For about a year since I’ve moved back to Massachusetts, I’ve been job searching. I do some freelance work, but it’s a tricky way to make a living solely for me right now. I figured there’d be much more opportunity here, I have a good amount of experience and I know people, so really how hard could it be? You know what there’s also more of here? PEOPLE. They’re everywhere, and armed with 3 undergraduate degrees, master’s degrees, and White House internships and field work in Africa. I have enough professional experience to know the drill, networking, it’s about who you know, making connections and so on. So I’ve done that, scheduled informational interviews, shown up places, but after telling people how great you are for almost year without any return, it starts to feel incredibly defeating. I’ve had people say things like “Oh, once it took me two years to find a job when I was out of work,” and “Don’t worry, it will happen.” TWO YEARS!? Good grief, that seems like a lot of effort for somewhere you may or may not like spending one-third of your life. So I do a lot of nodding and smiling. Nod. Smile. Say “Thank You.” Repeat. Nod. Smile Say “Thank You” out loud but on the inside “Please shut up, please stop saying that.” Repeat.
And everyone wants to be helpful and supportive, and offers all kinds of suggestions, such as, “Well, have you thought of doing something completely different?”
No, not really, I’m good at what I do and I like it and I have a good amount of experience.
“Do you think maybe you’re being too picky?”
No, not really, I’ve had jobs that weren’t the right fit and I sat in my car on the verge of tears in the parking lot before walking in, so, that’s a miserable way to live and I refuse to do that.
“Maybe you should try welding or a trade or something.” “Have you thought about going back to school?”
NO, NOT REALLY, I PUT MYSELF THROUGH SCHOOL ONCE ALREADY SO IT HASN’T OCCURRED TO ME TO DO IT AGAIN WHILE I DON’T HAVE A JOB. But “Thank You.” Nod. Smile. Repeat.
One of my favorite questions recently was, “Why do you think it’s taking so long to find a job?” Hmmm, that’s a tricky one, but I’ll take a stab at it. “I think it’s because I keep applying for jobs…and then not getting them.”
I’ve been told several times “We really liked you,” “We were really impressed by your experience” and was also told “Don’t feel special, we make everyone who interviews here, even for just freelance positions, do that writing exercise. We’re pretty picky.” Well, well, well, EXCUSE ME….
I was interviewed recently by a 25 year old and wondered if her master’s degree taught her what to do when people yelled at her, pointed a finger in her face or asked her to do a ridiculous project- say- perhaps- don a sushi outfit and fly all over the country. Maybe… though it’s unlikely.
I find the whole “You need to prove yourself” in interviewing so exhausting. “How would you handle such and such?” What if something difficult happened?” Lately, I’m tempted to say, “Listen, I don’t want to brag, but I raised myself, made sure there was food in the refrigerator, put myself through school, and a bunch of other stuff on my own, so I’d probably be a good employee. I don’t ever give up and function well under pressure, but by all means, please make me take this bullshit personality profile test and do a trust fall and write an essay about why I want to work here.” You know why, “BECAUSE I NEED A FUCKING JOB!”
But until then, I’ll nod. And smile. Say “Thank you.” And repeat.