I don’t envy those who are currently job hunting, unlike myself. A year ago, I was seeing a therapist twice a week to manage the crippling depression of (a) having no idea what I wanted to do with my life and (b) (and even worse) having nobody take me seriously when I tried to explain that I wanted to switch to something “more creative”. When you send in 80+ job applications, get 8 or so responses (all negative), and three interviews, you do start to wonder if you’re even worth being taken seriously, unfortunately.
A few months later, I had it figured out that I wanted to be a writer, author, artist, and all-around creative powerhouse (can we say: occasional singer? ;)). Yay! But when I approached a recruiter to try and help me find a stepping stone job as an HR person, they told me that selling me, an accounting person, to an HR department as a to-be HR person would be “more trouble than it was worth”. Hell, I was staying within the “corporate” arena and I was being told that I didn’t have a chance there. Needless to say, I felt ~*totally awesome and motivated*~. What a thing to hear, after all.
Indeed, I was winning some and losing quite a few more. That was until I landed my current gig as a catalog editor and silently told my LinkedIn naysayers to kindly eat their words.
Still, until I got that one chance, I thought I was never, ever, ever going to find a job that fit me ever again. I’m not exaggerating. I clearly remember calling my mom one day and declaring that I was “NEVER going to be a self-actualized and gainfully employed human being!!!!!!!” (God, I wish I were joking). But something tiny dwelled within me and kept pushing me, even during my lowest points. I still haven’t figured out what it was yet, but here were some things I told myself to prevent me from abandoning the civilized world altogether and retiring to a sub-freeway colony:
“If someone doesn’t want you, you wouldn’t want to work there anyways.”
I’m starting with a cliche, yes, but only because this is so freaking true it’s crazy. I faked the crap out of my personality to get one of my prior jobs and even though I got the job, it was truly the most abysmal environment possible for me. Conversely, I earned my current job by being myself and owning the fact that I’m a human being with needs and not some stolid robot who lives solely for a career. I’m not saying you should bare every possible facet of your personality in an interview (ahem…competitive farters), but do be upfront and honest about what kind of environment you’re looking for. If you get rejected, it’s likely because they weren’t a good fit for you.
“You need to try a little harder.”
Harsh, but true. I was sending in a whole lot of non-tailored resumes and stock language cover letters to nameless recipients, which almost always yielded no response in return. On the other hand, I got a lot more response (negative and positive, but let’s focus on the positive!) when I actively sought out the name of the hiring manager and sent a customized resume and cover letter to them. Now, about cover letters: I, like most of you, hate them with the burning passion of a ghost pepper in love. But they don’t have to be terrible. Human Workplace founder Liz Ryan recommends the “Pain Letter” as an alternative and I think it’s brilliant. You can read about those here.
On an even more detailed level, I realized that I was also prone to submitting e-mails, resumes, and cover letters with stupid little formatting errors, misspellings, and even omissions that would have painted me in a more positive, creative light. If I had just spent a few extra minutes on these items, this wouldn’t have happened. It pays to try just a little bit harder.
“My next job is going to be lucky to have me.”
I began my search applying desperately for any job that sounded remotely creative, particularly low-level entry jobs that paid a fraction of what I was earning at my previous job. I even applied for a few “intern” jobs–even though I’m 25 years old and have a Master’s degree! Now, obviously, switching jobs may necessitate starting from square one, especially when making such a drastic career change as I did. But even if you appear not to have too many relevant skills to your newly desired job, you still have plenty from school, work, and–let’s face it–life. Your job search should take a while, because you don’t want to rush into anything. It’s like a relationship: wait for the right one.
I’m proud of myself for writing such a concise entry (and I really, really need to get back to editing my book), so I’ll leave you with these thoughts. But just to tie everything together, remember this truism above all: you will get a job. Your first job, second, third, or fourth jobs may not be tailor-made for you, but if you persevere, you will eventually make your way into the job (or jobs) of your dreams.