and how to survive it.
I went to gradschool. I have a masters degree to prove it and everything. I went through six years of higher education to learn the various reasons why capitalism sucks and now I get to go out into the world expecting to become a full-on business woman. Report to the base: I am not doing great (yet).
For three months or so I have been living under a diligent routine of working morning shifts as a freelancer (#thanxtremg) and afternoon shifts as a professional job-applicant/ gig-chaser.
Working on my personal brand became an inevitable aspect of my daily life – and I don’t mean just having my make-up on point + big girl pants ready for interview time. My résumé needs to be well designed, perfectly updated, comprehensive and attractive. My Linkedin profile needs to be appropriate, but unique. Daily reminders serve as constant whispers in my inbox telling me to update my professional social media platforms with the most groundbreaking, fact-checked, publications and the latest industry insights. My headshot and cover image need to be perfect, after all, they will be my first encounter with what could be my next source of income… perhaps, even, professional satisfaction.
At every application comes the challenge: how to stand out? How to create the ideal cover letter? Number 1 to 25 looked very unique but, little by little, titles and organizations become a pout-pourri, something I exhaustively copy and paste on a template. I try my best to change a few words here and there, research becomes editing, envoironmental advocacy becomes immigrants rights and team work becomes proactive and independent. It all depends on which one of my many facets I believe my potential employer would like to be highlighted.
At times, it is hard to put in the effort to personalize each form. Apart from automatic response e-mails, I don’t know of many humans who read my application materials. Maybe a robot here, maybe an intern there. I am too busy and too tired to care about every single word put on the cover letters. Companies seem too overwhelmed to actually read what I wrote to them.
Some days the applications are just words that seem to get lost on automated roads going anywhere but a job. Trying to get employment in 2020 is an exercise of faith, but not futility. Because, even in this crappy year of our Lord, there are those days when I find organizations I truly love, catch myself writing words I actually believe in, reminders of why I am trying to find a good job at all: I do it to not lose myself in the potential emptyness of life. I do it to bring money home, but also to bring purpose to that masters degree I love telling potential employers about. I went to school to matter, to entertain, to change. Having a job I identify with will allow me to do all that and the one-thousand cover letters, six-thousand clicks and eight-thousand diversity forms filled along the way will give me confidence in my personal brand and testimony to my persistance.
In the meantime, here is my tip to all other Linkedin/Indeed/ Angel users out there: keep an updated excell sheet with all the applications in your desktop and ice cream on the fridge for those moments when you wish to send everything, cover letters included, to hell. Companies might not know where your incredible application went but you will at least have a document tracing exactly where you’ve been: you spent months sending e-mails to robots without going crazy and, even if you don’t find a job, you have at least that.