How to stay sane when job hunting
I must confess, the title of this article is somewhat of a misnomer because in actual fact I don’t know the answer. Job hunting can be a daunting and thankless task, and can quickly weaken a person’s already low self esteem. A while ago I wrote about the fact that I had, after many years of doubting myself, come to the realisation that I am a writer. I have had the absolute luxury of spending much of the last year working on my debut novel, The Fire Fox and the Harvest Moon, and of course have wonderful fantasies about that book becoming an international bestseller and all my dreams coming true, but back in the real world dreams don’t pay the rent and I need a job.
I have had many incarnations in my life – I worked for several years in the care and support sector before transferring over to education in 2007, but although I was certain at that point that I wanted to be a teacher, I know myself well enough now to realise that teaching is not for me. It is a noble and worthy profession and I have the utmost respect for teachers everywhere, but I am not one of them. When I got the job as Speak Out! Coordinator at my old school it was a total gift. A job in a school, with young people, helping them with their confidence and self esteem and encouraging them to read? Perfect! A job where I was in control of my own schedule, where I was free to roam where I wanted, when I wanted? Even more perfect! I couldn’t have created a more satisfying and rewarding job for myself if I had tried, and I loved every minute of it. When the funding ran out my emotions were mixed – I was sad to leave but happy as it meant I got to be with my husband who had left for Ecuador 5 and half months before.
Fast forward to a year later : I’m back in England and I need a job. When a very similar position came up in a school, I was amazed. I am not an arrogant person by any means but as I went carefully through the application I was quietly confident. I matched their criteria in every point with real life experiences. Added to that my qualifications and experience as a teacher, as well as glowing references from two exceptionally well respected people in education, and I sent off the application feeling good. The deadline was on the Friday and I knew they wanted to interview the following week – a very tight turn around. By Tuesday when I had heard nothing I began to worry. On Wednesday my inbox was still empty and I called. They were very sorry but I hadn’t been selected for interview. I’m not saying I should have got the job, or that there weren’t other applicants with more skills and experience than me, but to not even get an interview? I was gutted. It was a real blow and made me question myself. The most frustrating thing is that I know what a hard worker I am, how committed and loyal I am, and how much I have to offer, but with every rejection the little voice of doubt becomes louder.
How to keep your chin up, duck
Thanks to my lovely pooch I have no choice but to exercise every day, and that is very good for having thinking and reflecting time. It is really easy in these situations to get down and lose motivation but getting outside, breathing in the fresh air, and just being in nature is an absolute tonic. My friend told me about a fantastic website called coursera, which provides free online courses from universities around the world. I have signed up to a Writing for Young People course to keep my brain active and make me feel like I am still achieving something. The hardest part, in my view, is to maintain the confidence to apply for more jobs and not allow the set backs to get to you too much. I’m still working on that part.
This was the third job in a row I have applied for but not been selected for interview and honestly it is difficult to keep my chin up. I am at a crossroads in my life where I am confused about what to do next. I know that teaching is not for me and yet I love working with young people. I have never been a person who has chased big bucks (clearly) and yet it is very difficult to live on the wage of a Teaching Assistant, a job which I loved. I am well aware that I have put myself in this tricky situation by going to Ecuador and taking another ‘career break’, and that in this economic climate beggars can’t be choosers, but as far as what I am going to do next – at this point I really don’t know. Answers on a postcard please.