As some of you know, I am currently in full swing searching for a new job. In September I accepted the hard fact that I’ve been unhappy and stressed for too long in my current role and really need a change. Things started to turn sour when I was denied a promotion, and I realized there’s a lot of bad decision-making happening at the executive level.
It’s also hard doing the same thing for years and years on end, especially when I only see things getting worse for the foreseeable future. Stress becomes very toxic when you have no real assurance that things will get better. And that makes it so hard to feel motivated and willing to go the extra mile anymore.
I must say facing the ugly truth of this whole career awakening has been quite an eye opening experience for me. It’s been so long since I’ve had to look for a new job that I feel totally out of my element. And man, how hard is it to find a job? It can feel impossible! And it’s also becoming quite unnerving. Don’t get me wrong, I never expected finding a better job to be easy. But things have a tendency to be a lot harder and more emotional when they become a deeper reality.
The Excitement Of A New Beginning
It’s been about six weeks since I first decided to commit to finding a new job. I was an emotional wreck before I was 100% sure I wanted to take my career in a new direction, but I think I needed to get that upset to move past my stubbornness of taking a constant beating at work.
With my acceptance, of wanting to move on however, came excitement. I found myself reading tons of job descriptions and thinking, “Wow there are SO many cool jobs out there!” I also began talking to my friends and ex-colleagues about my job search, and kept hearing stories of people in SF finding new jobs within just 1-2 weeks. The Bay Area has a really hot job market right now, so I had high hopes for myself and figured my answer to the question how hard is it to find a job would be “pretty easy.” Hmmm.
Well, I posted my resume for free on Monster and some other places and started getting bombarded with emails from recruiters wanting to talk to me. It was a bit overwhelming in the beginning but it was a really nice feeling sought after though. And the more recruiters I spoke with, the easier it became to tell which of them would actually be useful in my search, and which were just blindly fishing and inexperienced. There sure are way more recruiters these days than when I graduated from college, and some will waste your precious time, so you have to try and weed out the good ones from the bad.
The Challenge Of Landing Interviews
So just how hard is it to find a job these days? Man, it’s super tough when you can’t even get past the initial resume screening, let alone land a phone interview! As someone who has done a lot of hiring in my career, it’s definitely been a wake up call for me being on the other side of the table again.
I’ve been interviewing candidates for gosh eight or nine years or so, and forgot how nerve wracking it is being the interviewee. It’s so much easier being the one asking all the questions, not having to research and prepare, and having all the power to decide who gets hired!
However, I’m enjoying my experience as an interviewee so far. It’s been fun talking to different people and seeing how varied office environments and management teams can be from one another. And, the longer my job search goes on, the more and more thankful I am when I’m lucky enough to be scheduled for an interview! And it’s one of those things that gets easier with practice too. So the more prep you do, the easier it gets, although the rejection becomes harder to bear.
Even though I still feel like a failure for not getting a single job offer yet, I’ve had three interviews so far. Unfortunately they didn’t pan out, but I’m very grateful for at least having the chance to get in and speak with several people. Being rejected after an interview for not being the right fit at least feels better than not making it to the interview stage at all.
I have another interview I’m really looking forward to next week, which hopefully will go well, and fingers crossed I’ll get some more interviews in the pipeline.
Multiple Servings Of Humble Pie
I think one of the most unexpected aspects of my job search has been being rejected for being overqualified. I also never thought there would come a day when I would take offense to job applications that require you to fill out your college graduation year, but I do now! I also have a lot more respect for equal opportunity employment laws, even though I know they are often very tough to enforce.
Since I’m already feeling some age discrimination in my 30’s, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for folks in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s who are trying to find a job. If you are in that boat, my heart goes out to you, and I wish you all the best in your search.
It sure feels like employers tend to just assume that I’m unwilling to accept a more junior position or go down in compensation because of my current title and years of experience. And I also realize now how much easier it is to find jobs in the $60-80k range with 3-5 years of experience versus trying to get jobs paying over six figures with 10+ years of experience.
You’d think having more work experience would be a good thing, but that hasn’t been the case for me. I read recently that most people switch jobs every 3 years these days. I probably should have hopped around more in my career so I’d have a broader skill set and a wider network now, but better late than never.
Hustle Now So You Won’t Have Any Regrets Later
I’m traveling abroad right now and went for a quiet stroll the other evening to try and shake off my jet lag. I went to a nearby supermarket where I was surprised to find a hunched over 80-year-old greeter outside the main entrance. “Welcome, welcome! Please come inside,” the old man said in a warm and surprisingly loud voice, which was much bigger than I expected for his frail size.
I proceeded to go inside to buy a few groceries, and sure enough he was still there when I exited about 20 minutes later at 9pm. “Thank you so much for coming. Please come again and shop with us,” he said as I exited the store.
Wow. Talk about humble pie. What was this hunched over 80-year-old man still doing working so late at night? And my gosh, he has to stand the whole time he’s working at his age?!
All I could think about on my walk back to the hotel was, “Wow. I can’t believe he is still working at his age. Who am I to complain about my job? There are so many people in the world hustling just to get by and pay bills. I must be more thankful for everything I have, work harder, and save as much as I can so I can retire young with enough money to take care of my self and my family.” It was a humble reminder never to take anything for granted.
Keep Your Eyes On The Prize
It also helped me recall a humbling story that one of Sam’s readers, Jim, shared, which is highlighted in the article Tenacity And Faith – Do You Have It? I highly recommend you check it out.
We just never know what hardships life is going to throw at us. And no matter what obstacles come in our way, we can’t lose hope or give up. There is always a way when you have the will. The results we want may take longer than we like though, so patience and resilience are key ingredients to achieving success.
All of these humbling stories and my lack of a single job offer have definitely made me doubt my decision to leave my safe and steady paycheck. And I am also struggling with the temptation to just settle with my existing job. But I must not lose sight of the realization that I deserve better. It’s just going to take a while longer for me to get to a happier place.
Stand Back Up And Try, Try Again
And I definitely realize that in the short term I may have to sacrifice on compensation and flexibility in order to get a new job that’s less stressful and more rewarding. But on a positive note, that motivates me to work harder on my side hustle projects so that perhaps in a couple more years I can have enough savings and diverse income streams to escape the mainstream corporate world all together. We’ll see!
It’s been a true kick in the gut being constantly rejected when I know I have what it takes to be a great employee at a lot of places. And even though I’m generally more patient than the average person, it’s been really frustrating for me that things aren’t clicking into place when all I want is to jump straight to the next chapter in my career.
But I’m not giving up yet. Even though some people are lucky enough to find a new job within 10 days, I won’t let myself get discouraged even if it takes me 10 months or over a year. But gosh I sure hope it doesn’t take over a year! I’m more motivated than ever to make better progress with my job search though, so I’m applying to jobs left and right each day. And I must say that every little bit of progress feels good.
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Updated for 2016 and beyond
Good luck on your search for a new (and enjoyable!) job Sydney, definitely sounds like a challenging process. I’ve been at the same firm for 10 years since graduating from university, so unfortunately don’t have any great tips. Focusing on being resilient and persistent is probably the foundation you need – although I’d be fairly intimidated by looking for a new job too. Fortunately I’m enjoying what I’m doing for the most part at the moment, but things can turn sour pretty quickly as you experienced!
Thanks Jason! Yeah it’s challenging, but it’s good for me. I’ve needed to get out of my comfort zone because I’ve been unhappy for too long. I don’t want to turn into one of those people who only complains about their situation without doing anything about it.
Even if I fail at finding a better job, I won’t have any regrets if I try as hard as I can. I also keep reminding myself about all the bills I have to pay every month to keep a fire in my gut to keep active in my job search and not get lazy about it.
Sydney, keeping good thoughts for you. I do appreciate how difficult it is to be where you don’t want to be, and the options are limited.
I have taken severe a paycut just to leave a depressing work environment, and that presented its own problem. And I have stayed in a disrespectful environment just for the money, and 10 years later I still think about it. The ‘regret’ is awful. So I say all this, to say that I hope you continue looking, but 1) put a number on what salary/title/commute you will accept in order to change; or 2) find a way to make peace with your current situation if this is the best of bad options. Your own words are worth remembering: “Work where you want to work. Live how you want to live. Be who you want to be.”
2 more things…
1) Best book I ever read on Interviewing was “Get Hired!” by Dr. Paul Green. Amazing insight from those who hire. My takeaway was to “hide the anger and dissatisfaction” when interviewing. They can ‘feel’ it, even in facial expressions of voice tone. The goal is to convince the interviewer that you can make money for their company; not to convince them that you are unappreciated.
2) LinkedIn and other networking sites are worthless for getting the interview. But crucial to demonstrate that you have a web presence and are a legitimate talent that has connections and a network. But your real network that will help you, consists of the people you actually know, that know you and your work.
Thanks so much for your comments! And thank you for sharing your own experiences about doing both extremes – taking a significant pay cut, and also taking a job that paid well but was awful. Life isn’t easy sometimes, especially when we have to make tough decisions, and are pressed to pay bills. Having regret is definitely not a good feeling and is something I want to avoid as much as possible.
LeisureFreak Tommy says
I worked 31 years for the same company more or less. There was a renaming with new direction once and a dreadful merger but basically other than transfers I didn’t HAVE to look for and interview for jobs. I did shop my talents at one point and used Monster which generated several interviews and one offer that I decided to decline. Since retiring early I have used CraigsList for one position I enjoyed working and since that one mine have come by LinkedIn. I think a lot depends on where you live and the industry you are trying to market yourself to. I hope your next interview results in the position you are looking for.
That’s helpful to know you’ve had results from multiple different channels. I’ve hired people on Monster and know a few others who have found jobs on Craigslist and LinkedIn. Several others had luck from recruiters. So I’m trying to utilize a bit of each to hopefully increase my chances. Thanks for the luck, I’ll take it!