Having lost my job, I feel as though my normal ladder has been temporarily pulled out from under me. I feel I must approach the search on many fronts at once. I need Plans B through H—lined up and ready to implement—so that I won’t find myself with no cash flow in a few weeks. There are all kinds of things I can fill my day with: writing (poetry, novels-in-progress, blogs), reading, editing the literary journal I helped to found, exercising, cooking, making collage art. Unfortunately, none of these fulfilling and engaging activities bring in any money. Without money, well, then what?
All the sages tell us to “Trust in the Universe,” and that “God will provide.” I really want to believe this, mainly so that I can forget about using every spare waking minute of my day to hunt down a new job. It would be beyond refreshing to focus myself instead on my many creative endeavors. (See previous paragraph.) But, this would be insane. I cannot function without money flowing in, health insurance, and a growing retirement fund. Can I?
Looking for a job in the second decade of the 21st century is nothing like it used to be, even eight years ago. Everything is done digitally now. Even your resume is first viewed by a computer that looks for keywords. A pair of eyes will look for an average of 30 seconds, so you darn well better stand out. Yeah, I can build teams and project manage with the best of them.
Furthermore, now we have LinkedIn. You need to have a presence there. You need to present yourself as a mover and shaker in whatever world you plan to operate in. You need to know what you are offering the world. Maybe this was always required when searching for a new job. It just feels different now.
What I am learning is that it is about marketing one’s skills; not giving a long boring list of historic activity. Employers want to know what you can provide in the here and now with specific measures of past success. Well, actually, I don’t know what employers want. I just know who I am, most of the time. I am trying to articulate this in more “up-to-date” language and formats. I am learning how to market myself.
I was slightly heartened to read on the Web, of course, that the final point of a four-point tip list for preparing your resume in the digital age offered this nugget: “Networking is still the bottom line.” Whew. Okay. I do have some good luck with meeting and talking to people. I am glad human contact has not yet left us. We do have to work with people, not computers. I mean, at least I think so. Ach. Who knows?
In doing all this “re-branding” of myself, I’ve also had some new awareness about the significance of the garbage can that I keep referring to, the one that sits at the top of the hill where my morning run ends. The can is just an object to run toward in the physical world. As far as metaphors go, the garbage is what I need to get past. It is the junk that is inside me; all my old assumptions about myself that say, “I’m not good at this,” or “I don’t know nuthin’ about that.” Those are old tapes, and they definitely don’t serve me, especially not now.
When there is so much that I am really good at, and so much that I do know, why would I focus on a negative view of myself? I don’t need a new me. I need a new ladder, that’s all. One that is genuine to me, one that leans against a structure I can believe in, count on.
And so, onward. Plan H, here I come. I leave behind all the old garbage, bringing my own ladder with me. Heck, I’ll even run up the hill with it, if anyone thinks that might help.