I have always said that the worst job in the world is looking for a job. I mean, if you pin me against the wall and tell me there are actually worse, then yes, I guess I’m exaggerating. Working down a salt mine in a country with deficient safety standards is doubtless quite a bit worse. The point is, looking for a job IS a job. There’s no money coming in – in fact, it costs you to dress up and travel in for interviews – and you don’t necessarily get the satisfaction of doing good work the way you would if you were volunteering for a non-profit.
It’s still a job though. You have to take it seriously, you have to do research, you have to be prepared for people not to appreciate your worth, you have to deal with people to whom you wouldn’t give house room and who will never earn their way on to your Christmas card list – just like a job, in fact.
What’s a soul to do when it all gets overwhelming, you don’t want to get out of bed and you just want to hang around the apartment drinking hot coffee and eating British chocolate bars? (oh, hang on, I drink hot coffee and eat British chocolate bars as part of being happy….I guess that’s for another blog then, on the weirdness of my psyche).
First thing to remember is that you’re not alone. There are those out there who want to help. Some are your family and friends and they may possibly be able to give practical help. If they can, great. If they just offer non-specific love and positive vibes, then accept it appreciatively. In these economic times, better than they were two years ago, still pretty gruesome compared to 2007, the chances of your knowing others in the same unemployed situation, or employed-but-miserable-and-can’t-find-an alternative job, are high. That makes more competition out there, I suppose, but it also means that the world is more sympathetic to you than they would have been a few years ago. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT, so don’t be thinking IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM that you’re inferior to anyone else who’s employed. “I’m too old, I don’t have a degree, I don’t have pivot tables — don’t even know what the stupid things are — I’m not gorgeous looking….” We’re all awesome in our own way, and if you don’t like yourself, then chances are no-one else will.
So….your family are great, your cat loves you, but you can’t find a job, despite hours a day looking on the Internet, and you decide to take yourself off to a staffing service. We are here to help. We tell you about the types of jobs we get, the specific jobs we have at that moment, and how you can ace the interview process to land one of them.
We p-o-s-s-i-b-l-y have to tell you stuff you don’t hugely want to hear –
“Your resume needs an overhaul. Prose is so 1990s, we’re using bullet points now”.
“Your computer skills are worse than mine, which I didn’t think was possible. Let me e-mail the free tutorials. Practice, practice, practice”.
“I refuse to allow you in an interview to be that negative about your last boss, no matter how big a jerk he is. The company will be afraid you’ll be critical of them one day”.
“You want a job that’s no more than five blocks from Grand Central? Don’t you think you’re being just a tiny bit inflexible?”
And so on….
You should leave a meeting with a staffing service feeling optimistic that they might find you the sort of job you’ve been looking for. They should make you feel good about yourself, about your skills, experience and employability.
How to help yourself? Let the world know you’re looking….LinkedIn, any kind of networking support groups in your neighborhood, spending some but not too much time each day trawling the Internet for jobs, networking your heart out going for contact interviews with as many people as you can think of, social media (I mean, FaceBook can’t JUST be for letting the world see how drunk you got at your sister’s 21st, can it?).
Give yourself breaks — 40 hours a week looking for a job will wear you down a lot sooner than you think. Give yourself little treats — in my case, hot coffee and a British KitKat (having one right now, actually) – but whatever is available, even if you have no money – playing with the neighbor’s dog? Reading about Kim Kardashian? NOT reading about Kim Kardashian?….Go to church, the park, whatever it takes to keep your spirits up. There are lots of jobs out there and a future employer who hasn’t yet realized how good you’re going to be for the company.