Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who Will Give the Job, Afterall?

I've decided that job searching is the perfect professional endeavor for a narcissist, of which I am not. In the two months since being laid off my formerly really cool, but non-existent job, I have never talked so much about myself to so many people who seem really interested in my entire life, except in a therapist's office. And in this eye-opening process, I've learned the following things about myself:

- My skills are an evolutionary phenomenom -they've been shaped to fit almost every industry on the planet. My skills feel like a gumby doll, or like Mrs. Incredible with those fantastic arms that stretch to the back floor of any minivan. And you know, I believe this is a truth because if my skills are solid, which they are, then they will translate, adapt, rise up and meet the challenge. How can they not? They've been being honed for 12 years and every project or job takes those skills and makes them grow.
- Being versatile is not an asset. People want specialists, of which I am in the uber-sense of marketing and PR, but I've had the privilege of working with lots of different people from different backgrounds. When I was an actress, an experience not unlike this job interview process, being what was known as a triple threat was the ultimate advantage. Before hybrids became known as funny little cars that don't leave a large carbon footprint, all performers aspired to be hybrids - actress/dancer/singer, singer/dancer/actress, dancer/singer/actress or any combination of those. Today, employers want a single focused employee, despite the fact that the average employee these days switches jobs every six months.

- High energy scares people. I've had to turn down my energetic volume, have chamomile tea instead of that third cup of coffee before the interview, lean back in the chair and talk quietly, thoughtfully.

- Ask a lot of questions. This might seem funny for someone being interviewed, to ask questions of the interviewee. But a list of well-thought out questions scribbled in the car because I am always way too early, has helped to show my intention and intelligence. And it actually helps me to calm that normally turned up volume.

- An interview is not a chance to try out your untested stand-up comedy routine, unless you are actually auditioning for a comedy club. I made the mistake in an interview of making the interviewing group laugh a little bit too much, but I just couldn't help myself. It had been a ridiculously high energy morning, culminating with at least two cups of coffee. When someone asked me, "What is your weakness?", the inevitable follow up to "What is your strength?", I answered, "Having to come up with an answer to that question." Got a great laugh. As did my other great line that didn't get me the job, when asked how I do with interruptions -I responded with a very close Rodney Dangerfield imitation, "My life is all about interruptions. I only come to interviews so I can complete a sentence." In hindsight, I should have saved the comedy for after I got the job.

- Stay positive. Today's job market is tough and the job search seems relentless and endless, despite a fantastic resume and great people skills. Do something nice for myself - I'm doing a trade with a esthetician in exchange for some PR work. I'm having lunch with a friend. I volunteered to help my oldest DD's Brownie troop and basked in their giggles and hilarious silliness. I stopped trolling the job boards and created this post.

I will say that I am actually learning a great deal about myself through this process, as stressful as it is. I'm meeting people who are passionate about their work, good at what they do and want to surround themselves with excellent people. I'm learning to become really comfortable and adept at the interview process, when to talk and when to listen, when to ask questions and when to respond. And most importantly, I've learned to trust that there is a job out there for me - one that is filled with challenge, balance, great people and one that hopefully helps the planet and us squirrely inhabitants.

But enough about me - I'd love to hear how folks cope and get through the job search process, so chime in and share!

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