Now that I’m finished with my Code Louisville classes, I’m starting to hit the job search a little more seriously. For the last few months, I’ve been applying here and there, but now I’m really polishing up my resume, practicing my interviewing skills, and doing the networking thing. And it’s hard. I don’t think anyone loves searching for a new job. (If you do, please, please, please tell me how you do it.)
It’s hard to put yourself — in the form of your resume and cover letter — out there and be met only with silence, or auto-reply emails. Even when I do hear back, every part of the process is nerve-wracking. The phone interview, the in-person interview, the questioning, the waiting for some kind of closure.
The whole process can leave me feeling pretty bad about myself sometimes. With that said, here are a few things I’m trying to keep in mind:
It’s like dating. Yeah, I said it.
In my early 20s, right out of college, I approached my job search a lot like begging. Like, “Please, please, please give me this job!” And then if I didn’t get the job (which most of the time, I didn’t), I’d feel like there was something wrong with me.
Now that I have a little more professional experience and more confidence, I’ve learned to approach the job search process more like dating. (A metaphor I kind of hate to use, but I’m going to go with it.) I’ve been out of the dating world for 7+ years, but when I was in it, I constantly reminded myself that I wasn’t for everybody, and everybody wasn’t for me. Meaning that someone might be a perfectly good person, but they weren’t my person. The person I never called back might be the person somebody else gets happily married to, and vice versa. This goes for companies as well. Just because an employer doesn’t pick me, it doesn’t mean that I have nothing to offer. It means I’m not what that particular company is looking for at this particular moment.
Also, I’m trying to keep in mind that just like dating, I’m sizing them up just as much as they’re sizing me up. I owe it to myself to make sure the job and the company culture is going to be a good fit for me. I don’t want to be miserable, and the company sure as heck doesn’t want someone who’s going to be miserable and leave in six months.
Run your own race.
This is something I’m trying to remind myself of literally, since I’m a runner, and figuratively. What I mean by this is that I’m on my own journey. My job search isn’t going to look like anyone else’s. There are probably going to be people I was in class with who will find a job before me, and get paid more money than me. There are people 5-10 years younger than me who might have more impressive resumes. They’re where they are, I’m where I am, and I have to keep reminding myself that neither is better or worse. The best thing I can do is find the way that works for me.
Do things you’re good at.
Even if I’m doing my best at the job search thing, sometimes it feels like I’m not good enough. While I’m in the process of job searching, I’m making it a point to balance resume writing and networking with activities I like and feel confident at. For me, that looks like running, yoga, home decor, and spending time with my husband and cats. And rock climbing. But I’m a beginner at that, so it’s mostly in the humbling experiences category at this point.
I’m also working on creative coding projects that, once I do get a job, I might not have time to work on. Even if I’m feeling pessimistic about my career trajectory, I can remind myself that I’m good at something.
A lot of people will give you advice. You don’t have to take it all.
If you’ve ever been a job seeker, you know that everybody has suggestions. People who haven’t updated their resume in 20 years will be giving you advice. People who know absolutely nothing about the field you’re entering will be giving you advice. I do my best to be graceful, but remember that it’s my job search, and their opinions and advice aren’t always relevant.
It’s also difficult, for me anyway, to not become resentful of all the unsolicited suggestions. Like, when the 20th person in the row asks me if I’m going to any networking events, or if I’ve looked at X or Y company, I want to scream at them. But I try and remind myself that they mean well, and then shift my mental energy to something more productive than being annoyed. (This is easier said than done.)
P.S. Yes, I realize I’m giving you, the reader, advice right now. As with all advice, take it or leave it as you need.
Keep an open mind
When a friend contacted me several years ago and said that TechRepublic was looking for an editorial assistant, my first thought was, “Ew, tech! No.” (I was editing articles about food, drinks, weddings — anything but tech at the time. See my earlier post about how I became a “computer person.”) But I applied out of sheer curiosity, and ended up liking the people I met there so much that I took the job and stayed for three years. And I will be eternally grateful to them for showing me how cool tech is, and for opening up new career paths for me. I would never have considered web development and then UX if I hadn’t worked there.
I guess my point is not that you should apply for every crazy job that comes your way, but that sometimes you might be pleasantly surprised.