Retail was the only place that would take me straight out of college. I had a very expensive university degree, a summer internship at the top of my resume, and letters of recommendation, but no one would hire me.
Finding a job is a part time job.
It’s long. It’s discouraging. It really makes you feel less than. Less than the person next to you, less than your degree says, less than you’re worth, and the list goes on. It’s a tough age where a Bachelors is a minimum standard and you’re expected to have 5+ years of experience in the right field, even though you’ve only worked at IHOP because breakfast is life.
I’ve been there. I went through there. I’m there AGAIN.
Here are three characteristics that can help you while you’re job searching and have helped me on this second go-around.
1. Can't Stop, Won't Stop
Persistence is key when you begin the process. You almost have to go in there knowing it’s going to be a long wait. It’s tough when you’re faced with rejection and you become ultra critical of yourself. You practice and prepare endlessly for jobs that never come back around. Unfortunately, you literally cannot stop and you will not let yourself stop.
This process can break you down. Suddenly, it’s easier to watch another full season of Mad Men on Netflix than it is to pull up your laptop and continue to apply. It becomes a chore to wear your nice shoes for yet another networking event. You’ve said your elevator pitch so many times that people who attend the same networking events as you have memorized your elevator pitch. You’ve shaken so many hands and given out so many business cards, you start to shake strangers’ hands - like the bagger at the grocery store. You’ve been fake smiling for so long, you aren’t even sure which smile is real.
There’s no answer for that pain or embarrassment other than to keep going. You have to come up with variations to your elevator pitch, purchase more business cards, shake more hands, and smile bigger.
It comes down to stamina. Can you handle it? The payoff is real. You can’t stop and I know you won’t stop. Which leads me to the next characteristic:
2. Never Settle
After a while, you might feel less than you’re worth. When you begin to feel valued as less than what you should be, you begin to accept whatever comes your way.
This is how people get lost in get-rich-quick schemes, pyramid schemes, or get stuck in a dead end job. It’s important to not settle for the first bid that comes knocking. These are often that ones that won’t value your skills or develop you into the professional you wish to be.
The very first job offer I received was for a “brand ambassador” type of job where I was supposed to walk around retail parking lots trying to sell $5 bags of trial sized makeup kits. They offered me a low base salary and a percent of sales. This organization claimed that it was “event marketing” and that I would be gaining loads of experience. Not to mention the promise that if I sold more, I would get my own team to train and become a manager in less than 6 months. Then I would gain a percentage of their sales. Does this scream pyramid scheme?
And sadly, I almost fell for it. So many other desperate, fresh out of college, "need money to pay rent", "anything to keep me busy" millennials are stuck in the same situations.
Then, there was a private company who offered me half of the starting salary for the position I was applying for. I didn’t know that at the time because I hadn’t researched the position, the market, the industry and I went in blind. More than anything, I was desperate for a desk job, so I took it. It wasn’t until 2 years down the road that I realize how little I had received and it was too late to get me back to where I should have been.
It’s important, especially when you have experience, an MBA, or a Master’s degree, to not settle for anything less than your value.
Even enduring the hardship and not settling for less than your worth, there is always something bigger you have to keep in mind.
You. Your purpose.
You have to keep the end goal in mind. It’s one thing to mindlessly apply for jobs, it’s another to actively seek a career. It’s getting creative when you don’t hear back again and using the third door to get your name on the list.
Purpose is remembering what it’s like to be a person. Take the time in between networking events to volunteer. Volunteering can lead to new relationships, networking outside your circle, and learning more about who you are. It even adds to your resume and gives recruiters/HR a peek into who you are.
Discover something new about yourself. Build a positive habit. Meditate. When you start to feel less than, purpose gives you a reason to say “I deserve more”.
It’s easier said than done. You become vulnerable and desperate during these times. You slowly start to lose your purpose, forget your worth, and ultimately you slow down the applications, stop networking and you give up.
This isn’t easy, but keeping in mind these 3 characteristics might make it a little more bearable. I hope it helps!