by Lauren Bourdages, Senior Assistant, INALJ Ontario
previously published 6/25/13
Lauren has since found a job!!!
An open letter to my fellow job hunters for when you get discouraged
If you’re like me, sometimes you start internally freaking out because here you are in your mid-to-late-twenties-to-early-to-mid-thirties and you’ve got all of this education but here you are without full-time work, all you have to show is a part-time job or a contract job or a full-time job that has nothing at all to do with what you studied and surely everyone you went to school with already has full time jobs and is successful and has accomplished stuff right!?!
I want you to know you’re not alone, like I said, it happens to me. It happens to all of us, some of us just aren’t comfortable admitting it. With the reality of how long the job hunt can take right now, and the fact that what’s trending in hiring circles seems to be part-time and contract work where full-time used to be the norm, it’s kind of inevitable that we start to beat up on ourselves. A friend of mine, who isn’t in the LIS profession, was going through this the other day and I talked her through it by sharing with her what I do when I’m feeling overwrought.
First and foremost know this, if you are actively searching, and you are doing things like volunteering, participating in professional associations, or working part-time or on contract: you are accomplishing something. You’re not sitting around passively, you’re not bemoaning your situation or finding someone or something to blame. Pat yourself on the back for that. It’s important to acknowledge that trying is the first step to succeeding. If you know you’re doing everything in your power to make yourself a top-notch candidate then you’re on the right track.
Remember that success and happiness don’t look the same for everyone and that the definitions can change on a day to day basis. You may not have a full time job yet, but are you truly happy with the things you do every day? Do they make you smile? If so recognise and acknowledge that because happiness and fulfillment are just as important. I know what you’re thinking, what about the paycheque!? How can I be happy and fulfilled if I’m not making the money of a full-timer? I struggle with that too, and then I just remind myself that even though I’ve only ever held part-time employment every single part time job I’ve had has paid more than the last, so I recognise that I am making progress and progress is important. Do I wish I made more? Of course I do, but actually enjoying what I do matters to me too. I could probably find any old full-time job that would pay me more than I make in my part-time LIS industry job, but would I be as happy? Or would I feel stuck and stale? Plus it’s much easier to balance your personal life with part-time hours, remember that when you’re longing for full-time. It’s easier to schedule appointments (especially if your doctor etc. is in a different city) when you have a part-time schedule!
Don’t just focus on your employment status. Your employment status isn’t the only thing that determines success, it’s not the only way to accomplish things. You got a degree or diploma, you earned it, you worked for it and that’s something no one can take away. As Westerners we sometimes taken for granted just how big of an accomplishment that is because it’s so common here. But realistically and relatively, it’s not really all that common. The chance to even try to earn a degree or a diploma is a privilege. So when you’re feeling like you haven’t amounted to anything remember that. I’m not saying go crazy and think having a degree entitles you to full-time work, that’s so wrong, just remember that it took hard work and dedication and it is an achievement. And while we’re talking about educational achievements; if you managed to not only earn your degree or diploma, but you did it without going into debt? Well that’s a pretty big deal, don’t brag about it of course, but definitely feel proud of yourself!
So whenever you’re feeling down read this, and remember these things. And remember most importantly that you’re not alone, you have a support network, all of us your fellow LIS job seekers, you only have to call call out to us and we’ll be there for you. And remember when you do find a full time job, take some time every now and again to remember those of us who haven’t yet. Show your support, maybe mentor a new or recent grad.