Friday, June 3, 2016

Job searches: they never get easier

"After a more in-depth review by a subject matter expert panel, we find that we have candidates that possess more directly related training and experience for this position. Regretfully, we will not be considering your application further for this particular opportunity."

I can recite that from memory. Or something very nearly like it. Because I've read it - or something like it - so many times.

I don’t apply for absolutely any job out there that I think I could do. I apply only for jobs that I believe I have the perfect set of skills and experience for and that make me look forward to working there.

I spend more than an hour on any one job application, reading about the organization and the senior staff, adjusting my CV as appropriate, writing a unique cover letter that expresses why I want to work at the organization, in that particular role, and on and on. I am singularly focused on that job for all that time, so much so that it becomes difficult to apply for more than one job in a day - sometimes, within the same week. I go back and read application materials weeks and months later, reviewing how I said this or that - could my message be improved? I have friends review my CV from time-to-time. I adjust, I rewrite, I tweak.

From 1994 to 2005, I didn’t apply for any jobs - jobs just got offered, often out of the blue. They got offered because of people I knew or because of something I did online that got lots of attention. And that decade spoiled me. I remember feeling smug at times, and sometimes unsympathetic, at others who were looking for work and not having success. I imagined all sorts of mistakes they were making: sounding desperate, applying for lots of jobs instead of focusing their job search on just those jobs to which they were perfectly matched and wanted to do, not networking, a cover letter that just rehashes their résumé, not having their skills and accomplishments explicitly detailed in their CV and on their LinkedIn profile, and on and on.

Needless to say, I changed my tune when I finished my Master’s Degree in December 2005 and started a job search for the first time in more than a decade - and job offers did NOT pour in. By the Fall of 2006, I was beyond humbled. And oh-so-grateful when a consulting job offer did come in, at long last (two, in fact).

But for the last 10 years, jobs have been really hard to come by. I am competing with laid off corporate public relations staff, with laid off journalists, with lower-level workers at the hiring company that are looking to move up, and, I suspect, my age. I remember a young woman I worked with back in 1994, who derided anyone over 40 as being muddled and incapable of learning and adverse to innovation and change. I picture people like her on the other end of the job application pipeline, figuring out how old I am and turning up her nose.

Which is all just a really long-winded way of saying that I hate looking for a job. I'm so ready for a job. Maybe it's time to chuck it all and work at PetSmart. "Do you need help out with that, ma'am?" Not that there's anything wrong with working at PetSmart. But it's not what I had in mind at this time in my life.

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