I was chatting with a former Google colleague earlier this week. I found out (via his FB post) that he, after about 5 years, was taking the plunge– deciding to leave Google and do something totally different. We chatted about different things, including my job search, and he said that I seemed less frenzied than before– I’m not really sure what “before” references. I admitted that yeah, after finishing up my last assignment at a place that I knew wasn’t really the best cultural match for me, I was definitely treading more lightly in my job search. Once bitten, twice shy I guess.
In addition to smarting following my last job, there are a few other reasons why I have been a bit more relaxed in my job search. Part of it is the realization that there are a finite number of jobs where I meet the description/expectations of a role and where I stand a chance of being happy in the somewhat-longterm. That’s kind of sad to think about, especially the second part of it– but it’s true. I know of a few former colleagues/classmates that are already on job #2 at one year post-bschool. So even if I blast out applications, the success rate may not necessarily be higher and in fact, I will probably have to endure painful interviews or screening phonecalls where I am told or where I come to the realization that yeah, this really isn’t the right job for me.
Part of it is because having had my contract end on the part of the company, I qualified for unemployment. So I’m collecting the standard unemployment benefits as I job search.
And then part of it is the realization that a long period of extra time that I am currently experiencing, yes is undesirable since I am unemployed but also somewhat enjoyable. When I talk to people about having too much time on my hands, so many people retort “I’d love to take that much time off” or wish they could have done the same before rushing into their last gig. And as much as I am somewhat jealous of them for being gainfully employed, I know that in truth: they are probably more jealous of me in having all this time off to find my next life opportunity.
I had reached out to a friend about an open role at his company. After a little bit, I realized that the role wasn’t really a good fit so I didn’t followup. But my friend reached out asking if I still needed help and I had to admit that my interest wasn’t high enough to get him involved (as a referral). I admitted that I was being somewhat bipolar in the job search process– getting excited and then growing bored with listings, especially when I had to wait for responses from recruiters. I asked him if he had any insight on the job process (as he had been unemployed before his current role) and this was his response:
I found the job search is as much a battle against oneself (self-doubt, negotiating against yourself) as a battle to get the job. If I wasn’t feeling positive then it would come out in my interview. So if you don’t have any pressing financial pressures then I would just take it one day at a time, do the job search when you’re feeling motivated to, and don’t get burnt out. Hope that helps.
And his feedback did help because in some ways, it was confirmation that I shouldn’t feel so guilty that I’m not spending 24/7 job searching (although I am aggressively applying for things– not being a slacker!) That there is a limit– either in what you can take and what you can expect in outcome– to what can be done in the job search process and that you should try, in between applications, to savor this time off.
So I’ve been reading. A LOT. And watching DVDs rented from the local library (free!!!) It’s been really great. I think I’ve read more books in the past two months than I have in the past ummm five years. Here is a partial list: The Hunger Games (Collins), Catching Fire (Collins), The Help (Stockett), Why You Aren’t Married… Yet (McMillan), How to Be a Grown Up (Kaiser), Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom (Chua), A Walk in the Woods (Bryson), Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me (Kaling), Bossypants (Fey), and then like every book Chelsea Handler has written.
So yeah– I’m trying really hard to keep things in perspective. Trying to see this as a chance to enjoy the time off while also trying to find a role that I can have some confidence I will be happy in.