Post 6: The Emotional Cycle of Job Hunting

I have been trying to find a full-time job since I quit my job as a teacher in Spring 2017. I’ve had a few part-time jobs, but none of the full-time ones seem to stick.

I have a few stipulations:

  1. Full-time, i.e. 40 hours per week, or salaried to the equivalent.
  2. Must be something akin to administrative work. I’m aiming for a state job, so anything that gets me close is ideal.
  3. Must be for a non-soul-sucking company, ideally a non-profit of some kind.
  4. Must be within a 40 minute drive in traffic, ideally.
  5. Must have benefits, but that goes along with the whole full-time bit.
  6. Must be $16/hr or more. Preferably $19/hr+.

I basically want a job that won’t kill me that will pay all the bills, including my debts.

This shouldn’t be that difficult. I have 3 degrees, including an MA. I have 10 years of experience with administrative things. And yet…

So, I present to you: the emotional cycle of job hunting.

Emotional Cycle of Job Hunting

Stage 1: Guarded Optimism

“Ooh, this looks … not horrible”

I find a job opening with a title that looks … not horrible. My simultaneously exhausted depressive brain warns me to not get excited. You can’t be let down if you don’t have expectations. Okay, *click*…

Stage 2: Guarded Curiosity

“I’ll just see if…”

After clicking a button, more info about the job springs to life on my screen. Maybe it’s on LinkedIn, maybe Indeed, maybe Edjoin, maybe an email from my Workability III counselor, but I emotionally prepare myself for whatever details are available.

It sometimes ends right there for various reasons, including:

  • Requires a typing speed of 60+wpm
  • Requires proficiency in [obscure specific expensive software]
  • Requires extensive travel
  • Requires running, lifting, kneeling [for amounts my body wouldn’t tolerate]
  • Other duties include cleaning bathrooms…
  • Must be able to work weekends

At which point, it goes to Stage Negative 1: Depression (with a strong sense of hopelessness) But, if the details look reasonable enough, then…

Stage 3: Definitive Hope!

“I’ll Apply!”

I’ve decided it is worth spending time and emotional energy on an application for because it fits my criterion, and I am qualified. I have 5 windows up: my resume, my job duties, my developing cover letter, the job description, and the application page. Or, in the case of State job applications, I have the job description, the duty statement, my Statement of Qualifications, my resume, and the application page.

For a non-State job: I put my “skills” in an appropriate order on my resume. I draft the framework of my cover letter by quickly editing a copy+paste. I put off the cover letter. I hate cover letters. I get all the details in the job and education history done. I edit my resume to cater to the job. I put the job details in my “job application tracker.” I look back at my cover letter framework. I don’t do anything to it. I get distracted and go on social media. I make the same joke I always make about writing “I’m awesome. Hire me.” as the entirely of my cover letter. I finally get back around to my cover letter.

For a state job: I look at the requirements for the Statement of Qualifications (SOQ). I read the duty statement in full. I read the job description. Depending on if it is a standard “write bullshit about how your experience makes us want to hire you for this job” or an exciting, yet frustrating “here are some questions that are so specific that you don’t have a draft you can edit to answer them, good luck sucker!” I will either grab a relevant draft or just grab the framework for an SOQ. I will edit the details: job title, specific numbers and codes that correspond to that specific job, the state department name, etc. and so forth. I will “Save As” the edited draft. Then, I will sigh the sigh of an exhausted millenial who just wants to live the American dream, and get to writing. SOQs aren’t as bad as cover letters. SOQs are “hey, here’s a list of exactly how awesome I am” whereas cover letters are “this is me begging you to read my resume and give me a call.” But, SOQs are much more substantial. So I cater it to the duty statement, job description, and SOQ requirements. I make sure the specific margins, font, and font size are appropriate. I turn in the application knowing that I am highly unlikely to even get a call back. I drop the details in my job app tracker. I am glad it’s over. I ignore the other 2 that I have to do.

It usually ends right there, with no response (Stage Negative 2). But, sometimes I’ll get the special phone call… 

Stage 4: Guarded Excitement

“They want an interview!!!”

OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT THEY WANT AN INTERVIEW. Breathe, Pandora, breathe. Sound awesome on the phone, not surprised, but enthusiastic. Get your calendar open, be professional, flexible. You got this. Whew! Nailed the 5 minute phone call!

I post on social media excitedly – not disclosing any of the specific details for confidentiality reasons, but rallying support – because I always need support. I make sure the details are correct in my calendar. I use ye old faithful Google Maps to see where the location is. I cancel or move any plans set for the interview time. I plan out my professional interview look. I plan out breakfast. I plan out transportation because sometimes it is easier to take public transit. I print out 4 copies of my resume. I put them in a folder. I do tons of research on the workplace. I print out relevant details to study. And I study and study until interview time.

I get to the place 20-25 minutes early. I triple-check my makeup/hair/etc. I drink some water to make sure my voice is properly prepared. I do a last-minute study. Deep breath.

I get to the front desk 12-15 minutes before the interview is supposed to start. I politely speak with whoever, promptly forget their name like an idiot, and wait for someone to fetch me while I look around the place trying to glean anything I can about how to act.

Interview time. I meet people, shake hands, sit down. Introductions are had. I forget at least one name. I am good at socialization. I answer questions like a boss, and rarely will one catch me off guard. When one does, I tend to go on tangents and take too long while trying to make it sound like I’m answering the question.

The interview ends. I leave. I decompress in my car or on transit. I post on social media about how I think I did. Butterflies smother me. I get home. I throw off all of my interview clothes in favor of something comfy and hope so hard I’ll get another good call.

Stage 5: Guarded Excitement II

“I think I did great at the interview!”

And then wait, call to ask for progress, wait, call, wait, worry.

Stage 6: Actual Excitement

“They offered me the job!”

HAHAHAHAHA. Yeah, this hasn’t happened yet. It’s not attached to the chart. I know what it feels like, in the distant past, before I decided to ruin everything by changing my career path.

What actually happens, is that I got to Stage Negative 2 or Stage Negative 3.

Stage Negative 2: Forlorn

“No response. I’m not even worth a response.”

I waited. I called. I emailed. They didn’t answer. Or care. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Stage Negative 3: Frustration

“We’re sorry, but…”

We received several applicants and you have not been selected. Your application was very competitive, but we have hired someone with more specific qualifications. This posting has been filled. This posting is no longer available.

Please continue to apply with us in the future.

I hate it. I hate it so much. It is neither better nor worse than receiving nothing. It is good to know. And sometimes the person who sent the email can give me tips for future applications and interviews. But it is crushing, especially when I thought I nailed it. Especially when I am overqualified and someone is hired because they are more qualified, somehow.

Both Stage -2 and -3 lead to Stage -1.

Stage Negative 1: Depression

“This will never end.”

I tried so hard. I keep trying. It has been so long. My bank account and credit are in shambles. I am working multiple jobs which will scarcely allow for any kind of easy-to-get retail work. I am living less than paycheck-to-paycheck. Any school holiday is a day I’m not getting paid. My clients cancel on me often. I get migraines. I get so depressive that I can’t get out of bed.

I have 3 degrees, one of which is an advanced degree, but I can’t get an admin assistant job, somehow.

Meanwhile, Trump is going on about all the jobs there are.

I survive Stage Negative 1 because I have to. 

Stage 0: Gathering Strength

“The search continues…”

Alright, Pandora, you’ve got this. Just keep applying and something will stick. It’s okay to take a day off. One day, then back at it!

Okay, 2 days.

At most 3.

…4?

And then back up to Stage 1. Maybe someday I’ll hit Stage 6 ? ? ?? ??? ????? ???????? 

Tweet me @PandoraCray!

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