Last we’d talked, I’d quit my job because, um, people were mean to me. What a millennial. I journaled about the experience because I needed a dose of fatalism (“You made your bed, now lie in it.”) as well as a dash of sassy optimism (“Make it work.”) Beyond, ‘relying on the goodwill of the Side Hustling gods,’ I didn’t know how I was going to pay my bills with any sense of regularity. Shit was scary; I woke up every day with a stomach ache and an oppressive sense of dread, and the only person I could blame was myself.
All that to say: I am not cut out to be a free-lancer.
But, things went better than expected! In chronological order:
- T-minus 12 hours to RageQuit, the afternoon during (what was unwittingly) my last day at ShitJob: Receive an interview invite for DreamJob. Neat!
- Three hours later, T-minus 9 hours to RageQuit: SHIT GETS REAL.
- Zero-dark-thirty: I drink some rum, listen to the Game of Thrones soundtrack, and RageQuit.
- Two days post-RQ: Interview for DreamJob.
- Three days post-RQ: Invited back for a second-round interview.
- One week post-RQ: second-round interview happens.
- Days 7, 8, and 9 post-RQ: anxiously pace around my house, prone to bouts of the weepies (I swear, I’m a joy to be around). Friend/co-worker whom I’d listed as a reference reports back that she’d just finished singing my praises to the hiring committee. Me_IRL:
- Nine days post RQ: WAS OFFERED THE JOB, MOFOS.
So, that’s what’s news and where I’ve been: working full-time, getting acclimated, and generally just sitting around in a stupor of gratitude. I love this new job so much more than my previous temp gig. Like, enough that the wrench in my path feels more like dodging a goddamn bullet. This new role is the exact industry, company, and function that I’d been pursuing beforehand – even down to the very department that I wanted.
Thoughts from the other side
Being a job-seeker f**king sucks. There’s no two ways about it.
While I say that I was lucky, it was still an uphill climb. Let me quantify my experience a little bit with a spreadsheet (because… nerd):
- Red = jobs I was expressly rejected from
- Blue = all the same company (it’s a big place)
- Purple = different companies from blue
Much as I like the visual representation of effort, I don’t even consider the above to be an accurate reflection of what it means to, “Apply for a lot of jobs.” Not that I wasn’t trying, but for one thing, each job rejection chips away at your will to live. For another, I was complacent in my temp gig, and as such, I didn’t hustle very hard in the job-search for about six weeks. But, my spidey-senses were tingling that trouble was brewing (refer above: shit got real), and I doubled down.
Things that helped me land the gig:
Aside from my good looks and charming personality, of course…
- I brought a portfolio with me – maybe you could guess as much from the job titles, but I spent a lot of time trying to convince hiring committees that, when it comes to content creation, writing, graphic design, and that nebulous world of All Things Social Media, I know what the f**k I’m doing. Instead of relying on them to just take my word for it, I decided to prove it. I brought a three-ring binder with me to each interview, and it was divvied up as such:
- Pieces of free-lance writing
- Blog articles
- Newsletter campaigns
- Analytics from Twitter, Pinterest, and Mailchimp
- Reviews from Upwork, Thumbtack, and other letters of recommendation (again, for the people in the back, I’M A JOY TO BE AROUND)
- Graphic design work (oh, you’d better believe I included King Sloth in there)
Something I learned through a bit of trial-and-error was that interviewers wouldn’t always ask to see my portfolio. After a few times, I decided, “F**k it,” and would just initiate a Show-and-Tell. After the fact, one of my new supervisors told me it had definitely helped my case – that is to say, the other candidate had not brought a portfolio.
Even if your job search isn’t in the field of Communications, the advice still stands: do something above, beyond, and unexpected. If you’re bragging about being good at something, show proof. As an example, a friend-of-a-friend recently interviewed for a corporate position with their mobile app team. His ‘above and beyond’ was to rebuild the company’s current mobile app from scratch to prove that he could and that he was willing to put in the effort.
As with most things in life, the more you put in, the more you get out.
- Write a thank-you note – maybe it’s an obvious, pandering, and old-fashioned ploy… or maybe it’s not. I personally think we are moving away from the era of the ‘hyper-professionalism = the thinly veiled platitudes of a hand-written note’. Until we get the official decree from our Orange Overlords, however, I’m writing notes until my hand falls off. Writing a thank-you note isn’t a guarantee that you’ll land a gig (I wrote notes for every single one of those interviews you see in the spreadsheet above), but it doesn’t hurt. Plus, it sets you apart from those candidates who didn’t write a note. Caution: don’t write cookie-cutter notes. Personalize them.
- Ask for help – I don’t like doing it. I’ve spent a large part of my life operating under the assumption that people find me annoying and only just barely tolerate me. It’s a hard notion to shed, and, as a byproduct, it’s near impossible to ask for help. If I do ask and receive help, then there’s extreme amounts of guilt for burdening someone with my bullshit.
Growing up, however, and approaching the tender age of thirty has illuminated some concepts: 1.) We are not perfect – we need help sometimes; 2.) It takes a f**king village; 3.) People, if they don’t feel like they’re being taken advantage of, enjoy helping their friends.
So, I opened up to those around me and humbly asked for help. Friends, co-workers, former employers – a good thought, a pep talk, a reference, whatever they could give. I made a deal with the universe that I would pay it forward (because I’m crunchy and believe that karma is real and that you should give as good as you get.)
And, well, it worked. I wouldn’t have gotten to where I was at all without asking for help. At the start of my journey, a friend who’d trained me for hosting trivia provided me with a good reference to join the company’s temp pool; another trivia friend gave me a good reference for my temp gig/ShitJob (because, small world, he worked in the same office); a friend/coworker I’d met at ShitJob gave me the good reference that ultimately led to landing DreamJob.
Swallow that pride and be brave in the face of anxiety. The rewards are worth it.
- Unwavering blind faith that it would all work out in the end – when I was first job-seeking after college, I kept my wits about me with this one thought: “I will get a job. That’s right: I. WILL. GET. A. JOB. It’s a matter of when not if. Every day is just one less day of unemployment.” I adopted the same attitude this time around, that it was only a matter of time until my dreams came true (dreams of a steady paycheck post #shiplife, that is), and I just had to stay strong until then.
Confirmation bias, maybe, but it’s somewhat reassuring that the first time around, it took 5 months of job-hunting to secure full-time employment. The next go-around, it only took 2.5 months, and I landed DreamJob. That bodes well for the future when I decide it’s high time to take over the world, right?
Would I do it again?
Quit my job in a fit of rage and blaze of glory, that is. Hindsight well and truly is 20/20, and it’s almost too easy to sit here and say, “Of course!” knowing that I came out all right. (“Millennials are sooo naive,” they say). So, I’ll have to content myself with the non-answer of, “I don’t know,” and do my best to help others where I can. Everything worked out, but… it’s still a long way to FIRE.
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