Applying means SOMEthing, but not everything

I have done a lot of job searching in my life. Some of them went well. Most didn’t, truth be told. I have applied for way more jobs than I have ever been offered jobs. In my years of searching and now coaching others, I have learned some important lessons. Applying for a job- new, lateral, promotion- means something. It means something, but it doesn’t mean everything.

Job searching is hard. It means something to put yourself into the market.

Something

  • Applying/looking for a job is a full-time job. It’s work. Search, prepare unique resumes and cover letters for each one, wait, get your hopes up, repeat.
  • Do the work and put your best foot forward. That’s all you can do.
  • We tend to “what if” on the negative side of things. What if I don’t get this job? What if I do get it and my boss is awful?  What if I get it and I am awful? What if I get it and I hate it?
  • This “what iffing” is totally normal. It is human instinct to fear the unknown. But, don’t live there. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s not pretty.
  • It takes courage to put yourself out there, let no one tell you any different.
  • Applying for jobs is an act of hope. You hope to get picked. You hope that they see in you all the things you see in yourself and they give you a shot.
  • Hope is a good thing.
  • Applying for jobs is draining. See bullet #1
  • Applying for jobs and not getting chosen is really draining.

Job searching is hard. It means something to put yourself into the market. But, it doesn’t mean everything.

Not everything

  • To even get to the phone interview stage is huge. It means you have made it past multiple screens (robots, more robots, and maybe a person or two) already. Congratulations! That is a big deal. We need to tell ourselves and each other that more often, I think.
  • You did the work. You put forward your best application. That is all you can do.
  • Your identity, your worth, your sense of self, your gift to the world has nothing to do with whether or not you got the job.
  • Your identity, your worth, your sense of self, your gift to the world has everything to do with who you are, how you treat people, and the legacy you leave.
  • Not getting a job isn’t personal. While it feels personal to you, it’s not about you personally. Ironic that I am saying this as I am a person who takes almost everything personally. But, I have fallen down this rabbit hole and beaten myself up over not getting picked. It’s like gym class and prom all over again. It sucks, sure. Let yourself be sad. Wallow for a bit with your yoga pants and NetFlix. And then move on.
  • There are hundreds of factors beyond your control- ageism, sexism, racism, nepotism, quotas, internal candidates, external candidates, “fit” (shudder)- that influence who gets picked.
  • The person doing the hiring has an agenda that may or may not ever be revealed to you. It may not even be their agenda. The agenda isn’t about you.
  • The most qualified, most educated, most skilled person doesn’t always get the job. The most qualified, most educated, most skilled person as deemed by the person(s) setting the agenda get the job.
  • Read the third bullet again.

You decide your worth. You decide your joy. Don’t let getting a job, or not getting a job, do the deciding for you.


If you need help with your resume, cover letter, or interview coaching, contact me: sheldrakeconsulting@gmail.com. It’d be my honor to help you put your best foot forward.

Comparison is the thief of joy

I’ve wasted the last 72 hours of myself being all riled up by an article I read on the lovely interwebs. Then of course, my feed blows up with similar junk (it’s scary to me how that happens…like because I work at a university, that university’s advertisements are all over my facebook. Weird). All of these messages are screaming at me that I am not enough. I am not hungry (well, I AM hungry, but not the RIGHT kind), I could save more money on car insurance, PASSION, vocation, career, life hacks to save you two seconds in the morning… Blah, blah, blah!

Then, I saw this image and reposted it on instagram (you know, that other social media thing that needs to be constantly fed to help me perpetuate my “brand”). It’s from @emilymcdowell. Check her out here. Good stuff.

Preach.

Preach.

I also shared said article with my spouse and some friends. The best advice I got FROM THEM was this: take what works for you, discard the rest.

Ahhh. Yes. I know this. In my core, when I am tuned in to MY internal voice, I know this. Advice is only good when someone follows it. So, why was I comparing myself to everyone on the internet, most of whom I don’t know, and then trying to force their advice onto my life? I’ve been comparing myself to:

  • single women
  • single women without children
  • divorced women
  • married women with no kids
  • married women with one kid (one is one, two is ten!)
  • empty-nesters
  • working moms with live-in nannies
  • working moms with stay-at-home partners
  • working moms with cleaning ladies
  • mompreneurs
  • solopreneurs
  • married-preneurs

There is NOTHING wrong with any of these people. But comparing myself, my life, my “career” to theirs makes me feel less than and robs me of my joy. I’m NOT them, so I need to stop idealizing and idolizing their lives. My journey is mine alone.

I took facebook off my phone a long time ago. Finally took twitter off last night, too. If instagram gets catty & pushy like twitter, then that sucker’s next!

I know who I am. I know who my tribe is. I need to fill my feed and my soul with news from THEM.

Forgive and then give anyway

A few years ago I was betrayed by a friend, a very good friend and fellow woman student affairs professional. The truth is, I am not over it yet. She really, really hurt me. She betrayed me in an underhanded way. It was behind-the-scenes and it impacted not just me, but my job, my family, and our living situation. After months of not speaking about it, she finally broke the ice and contacted me. We met in a public place. I could not trust myself to be alone with her. I needed the safety of other people. So I wouldn’t lash out at her, so I wouldn’t cry, and so I wouldn’t jump on the “it’s okay” bandwagon that women so easily do when they have been wronged by others. She apologized. Sort of. She made excuses. She said she didn’t really know why she did what she did. She hoped that I would forgive her. When I was ready, she would be there waiting for me and we could pick up where we left off. (That’s not a real apology, but that is a post for another time.)

That was four years ago. Four years that I have let this hurt eat away at me. I have let it have power over me. I have let it change me.

I know I need to forgive her. I’ve written about that before. (See here) I haven’t forgiven her. Not completely. The wounds that she created cut deep and the scars are still fresh. However, as a result of some positive experiences I have had this summer, I feel I am closer to forgiving her than I have ever been.

A colleague (whom I have never actually met in real life but whom I feel I know thanks to Twitter and Facebook!) created a summer reciprocity group. Basically, it is women from all over the country, getting together virtually (some IRL) and submitting pitches. Your pitch is a call to action, an “ask.” You submit your ask and then anyone within the reciprocity group can comment with suggestions, tips, names of people to contact, resources to share. It has been AWESOME. The pitches have ranged from “please help me with my website” to “I want a career change” and the level of time and care that has gone into the responses has been the same, regardless of the ask. In our “free time” women are helping other women get what they want. We are all helping each other get where we want to go. There is camaraderie and genuine interest. The level of advice has even gone beyond the week of your pitch. People are continually posting articles, video clips, helpful tips, and resources, myself included. All free of charge, only asking that when it is your turn, someone will do the same for you.

This summer reciprocity ring has been the exact opposite of what I experienced four summers ago at the hands of another woman who used to be my friend.

As part of the ring, we have “Thankful Tuesdays” and “Flaunt it Fridays.” These are opportunities to thank someone, whether in the group or not, and chances to brag about progress you have made. Yesterday someone posted that they were grateful for…

Me.

Me? Sarcastic, sassy, too loud, not put together, abrasive, aggressive, east-coast me?

Yes, that one.

See, this summer, I have gotten back to my roots. I used to really love helping people. Helping them be their best. It’s why I chose student affairs as a profession, why I learned MBTI, why I used to volunteer and do community service. I am constantly reading articles or watching videos about interviewing, coaching, etc. Somewhere in the last four years, I stopped sharing all of that and kept it to myself. As a result of my friend’s betrayal, I became bitter. I got a huge chip on my shoulder and decided that I would only help someone if: they helped me first, if there was something in it for me, if I got compensated in some way, if, if if.

I put a shell around myself to prevent further hurts. I put strings on my giving. 

Being part of the reciprocity ring has helped me stop doing that. And, I am having an absolute blast! I have been sharing all kinds of stuff, not because I think it is so great. I have been sharing because that’s what you do. Help others. Help them be their best. Give them information that is relevant to what they are looking for. If they use it or not, that’s up to them. But, give it anyway.

I am realizing that by not forgiving my friend, I have hurt only myself because I closed myself off to the great joy that comes from selflessly helping others and letting them help you. This group has helped chip away at that exterior. Thank you, Amma for including me.