What is wrong with me?, I ask myself, over and over. Why can’t I figure this out?
I know so many people, so many people who have so many nice things to say. I have gobs of experience, of connections, of talent.
How can it all add up to nothing?
I tell myself that I’m not being assertive enough, and perhaps that is my lesson to learn. But I have never been assertive. I am not comfortable talking about myself, selling myself.
And yet, I have. In recent interviews, I have (I believe; geez, I hope) projected self-confidence without lapsing into hubris.
It seemed to work. I connected with those women, first one, then the other, days apart. References were requested, so references were supplied, one of whom had told me that the company in question takes a long time in making its decisions to hire. Patience isn’t my strongest suit, so that was good to know.
Fortunately, I had a legitimate reason to check in with the woman making the hiring decision. To her credit, she replied to my email and took the opportunity to update me on the hiring situation.
Both she and her boss thought I was fantastic, she wrote. They both think I am a fantastic writer.
They were going to pursue other candidates, but they hoped I would still be open to being considered, in the event that those candidates didn’t pan out.
I took that to mean that I was third in line.
And so I replied that I would very much like to stay in consideration and that was true. I believe in the company and the work they do. And I believe I could contribute to the company’s mission in many ways.
Still, in this market, being the third candidate – or a candidate possibly further down the line – doesn’t bode well for one’s chances. How many people do you know these days who are turning down jobs?
Even though I know networking is the most likely way to find a job, I still peruse the job sites every day. Some interesting gigs pop up on Craigslist from time to time, as one did the other day.
I sent off a resume and a link to a blog post as my writing sample, exactly the kind of writing I’d be doing for the would-be client, only the copy they’d need would be much shorter. Shorter copy. Tighter. I can do that.
The woman conducting the interviews responded and mentioned that she would be conducting interviews via Skype.
So I downloaded Skype. And learned a bit about it.
The day of our chat, my hair was very much in the mode of sabotage. Really, hair? The first time I have to do an interview via Skype and now you won’t behave?
Luckily, the woman popped up just in advance of our appointed dicussion time to ask if audio only was OK.
Absolutely. I love audio only. Right now, woman, audio only is my best friend.
So we chatted, and when the discussion came around to how much the gig was paying, I managed to neither choke nor laugh.
Read enough postings on Craigslist and eventually, nothing will surprise you.
She said that she’d be letting people know two days later.
Two days later was four days ago.
I take it I didn’t get the gig.
Frankly, it’s kind of funny. I’ve worked at major metropolitan newspapers. I’ve edited an international best seller. My work has appeared in newspapers and on web sites across North America. And in Asia, come to think of it. Translated.
So was I overqualified or underqualified for the job that would have paid $625?
Some days, it feels interminable, all this. And yet, I know it’s not. I know the day will come when I will look back at this moment and it will be nothing more than a part of my history.
Still, some days, it’s hard to see that day.
Well-meaning family and friends offer advice.
Apply for other jobs, not in your field, they say, helpfully! As if all the people who are looking for jobs who have experience in those fields aren’t going to be considered first?
Go back to school! Get an MBA! I’m sorry, go back to school? You mean, have no income to pay current bills and incur more debt in the form of future bills to get a degree that will allow me to do what exactly?
I know they mean well. I do.
But they don’t understand. They think they do, but they don’t. They can't. They haven't been in this place.
Other friends have assumed the much-appreciated role of cheerleader. Other friends seem to have fallen away. Perhaps they fear ennui is contagious. Perhaps they fear I have an employment pox. Or perhaps I have fallen away from them. These are not my most social days.
I am fully aware that this post is risky business. Will it help me or hinder me in finding a job?
I don’t know. I would hope that any prospective employer who happens across my blog would appreciate my honesty. For today, this is my life. And today, my life feels like a little too much to bear.
Writing is both my release and processor, the filter through which my muddy thoughts pass and hopefully come out more clear.
A way to exhale.