As you may already know, I’ve resigned to the fact that I cannot live off of my blog earnings alone. In 2007, LifeReboot earned only ~$3500 for the entire year. In order to cover my living expenses, I have been using savings from my previous day jobs. Tapping into these funds for the past year has caused them to dwindle. As I continue to watch them lessen, I become more and more anxious to find a job.
Currently, my “full time job” is to find a job. I spend my days searching through as many job postings as possible. I submit my resume along with a cover letter tailored to the specific position and cross my fingers. As I’ve previously written, this “shotgun” approach to job hunting (i.e., spreading out your applications just hoping to hit something) is often ineffective.
If a particular position really appeals to me — because of location, starting salary, or other incentive — I’ll go the extra mile to make an impression on the employer. I’ll fax my cover letter and resume to their HR department, so that my application is not just another unread message in their overflowing inbox. I’ll ask my references to submit a letter of recommendation to the HR department on my behalf.
I’ve learned that the process for applying for jobs is extremely delicate. I don’t want to come off as a job beggar — I want to demonstrate that I’m a resource person. I believe that submitting too little information (for instance: no cover letter) makes it appear as though I’m not serious about the position. On the other hand, submitting too much information (for instance: a cover letter, 3-page resume, 2-page letter of recommendation, and samples of my work) makes it difficult for a hiring manager to quickly assess how well-suited I am for the position.
Furthermore, any application strategy is subject to misinterpretation. In the past I would often skip the step of customizing a cover letter for the position, under the belief that my resume had all the information the employers needed. The 2007 edition of “What Color Is Your Parachute?” says that most Hiring Managers view someone’s application as a representation of their work ethic, meaning “no cover letter = lazy applicant.”
In other words, what I imagined could save the recipient time may have actually caused them to trash my application. This potential for misinterpretation is present no matter what you do: Provide too little, be interpreted as lazy. Provide too much, be interpreted as an overeager job beggar. When you’re blindly submitting your information to strangers, how can you know what is the best approach?
Since I have had so much difficulty even getting an interview for a job, I recently swallowed my pride and asked for help. I approached my girlfriend’s father, who had offered me an entry-level position at his office when I moved to the area, and asked if there were any open positions at his firm. He could only offer me a part-time position with no set schedule — an “as needed” position where I would be called if “something came up.” I understood his offer as a gentle suggestion that it would be a better option to look elsewhere for work.
So I continue looking, hoping that I’ll find something before my savings runs out. I worry about the future, wondering how it’s possible for someone like myself to experience so much trouble finding a job. I’m pretty sharp guy. I did well in school. I went to college under full scholarship. I earned a computer science degree with honors. I have seven years of experience working in the computer industry as a consultant, technician, or analyst — and yet I can’t find a job that pays above minimum wage.
I could place the blame on a lot of external circumstances: the rate of unemployment in Michigan, the declining dollar, or the tanking economy. I know, however, that I’ve had several jobs that could have been lifetime careers if I wanted them to be. I could have settled for what I was doing, what I was earning, and continued living repetitiously for 40 years in a job that was “safe” — but I didn’t. It was my own choice to leave those positions, and I left them on my own free will.
I made a choice to pursue my dream career as a writer because all of those other jobs left me feeling unfulfilled. I imagine that even if I successfully find a job to help me through this rough spot in my life, the job will still leave me wanting more.
I want to do something significant. I want to do something challenging. I want to do something impressive…
…and I want to believe that every choice I’ve made has been my own.
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