There are a lot of secrets on the job hunt. Secrets from employers. Secrets from coworkers. Secrets from Facebook friends and Twitter followers. It can be hard to talk to people normally when the first thought on your mind is this secret.
On top of that, I’m really bad at job hunting. That lack of skill left me seriously looking for a job for almost a year (and not-as-serious-as-I-liked for a few months before that.) Even after I announced my resignation in Florida and moved to Chicago with my fiance, I still felt like I had a huge secret.
My secret kept me from talking about my hunt openly, and probably contributed to how poorly I hunted. It’s the reason I loaded boxes at UPS for a month, then answered phones at a doctor’s office before finally getting a career job.
That secret: I had no idea what I wanted to do. In my head, the only requirement was to live the same place as Jean. And once I accomplished that, once I got here and continued my job hunt, I told people I had a plan.
1: Get a job
2: Get a full-time job
3: Get a full-time job I wanted to have
*Steps 1 and 2 were optional.
But I still had no idea what job I wanted. Journalism was probably not the answer. If a newsroom job had come along, I’d have taken it in a minute, but the prospect of throwing myself further into a shrinking field was not as appealing as it had been when I entered college (and after every semester when I thought very hard about switching majors). Whenever students younger than I asked for advice about journalism school, I always said the same thing: If you can do anything else, anything at all, do it instead. I guess my own advice finally caught up with me.
And still I struggled, slamming resumes and cover letters at every job opening I was remotely qualified for to a constant stream of quiet rejection. It was all I knew how to do. And while I told a lot of people about my doubt, I couldn’t make it common knowledge.
Perhaps I’m paranoid, but i didn’t want a prospective employer coming across some blog post, tweet or update talking about uncertainty in my career aspirations. Or, even worse, certainty in a direction other than into their field.
But I’m a pretty open person, and secrets (of my own, at least) are not something I’m very good at. And maybe not surprisingly, my job hunt went better with employers who knew the whole story. Steps 1and 2 were accomplished. (Personal connections certainly didn’t hurt, either.)
In the end, I found my new path the same way I stumbled on copy editing as a freshman. Somebody asked, “Do you want to do this?” When the answer, unbeknownst to me, was yes.
Now I’ve started a new career in marketing, and I’m happy with my work and my location and the direction of my life. Even if I’m still not exactly sure what direction it is.