I have decided that growing up stinks. It’s hard to go to high school and college, each transition moving along successfully. It makes you take for granted things you shouldn’t, like your own ability to get a job. A real job. When people tell you in college to take as many internships as you can, get as much experience as you can, actually pay attention in class, and you do, and you still cannot manage a job in the real world. Well, it’s tough.
I was the Outstanding Senior for the class of 2010. My thesis is published in my college’s library. People at my school associated my name with hard work and volunteerism, with good grades and a no-nonsense approach toward school. So, it would seem like graduate school or a job after college would be like giving a child a piece of candy. People should just be grabbing me right up; they should be fighting over me, drooling at the chance to give me an office. But instead I spent my summer after college at an old job, cleaning up puke and snot, going on field trips, and not contributing anything valid to my resume.
I went through a period of “Why Me?” It probably lasted a few months. There was an initial downturn when I was rejected from every graduate school to which a applied. Then there were moments of realization and calm, where I rationalized the fact that I had too much going on to properly study for the GRE and write a decent statement of purpose. I rationalized that a year away from school might help me gain some perspective outside of academia, a place where I was used to succeeding, and push me to different levels of personal discomfort. I rationalized that a year away from school just might give me a break and a chance to live my life a little since I’ve been so absorbed in school for the majority of it. And then there were moments where rationalization failed and I was left with nothing but self-doubt and self-pity. Those moments involved me bursting into tears in the car on the way to the grocery store or the library, pulling over and looking at myself in the rear-view mirror thinking, “You are ridiculous and pitiful, crying like an infant in the car and watching yourself do it.”
Now, I’ve moved to Atlanta and I’m still on the hunt for a job. I’ve been mostly fascinated with the idea that companies do not want to see you. I’ve applied to so many jobs where I just send in my resume and cover-letter and get absolutely no response, not even recognition that I’ve sent it. There are some that say on the application, “NO calls, faxes, emails, or hand-delivered resumes.” Like they don’t want to see or hear you at any cost because then they might feel some inclination to feel guilty about not hiring you. Applying for jobs sucks, especially when you have this sense of yourself as better than a few pieces of paper. I know your resume is supposed to be the great communicator that illustrates all your excellent experiences and skills, but some aspects of self are hard to squeeze in to a resume or cover letter.
Here is a list I found online some qualities that employers value in their employees:
1. Positive Attitude: How do you make a resume express your positive attitude?
2. Communication Skills: Ok, this one’s easy to express in a resume or cover letter. That’s the whole point of those two documents, right?
3. Computer Skills: This is the one-line section at the end of the resume that says you know how to use Word… woo hoo.
4. Strong Work Ethic: Slightly translatable in terms of resume–I accomplished this much in this little time. I work hard!
5. Honesty and Integrity: It’s pretty easy to not follow this one on a resume. It’s called padding, and I’m sure that all those dorks out there who are beating me out of jobs are doing it.
6. Punctuality: This is fairly high on the list. If you never get the interview, how do they know?
7. Flexibility and Adaptability: These are never mentioned on job descriptions, which means you have to include them on your resume in a sneaky way. Otherwise you’ll get weeded out by the resume-sorting software the company most likely uses.
8. Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills: You’ll have to show these through the little bullets on your job experience section.
9. Interpersonal Skills: Best experienced in person, but if you never get the interview, tough luck. Again, another aspect to try to squeeze into your experience section.
10. Teamwork Skills: See previous two bullets.
11. Initiative and Motivation: If they don’t let you call them about the resume you submitted, how will they know how motivated you are? Again, nicely worded experience section.
12. Loyalty: How many jobs have you had in the past few years? That answers that one.
It would seem like I know the tricks of the trade, so why can’t I score the job? Sigh.