts like a spoiled child mid tantrum, we don't feel an overwhelming desire to bend over backwards for them.

And, yes, we have caller ID. We recognize certain phone numbers especially when we see them pop up every minute when we are in the middle of trying to help someone else. It's irritating as all get out. Knock it off. Call, leave a detailed message, and wait.

We will call you back as soon as we can.