Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Job Hunting like an Amazon

Job searching is about the most abysmally depressing thing a healthy, educated young adult can do these days. It is as though some masochistic mind designed it just so that when you sail out of a degree with the wind of triumph, you are then unceremoniously dumped on still seas, to float, endlessly, on and on, no horizon in sight, waiting for a breeze, crackling in the searing sun, parched – I’m sure you’ve all gotten the picture. You spend all day clicking link after link and assess within an instant if it is a job that A) you could realistically do, or B) would realistically be considered for. I find myself ignoring the former and cursing the latter. Then, once you’ve trawled the mass of links and find that you have identified precious few opportunities, you spend hours upon hours carefully crafting a cover letter, resume – and in many cases, essay questions and writing samples. You tailor them to the organization’s goals and paradigms and you customize it even further to the vacancy in question. Then, after wanting to poke out our eyeball at the thought of trying to come up with yet another way to say “takes initiative,” you package it all up the way they like – I’m coming to resent websites that make you upload it in some obscure old form or worse, may you input your employment history one at a time when it’s already listed on the resume – and then, with a single mouse-click, you send it off.

Perhaps what makes it so particularly awful is that you never really know what happens to your application after it leaves your email message page. I can only imagine the terrible weight upon human resources managers across the globe as they carefully and painstakingly and attentively and laboriously examine each and every individual application. I am confident that is how it is done and I tell you, I don’t envy them that task. No wonder it takes them so long to reply to my request for confirmation that my delicately constructed resume, hand-tailored not only to their organization, but to the specific position in question, has not gone directly to their junk-mail due to a mammoth organizational webmail spam filter. I can only imagine how acutely they feel it - that they are missing out on all sorts of potential employees due to the pure and hapless misstep of someone in the IT department.

Coping with this sordid reality is difficult. After much consideration I have come to the conclusion that the following responses will be ineffectual and counterproductive:
- Heavy drinking,
- Crying,
- Staging a hunger strike outside the office of the desired employer,
- Binge eating chocolate cupcakes, particularly those enticing ones sprinkled with decorations
- Clasping desperately onto the arm of a contact who hazily remembers having a friend who worked for an organization similar to the one you just mentioned at while making small talk with them at the supermarket/church/art show
- Binge eating chocol – oh wait, I said that…
- Snarling

Yes, despite being highly ineffectual, they all sound rather satisfying, don’t they? I mean, short of the satisfaction one would feel if one had a job that allowed them to pay rent, buy groceries, have some self-respect, etc, of course. Obviously, that would be the consummate definition of satisfaction. But since consummate definitions are just the sort of things that post-modern kids like myself are taught to run screaming and flailing from at a very tender age, then I think it’s understandable why I’ve taken the time to assess other options, if not carry them out.

Thus far I’ve managed to avoid bingeing of any kind, although I am never really above snarling and crying is more of an involuntary reaction, sort of like a sneeze. You can’t really control a thing like that so I think I could be excused for a perfectly natural and biological catharsis every now and again. As for the hunger strike – well that wasn’t likely with me anyways. I’ve never been one of those girls that would willingly forgo her supper. On a related, yet tangential note, I am baffled by girls that say, “Oh, I was just so busy all day I totally forgot to eat.”


No, I am sorry, I might be TOO BUSY (on a very rare and specific occasion) but I never forget. I am always thinking, “Gee, I wish I were eating” in such circumstances.

Which brings me back to the subject at hand. I need to eat. Not right now, but at least a few times a day. This is a critical area in my life that I do not foresee ever being wholly resolved. So how do you think I feel when I scan the website of a well-respected, large, funded, organization with offices in hundreds of countries around the world (not to name names, but the UN), offering MA grads unpaid internships? How do I feel?

I feel hungry. I feel like a sandwich. I feel like I am sandwiched uncomfortably between the interns and the 10+years experience job categories – and ne’er the twain shall meet. How does one go about getting 10+ years experience if they are destined to die of starvation within, well medically speaking probably, the first 40-50 days of their wage-less job?

I’ve always said that, like the facebook group, I picked a major I liked and in ten years I’ll be living in a box – but at least that box will probably be on a beach in Mexico. I am posting this today because I am actually quite hopeful. It’s been crappy, this job search, but I am becoming more and more convinced that my job right now is to run it well, remembering that God does not abandon his plans with us. Forget the snarling and the bingeing options - pursue the good even in the abysmal. When you know there is something coming down the pipe – even though you don’t know when or what, there is hope in that.