Please Sir, Can I have a Job?

Job hunting makes me anxious.

I know it makes everyone anxious, but for me it reminds me that I spent three years after college trying to find work and only being successful with temp work. It brings up memories of day-long stints in the library pouring over any and every job posting I could find. I am reminded of those feelings of defeat, as I took a low-wage 4-month position over an hour’s bus ride away, doing employment verifications for a fish processing company (even though I kind of loved that job). It reminds me of being homeless, of the uncertainty of my next paycheck, and daily general fear that I was actually just mediocre.

I’ve spent the last three and a half years fighting that feeling. I have a proven record of learning and improving, earning a promotion, a certification, several raises.

I designed entire functions of my job that had not previously existed. I formalized informal aspects so that whoever took the role in the future would have a better job to walk into. It is hard to be creative in an administrative role. I did it anyway. Not to mention, I worked on the largest project my company has done to-date: moving 700 employees to a new headquarters. I am so proud of the work I have done in the last three years.

I am not sure if I know how to put any of that on my resume. I’ve employed resume writers and sought out the advice of recruiters to make sure that I’m showcasing my very best self and accomplishments.

I have applied to 40+ jobs in the last two weeks. LinkedIn tells me whenever a recruiter looks at my profile, which is around three times per week. They also tell me when someone views my application, which is around 5% of the time.

While I didn’t do much online dating, I suppose that’s what this feels like. You put out extensive information about yourself and hope that someone sees it and likes it. It’s one of the reasons I liked Tinder as opposed to almost every other dating site. I liked not knowing much going into the first date. I liked not relying on an algorithm to tell me whether to be attracted to someone.

The other thing I realize, amid all this job anxiety, is that I have only ever gotten a job by knowing someone or through an agency. The one exception is the time I got a job because I walked up to a group of people speaking French and started speaking French. The one woman in the group that didn’t speak French became my boss a few weeks later. Even then, it was not at all conventional. I didn’t submit a resume and get a phone call. I met someone. It was a meet cute.

I don’t have a solution to these feelings. Graduating from college into our worst economic recession has just been hard for my career. I will keep applying to jobs. I have more to say about how the process of advancing in a career feels like dating and what kinds of gender norms exist in this space, as well as the influence of capitalism on this process, but I will save that for next time.

In the meantime, if you live in the Twin Cities, I am looking for entry level project management roles in just about any industry where a physical product or a social good (bonus points for both) is the outcome.

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