by Mary-Michelle Moore, Senior Editor
previously published 8/29/13
The Job Hunter’s Lament
Being a job hunter is not easy. In any economy, in any environment, this is one of the hardest things that you can undergo, job searching is tough. When you think about it, your job influences the rest of your life and relationships – how much time have you spent with your family? Your significant other? Alone with your thoughts? A few hours a day? Now how much do you spend at work, thinking about work, driving to and from work and planning your career in general? This job hunt is a huge endeavor with significant ramifications. And on top of everything else that happens as you look for a job, the process itself can seem is inherently unfair.
For each job posting, or word of mouth recommendation, you need to do your research:
- read the minimum and preferred qualifications carefully,
- carefully craft a cover letter saying how you meet most if not all of the qualifications,
- review your resume so it matches the job posting verbiage,
- make sure your e-portfolio is up to date,
- call your references to let them know you’re looking at the position,
- ask a friend or advisor to help you edit everything,
- read and edit everything again,
- double check dates, spell check, grammar check, and
- make an informational interview call or befriend someone already at the company to get the scoop on the work environment.
All of this before you are even offered an interview, not to mention the networking, professional development, continuing education, internships and everything else we go through to make sure we are up to date, well rounded, strong representations of our profession.
If you are offered an interview, you prepare, make a list of questions to ask, go over what your weaknesses are and try to figure out how to make them a learning opportunity or some strength. Then you worry about your suit, your hair, your shoes (does anyone know a store that sells shoe polish in non-black?), if you’re too early, too late, too cheerful, or too serious.
When applying to each and every job we’re urged to start imagining ourselves in the position, to make an impassioned plea about why we belong at that library, how we will bring our unique blend of talents, skills and love to bear in making that library the best it can be and bring statistically relevant, quantifiable results to bear on our performance. And for what?
For many positions I’ve applied to, blood, sweat and tears have yielded nothing but a brief, boilerplate letter of refusal: “Thank you, but we’ve decided to go another direction.” Often months after I’ve applied and given up hope. And there’s nothing I can do about that, except this.
Remember, there is a job that will be a perfect fit. Your skills, your drive and your passions will fill in a lack somewhere and it may be closer than you think. If you don’t believe me try this – and remember it is all a numbers game. Take a sheet of paper and write the word “No” on it 100 times (or you can use a simple one here). Every time you get a rejection, cross off one of the “no”s. You won’t need all 100, but it will help you to remember that this is a journey. Every step brings you closer to the job you’re supposed to be in. Every rejection letter gives you a chance to refine your skill set and reevaluate the direction in which you’re going.
This article isn’t to tell you not to refine your job-hunting prowess or to completely ignore the advice offered elsewhere on this site. But, I want you to remember that you have a unique point of view, set of skills and strengths that no one else can offer. Positions are filled by search committees trying to find the best fit for their organization – and the blend that they are looking for is completely out of your control. So continue to work as though it is all something you can change, but at the end of the day let go, and continue to hope.