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"We're Going On A Job Hunt, A Job Hunt, A Job Hunt..."
“We’re Going On A Job Hunt, A Job Hunt, A Job Hunt…”
(To the tune of “we're going on a bear hunt…”)
Once upon a time, when I was a teacher, and thus gainfully employed, I enjoyed the game of “going on a bear hunt” with my younger students. Each part of the journey had an exaggerated physical characteristic, such as: climbing a mountain, fording a stream, cutting through a forest and swishing through long grass. The order was built, one component at a time, until you entered the deep dark cave. There you would encounter the bear, and with a scream, go back home as fast as you could, going through the obstacles in reverse order.
This very traditional lesson was always fun and included elements of imagination, exercise, order of operations, cooperation, and competition, in other words a rich learning experience for little people.
The grown up version has not been quite as much fun. For one whole year I have been playing the “job hunt” game. It is surprisingly emotional and exhausting as you encounter the challenges one by one. And, to date, the prize in the deep dark cave has eluded me.
The first challenge is getting over the fact that you are no longer going to go to the place you have been going to for the past sixteen years. This journey is so ingrained that you have to take care to not let your car drive you there on autopilot. Sitting in your car in the parking lot of the place you no longer work at, is, to put it mildly, embarrassing.
The second challenge is coming to terms with the sense of rejection you feel. When you were one of the founders of the institution that then veered off in a whole other direction, the rejection is multiplied exponentially. You look at the newcomers and rack your brains as to how this could possibly have happened. You never quite get over it, but the searing pain fades to a dull ache over time.
Then you enter action mode. You work on your resume, tailoring it to ever new and broader possibilities, while an element of doubt slowly enters the equation.
The next part of the hunt holds the greatest promise, and the deepest disappointments.
You join job sites and retype the same information for multiple opportunities to put yourself out there. You submit carefully worded letters of introduction along with the most finely tuned resume you can muster. You ensure that the essential skills and competencies match. You then submit your application. And wait…
Many online applications ping an automatic response to you. It is too often the only communication you will receive. It is at this point that you realize the Internet, while holding out innumerable possibilities, is also a giant black hole. Your resume has entered the same realm as missing socks and New Year resolutions.
(After a few weeks, you lose track of the number of applications, you forget your usernames and passwords, and realize that you need to bring some order to the chaos that is running rampant through your home office. This feels a little like actual work, so it is fairly enjoyable if not particularly productive.)
Which brings me to the dark side. The predatory organizations and individuals who send you emails full of promise and redemption - the Internet as a moneymaker. You only need to work for several seconds a day and will somehow reap riches beyond your most avaricious dreams. Don’t be fooled. These scams are sophisticated, and even one year into this gig, I still wonder…
Like me, many of you will immediately check the organization with a scam site, and disappointed, wonder how on earth you could have been fooled at this stage of the game. These are the real bears, and they have a tendency to savage what is left of your dwindling self esteem.
Eventually you find yourself checking “Indeed.com” every few minutes and recognizing the cyclical job offerings repeating themselves every month. (Does anyone ever get hired by DeVry/Corinthian?)
A little while into the year I discovered some very important things:
- Friends and contacts are two entirely different entities. The first is a very small but very important group, the second does not (can not?) care about your predicament.
- Unemployment Insurance is truly a lifeline. There are days I just want to hug our Government. It was the difference between difficult and impossible.
- Reinventing yourself is difficult, but may ultimately be the only option – and the most rewarding.
The last point is where the game becomes incredibly personal. I needed to stop thinking of myself as teacher and school principal, or in a role-centric view of my life. I needed to look at my skills, my abilities, and my experiences in a more holistic vision. What were my unique attributes? What could I offer that others perhaps could not?
So I worked on my writing. Here on hub-pages, in the writing of the detective novels, and in the completion of the children’s series. I worked on the creation of my web site(s). I learned about publishing at a time when the paradigm was in total flux. I learned about marketing and the value of social media.
Now the game was more active rather than reactive. I still checked the job sites and applied for seeming matches, but the focus was on me becoming my employer.
I realized that for years I have been a public speaker. Could I make a living doing that? I started to repackage my writing for speaking, learning the tricks of the trade and rather belatedly joining Toastmasters International.
So, today, on my one-year anniversary of writing on Hubpages, and with my 100th hub, I find myself playing a different game. It is risky, for sure, as with any creative endeavor. But, now I wait for the break, rather than the bear, to propel me into the next phase of my life…
Visit me at http://chrislincoln-writer.com
Dear Hub Reader
If you enjoy this hub, please check out my book,
Homo Domesticus; A Life Interrupted By Housework,
A collection of my best writings woven into a narrative on a very strange year in my life.
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