Job stuff

I figured I would give you guys an update on job stuff/possibilities.

Current Job: Honestly the job itself isn’t that bad. I investigate businesses that pay employees under the table. I ensure that unemployment insurance is paid by the employers, protecting the employees and ensuring they get unemployment insurance if they get laid off (if they get paid under the table they don’t get unemployment).

I have been picking up a lot of businesses who are avoiding taxes (surprisingly, or maybe not software companies are a big issue, along with housecleaners and dog groomers/sitters/walkers). I don’t feel bad auditing them, nor do I feel bad when we find they owe money. Does that make me bad? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

I have a lot more to talk about my current job, but I figure some of them deserve their own posts so I will wrap this up saying I do have a few dislikes about my current job.

The issues are the commute sucks (I-405 to Bellevue and then I spend half the day driving to different audit sites) but I can deal with that. The pay is very low, especially compared to what I was getting paid at my prior two jobs and while I think the job is fairly flexible and honestly I like busting people avoiding taxes, the actual scope of the job is very limited. I am so used to doing full GAAP/GASB based audits and this would only represent a very tiny portion in duties.

DoD: I had a weird thing happen with the Department of Defense job. I wasn’t picked up in the first round of hirings, my app was returned to central place for HR, but then the next day my app got returned to DoD management and I was told by email to disregard all prior notices (it sounds like there was a mistake made) and that it was forwarded to management. Does this mean they will hire me? I think its an eventuality, but it is a federal job and if it does happen it can take months. So, while I am interested I won’t hope too much.

State Auditor’s Office: Now this is the real news. I got a call on Friday from a friend who works for the Seattle team. She asked if I was interested in coming back (I made a lot more there then I do with ESD there and I had a lot more authority). Evidently their team is short people, and extremely short trained people (most of their team are new auditors). Evidently one of her assistant managers asked her to talk with the main manager about me.

So Rae called me to verify if I would be interested in coming back. I am not sure how interested I would be in coming back to my old team, but the Seattle team is a new team and I plan on working down in that area anyways. It also doesn’t hurt that the Seattle team gets paid a 5% boost in cost of living due to the area (but its the same cost of living as where I live now so it would be a boost over my old wages).

I told Rae that I would be interested (after talking to Jello). I miss auditing, and if there is office drama at least it would be a new place and new issues. So Rae talked with her manager at a meeting and they both looked me up in the system. Evidently my old resume/application had already been expunged (they dump apps/resumes after 90 days) and so he (the manager) told Rae to have me put in my resume ASAP and then call one of the HR people on Monday to confirm it went through.

I think that is a good sign, and if it worked out at minimum I wouldn’t be living on the edge of my paycheck (having to use credit cards on occasion with no paying them more than minimum). It would be at least $800 more a month, the commute would be comparable with no driving during the day except for special items (unlike now, I put 100-200 miles on my car a day). Plus, after getting past probation I could take a job down in the Vancouver office if one opened up and live near Portland (I know Jello really wants that, and I would like it).

Is it definite? Absolutely not, but it is ok either way. I would go back to SAO, and if that doesn’t pan out I can get by on my current job (I should be telecommuting part time in a month, that would make up a lot at that time for the low pay). Will I take the Department of Defense job either way? I think I would. Jello has been telling me for a long time to take the jobs I want, not to work at any place out of a misguided sense of loyalty. I should have listened to him last year, I had debated many times (and had a couple of options) to dump the County, but I felt I owed the County at least a year before I started looking for other jobs. Obviously that was an erroneous thought as the county dumped me in less than a year when I wouldn’t agree to do things that weren’t acceptable to an auditor viewpoint.

So everything is still in the air, so I thought I would just blab to all of you.

More work updates

I figured it has been a month that I have been at my new job (plus I have some new news) so I wanted to give an update.

My current job is actually going pretty well. I am gnashing at my bit waiting to actually go audit. I am ready to go out, especially as an investigative auditor for unregistered businesses (basically I am looking for and going after businesses that don’t pay unemployment insurance if they are supposed to). Like I said earlier, the quota seems a little scary but honestly I think it will be fine.

I have already found a couple of dozen places, and if I put my mind to it I bet I can triple that. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want small businesses to be overtaxed, but if you have an employee, they have the right to receive unemployment if they are laid off, and that is the responsibility of the employer to pay it. I find most of the people I am looking at aren’t unaware of the requirements. They are savvy enough to know they need it and try and get around it by claiming their workers are 1099 independent contractors (and about 95% of the time they are wrong, they should hope the IRS doesn’t catch them, they are much harsher then we are).

Now, on another front I just got word from the Department of Defense for auditing defense contractors. My application is on the fast track and they wanted to confirm I was still interested and if I am hired I will start either January 27 or February 24th. They need to check my references and verify information though before the interview.

They asked about the County and I was completely honest about what happened. Instead of ignoring the question “have you been released from a job in the last five years, or quit to avoid being released please describe the situation”. I figure the last thing I want to do is have them find out later I hadn’t mentioned the County situation, after all the big thing about auditing is having ethics and being upfront. If an auditor lies about his work history, it just shows an ethics problem in the future.

Now, it is possible that the situation with the County (even though I don’t believe I did anything wrong, I just refused to lie for them) will knock me out of the running. Its a shame since I would start with the DoD making slightly more than now, and top out in three years with a 50% raise (which is more than I have ever made). However, if this does happen, my current job will support us until Jello gets out of school. Also the other positive about my current job, if I am still at it I will try and start my MBA next fall while working there. There are lots of bonuses to my current job (eventual telecommute, easy going group) but the pay and uncertainty of the department are the weak points.

Well, before I ramble too much more I will wrap it up 🙂

Starting the new job

I realize it has been a week since I last posted, but times have been tiring. My new job seems pretty cool still. I am really looking forward to the telecommuting part three days a week when I am fully trained. Of course there will still be a lot of driving to audits, but it will give me a relief on the commute.

The duties seem fairly straightforward. My co-workers do have a lot of responsibilities, but I do notice that the technical skills required for this job are fairly specific. When I audited governmental agencies, I was required to keep up with all GAAP and GAGAS requirements (both the new accounting requirements for all types of entities and governmental requirements). I would perform financial statement audits, federal contract compliance audits and other audits that determined if the government was following state and local laws, along with following their own policies. These types of audits are specifically for one type of item, and totally different then any of the above things I did. It requires less accounting/auditing knowledge utilizing CPA firm type knowledge and more of a focus on specific tax codes. A bit more like an IRS Revenue Agent.

I found I get to investigate whoever I feel is at risk for avoiding taxes in our District Tax Office area. I have a quota of 3 UE audits (Underground Economy audits which means I have to find, audit and fine 3 businesses a month once I am fully trained) with an additional 2 program audits. Program audits are randomly selected businesses and they do not need to be shown to owe money, they are just audited to conform with the requirements from the Department of Labor (Fed agency for unemployment). It makes me nervous to not only have the power to select and investigate businesses but also to assess any fines. Along with that responsibility (which I have no problem with) I do have a quota I have to reach a month. I don’t think I would abuse it, but any person who has a quota, has the power to select and fine/penalize people makes me uncomfortable.

Although I have to say the people in my office seem really cool. None of them are UE (Underground Economy Auditors) I will be the only one for my office (they all do the randomly assigned program audits) who investigates people. It also makes me nervous that none of them volunteered to take this position. My position is actually on a higher pay grade than the rest of the auditors (even though it maxes out way below my last job). When I asked why no-one went for the opening, they all told me they like their current jobs (they have all been there years and years). Makes me nervous about this position, BUT I have to say everyone (including management, and people in Olympia) have been nothing but supportive. So I think its worth giving a chance.

Oh, last thing I forgot to mention was this is a perfect resume job if I ever try and hop to the IRS (which if the DoD doesn’t work out, is my next target). This is almost exactly like an investigative revenue agent, except instead of income tax I am looking for unpaid unemployment taxes.

 

First day of work

Well today was my first day at my new job. My official title is Underground Economy Auditor (Tax Specialist 4). Basically I am responsible for investigating and auditing businesses that are not registered with the state or are not paying the proper unemployment tax.

I do have a quota system, meaning I have to do five audits a month (but no money recovery requirements, I just have to investigate at least 5 a month). The things to look for are businesses that seem to have more employees then they report, or new corporate officers that they haven’t waived their unemployment insurance (or a dozen other types of things). Casual labor I guess is a big thing.

Now, the commute initially is about 1.5 hours in each direction. The job itself is only 27 miles away, but the traffic is so bad it takes about three times longer than it should. This is one of the biggest things that was worrying me, it means my 9 hour day becomes a 12 hour day due to traffic (8 hours plus an hour lunch).

My superior though was awesome though. After being very warm and friendly she immediately approved that my work schedule switch from 8-5 to 6-3. Now it does mean I still have to get up at ungodly early (430-445) I save almost an hour each way in commute time. I should be home before 4pm instead of 630 or later.

I also found out (and this is the coolest thing) that once I am fully trained I get to telecommute three days a week. I will still have to drive a lot, but that is directly for auditing and is directly towards my time at work (as opposed to 3 hours a day before and after work). The idea that eventually commuting only two days a week to the office made my day.

I guess I am the only UE Auditor in the Tax office I am at, the rest of the staff are TS 3’s and they are responsible for investigating claimants and businesses that are officially registered. They get a list of places and people to audit. I have to find my own people/businesses (after all I am looking for people who are either not registered or haven’t registered changes, not something that the office knows about).

It does make me a bit nervous, but I am told that the UE Auditor for Seattle has found enough leads in his area to “last a 100 years”. So evidently it won’t be hard to find places/people to audit. I am a bit uncomfortable that I get to choose and then audit prospective problems.

It isn’t that I can’t handle it, but rather a bit nervous about that kind of power to determine who to audit (an example given to me is a restaurant that seems to have a lot of employees and when I look them up in their registration they have registered less employees I can then consider auditing them). I don’t think I would abuse that ability, but I worry others would.

I have stopped looking for other work at this time. There are a few fed jobs I would take though. I would happily audit for the DoD, or work as an IRS agent (btw this job is perfect work background to get into the IRS), but other than that I think I will try this job out. The perks seem pretty cool, a good work/life balance. The only downside is a 25% pay decrease from my last job. However, Jello and I can get by until he graduates, then its party central baby!

Rough

Today is a bit rough. I got a call back from the job I was waiting on and unfortunately I was passed by them. They were very gracious and they want me to apply for the next open position (and it felt like they meant it), but for now I have to surrender over to the person with more experience.

Honestly I am ok with it in a lot of aspects. I wasn’t looking forward to being gone for two months for training during the week (I would have to stay in a hotel). Ok, that was the only negative :).

I do have some even better prospects in the line, but they are for the Feds, and with the shutdown and fighting over money I am not sure when that might come up. This unfortunately leaves me with a few options that don’t make me happy.

  1. Possibly get back in with my old employer, the Auditor’s Office. I liked the job, and the only reason I left was to try out what seemed to be a more lucrative accounting position. The good part is I discovered I am an auditor not an accountant. The disadvantage to this is the first position that “may” open up is December. I would definitely go for this (and would probably do it as my primary target) but the positions are rare to come up, and there is always drama with old employers isn’t there? 🙂
  2. Unemployment Office as an Underground Economics Specialist (looking for people who are avoiding paying taxes). I don’t mind that kind of work, but the quota thing worries me. I was offered the position but the pay was about half of what I was getting paid at the County, there is no way I can swing that. The manager did say she could try and get me up another 25%, still way under what I was making, but we could tread water until Jello graduates. The only other disadvantage is this is a federally funded job through the state. With the shutdown they are not running at all (this also begs the question why is the pay so extremely low when its federally funded, how many “management” do they have in the department that has to split the money they get)?
  3. L&I Auditor position is still possible. They contacted me yesterday and should have an answer for me next week. The problem with them is even less pay then the Unemployment Office (but the team seems positive), not sure if they can even get close to something I can live on (it has to meet the same pay as my unemployment plus $300 after insurance). This is because my student loans will come out of deferment as soon as I start working again.
  4. Temp work, this is possible but unreliable. One of the local accounting temp services contacts me regularly asking if I want to work. The problem is no benefits (which is fine, I can live with no benefits for a few months, try some ACA) but the jobs aren’t permanent and can be changed around with a week’s notice (ok that is also good because I can get out of a job I hate that way). The big worry is pay is all over the board and I can’t be sure how much I will make.

Now, we are good for at least three more months. I have unemployment into January and we could go a couple more with no money if needed. I am trying to avoid that option (and would definitely work as many part time low wage jobs to avoid it).

So I am just a little anxious today. I didn’t expect I would get the OIC job, but it is a disappointment. I will put off Unemployment Office until next week and see what L&I says. Although that wouldn’t matter since the UE job is federally funded and probably put back a few weeks due to the shutdown anyways.

So the world isn’t over, I still have about half my time with unemployment left and we can get by on it (this is without any extensions). I just wanted to bitch and whine to any who would listen.

 

Work Update

I have been unemployed for exactly three months now. I figure I will go into detail on the problems of my old job once I have a new job and am safely employed.

Yesterday however I had something unusual occur. I have had four employers circling me as a possible employee. One of them was a job that was relatively low pay (about 40% pay cut for me) but it sounded cool when I applied. I went into the interview a couple of weeks ago and found some things I didn’t like about it (once again I will go into it when I have a new job for reasons that will become clear later in this post). After the interview I decided I did not want that job, unless I had no other options (and then I will still go look for something else after starting for them, unless I am stunned and find I like the job).

After that interview I had an interview with the Insurance Commissioner as a Financial Examiner this last Monday. Basically I would go in and audit insurance companies and brokers (especially brokers) and ensure they are abiding by state law. I want this job, it fits with my personality and is better paying then my job as an Assistant State Auditor. I was hoping they want me as well.

So on Tuesday I got a phone message from the job I don’t want, asking me to call them. Since I am on unemployment I have to be careful about refusing work, although this job is fairly low pay and lots of travel so I am sure it would be considered acceptable.

I avoided returning the call on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the Insurance Commissioner indicated they wanted me to come in for a second interview the following Monday. Bazinga… That is the job I want and things are looking optimistic. Right after I got done talking to the OIC, I got a call from the job that I don’t want. I figured what the hell, I would answer.

Now, first let me say that the manager for the job I don’t want seems nice. The parameters of the job is what made me unsure, not the people that interviewed me. She was happy to hear me answer and told me they wanted to hire me. She seemed surprised when I asked up front what the wages offered were. She told me, and they were about 40% less then my last job. I told her that wouldn’t work for me at all.

I guess I was spurred by the fact that I had that second job interview, so I  pushed it. I told her that I couldn’t accept the position for less than 25% increase on her offer. She seemed surprised (not mad, just surprised) that I hadn’t hesitated for asking for money (this is a state job, so I know what the benefits are). After a few moments where I explained that I knew what the payscale was and that they would have to start me higher on that scale (they were trying to offer the lowest scale). I explained I have a certain level of income I need to support my spouse and the fact is her offer after taxes would be about what I make on unemployment. After a few minutes she said she completely understood.

This is where I followed it up with another item. I told her I wanted to be up front and that even with the increase I couldn’t give her an answer at the moment. I told her that I was a finalist with the Insurance Commissioner and that the payscale for them started at about where her agency ended (and I probably wont be offered the lowest). She seemed surprised and impressed. The impressed part is what surprised me the most. She seemed even more eager to hire me. She told me she understood, they really want me and she would go to bat for me with HR to get me an increase. She just asked to let her know when I know if I take the OIC job, then she can push for a raise for me.

The whole reason for this post is that it was weird. I was dismissive of the offer, countered with a number 25% higher then what she offered and told her even with that she was my second choice. She was even more interested in hiring me.

Wolsey was there the whole time listening (my spouse for those who aren’t familiar). Wolsey said I had a lot of confidence in my voice and that the prospective manager’s response is really common for that kind of confidence. I am not normally confident, and it was a weird feeling that I was so uninterested and dismissive that someone wanted me even more after that. Wolsey explained this is why sometimes assholes get really interesting and highly sought after mates, because the confidence exuded is what people are attracted to. Wolsey suggested I keep doing that with everything.

I guess that was my first real bout of self-confidence in over a year (my last job hired me on October 8, 2012 and my confidence and self outlook has suffered greatly since accepting that job). YAY for self confidence.