Hey, I don’t know if you’ve heard this yet, but I guess the job market is really unrealistically competitive right now. Here’s one for the God You Suck Files.
As I may or may not have already pointed out, I’ve been applying for jobs for about a year now, at a rate of maybe one or two resumes a week. Sometimes the jobs I apply to are a little too big for me and my skills; sometimes they’re a bit too small, both in wages and responsibilities. Every once in a while, I happen upon something that’s just right—something I actually want to do, and can do, and have done.
But I haven’t gotten any of them, and at this point, hundreds of rejections later, I feel like I am not so much a person as a flaw. If I talk about this, I’m subjected to my friends’ advice on the various way in which my flaw manifests itself. I am applying for the wrong jobs. I cannot communicate with the people who interview me, or am communicating in a wrong way. I do not look professional, perhaps. Have I considered that my resume is bad? Or perhaps it is rather that my experience is not valuable. Or I don’t sell myself well because I don’t have faith in myself. I probably think too highly of myself. Whatever it is, surely I can see that I am generally not a very good person. And above all, I must believe in myself.
Last week I got an interview with an office I would have loved to work for. It’s a small non-profit that gives free legal advice to crime victims, run by a woman who used to work for the D.A.’s office. In terms of fit, it landed somewhere between Just Right and Too Big—I don’t have experience in some specific areas the job would have covered, but I do have advocate experience, and that would have been a small part of the job, and the rest of it was just general office work, which I’ve done and like well enough. And I thought the interview went well. Or in any case I liked the lady who ran the office, and I was able to answer most of her questions adequately—yes, I’ve done that before; no, we don’t use that application, but I am familiar with this similar platform. That kind of thing.
Upon returning home, I found that she had sent me an email ten minutes after I had left her office. It said:
Ms. Chrit (sic),
Thank you for applying with the Dream Job Firm, and I'm glad I got the opportunity to interview you. We are going to fill the position w/ another applicant. Good luck w/ your job search, and please don't be discouraged: out of approximately 150 applications we received, yours clearly stood out!
Like I said, rejection and I go way back. I understand that I’m not going to get every job. I even understood that I was probably not going to get this job. And yet.
I apologize for contacting you again, especially since you must be very busy with your interviews on top of your ordinary responsibilities. However, I must say that I am very disappointed and wonder if I might encourage you to share with me what your reasons are for not feeling that you would want to work with me; I intuit that you must have had a fairly strong negative reaction, based on the fact that you've cut me from the running before completing the interview process.
Normally I wouldn't bother you with this question. I honestly just wanted very badly to work for you, and felt like I had the background and skills to do a good job for you. I guess I'm a little surprised.
Good luck to you. I enjoyed meeting you.
I was thinking that I would get silence in response. A big nothing. A secret, or a mystery. Instead, the next morning, I received a phone call, from Ms. Employer, saying Oh my god, I did not mean to send that to you.
Looking good, right? No. She continues. She says, I was getting emails ready to go out at the end of the week, but I slipped up and sent yours early. We’ve found the perfect person who can fill the job and—really, she could do my job! I should probably just cancel all the interviews I’ve scheduled. But thank you for coming in. It was great meeting you.
Which, despite giving me something of an answer, which was what I professed to be looking for, made me feel better not at all. And then, a few days later, an email.
Aunty, now is when I'm REALLY contacting the applicants we interviewed. Again, I'm so sorry I screwed yours up. The job market is just really unrealistically competitive now; it's very, very tight. Your application looked great - we only interviewed about 20 of some 150 applicants, and you were one of them - and your interview went really well, also. It's just a hard time to be looking for a job, and someone happened to apply whose bio matched the job description perfectly. I AM glad I got to meet you and talk w/ you!
So I sent (just to be nice):
Thank you for contacting me. I really appreciate it. Take care.
Immediately I receive:
I still feel so badly. I'm really sorry.
At this point—argh. Just drop it, lady. I’m really, really, really sorry I asked.
At least it’s not as bad as one interview I had this summer. Rich and I drove to a tiny town about 45 minutes away from our house, to an office where I spent about three minutes telling the attorney that I didn’t mind the drive, it wasn’t really that far to go for a job that I really wanted, that I’m from Chicago, fergadsakes, where I always had at least a two-hour daily commute, and two minutes listening to him say that he liked my resume but didn’t think that I’d want to drive so far, really, and then the interview was over and I never heard from them again.
Now that was weird.
I admit it. I’m kind of hating the job market right now. And my back-up plan of going to law school that so excited me just a few weeks ago? I had a meeting with the head of my paralegal department last week to talk to him about law school, and he seemed dead-set against it. In fact, he seemed dead-set against me, in general. To everything I said, he had two responses:
1. I don’t think that’s the right thing for you to be doing.
2. Now see, that’s your problem!
Me: I’m really interested in water law, and I think it’s going to be a growing area of concern in the near future. Although I like the paralegal program, I think I can be more effective in making public policy as an attorney, so that’s why I’m thinking about law school
Him: I don’t think that’s the right thing for you to be doing. Now, have you done an internship yet with a water law attorney?
Me: No, I was looking into it, but I’m having trouble finding someone local who is interested in taking a student on.
Him: Where have you been looking?
Me: The internet.
Him: Now see, that’s your problem!
Like so. Except with me not being very articulate, since I had only gotten one and a half hours of sleep the night before. Maybe that really was my problem. Anyway, I am supposed to talk with him again next week, but at this point, I worry that he’s actually talked me out of law school, what with his not very good reasoning and total lack of understanding of who I am and what drives me. Which, at this point in my planning process, makes sense. I found this quote from David Byrne the other day, in my wanderings. He’s talking about not wanting to read a bad review from a critic who’s long dogged him, but it rang true to me as well.
While taking criticism on board can be constructive, it can also be detrimental to the creative process if it’s considered while that process is still under way. It undermines one’s enthusiasm and will — which is OK, beneficial even, but only after a tour (for example) is over. This review, by all reports, wasn’t helpful criticism anyway — it seemed to be one of those reviews that comes from some psychological issues the writer has — and therefore even a belated reading is not going to help us refine what we do.
That said, I’m not really sure what to do now. Do I want to go to law school? Is it even possible for me to find a job? I think in times like these it’s best to retreat to lick one’s wounds, and ruminate upon the restorative properties of several bottles of wine.