The Job Seeker’s Pathway

The Challenge 

Finding a job today has become a nameless, impersonal, computer driven ordeal. Today’s job seekers look for work from behind their computer screen, and if they know what they’re doing, they get e-mail messages delivered to their inbox each day with job opportunities tailored to their interests and experience.

Ads worth applying for come with basic details about what the job is, and usually provides exhaustive information about what the employer requires as far as experience, training and education.

In that ad, each skill, ability, and required educational degree is painstakingly written out so that you, the desperate seeker, can easily identify if you are a good fit or not for the position. Do I have all these requirements? Yes? Apply. No? Keep hunting, they’ll never hire you.

Worst of all, at the bottom of each ad, there is usually a small line of text the reads something like: We appreciate all submissions for X position, but only those selected for interviews will be contacted.

What that last line really means is that you should prepare to hear nothing. You should prepare to wonder endlessly if someone actually received your resume, let alone read it after you took the time to send it in.

Did you waste your time? Did they even like your resume? If not, what went wrong? Why was someone else selected vs you? Or did my resume just vanish into some cyber space black hole?

You’ll never know.

And even if you do get a call for an interview, keep your celebrations down to a simple ‘yes!’ because you can expect something strange to happen…

It likely won’t be a friendly one on one meeting. Instead…think about a panel of interviewers. Are you ready for that?

And they won’t be happy people. Most will have forgotten what a smile looks like 2 minutes into the interview.

You are now on trial.

And don’t expect to have much of a conversation where you actually look into the eyes of your interviewers. No. They will ask you a question, and as you begin to reply, they will stop looking at you and immediately pick up a notepad or clipboard, and begin scribbling notes about what you say.  Even the person asking you the question will vanish behind their pen and paper.

What are they writing? Could it be that they are totally loving every word I say? Was that a cool answer, and they wanted to keep it for later? Or are they writing nasty things about me? Hmm, I wonder if they are noticing that I’m sweating?

Are you ready for that?

And during the interview, you may feel like things are actually going well. You may feel like they are enjoying your replies.  But don’t let their writing, and occasional ‘Umm-hmmm’s’ and ‘Interesting answer’s’ trick you.

You likely don’t have the job.

You will leave that interview feeling like something good just happened, but chances are, nobody will talk with you again. Not even an e-mail to thank you for your time, let alone to let you know if you have been chosen to move forward or not in the process.

You may have to follow-up yourself. You may have to make contact with hiring managers by poking around their website (if they have one) to find their name in a contact list, or via LinkedIn…..if you are lucky.

And even if you find their contact information, be prepared for the silent treatment. Just because you reach out to them, multiple times, doesn’t mean you will get a reply. Ever.

Are you ready to face this treatment for months on end? Resume after resume?

Welcome to your job search.

Starting Over

It’s hard enough to find yourself in the position of needing to change your job, isn’t it? If your previous job was something you actually loved to do, you’ll find change to be a blow to your identity.

Having your LinkedIn profile be roughly the same over the last 5….10….15 years or more, and then to have change everything is a rough endeavour.

Before, you only had to go in and add another year to your profile. Successful manager with over 8  9 years experience…. 

Or maybe you just need to change the employer’s name from X to Y. What you do stays the same.

Those changes are easy.  You update your profile in less than 2 minutes, hit the save button, and watch your contacts ‘like’ your update, and leave you friendly prefab comments like ‘Congrats!’ ‘Well done!’  ‘ Way to go on your new position!’

Easy! High fives!

But what about if EVERYTHING has changed? What if it is time to completely change what you do, and why you are doing it? Maybe you’re tired of what you used to do. Maybe you hate your career, or maybe you’re bored by it, and you want something new?

What is that ‘something new?’

How do you figure out what comes next if you’re used to a 15 year routine? What if that said routine had become who you are? How you thought of yourself? Your identity?

Editing your LinkedIn profile when you are facing this level of change is a nightmare.  Editing something as simple as your profile tag line can leave you frozen for days on end with an empty box under your name, and a glaring ‘save’ button waiting for you..demanding you recreate yourself, and publish it for the world to see.

It’s not an easy thing to do.

How do you move forward? What SHOULD you do next? Who should you be now? And how can you know it is a good fit?

Does this sound at all familiar to you? This has been my story for the past few months. While I’ve TOTALLY loved what I have been doing, after 16 years I’m ready for a change.  But reentry into the world of a ‘normal job’ has been rough, and I’ve been forced to think very deeply about myself over these past few months.

Who am I now?  (I used to be able to proudly rattle: I’m an ESL teacher.) What do you do? (Again, used to be an easy answer: I help adult business professionals speak English fearlessly.)

Now my business has closed, and I’m trying to see if I can find a job. 6 months later, and I’m still hunting. Still wondering how to answer those big questions of who am I, and what do I do…

But one thing I do know…if noone will choose me for a job, I will choose myself. If you are thinking about freelancing (ESL teacher or otherwise) you will need to do the same. Choose yourself. Have you?