Rejection, how I’ve missed You

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In case anyone is keeping track, I’m still failing at wordpress. My followers are few, my posts sporadic, and I have yet to UPGRADE! my account to receive the bountiful pleasures that await me.

But not to worry – I’m failing elsewhere too – most importantly to me, I’m failing to keep what a former employer frequently referred to as a “PMA” or “Positive Mental Attitude”.

You see, I applied for a job. And not some random, off the cuff, “oh, I bet I can do that” kind of job, but rather a niche job with a weird skill set that matches my life and education, a job that I was asked if I had any interest in a couple of years ago – a job I once held.

It’s a job I didn’t return to, and at the time there were good reasons for that – first and foremost, the whole child-rearing/childcare debacle… reasons that hadn’t changed when I spoke to them the last time the position was vacant.

But things change, and so seeing this posting, and being in the position I’m in, I thought “Well why not. At very least, it’s an interesting conversation; I’ve got this knowledge of the institutional history, and ten years away from a place can really give some perspective! I’ll at least meet with them to chat.”

Or so I thought.

Days passed, and I didn’t get a call.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not so overconfident that I’d assumed the job was mine – I merely thought that I warranted an interview. I was good when I was in the role. It’s a hard skill set to find. They’d invited me to apply previously. And so, me being me, I called to find out why I hadn’t heard anything.

Cue the awkward conversation.

We had a lot of executive directors apply for the position”

(It’s not an executive director position)

“The job has changed a lot since you were here”

(Then may I recommend taking 15 minutes to update the job posting that I wrote ten years ago?)

“We just had some great applicants that have been… working for the past ten years”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when you should thank your lucky stars for the fates unfolding in your favour once again, and get on with it.

But of course I can’t. Because I have been working for the past ten years. The pay has been absolute crap, the benefits intangible, the hours hellish, but trust me, it’s been work. And the paid professional work I’ve done as a consultant in the last few years and the volunteer work for which I’ve used professional skills aren’t even a part of it. I’ve worked at parenting, at managing a home, a family, a budget, renovations. I’ve been a corporate wife, advising and strategizing. I’ve been many things, just not an employee.

Which brings me to the awkward part of what I want to say here – and what is going to cost me my followers, my wordpress credibility, and may even leech into my linked-in profile, ruining my tenuous chances of making those six remaining connections standing between me and success.

I’m a better parent than you.

No, I didn’t say that. But yes, I also-fucking-loutely did.

I know that parenting is a democracy and that everyone is just doing their best and that “HOW DARE SHE SAY THAT WHO IS SHE TO JUDGE I’M BLOCKING HER I HATE HER” but let’s just take it apart a little bit.

We don’t dispute that someone that spends their days counting widgets in all likelihood, is better at it than someone that does not. We don’t dispute that someone that has been “working” for the last ten years has had the opportunity to develop job skills superior to someone who has not.

And yet, as parents, we’re all equal. The fact that I’ve largely been home with my kids for the past decade IN NO WAY suggests that I might have skills beyond those parents that immediately returned to work. Because as parents, we are all equal. Put in a 3-hours-until-bedtime shift or 24 hours, seven days a week – we’re all doing it equally well. It’s a lovely double-standard that almost any trip to my local Wal-Mart gives me an opportunity to contemplate, never mind a volunteer shift in my children’s elementary school.

I’m better at parenting than you. I’m better at knowing when to take a hard line, and I’m better at holding it. I’m better at making the unpopular decisions tolerable, I’m a better motivator. I’m better at time-management, I’m better at multi-tasking, and I’m better at working with multiple bottom lines. I’m better at saying no. I’m better at those awkward conversations (see above). I’m better at conflict resolution. I’m a better listener. I’m better at choosing my battles. And all of these things, to the right employer, will be invaluable. Just apparently not at the *ahem* “Women’s Centre” I applied for a job at.

And on that note, I should probably just leave this here.

 

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Welcome, community. I’d like you to meet my brand.

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Seriously, when I decided to do this, I figured “what the hell, a little time set aside for contemplation and thought, a place to vent and share my experience”. You might note that I did not think “A place to grow my brand, gather followers, and build a community”…. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I’m possibly a little naive – after all, I’m over 40 and this subsuming technological world is a bit mysterious to me. I eat meals without posting photos. I don’t curate images of vacations and adventures. Social media is, for me, still an afterthought. I’m not accustomed to considering myself a product that I must sell to followers and connections and friends online.

As a linkedin linker, I’ve failed. My network has failed to grow sufficiently to generate the opportunities I’m sure will reveal themselves if I can only make seven more connections. But it’s weird and a little uncomfortable – the person I am on linked-in is a bit of a stranger to me. She’s got these skills that sound impressive and articulate, and while they’re all true, at no time in my profile does the word “bitch” appear. (I guarantee you, if employers would just use that as a keyword in recruitment strategies, I’d be one hell of a hot commodity). I can still remember when my work-seeking self was simply a couple sheets of paper with relevant notes typed on it. Now, I’m a cross-posted on-brand compilation of searchable keywords, curated photos and connections on a million platforms and networks.

And despite the fact that this is only my second post, I have also failed at blogging. Where are my followers? My likes? My shares? Why, oh why have I not upgraded with wordpress to a premium account that will help me obtain all of these supremely important things? Why didn’t I read that article about monetizing my blog? How could I fail to share on facebook and instagram and snapchat (can you share to snapchat?).

I’m picking up a couple of interesting trends. Maybe understanding them (if not participating) will assist me in my job search. Or make a job out of my job search.

First, I’m supposed to build my brand. I’m supposed to develop a highly curated version of myself, and use it in the digiverse to attract followers, likes, and shares. This itself may not assist me in my job search, but it’s just how things are done now. I feel more relevant already having discovered this, and plan to spend the next week hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking, and working in a community garden to generate the images I need to populate my instagram feed. No doubt, this is what potential employers are looking for.

The next step is to monetize everything. Once I generate the followers and connections and friends and likes and shares I’m supposed to, then I can upgrade my blog (thanks wordpress, I did get your seven emails about this!), allow some advertisements on it, and watch the pennies roll in.

You’d have to be less relevant to the modern age than I, to not have heard about disruptors, about the side hustle, about all of the different ways young people are going about making a living these days. As I embark on this journey, sheltering myself from the bombardment of messaging about monetization, branding and upgrades, I’ve got to wonder – was participation in this online economy ever anyone’s intent? Or are people just falling into accidental (largely unpaid) employment, in which they are hard at work selling themselves as a product? And does it leave any time for looking for work?

 

Head Under Water

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I’m not certain where these images come from – but nonetheless, it’s appropriate. I’m going to opt to see this as the sun rising – just as my head goes under the water.

Because that’s honestly how I spend my days right now. Waking up in a panic, wondering what steps to take and in which direction. As a planner and a controller, it’s the type of freedom that’s oppressive, overwhelming, and that leads to dreadful self-doubt and uncertainty.

Background: for the last ten years, my husband has been employed in a lucrative and very demanding position in the mental health and independent living field. My role has been to be home and available to our growing kids (now 10 and 7) as his days were often long and unpredictable. It had been our plan for me to start law school this September, as the kids need me less and our lives open up a bit… But then health care reform swept our province, and  my husband’s job ended up in the dustpan.

And so I deferred law school. 3 years of tuition, books, and 0 earnings. It no longer seemed like a simple or positive equation. Especially considering my husband’s need to re-group and reconsider his direction in life. So I deferred my acceptance into school, and slowly waded into the formal job market.

I’m 42. A university graduate. I’ve done some contract work and volunteered over the past decade, but haven’t had a normal “job” since October of 2007.

It’ll be interesting to see what the world makes of me as I try to find something meaningful to apply my talents to. Scratch that. It will be terrifying.