I have recently realized that sometimes in life we go through a period of false starts. Over the course of the past few months I've had two employers and am now down to none. It's an odd feeling, really. Going from working for a singular employer for more than a decade to rejoining the land of the job seekers, it's a road filled with many ups and downs. For anyone who's been without a job for an extended period, you know that the road seems to be filled with a lot of downs. Sometimes you must take several steps back in order to move forward.
There are days where I am on the computer for hours on end applying to jobs. It often feels like I'm throwing my resume and applications into an abyss. So many sites require you to provide job histories going as far back as 15 years. While I don't have a problem with that, it's hard for individuals like myself who have a thorough list of work experience and education to list them all without being sucked into the time chasm. I suggest building LinkedIn profile and creating a Taleo universal profile to assist you in easily importing some of the data. However, be prepared to still have a lot of tweaking and editing and sweat equity to put in.
If you've been out of the job market for a while, there are some changes. The last time I job hunted you had to more literally pound the pavement in search of a job. And despite having spent the past several years in HR, I must constantly remind myself that there's no one perfect résumé or any guarantees in making your qualifications stand out. I've found that I've become one of the very people I'd hope to never become, I've made myself so over-qualified that employers automatically think, "she won't stick around." I'm reluctant to dumb down my qualifications as I want to be able to paint the most accurate picture of myself that's possible.
Cover letters are a really great companion tool to résumés. It allows your true voice to be heard and also allows you to communicate with the potential employer in a tone that is more relaxed and reflects your personality. I've found that, when given the opportunity to include a cover letter, I'm happy to do so. Think of it as your chance to go beyond the often boring text of a typical résumé. The cover letter narrative is all about how you want the employer to view you and it allows you to say to the potential employer, "Hey, I'm a lot more than my list of qualifications, I'm the one you want to hire."
It's hard sometimes not to be deterred and to feel completely in the dumps. Here I am talking about do's and don'ts in obtaining a job but I have yet to find the one for me. But I know that things happen when it's time for them to. I honestly have a lot more bad days than I do good ones as far as job hunting goes. However, it's during these times that I am able to see myself for who I am without the airs of a specific job title or work responsibilities. I force myself, as one must sometimes do, to pay attention to what it is I want and don't want. Since walking away from my over decade-long career in libraries I've endured the defeat and embarrassment of a one day job and took a brief and misguided step back into the world of retail. I was quickly reminded of why I left it at the end of the 1990s. Sure, I feel like those two experiences were, in part, personal failures of what it is to be human. But how can I consider it to truly be a failure if I've gained some degree of enlightenment and self-realization?
I must also admit that I am very blessed. When I decided to leave my job, sell our house and move closer to family, my husband was fully on-board. I have a wonderfully close-knit family that lends support whenever any of us are in need. I'm not at all embarrassed by now sharing a very adequately sized home with my brother. I actually love it. But I also know that not everyone has that kind of network to lean on. As I watch our financial reserves become more and more depleted I become more nervous about what tomorrow will bring. However, even in my moments of darkest despair I always try to appreciate even the little things. You know what they are. The warmth of the sun's rays on your face on an otherwise abysmal day or even the smile you get from a stranger when you're feeling blue. The many little things that remind us of how good it still is to be alive and how this too shall pass.
LaToya M. Davidson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter, @LaToyaonUR.