Job Hunting: A Rejection Worse Than Dating
It’s a Friday afternoon and I’m hanging out at my boyfriend’s place. I’m doing the usual “stay at home girlfriend” thing… absolutely nothing too crazy, when I receive a phone call. It’s my interviewer from a couple days prior and I already know. They were hoping to have the person start on Monday and with it being so close to the end of the day, I’m tempted to interrupt her and clue her in that I’m aware they found another candidate. As a “professional,” I allow her to verbally reject me and proceed to listen to her tell me why I’m not the right fit. It was a temporary part time position (so part time that it was a maximum of 15 hours) and was to conclude at the end of the year. I would have been sending resumes received to the departments that were relevant. It was the kind of job that was just to get by. There were no benefits, no strong possibility that my contract could be extended, nothing to really run home and tell my parents about. She informed me that it’s an “entry level” position and “it looks like you’re seeking room for growth” followed by a “we just weren’t sure if you would be happy here.” When the call was over, I was livid. At this point, I don’t know what the heck entry level is, and I’ve been doing some type of hustle since I was 9 or 10. Not to mention, I’ve consistently had some variation of a paying job since I was 18, so yes, I’m at a loss.
The thing is, recruiters will hint that you’re too smart or requesting too much money, when the truth of the matter will always be that the cost of living is significantly higher today than it was 10 or even 20 years ago. If I’m a grad student being rejected from a part time position that honestly doesn’t necessitate the need for higher education, I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for others. It’s become a struggle to answer such ridiculous questions as “why should we hire you” with a well composed answer when the truth is: my bills need to be paid. Oh, and it would be nice to be able to move out of my parents’ basement and kinda, I don’t know, stay out.
I’m okay with buying the off brand bag of cereal and living off of that, if only I can be fairly compensated. Mind you, I looked at LinkedIn recently and the amount of posts that keep coming up about unrealistic hiring procedures demonstrates that the hiring managers need to change it up. You want someone with clear verbal and written communication, I tell you I’ve been published a few times over and yet, that’s not acceptable. I’m instead advised by my employment recruiters that it’s irrelevant… then they turn to me and ask me to physically write on my resume “excellent verbal and written communication.” Yeah, I’m at a loss just as much as you are.
The posting is requesting a candidate who is organized, a problem solver, detail oriented, the whole shebang… I write that I’ve had my own freelance wedding planning business for the past five years, but if I write that I own it, it will intimidate the hiring personnel. Let’s put it this way, in order to successfully plan a wedding, I MUST be detail oriented, organized, and a problem solver. I’ve done a wedding where we had to fire the caterer days before the event, find a new one, the DJ went out of the country a few days before the event (and told the bride) and we still weren’t sure if he would be back in the country and at the venue in time. My bartender got into a car accident on the way to the event that caused her phone to break (she was an hour and a half late), it started raining during setup, and the guests started arriving 30 minutes before they were supposed to. All of this was one wedding, so I can assure you, despite being a highly emotional person, there was no time for me to cry that things were starting to fall apart, I had to Olivia Pope level handle it with a smile on my face.
So yes, I take it personally when I am turned down left and right. I don’t want to hear that this is a common thing for everyone. Because, hear me out, our bill collectors don’t care when it comes time to pay our car insurance or keep our phones in service. And yes, when I’m sitting there removing all of my accomplishments from my resume (I’m talking education, publications, freelance wedding planning, heck, even deleting half of the tasks I performed in my previous job), I begin to feel like I am less than.
There isn’t too much about the type of depression that comes with the job hunt out there. So I’m gonna be real. I would stay in bed attempting to sleep and lost an appetite for eating. I cried every day as I filled out application after application. I hardly ever got dressed and sometimes my parents only saw me when I was headed towards the bathroom. Recruiters would see my profile and call me saying “how impressive” my resume was and “they can definitely find a suitable position” for me. More often than it should have, I never received a call back from a position I interviewed for or received the emotionless automated response of “I don’t have enough experience.” I was just trying to answer someone’s phones at this point. I never regretted leaving my previous job, but I started to wonder if I was actually cut out for anything different.
I started looking into housekeeping jobs… and many of them requested someone with multiple years of professional housekeeping experience and with references. I looked into becoming a nanny. But darn, my B.A. isn’t in Child Development so I guess I’m unqualified to pick up and drop your child off at daycare. This is a problem. When I’m being told in so many ways that I’m too educated for a job, I stop caring about “whether I’ll be happy there” and start trying to just get through survival mode. I thought I followed an admirable plan for my life. I dreamed about going to college and double majoring, I did that. I dreamed about being a wedding planner, and somehow, I did that too. I’ve always loved writing and sharing my voice, and would you be surprised, I’m still doing that.
So, I wonder, at which point do job recruiters stop seeking to check off the properly worded boxes and start becoming creative themselves? When do they start looking into the personality of the candidates’ experiences? There’s only so much positive thinking and motivational job hunting talks that you can listen to before you begin to wonder if you’re in the wrong. Is it wrong for me to want to make more than minimum wage so that I can survive? Is it wrong for me to want to keep my resume advertising certain features that portray my work ethics? Is it wrong for me, a few years shy of 30, to want to work in an environment where if I’m performing well, I receive a legitimate promotion instead of a 50 cent or dollar raise?
It’s weird to be a graduate student making the same hourly amount as my sister was making working drive through while she was still in high school (she just graduated this past spring and quit that job due to school last month). The question that needs to be answered is at what point does job hunting stop being something that makes you so depressed, you’re ready to give up on life itself? There is an integral connection between who we are and how we contribute to not only ourselves, but others. I went to college. I worked countless jobs. I am not so disconnected from reality that I believe I’m the greatest thing to grace this Universe. But, I’ve gotta admit, this modern day job hunting is extremely trying to one’s sanity.