I think I'm old.
Well....not like standing on the porch, waving my fist at the neighbor's kids running across my lawn, old. Maybe more like outdated.
Job hunting is not what it used to be.
Back in the day...the last time I looked for work...14 years ago...you would go into a company, fill out an application, hand it off to a living, breathing person, smile, maybe get in for a preliminary interview and at least make a connection with someone before walking out.
Have I mentioned once or 5 times that was 14 years ago?
Look at what all has happened in just the last decade alone! As we entered a new millennium, the geniuses in television development gave us Survivor, American Idol, and 24. Online we found Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter. We all ran out to buy Ipods, hybrid vehicles and the IPhone. We saw natural disasters, war and terrorists destroy--but we saw human kindness, strength and determination rebuild. The Red Sox won the World Series, the Saints won a Super Bowl and the poor Cubs still can't get it together. And don't even get me started on politics--I just don't have the energy.
If you sit there and really think about what all has happened in 14 years...it's staggering!
So it should have come as no surprise to me that trying to find a job would have morphed with the times as well. Foolishly, I thought that it would just be as simple and easy as it was "back in the day" to find employment.
It was not that simple.
Now I know that there are a lot of people out there looking for work. And arrogantly, I couldn't figure out why it was that no one could find a job. Seriously...how hard is it?
It's a nightmare.
I must have sent out well over 50 resumes and filled out countless applications in the time span of a week. That was in one week!!! I updated my resume, I changed my cover letter, I applied, I followed up, I bragged, I downplayed, I begged, I pleaded.
And I got a lot of silence.
But despite the mounting frustration in not getting any responses back from the places I contacted, I started learning a few things....
First, I don't think I ever truly appreciated having a job. Now don't get me wrong, I liked my old job...but I didn't appreciate just having a job itself. I never really thought about how much of myself went into working (again, not even specifically my last job...just any job in general). I've never thought that my life was defined by my job. And although I've discovered it wasn't...my life IS partly defined by just working and feeling like I am somehow contributing to society BY working.
Next, despite having a job...the next time, I'm diversifying. I didn't realize how much of a "work rut" I had gotten into, doing just one job for so long and not stopping to branch out into other things--like volunteering or joining a bowling league or something. So much focus was spent on swimming through the day to day dealings of my one job the last time, that when I finally came up for air, I found I'd swam way past the markers and was a little lost out there in the ocean. Work can't be the only thing in your life. It's important...but there have to be other outlets.
Finally, I learned that finding a full time job really is a full time job. Filling out applications online, taking aptitude tests, running around from one place to the next...it takes up a lot of time. And if you're not careful, can become a crazy obsession. I found myself checking out Craigslist at all hours of the day and looking up job postings when I was supposed to be on "vacation". I found that there have to be limits. So, just like a real job, come 5pm, I finally had to just tell myself to put it away and wait to deal with it again the next day.
It's hard to not get frustrated and start to feel like you're not hire-able. YOU know you have plenty to offer. But it's difficult to relay how sparkling your personality is, or to show a potential employer how fabulous a fit you would be for their company when all you have to work with are black and white words on a page. You can't smile and ooze enthusiasm for a job on an auto-response website. You can't radiate your own style and come across as dynamic while filling out a standardized aptitude test. It's nearly impossible.
But things are looking up. I believe there is light at the end of the tunnel...and I'm starting to feel pretty good about my employment status again.
Although I'll tell you this...next time, I'm hiring someone to find a job for me.
All this work...I'm ready for a vacation.