Just get a job

Stuart MilesMany of you may be wondering why I don’t just go out and get a job. That would solve everything, right? If only it were that simple.

Looking for a job is how this all started. As fun as it is to be self-employed, it’s not very stable if you’re unclear of what you have to offer and/or are considering changing careers. I had gotten to a point where I knew I either needed to find a well-paying job with benefits,  go back to school to upgrade my skills or change careers completely.

Besides my 10-year stint in the travel industry, I’ve spent most of my life being a generalist. What this means is that I’m really good at a lot of things but don’t specialize in anything. A lot of that has to do with not wanting to limit myself, getting bored easily and being very particular in what organizations I would or wouldn’t like to work for. Getting a job for the sake of getting a job is not something I seem to be capable of; I have to care about and respect the organization I work for/with.

For as long as I’ve been self-employed (12-years), I’ve looked for jobs where I’d be the employee instead of the employer. My reasons have been to receive benefits and have a steady source of income. I was content with my relaxed search until recently.

About a year and a half ago, I became more invested in and focused on sending out my resume. I was getting frustrated because, despite my efforts, I’d had zero response besides an interview for a job I didn’t apply for (what I now know as the hidden job market). Five years ago, seven out of every ten resumes I’d send out would land me an interview. Now, if I was lucky, I’d get one. There are many reasons for this, some of which include;

  1. The economy had changed.
  2. Some of the industries I have experience in had changed drastically.
  3. My resume needed to be updated.
  4. My skills needed to be upgraded.
  5. I am very picky when it comes to organizations I would work for.
  6. I was doubting my skills, dealing with money issues and experiencing enhanced depression.
  7. I wasn’t networking.

When you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s hard to find it. When you don’t know where you’re going, it’s difficult to get there. This is the predicament I found myself in.

It was January 2012 that I finally sought professional help. I had applied for a job that I knew I was qualified for and had been involved with the organization in the past. Their application deadline came and went. The start date they listed came and went and they didn’t call me. I was furious. And frustrated. What was I doing wrong that I couldn’t even get a job for something I was well-suited for?

So I went to an information session with Employment Services. Being self-employed, I wasn’t eligible for employment insurance. However, because I was working less than 20-hours per week, I was considered under-employed and therefore eligible to receive support.

The case worker offered suggestions on how to update my resume and suggested several programs which would allow me to both explore my options and rewrite my resume. I chose an online program and spent the next 4-weeks working through their modules.

I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted to do. I learned how to modernize my resume. I set a goal to get a job in the field I was good at and already had the training for. Once said job was secured, I would upgrade my skills and go back to school to obtain the degree I needed for the career I really wanted.

During that process, I did end up getting an interview with the organization I knew I was a good fit for. Out of 150 applicants, I was one of the 7 who made it to the interview stage. I was even one of the 3 finalists from that first round of interviews. I was told I interviewed very well and was a pleasure to get to know. The reason I didn’t get the job was that I lacked the very skill that I want to go back to school to obtain.

Shortly after that, I lost my last clients due to unforeseen circumstances, filed for bankruptcy and had to apply for income assistance. I’m now in an inspiring back to work (and a stable life) program. They support women get back on their feet by supplying them with meals, bus tickets, personal growth workshops, nonjudgmental friendships, workshops on where and how to look for jobs and one-on-one support for everything from dealing with income assistance to tweaking your cover letter and resume.

I finally have the recipe and map needed to help me figure out where I’m going and what I’m looking for. Now all I have to do is make it happen.

What has job searching been like for you? Have you had to deal with other issues at the same time? If so, how did that impact you?

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2 thoughts on “Just get a job

  1. Hello Kathy, I totally understand. I have known you for 20+ years and I know how amazing you are! Lately I find myself in the same position in finding career and no opportunities anywhere. I was just diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and talk about difficulty trying to cope with a disease that sucks your energy and pain and to find the motivation to seek a new life/career. All I can say is to hang in there and hope we will get our chance to shine!

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    • Thanks for sharing your experiences and I think you hit the nail on the head. Many people looking for work today have much more to deal with than just needing a job. They have a medical condition and/or a mental illness that’s either been undiagnosed, badly managed or not acknowledged. I know we will both persevere, but it’s been a long, hard climb.

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