Feb 19, 2010

More Thoughts on Job Hunting, The Lay Off, Life

Here I am, at a major cross roads in my life. One path ahead of me, however difficult to get a solid footing on, is one that leads to a six-figure career, possibly as soon as I sign on the dotted line of my next full-time contract. This road considers my employment history in an area that's highly desired right now yet not clearly understood, one that important and big companies are seeking to hire expertise in that I now have, if not the knowledge, the employment history to back up. At least more than I did before my last job when my entire employment history was 1.5 years as a journalist, which only got me a foot in the door at some PR firms for a very entry-level position.


The other road, however, is one even more unclear. It's one filled with $15 per hour jobs sans health insurance, part-time and/or contract work, minimally paid internships, graduate school, going back to the start. And it seems like such a waste of the opportunity I have to make something really "good" come from this layoff (at least in terms of my bank account and professional growth) to jump into an entirely different field that may lead me to a spot with the same "I'm not meant to be here" surroundings on a different path, just two years from now.

There are some opportunities in the first version of this scenerio. Well, to be honest, right now there is one possibility, but others may exist, especially if I'm willing to move. I don't know if it's really a six-figure job, but I assume I'll make at least what I made at my last gig ($60k) and likely more because it's for a bigger company with a lot more responsibility. There's a chance they expect to pay $90k or more. I don't know. I'm in the process of interviewing for the position. It sounds like an amazing opportunity. But I'm terrified of failing. I'm scared of failing when the stakes are higher. I'm scared of not knowing what to do, how to make up the tasks of the job, set measurable goals, and meet or exceed them. Sometimes results related to this role are difficult to quantify, but without the numbers success means nothing in these types of companies. So what do I do?

It is a luxury to get to "choose" but... in reality, I haven't secured a job offer yet for #1 and I've sent out hundreds of resumes in the last three weeks, only to receive a few "you don't have what we're looking for" or to just be ignored. I'm onto the second interview stage with the "really good opportunity" job but that means very little other than I have a shot at this gig. I'll get to interview in person instead of over the phone. They'll decide if they like me. I'll decide if I think I can really do this job without falling on my face.

In the meantime, I daydream about things I'd really love to do. Design. User research. Product management. Heck, maybe I'd even enjoy.... teaching? Retail? Being a waitress (I have a friend who loves it.) I don't know. I'm an INTP. I like solving problems. I like helping people. I do well with the big picture, but not so much the details. I know what type of job I want to have (design research) but I don't have the experience or skills for that type of job. My resume is schizophrenic. I don't want to get my hopes up about the opportunity because it may not be right for me. Or I might not get it. And beyond this, I haven't had any other biters on potential employment. So it's difficult to compare this opportunity to another, since there currently isn't another.



2 comments:

Rebecca said...

I understand your predicament. Well, sort of. In the area that I live in, $15 an hour is great. Between my husband and myself, we have 4 degrees and he makes $7 per hour working at a law firm and about $500 per month teaching one class at the local university. I now freelance and earn about $1,000 per month, but my last job (which required a MA) only paid $13 per hour and I was on-call 24/7-yet only got paid for 37.5 hours per week since anything I worked over that was considered "flex time" which I never got to use since I was ALWAYS working. (I was a Family Crisis Therapist.)

In the past 2 years, my husband and I have sent out more than 300 resumes. We have been on exactly 5 job interviews between us. This is understandable where I live. I used to be an Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director of a non-profit organization and once we got 225 resumes for the janitorial posistion. That's in a town that has less than 5,000 people. Jobs are scarce around here. Employers can treat you however they want to because they know that there are at least 15 other people standing in line behind you, waiting for your job.

Since turning to freelance work, I am much happier, although as you know it can be fleeting and not very dependable. Plus, I can't afford health insurance although my 2 year old has it through Medicaid. I made $17,000 last year freelancing and hope to branch out this year more with marketing in hopes of growing my freelance career. I also sold a novel so a good publishing company and have (small) hopes for that as well.

When I was working full time at my last several jobs over the past 12 years I often felt diassatisfied, unfulfilled, confused, stressed, anxious, and nervous. I knew I didn't want to be doing what I was doing, but I also wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do, either, so that didn't make things easier. We had a pretty good savings, but we were constantly worried about money all the same. Now, we have no savings, no insurance, and yet we feel that we are on a better path. I know it might sound crazy, but sometimes it's better to be working toward something that you really want but that has no definite rules or pathways to get there, than to take the other route and to continue to be dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

I had this teacher in undergrad that was very different from a lot of people I know. He taught geography, but he kind of lived off the grid. He had a bank account and a small savings account, but he didn't have a 401-K or any kind of retirement account. He didn't own his own home. He preferred to rent. He didn't drive new vehicles. But every other year he would apply for all of these geography grants and research grants. They took him all over the world. He climbed Everest twice and wrote a bestselling book about it. He lived in American Samoa for a a year. He did a fantastic research project on tourism sustainability in Hawaii and now the entire state has used his findings to change the way that they do their tourism. He has very little stability, except for his teaching job at the local university, but he loves his life and regrets nothing. Once, during a conversation, I told him that I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but there didn't seem to be any jobs for it that fit. He told me that sometimes, if there isn't a job available for you, you have to create your own.

Investing Newbie said...

I don't think you are too afraid to fail; I really believe that it is a fear of succeeding. That opportunity does demand more and will "reward" more. This is exactly what you need though: a position that will challenge you and push you to become better.

Now if you feel underqualified for the position (you didn't speak to that...), then I would say, don't even bother. They will realize that pretty soon if they hire you, and you'll be back at square one. But if you have the mettle and the make for this role, then I say go for it.

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