I left my job eight months ago. Yesterday, I was finally hired for a new position. I'll be working beside incredibly smart people at a company that excites me. Now, I feel like that gif + this song. (Edit: this other song is also appropriate.)
A huge chunk of those eight months was incredibly relaxing. I worked intermittently on some short-term projects. I traveled to both coasts. I spent lots of time with our new dog, and I explored my new city at a leisurely pace. I'd be lying, though, if I said I wasn't stressed out at times.
This job hunt wasn't easy per se, but it was much, much easier than when I graduated from college. (I was unlucky enough to finish in 2009, when unemployment hit 10%). I applied for a healthy number of jobs and interviewed for about a third of them. A few opportunities really excited me; others... not so much. But, if I was invited to interview, I always went with an open mind and my gameface. (This may have possibly backfired.) Along the way, people shocked me with their kindness and generosity. A podcast listener sent me occasional job postings. A woman I met while touring an office connected me with her network of creative people in the city. A fellow Hoya advised me on transitioning careers. Others simply took me to lunch and offered an ear.
This kindness, thankfully, far outweighed the lack of humanity I sometimes encountered. Though I won't go into detail, I want to emphasize my belief in treating fellow humans with dignity and respect. If you've interviewed an applicant in-person or even on the phone, if they dressed up and drove to your office, I beg of you: please have the decency to reply to their follow-up email or phone call. I have the suspicion that the people who treated me this way have never really been between jobs and either don't know or have forgotten what it was like to be on the other side of the desk. Good luck to them in discovering their own empathy and humanity.
Resources I Used
Job hunting and interviewing is a skill. I'm not an expert, but I found the following tools incredibly helpful on my search and I hope they can be helpful to someone else.
Simply Hired: I don't quite remember how I came to use Simply Hired instead of LinkedIn, Monster and all the rest, but I'm a big fan. Simply Hired delivered a daily digest of both quality and quantity when it came to finding jobs relevant to my skills and location. It ultimately helped me find the position I have today.
Creative Circle: I never used a recruiting agency before, and only found out about this one after a company I was interviewing with hired someone from Creative Circle instead of me. Turned out it was a blessing in disguise. The service is completely free to job seekers (companies pay for access to agency candidates) and, at least in the St. Louis office, is a fast track to interviews at some of the city's most creative companies. The recruiters were very helpful and supportive, and, though it was sometimes tough to swallow, were able to pass on employer feedback after unsuccessful interviews.
LinkedIn: Everyone knows about LinkedIn. Beyond having a nice, clean, shareable profile, it was useful to me in the following ways. First, I checked (where applicable) how popular certain job postings were. Although it certainly felt demoralizing to see that 100+ people applied to the position I was looking at, it was helpful in lowering my expectations. Second, I used it to see the professional backgrounds of my interviewers and of people whose careers I admired. This was always useful in coming up with questions during interviews. Third, networking. At my age and especially in St. Louis, I have a weak and virtually non-existent network, but I occasionally discovered I know a gal who knows a gal.
/r/Jobs: It's easy to feel isolated and alone during a job search, even with a strong support system of friends and family. Reading posts in this subreddit helped me feel that a.) I was incredibly lucky to have interviews and callbacks at all; and b.) other people were experiencing what I was going through, or worse. Reading advice and success stories was always helpful.
I need to give a huge shoutout to friends -- both IRL and from the internet -- and family. It's easy to feel ashamed about the job search. Why is it taking so long? Why hasn't something worked out yet? Your emails, tweets, texts and phone calls lifted me up. Thanks to a particular group of friends who endured my play-by-plays in WhatsApp. And above all, as usual, thanks to Alex for perfecting the art of support. When an interview went well, she cheered me on. When it didn't, she said "Fuck 'em." And of course, thanks to my dog, who was like, "Woof. Don't get a job. Stay at home with me forever." Sorry, dog.