Job hunting is a full-time job. I’ve been dreaming about getting my start in the ‘real world’ for as long as I can remember. I know I know, don’t rush through your life, my grandma says. But I can’t help it. In my heart, in my soul, I’ve been an 80 year old lady for all of my 23 years. I’ve done my time in part-time retail and now I want to find my (hopefully very lucrative) purpose.
My job hunt efforts go a little something like this: pulling up LinkedIn, MunicipalWorld.com, or any other posting site and grasping at straws by applying to anything and everything relevant to what I’ve done professionally and academically thus far. I then open the ‘Resumes’ folder on my computer, my resume and cover letter templates, and grab a piece of paper. I write down the keywords from the job posting/description and then ensure that they are laced throughout my skills and experiences. Any resume workshop would tell you to do exactly this (and trust me, the keener in me has been to my fair share).
Truth is, I don’t have a clear vision for exactly what it is I want to do. I thought I did but a couple awesome summer jobs really shifted my perspective. All I want right now is something to be excited about, something to inspire me. I want to work with people from whom I can learn. I want to gain infinite wisdom every single day. It’s easy to get down on yourself as you submit resume after resume, then followup via phone call only to be told you “should probably move on” (true story). Or pour your heart and soul into an application to be told “you’re a little overqualified for the position..” (another true story). It’s beyond frustrating. One of the best/worst questions to be asked in a phone prescreen or in an interview is my “expectation of renumeration”. Basically, how much money do I hope to make. The real answer? How much are you offering ‘cause I could probably be happy with a couple mill. Yet this is frowned upon and you’re left to carefully dance around a number that is within reach yet not so low that you come across as without ambition. And whether or not you’re a match for the position if you screw this number up it could very well be game over.
It’s really tough to find that balance between eager and annoying. It’s tough to standout in a roboticized world where computer codes transform your resume into a percentage of relevance. Rejection in the job market feels worse than rejection in the dating world. Atleast in dating you’re more often than not given an acknowledgment (let’s be real, we’ve all had those imaginary boyfriends who don’t even know we exist - I digress). It’s tough to connect when employers use outsourced Human Resources departments. As I take my trip on the job hunt journey, I am realizing more and more than the recruitment processes many companies and institutions use is to their disadvantage. They diminish their “people potential” in not truly connecting with keen and passionate job seekers. They lose out on those of us who are keen to be passionate about exactly what it is they are hiring for.
To date I have applied for 28 real-world jobs, 25 of which I’d be perfectly suited for. I say that as humbly as I can. The job descriptions/titles nearly mirror jobs I’ve done in the past or skills I’ve mastered. Yet, it is common knowledge that I will never hear from these positions. It’s just a part of the process. My jobs folder keeps getting thicker and thicker with notes and descriptions of jobs I will likely never think about again. Top that off with the fact that every job you find requires 5 to 7 to 10 years of experience in the field. How we are supposed to gain experience is beyond me. It’s so easy to get bitter and upset and decide that running away to join the circus (or at the very least to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in South East Asia) is your fate. As 20-somethings, some of us want nothing more than to run away and travel the world. Some of us want to jump into the working world and make some money and get our lives off the ground. We all have different reasons for having different aspirations and that’s totally okay. It’s truly about finding what fits with our goals: personal, financial, professional. For me, it’s the latter… I’ve got my floaties on and I’m ready to belly flop into the pool that is the working world. Picture a hot summer day and a sunscreened-ginger who just can’t wait to jump in the water. I’m that eager!
All that being said, as much as employers are shopping for the right employee, we can’t forget that as young employees we are shopping for the perfect fit in terms of employment too. Our generation has begun a revolution of demanding more from our employers in terms of health and wellness and balance and for that, despite widespread fear over economic downturn, I truly believe this is an exciting time to be entering the workforce. Our generation has also fuelled a shift in that we have infinite tools at our disposal to create our own jobs, be our own bosses, and open our own sources of revenue.
Right now I type this having no idea what will come about and what kind of work I’ll be doing in a couple months time. I can only hope that my highly touted education, my extensive work experience, and my passion to contribute will shine through to someone. Anyone. Hellllooooo---oooo--ooooo, anyone out there? Will I be working in Hospital Administration or for a Municipality or doing marketing and communications for a private company? Will the call come through to be the next Carrie Bradshaw? Who knows. But I refuse to get down on myself, or down on the process. I am a very lucky girl to have parents who support me through everything. I also have the pleasure of working with some wonderful mentors and, as a result, I promise to guide a young person someday as they have done for me. Because understanding the science of “how to get a job”, “how to write a resume/cover letter”, “how to answer that question in an interview”, “how to get the job” is a full-time job in and of itself. Crappy thing is, until you've mastered the art, the pay is entirely intrinsic reward. And maybe an insightful blog post.