Hey man, how’s the job hunt going?
This story is part of my Adventures in unemployment series.
I have joined the ranks of the unemployed. It came as a shock, but not a surprise. You know, like jumping into a lake on a cold day shocks you, but doesn’t surprise you. It’s a big-ol’ lake and you’ve got a decent grasp of how gravity works, so you definitely saw it coming — but it was still freaking freezing.
I work(ed) as a technology journalist. Lay-offs in the media industry? Please, that’s just another Friday — we didn’t need a pandemic for this.
But expecting a thing and experiencing a thing are two very different, um, things. I’ve been without my primary source of income (which was modest, because, again, media industry) for 22 days now and that feels like long enough, thank you very much. I also feel some guilt for struggling with this, because, like, isn’t everyone laid off right now? I’m not special.
Technically speaking, I was never really employed to begin with; I was self-employed, a 1099-er, and there are entirely different rules about that. It means I can’t claim standard unemployment benefits since I can’t get laid off, because why would you ever fire yourself? That doesn’t mean I can’t suddenly find myself without clients willing to pay for my services, however. (I do qualify for the expanded pandemic relief benefits, but aren’t those all dried up now? I don’t know. I applied. I’ll see what happens.)
On the “plus” side, it also means I can continue to find piecemeal work here and there, which should allow me to at least pay my rent through the end of the year. I think.
In truth, I had grown increasingly disenchanted with the world of tech news, and editorial in general, and had started looking for other jobs this summer. What is neither surprising nor shocking is that I didn’t find one. It’s a hard market right now, made harder by the fact that I am incredibly picky and my marketability is a bit, well, nontraditional. But, my point is that I’m not altogether unhappy about looking for a new job; it was already what I wanted — now it’s what I need.
Aside: Just in case any potential employers from the editorial sphere are reading this, I’m still willing to work in the biz. But I’m done with buying guides, OK? D-O-N-E donezo. (And this is why I probably won’t work in the biz, because the entire biz is buying guides now.)
This gets a bit ranty
Throughout my career of lateral moves, a recurring theme has been my employer’s surprise (perhaps also shock) at how good I am at my job. I’m not sure if this is insulting or complimentary. Like, are you saying you hired me thinking I would suck? Gee, thanks.
But this does speak to a fact that hiring managers (and, nowadays, A.I. resume parsers) often ignore: A human being can learn. Sure, maybe I’ve never made Brand X Widgets before, but my capacity for learning should have never been in question (see the Education header on my resume for reference). I like learning. I tend to quit jobs when I stop learning (another thing to keep in mind, managers). And maybe this is just me, but I think one’s yearning for learning (eww, sorry) is more indicative of future performance than one’s past experience alone.
Years ago, as a mild-mannered retail employee, I had a few good interviews during my quest to escape the retail realm. In the case of three prospective employers, I met multiple times with different people, once even flying to Denver to interview in person after two zoom calls and writing a sample article (for free). It was exhausting work, but it was also exciting. I never received an offer, but I felt like I was this close. That’s when I decided to go back to school. I thought an MBA might be just the thing to push me over the hump, that extra bit of oomph needed to outrun the pesky competition.
It’s been 5 years since I graduated. Aside from landing the freelance tech writing gig — which had nothing to do with going back to school — I haven’t had a single interview until this month.
So the job hunt is not going well, man. But I did finally have an interview. In an industry in which I want to work, where I would be surrounded (post-COVID, anyway) by creative people. And that’s enough to keep the dream alive.
A shame, then, that you can’t eat dreams.