I have sent out at least one job application each working day for the last nearly seven weeks — to both actual jobs and to companies I’d like to work for which had no posted openings. That’s a minimum of 35 — I suspect the real number is higher. So far I’ve had two interviews, one of them pretty positive, and received two no-thank-you letters (both in response to cold-calls). I have had one cryptic non-official offer of a job I don’t know that I’d take, and another cryptic communication that sounds like it might be an offer in the making but it’s sure taking its time cohering into something I can put on my CV.
Even though I’m trying to spend as little as possible, I feel like I’m watching my bank balance trickle away. The bills still need to be paid, after all; I still need to eat. I’m someone who’s not particularly suited to counting pennies if there are quarters in the jar. So when my enabling neighbour knocks on my door and asks if I’m interested in an outing — to the grocery store, or that store where you have to have a membership and you buy toilet paper rolls by the gross, or the nearby big-box hardware store — I go, promising myself that I won’t spend a dime, but I always end up seeing some small thing I can’t live without. Drip drip drip goes the money…
My mood, which was unrealistically bright and sunny seven weeks ago, is becoming darker. I’m yelling at the cat, impatient with myself and my friends — and about to come to blows with my ISP. The little no-see-ums that are impossible to escape on the front lawn reduced me to tears the other night (and the Off clip-on that I bought to combat them and the mosquitoes in the back was useless against them). I’m becoming tired of penny-pinching and frustrated at the lack of action on the job front.
My job search hasn’t even dragged on that long, relatively speaking. I just started with such good energy, it seemed like it would be impossible for it not to pay off in some way, and quickly. It’s hard not to measure myself against the success of my fellow layoff victims. Of the ones I know about (there are a couple that I’m unsure of) about four or five have landed in a better position than they left (though three left the province to do so); a couple of others have regular freelancing gigs; a bunch took lower-paying jobs at our former employer’s new workplace; a couple more are back in the old office as summer interns. I may have come flying out of the gate, but I’m currently one of the very few among those original 25 who is not re-employed in some way. And that’s freaking me out, say what you will about the relative “success” of those who took their old jobs back for less money.
I’ve started to be assailed by self-doubt, imposter syndrome, wondering if maybe I’m not as good as I think I am and worrying about what happens when the money runs out. And I don’t care if this is something that happens to everyone in my position. My position is that I have years of experience, have been told I’m really good at my job, have been told I’m doing all the right things to find a job, and have been told that there’s lots of work out there for someone with my qualifications. When the sum total of all those parts is continuing unemployment, I figure it’s my right to feel like hitting something.
You know what’s funny? I actually wrote about the exact position I’m in while I was still employed — about being over 40 and out of work and not being able to sell employers on your fabulousness. I have to be better at following up on applications I send out, but otherwise I’m managing to avoid the traps I described in those articles. I’m beginning to think, however, that there are pitfalls to this job search thing that I failed to warn me about.