*** I’ll preface this post by saying I started to write this two months ago. It’s taken me a long time to get it posted for reasons that you either already know or will soon know in my upcoming posts. ***
Job searching when you have extremely limited set of job preferences is hard.
Let that statement set in for a second.. believe it or not, IT IS HARD! I know what some of you may be thinking: “Well, duh! Cast your net wide and see what you catch.” For some, it’s not that easy..
When I started job searching, I was very confident in my network and abilities that I thought a job wouldn’t be more than 2-3 months off. I was banking on it working that way. Literally. My finances were going to be strained but manageable during that time. Unfortunately, this plan didn’t work out so well. I had a couple of interviews after having applied for only a handful of jobs (which I later learned was miraculous to begin with).
I chose to approach my search this way because it’s hard for me to put in an honest application if I didn’t feel like I could actually see myself in the job. Pro: fewer rejections. Con: rejections hit me hard. And, man did they.
Every rejection felt like I was starting back at square one, and made it feel like I would have to abandon my search for fulfilling work just to earn money to support my growing family. Oh yeah, did I mention my second daughter was born during this time? Anyway, my soul aches at the thought of compartmentalizing my job into a survival task instead of a thriving, self-fulfilling activity.
The best coping mechanism that I’ve found is that of future thinking. Everyday, I try to become the person today that I want to be tomorrow. I accept myself today for what I am, and always look to grow into the person I’ll be tomorrow, a better version of myself.
Viewing my future in this way has been the best way that I’ve found to be okay with my narrow job search. I can either choose to view myself as a lazy job-seeker that is too picky or I can choose to view myself as a man on a mission with a specific life purpose in mind. More often than not, I choose the latter. I hope that if you find yourself in a similar mindset that you do as well.
Rejection is almost never easy. For me, it only further complicated my inner monologue.
“Really? I was so close to getting a job that really wanted, and now I have to start this process over again?! Will this never end?!”
Once you get to this point, only you get to choose the next outcome: will you choose to be shut down by your experience or will you choose to grow from it? Here are three suggestions on things you can do to discourage the former and encourage the latter.
1. Keep applying
No matter what, you should always keep applying for jobs. Think you have this position in the bag? What happens if you get edged out by someone a little more qualified than you? You might have just created another gap in the process and it will undoubtedly take you longer to get a job.
For some, myself included, you will get very attached to positions for which you apply and it might be difficult to seriously apply for more than one job at a time. It might even feel like you’re turning your back on an opportunity before you’ve even given the company/organization a chance. This is completely normal. Try to remember that even if you are offered a job at company A and you’d rather work at company B, you can always choose to turn the offer down.
2. Ask, ask, ask
If at all possible, get in contact with the hiring manager or lead interviewer. Come up with a respectful way to ask why you didn’t get the job. It can be a very tricky question to ask. The key is to recognize your emotions and not let the negative dictate your words.
For example, I recently applied for a job for which I was well qualified and had very good references. I was extremely disappointed when I got the call letting me know that they had gone with another candidate. What I wanted to say: “I have everything you need, WHY DIDN’T YOU CHOOSE ME?!” What I actually said: “This is a field that I really want to work in and I want to continue to build my marketability. What experiences am I missing from my résumé that would make me a better candidate?” This gave me the chance to think about my rejection as an opportunity and the interviewer a chance to give honest feedback without feeling backed into a corner.
3. Talk to somebody
In my example above, the response was: “There’s nothing wrong with your résumé. We went with someone that had a little different experience. You would have done well in this role, but we decided to go with another candidate.” To put this into pop lingo, I was friend-zoned, the endless pit of being great but not being chosen.
Some are ready to talk sooner than others, just find someone that is willing to listen. Think of it as a reset button. I know that after talking about it in very minimal detail for just a couple of minutes, I was ready to get back to the search.
I hope that this will help keep you engaged in the process. What else have you tried to keep yourself in the game?
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted because SO much has been going on in my life. I finally graduated in May, I finally got my commission in the Air National Guard, and I have been waiting ever so patiently with my family for the arrival of our second child (probably not our final child).
..Oh yeah, and I’ve been waiting for a job to finally come along.
With so much waiting in my life, it’s a wonder that I’ve stayed intact these past 6 months. I wouldn’t say that I’m long-term unemployed because I’ve had plenty of short-term gigs that have provided enough income for our family, but those opportunities are quickly dwindling.
Job searching is a tedious process with no immediate payoff. Just like raising a child (or waiting for one to arrive), patience is crucial to success and sometimes hard to come by. One way I’ve been able to maintain my patience is monitoring your thought process and actively pacifying negativity.
My current thought process consists of: the right job will come along –> you have to keep putting yourself out there –> you got the interview, now don’t get your hopes up –> now I really want this job –> oh yeah, keep applying for jobs –> will I have enough money this month? –> keep faith, the right job will come along –> etc.
Sound familiar to you? What does your thought process sound like?
Yesterday, I filled out another job application and made some changes to my résumé. The most notable change was that I put an end date on my employment for the job I’ve had for the last 4 years and 7 months (according to LinkedIn). I love that job, and my experiences there have helped shape who I am as an employee and a person. It sucks having to put such finality to a big part my life, but bigger and better things are ahead for me. Maybe, just maybe, someday I’ll be able to return. :-)
I think it’s safe to say that there is no surefire way of not feeling like a fraud while job searching. I do, however, think that there are really great ways to prevent these feelings from hindering your job search and your initial performance in your new position.
First, put yourself out there. No job will ever come to you if you don’t apply first. I can vouch for those who grow attached to their applications that this is not easy. Putting meaningful content into your application is hard because it leaves you feeling exposed. Think of it this way: the first application will never be as good as the last application you submit. Each application gives you an opportunity to revisit and improve your materials.
Second, surround yourself with people who foster a positive mindset. Your supporters don’t have to like the professions that you are pursuing or the locations you are looking at. More than likely, they want you to be happy and to lead a productive life. The question then becomes, “How can I convince others that this opportunity is what will allow me to live a full life?”
Lastly, try to always remember who you are. Being yourself can be extremely scary. You will be judged (evaluated, if you will) by other people, and that’s okay. The perfect environment-person fit will not always present itself easily. The best possibility of this happening is when you are true to yourself and allow people to like (or not care for) you as you are and not as the masked persona of your choosing.
I hope you find this relevant to your own job search. Let me know if you’d like to chat about it!
For the past 5 years, I have been a professional student. No, I don’t mean I’ve been working toward a professional degree. I mean that my primary “place of work” has been the university. Most recently, I have been finishing my Master’s degree in counseling psychology.
One warning that has stuck with me is that there will be times when I feel like a fraud, that I am not actually qualified or that I’m not capable of doing what people say I can.
Boy, does that put a stopper on my job search. I look at all of the things I have on my résumé, and I wonder just how high I am setting a potential employers expectations of me.
In many ways, I look forward to leaving the debt accumulating life of being a graduate student. At the same time, I feel horrified I’ll be found out for who I really am: a fraud. Am I really worth the money that is being spent to pay me?
I sure intend on proving that I am, both for my own and my employer’s benefits.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we are all going to feel like frauds at some point in our lives. There simply is no two ways around it. Then, the question really becomes, “What can you do today to make yourself better for tomorrow? How can you prove to yourself each and everyday that you are worth it and you are not the fraud you think you are?”
Again, I am going to turn to Veronica Roth for today’s quick thought. I’m about halfway through the third book in her Divergent series, Allegiant. Without giving any content away, one of the characters is told that they are damaged. The character refuses to acknowledge that they are damaged just because of a physiological actuality.
This got me thinking about the labels we give ourselves. There is great power, both positive and negative, in labels. They help us identify with groups with which we want to associate ourselves, as well as groups that we do not.
My question to you is: How do the labels that we claim (and are assigned to us) describe what you are made of?
I hope that my vague questions spark some deeper thoughts. Write your initial thoughts by leaving a comment below!
This blog post offers a great perspective on fundamental attribution error through a cross-cultural lens. Although this is not a perfect response (in my opinion), the author’s honesty provides an authentic counterpoint to the powerful and privileged view.
Originally posted on Black Millennials:
Dear Skinny White Girl Who Does Yoga,
I hope you’re well after the treatment you’ve been getting online. Tonight, I read your article, and as I’m sure you can imagine, I was upset with you. In your article, you surmised that a heavy set Black woman, never before seen in your yoga class, was somehow hostile towards you because you are a skinny white girl. Through your discomfort, you interpreted her actions to be one of anger, tragedy, and despair that, for some reason, was solely directed towards you and your “tastefully tacky” yoga outfit.
You then had an epiphany of sorts. What that epiphany was, I’m still unclear. Perhaps you got your first introspective taste of intersectionality; of how body image for Black women is particularly brutal and confusing. Or maybe you acknowledged how African Americans cannot enjoy modern delights without causing the suspicion of the white privileged…
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I’ve noticed that I haven’t gotten very many views or comments (probably because I’m using way too many words and long paragraphs). I’ve been told that I do this.. a lot..
So, here’s a short one:
For the majority of my life, I have tried to move so quickly from one task to the next that I often miss the “small” things in life. I am halfway to 27 years old, and I have finally felt that dreaded desire for time to slow down.
By moving so fast through life, I have missed many opportunities to see the beautiful moments around me. Although my professional life plays a large role in my life satisfaction, it would never be able to replace the moments I am able to share with my wife and almost-3-year-old daughter. Seriously, where else would you be able to belt out “ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BELT” obnoxiously loud and be told to do it over and over again?
When have you been able to let all of your inhibitions go in order to experience a beautiful moment?
One of my best friends from my work (who recently left town to attend graduate school in Idaho) came back to Columbia for a visit. This has got to be one of the best surprises (because I found out she was coming to town two days ago) I could have asked for in the new year because it’s been 7 months since we’ve had a good talk.
While we were catching up, we started to talk about how people view the world that is around them. Instead of writing a thesis on schema and mind states (the topics that spurred this part of our conversation), I’d like to focus on one key aspect that we observed in each other. I talked about my own experiences with mind states as it related to the holistic view of career (meaning the entirety of a person’s roles over their lifetime, including work life, academic life, social life, etc.). If a particular mind state becomes prevalent in one aspect of your life, it will often have an affect in other parts of your life.
My friend very wisely pointed out that her view point comes from a people first perspective. People can very easily affect your overall mind state. For example, people who tend to want to work alone can be negatively affected by a job that requires them to talk to people on a consistent basis.
How do you view the world around you: Do environments or people affect your mind state the most? Are then even or is there a mix?
Post your comments below, and I will try not to go three weeks without a post again!