Okay, many of you know that I’ve done my share of job searching in the past. For some of you, I’m sure that statement alone cues an eye roll as it’s old news. Here’s the thing, no one seems to openly talk about the struggle in a job search. We talk about the successes and the outcomes, but rarely the struggle as it shows weakness and vulnerability. Not to mention, if you share such things publicly, it can make for a weird second interview. The problem is, when no one hears about the struggle they assume their struggle is an isolated issue. Well, ladies and gentlemen, here I come to save the day…
Searching for jobs sucks. Oh, excuse my language. I meant to say, it’s really, REALLY hard.
So, if you’re out there wondering why that job you want hasn’t happened yet, let me just reassure you that you’re not alone. From time to time we all meet that oddball of a person who just seems to “happen” upon their job and effortlessly climb the career ladder. Either a company approaches them first or their initial application in the search just got scooped up from the pile and a generous offer simply falls in their lap. (If you are one of those oddballs: 1. Congrats, you lucky duck. 2. You will not relate to the rest of this post, so you might as well walk away now. 3. I know you feel like it was merely all your hard work paying off, which might be true…but some of the rest of us also work really hard but it hasn’t quite paid off in the same way yet.)
Job searches start hopeful: There’s another opportunity out there that will suit you and pay better and make all your dreams come true.
Over time, they rip you to shreds: Oh you applied to that? Well, it went straight to the trash and you’re not good at anything.
Okay, stop! You are good at things, so just quit believing that lie. Write down your list of strengths right now and tack them to your fridge or mirror or whatever you look at a lot. Now remind yourself this search takes time. It also takes a whole lot of perseverance and effort. But just because it takes time does not mean you’ve suddenly become worthless.
In the past year I applied to nearly 60 jobs. I’m talking a custom cover letter, revised resume and all 7 pages of the application form for every one of those jobs. People would ask me how the job search was going and all I could say was that it was “still on”. I’ve been rejected so many times by companies that don’t even have the decency to send an automatic email. Of those jobs, I interviewed for 17 positions (many of which included several rounds of interviews). I was a finalist 8 times and almost always under the impression that I got the job. Do you know how hard it is to be the runner-up in an interview process? You think the next time you hear from them it will be with an offer but instead find out you’re left with nothing but dashed hopes and a wrinkled suit.
How do I know the numbers? I have a master spreadsheet containing information on every job I applied for. I included the title and company of the position, the date I applied, the referral I used if I had one and record of any communication I had with the company, whether it was an automatic email or my handwritten thank you card after an interview. Two months of searching went by…three…six…eight…to the point where I wondered if I would ever be hired again.
So what’s my point in saying all this? To give you a taste of what a real job search struggle looks like. By no means am I trying to discourage you or scare you. In fact, just the opposite. I’m confirming all your frustrations that this might be a long and painful process. I’m also saying, it’s not just you.
Even though you have not heard the feedback you want, don’t lose hope. Sure, you might have to pivot and think of different angles and opportunities that fit your strengths, but don’t mistake that for being worthless or unwanted. You bring value to a team. You have strengths and skills that are desirable and important. But you can’t give up. You have to keep going.
Go to the networking events that slowly seem to suck the life out of you. Reach out to the person who might be able to give you a referral. Send your resume to the people closest to you and see where it can get circulated. Apply for the job that you might first think you are under- or overqualified for and see where it goes. Set a schedule and make a list of all the places you plan to regularly check for jobs. Ask someone you know who works in HR or editing/communications to look over your cover letter. Find someone in your field to critique your resume. Continue to invest in yourself and your skills.
Know that you aren’t alone and press forward.