Friday, April 8, 2011

Rambling about Job Hunting

If there is one thing that I learned about job hunting, is that you don’t realize how it can affect a person (specifically yourself) until you are doing it yourself.

Sure, I should know all this already. Right? After all, it’s not like this is the first time I’ve ever job hunted. In fact, I’ve job hunted no less than six times. Closer to ten really, since you don’t include every job you’ve ever had on your resume.

I’m sure that at my age and experience employers won’t care to read through the details of the one day I worked at the indoor miniature golf place when I was sixteen and got fired the same day for having an accident with the drink machine. You know the kind, those purple, red, and orange fluids forever turning in a machine that looks like they should be slushies but are really just a poor imitation of flat soda pops.

It’s your first day of your first job ever as an inexperienced and very nervous (and outrageously shy) sixteen year old kid. And yes, the simplest of tasks, working a lever to drain liquid into a cup has suddenly become as difficult to your terror stricken mind as rocket science would be to a sea slug. A fumble and to your abject horror you are sprayed and your white blouse that you had to buy just for this job is now soaking wet with sticky purple juice. You want to crawl under that drink machine and hide forever. Instead, you put on your bravest face, clean up the mess (and yourself as best you can), face the manager’s wrath, and finish out your shift trying to act like nothing happened while the customers snicker and make comments about your wet and sticky purple condition. When your shift is finally done, you hold onto that sigh of relief that you can finally skulk off home to shower and hide under the blankets in miserable embarrassment, wondering how you are possibly going to face your boss and co-workers again – only to be told on the way out the door not to bother coming back. You slink home in a ruined shirt that cost more than you made and thinking that this is the end of your chances of ever having a job.

Is it one of life’s most embarrassing moments? Absolutely. In the long term do employers really care or need to read about that job in your resume? Only if you are going back to that same employer in the following weeks to ask for another job.

Ok, so enough reminiscing about ‘the good old days’ and flash back to today.

There are two type of job hunting really. Most of the times I job hunted it was of the more passive job hunting. You look at the job ads once or twice a week, maybe less, and you send out resumes. If someone bites then great, but if they don’t then it’s no biggie. You’re not in any hurry anyway.

But this times it’s pulling out all stops, full-time aggressively job hunting. This time the clock is ticking, the calendar is turning, and the daycare is devouring the savings like a Least Shrew the size of the empire state building (a tiny animal that has to eat non-stop). And let us not forget those gas prices that make you cringe every time you start your car these days.

Job hunting has proven to be a bit of a roller coaster. One day you are sending out resumes to every employment agency you can find that deals in full time placements, finding all kinds of job ads in the paper and online to apply for, and you are thinking, “Wow! This is going great!” Flash forward a few days and the jobs seem to have completely dried up and you are wondering where all the jobs have gone.

Sure, there’s still plenty of jobs in the paper, but let’s face it, I really don’t know anything about operating a drill press, installing paving stones, or building windows. I probably wouldn’t be the best professional driver (just ask my seven year old about my parking skills), and I’m really not interested in becoming an apartment caretaker or professional pooper scooper. And let’s be honest with ourselves, those lowest paying entry level jobs are exactly that. It seems that all the jobs listed are either completely out of my comfort zone or well above or well below my experience and skills. So yeah, I won’t be applying for that job as a mechanic either. I’d be looking for something akin to a sink plug to change the oil. And I don’t think anyone would want to see me trying to park a forklift.

In the past, every time I job hunted, the paper seemed to be filled with ads for office work and accounting clerks of all levels. In fact, I’m pretty sure I remember the entire jobs section being much bigger, sometimes with pages of ads just for one section alone. Now, the entire jobs section seems to have shrunk drastically, fitting in less space than the ‘General Help’ used to. Of course, a lot of employers have moved into the technological age with online listings instead of the old tried and true dead-tree listings, but searches for those are coming up with pretty small lists too, and most of those aren’t even in the region I list in the search criteria.

At this point you’re thinking to yourself, “How am I ever going to get a job if there aren’t any jobs to get?”

And then the phone calls start. The employment agencies you sent resumes to are calling to interview you and they all seem to already have the perfect opportunity lined up for you. You do the meet and greets, do their tests, and some of them even call you back about that perfect opportunity. You even get some interest from the other job ads you applied for.

You go for interviews, you keep scouring the paper and internet for those elusive job opportunities, and you sit by the phone waiting for it to ring. Ok, I did the interview and thought it went all right, now will he call me back? It’s worse than waiting for that call after a first date.

Things are happening, people are showing interest, and you are hopping! This is going better than you ever imagined it would after staying home raising your kids for six years!

And then the phone calls stop. You’ve had interviews, you’re waiting to hear about possible interviews for those perfect opportunities from the agencies, and you’ve spent hours searching for every possible position you can send a resume for. It may have only been days, but in your mind it feels like weeks.

Now you’re wondering, “Where’d everybody go?”

When you do get those calls (or emails) it’s to give you the old “It’s not you, it’s me.” In job hunting it sounds a little more like this- “We decided to go with someone who was a better fit for the organization.” In other words, you’re nice and all, but the chemistry just wasn’t there.

Now you’re thinking, “I must be nuts. Who’s going to hire me after I’ve been unemployed this long?”

You know you can do the job, but how can you hope to convince someone else to at least read past the unemployed for six years bit, and actually look at the resume based on just your short impersonal cover letter?

Of course, taking upgrading courses would have helped, but it’s not easy to find free childcare and large sums of extra disposable money. Heck, if I had that I might almost be a CGA (Certified General Accountant), minus the required work experience while learning.

And just when your hopes are starting to slip, the phone rings again. The opportunities trickle in, interest in what you have to offer trickles in even more slowly, and sooner or later all of it ends in rejection because that’s just the way the it goes.

So you sit by the phone waiting for that call while scouring the ads, Googling random companies for addresses, and wondering just where all those pages of job ads from years ago have gone.

Sooner or later that right chemistry will happen.


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