Growing up, no matter where I went, it was pretty safe to say at least one person there knew my grandpa. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard "You must be one of Ed Reitz's granddaughters," upon introduction. I very much took those connections for granted and when it came time to head off to college, I left town with barely a glance back. I had no doubt in my mind that with good hard work and the right attitude I could be successful where ever I decided to land in life.
Until 5 years ago not once had I applied for a job that I was not offered. Not once did I apply for a job with even a question in my mind that I was indeed the best candidate in the pool of applicants. Never did I think my connections, or usually lack there of, could make a difference in the outcome of an application.
Fast forward 5 years, past disappointments and eye opening job seeking experiences, and I have a whole different opinion of the job searching process. Especially in a small town. Connections are everything when you live in a place where everybody knows somebody.
I bring this up because last week Scott "celebrated" the one year mark at his current job. One year ago we had hope that this job was indeed the "beginning of the end" of the struggle and uncertainty we had been living through for the previous 9 months. What we didn't really grasp at the time was just how much this new job, and what we thought was pretty good potential, would be affected by the continued decline of our economy and the US job market. And so as he went off to his new career we kept everything else in our live moving forward as normal, certain soon things would pick up and his commissions would start to bridge the gap.
One year later the gap is still ever so present. Maybe even more so. The house/the cars/the kids still need maintained/gased/clothed & fed. And when the bank account has read ZERO, the credit card has on occasion had to come to rescue. One year later and the story is the same. The hope slowly fading.
So...I started scanning job ads this weekend. I checked the websites of the major local employers. I searched for job postings on some of the big job searching websites. And what I discovered is I'm SCARED TO DEATH at the thought of really starting the job finding process.
That confidence that once would have lead me to apply for any job that sounded challenging or interesting is gone. The thought of having to go put myself out there for a job, not simply out of interest, but because of necessity, makes my head swirl and GINORMOUS butterflies mash dance in my gut.
When I left my full time job to follow my current career path, I never thought I would NEED to think about doing anything else. I always took for granted that it would be by choice when/if I started down a different road.
How do I market myself in a job market when qualified seekers far outnumber the available jobs? How do I convince a potential employee that I am indeed the right candidate for the position when my passions/dreams lie someplace else? How do I even begin to choose WHICH jobs to apply for given my varied work experience, skills, and interests? How do I make sure I find a job that can use those skills and talents and ensure I don't simply end up a Wal-mart cashier? (Not that I'm saying that's a bad job...but not one in which I'm necessarily interested. That and call center operator. Been there. Done that. Never again.)
See...now your head is swirling too, huh?
What I wouldn't give right now for a few of those good old fashioned connections. Not the ones you THINK you have, but those honest to goodness "we know you because we know your family...and they are good people" connections. Familial good karma. I'm thinking I could use a little of that right about now.