Over the course of many months I’ve submitted hundreds of job applications, gone on countless interviews, hooked up with four placement agencies and perused every job posting site online that I could find.
You’d think I would have hit pay dirt by now.
When I first got laid off, almost a year ago, I was told by job consultants who were helping me position myself for the new job market that job hunting was a different beast these days.
I revised my resume (multiple times).
We did mock interviews.
We devised job hunting strategies.
There are tricks you can use so that your resume pops up on keyword searches when submitting online, but the truth of the matter is, if you don’t have the goods, you can paste all that info in ’til the cows come home but you still won’t get hired.
I have thirty years of office and administrative experience. Throughout that time I’ve been asked to do all sorts of organizing, planning, tracking, and plain old rolling up my sleeves and pitching in on all aspects of business operations.
How hard could it be to convince an interview panel that I’m The One for the job?
I’m good with strategic planning when given real parameters to work with, but often there are SOPs in place and reviewing what was done before serves as a great starting point to take off from.
Even though no one works in a vacuum, I am often asked to come up with “what would [I] do” in a specific situation for an answer on the spot, and I balk. I come up with awkward scenarios and (in retrospect) the most alarming responses, which leave me berating myself for my poor judgement in picking them.
All I can say is that I used to be great in interviews but this past year has shown me that I no longer am. I’m not sure what people want to hear, and to be honest you can talk all you want but until you are in a role and walking the walk, you are an unknown quantity. The job itself is an unknown quantity to the candidate as well.
As an Observer in season five of Fringe said, “you don’t even know what you don’t know”.
Getting glowing feedback reviews from my recent temp assignment:
…wanted you to know that she received lovely feedback from [...] regarding you. They said “she has been truly wonderful to work with”.
doesn’t make up for my inability to come up with a quantifiable itemized list of examples of accomplishments that people are looking for.
Somehow I think my age factors in to this, too.
When you are 25, you have maybe a couple of jobs under your belt. When you’re twice that, and have changed geographic locations seven times over the course of the next twenty five years, the list of places of employment increases exponentially. That doesn’t look so great on a resume. Maybe it even makes you appear fickle.
Some of the moves were my choice, certainly, but many were not. Geographic relocations happened many times. Long distance commutes became unreasonable. Working conditions became untenable or lacked challenge. Staffing cuts were implemented. Through all the changes, I maintained a sense of optimism and the intention of being completely invested with every new opportunity.
I had felt for a long time that I had nothing to prove, that my experience and the level of responsibility I’ve held in many of my positions speak for themselves. I simply get the job done, whatever the job is, and then move on to the next task at hand.
– to ask questions
– to double-check my work
– to build on what has come before
– to treat everyone with respect
– to be kind
– to admit to my mistakes and correct them
– to take responsibility and pride in my work
– to aim to be useful, no matter the context
– that good leadership always leads by example
– that despite all efforts otherwise, to err is human
– that people will forget what you say or do, but they will never forget how you made them feel
I have never been one to focus on minutia in a role, in that I haven’t itemized my myriad tasks in order to justify their (or my) worthiness. It feels narcissistic to me, a redundancy. The job, after all, got done. Apparently it is what I must do in order to thrive in today’s job market.
Do we all need to be Type A’s in this world in order to thrive in it?
How does one prove that one adds value?
It’s making me wonder whether I do. Although many colleagues and employers may well come to my rescue here, despite a long and relatively satisfying career which should for all intents and purposes indicate otherwise, I am beginning to doubt myself.
Over the last five years, since my return to Canada, I’ve been trying to regain the professional footing that I’d worked hard to gain in the many years of working in California and, prior to that, in Montreal.
The truth is, the job of secretary, one that I thought would take me through to retirement, has changed immensely over the years, and though I have kept pace with the technology and the varied responsibilities, it seems that I, much like the old moniker for the position, have become redundant.
So what does one do at midlife, without a job, savings or a family circle to rely upon and completely out of employment assistance – when everything one has worked for and built is incrementally collapsing?
I don’t know, but if YOU do, I would sure love to hear what you have to say.
I want to thrive in a job that makes maximum use of my skills but simultaneously allows me to grow others. One where my managers are astute enough to see my greater potential even while I am engulfed in carrying out the demands of my role.
I want to work in an industry that I feel passionate about, one that allows me to lay my head down on my pillow at night with a clear conscience, knowing that I didn’t in any way add to the already heavy burdens of the world.
I want to work toward retirement, so that I am left with enough to be able live a relatively comfortable life once I am put out to pasture. In fact, I’d like to gain enough ancillary skills that they will allow me to be useful even when I have retired, so that I may continue to contribute and remain relevant even then.
I never imagined that these things would ever be so far out of reach to me, or that I would be struggling toward making a decent living at this point in my life.
Perhaps I suffer from a scarcity mindset, as I mentioned in a previous post. Perhaps tunnelling has made it difficult for me to perceive what is beyond the tunnel and make solid decisions.
I certainly could benefit from the view of someone who is outside the tunnel, one who could still the mind static currently obscuring much of my cognitive skills and help me hit that reset button… because at the moment I can’t see my way beyond it.