Friday, March 11, 2016

A Perfect Match

Over the past few weeks, I have started to more seriously contemplate what I would like to do with the rest of my life. Or at least my next few working years. In some ways, it is hard to believe I have gone over ten months without having a full time job. And yet, I am also surprised at how easy it has been for me to adjust to my new lifestyle.

If it wasn't for my basic requirements (like paying my bills) I am pretty sure I could go on this way indefinitely. At least I know I won't be one of those people who completely freaks out when I retire in another 20 years. Assuming I can obtain some level of financial security, I will be ready and willing when the time comes.

But for now, unless I win the lottery, it is time to start looking for work. Preferably something that pays a little more than yoga and freelance writing jobs. And something that doesn't crush my soul on a daily basis.

As I have ventured into the job market, I've noticed that the job search has amazing similarities to online dating. When I fell in love with Mark Johnson, I thought my days of neurotically checking e-mail and wondering when or if my phone was going to ring were over. I guess I was wrong.

When you think about it, finding a job is almost as important as choosing a life partner. Especially when you consider that most of us spend at least 40 hours a week working, which is more time than we get to spend each week with our romantic partner, not counting the time we are asleep. Although maybe I should factor that in, since sleeping together all cozy in bed definitely counts as quality time for me.

Even though I am just getting started, this job search feels a lot different than my past experiences. Most of my previous jobs have been more like an arranged marriage. I knew someone who made the connection for me and the rest took care of itself. Plus, I had the benefit of knowing what I was looking for, at least in broad strokes. Now that I have left the health care arena, I have no idea what type of industry I might want to work in. It is overwhelming to consider all of the options.

Just like online dating, the job search begins with creating your profile, more commonly known as a resume. Whenever I felt like I wasn't attracting the right guys online, I would refresh my profile and photos on Match.com. And a resume is no different. Every job application requires a few tweaks to make sure I highlight the experience and skills they are looking for.

With all of the automated online application systems, I wonder how their customized matching algorithm is even going to find me. I have a unique story to tell and it will require a human being to read my cover letter if they are going to understand how I might be a fit for the position.

This week, I reached out to one of my contacts at a staffing firm in Indiana. I was hoping she could hook me up with some freelance writing work until a full-time job comes through. I e-mailed her and she wrote me back the very next day. We had a nice phone call and talked about a lot of potential opportunities. She asked me to send her my resume and some proposed hourly rates.

I sent her my information on Wednesday night, but I haven't heard anything back from her. I realize it might take some time to review my information, but I was hoping she might at least send me a quick note to say that she received it. All day on Thursday I shrugged it off and told myself that she was probably too busy to get back to me. But today I started to have doubts.

Maybe she reviewed my resume and decided I wouldn't be a good fit. Or worse yet, maybe there was a typo. Since I am applying for freelance work as a writer, editor and proofreader, even one typo could be a deal breaker.

Or maybe she thought my rates were too high. I tried to give her a range of rates, but maybe she thought I was asking too much? Maybe she has other people who can do the same type of work for a much lower rate? Or maybe she just changed her mind.

In the dating world, there is something called the three days rule. If you go out with a guy and he is interested in you, he will call you within three days. Some people interpret the three days rule to mean that he will call you on the third day and not sooner, but either way you only need to wait until the third day to know if there will be a second date.

Does the same rule exist in the business world? And if so, is it three calendar days or three business days? If only it were that simple. Because all of this waiting and wondering is starting to stress me out. I woke up this morning with an intense feeling that I should check all of the job sites again, just to see if anything new has popped up.

Job searching when you're feeling desperate is like scrolling through Match.com photos on your phone in bed after midnight. Usually it does more harm than good. But then again, that is how I found Mark Johnson. Of course, I waited until the next day to actually send him a note.

When you are dating, you need to play it cool in the early days. And yet in the job search there is an expectation that you will follow up if you are really interested. The question is, am I really interested in this opportunity. Or any opportunity for that matter.

I am still adjusting my mindset and trying to convince myself that there is some value to working (aside from the paycheck). So far, it has been a tough sell. I'm not sure I am ready to jump back into the world of early morning conference calls, late night e-mails, unrealistic deadlines, crazy bosses, office politics and power plays. I feel exhausted just typing it.

Plus, I have spent the last ten months getting comfortable with the idea that my value as a person is not tied to what I do for a living or what I produce. As author Brene Brown says, I am already enough.

With that in mind, I guess it doesn't matter what this woman thinks of my resume, or my skills or the rates I proposed. Whether she chooses me or not, it doesn't change who I am as a person or what I could potentially contribute to society.

Someday I will find a job that is a perfect match for me. In the meantime, I will just have to keep on waiting. And keep my options open. 

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