Some have asked: How do I spend my time while traipsing across this big beautiful and incredibly strange country that is these United States of America? Honestly, my time is spent working on odd freelance projects, searching job postings, reconfiguring and submitting my resume while consistently examining my existential angst and walking Jack the Adventure Dog. This unceasing internal analysis has brought to light a few items that a good friend of mine has suggested I write about and share with others (Oh my, how lucky my subscribers are today!)
Before I continue with this post, it should be noted that I have worked for the same non-profit for 10 years whose focus is on local food systems and community development. It is only recently I find myself in a very different position, strictly because I do not live in the state I once served.
For the last few months I have been submitting resumes. Each time I conform my information to what the job opportunity wants to hear. I am fully aware that my words must match an algorithm set by human resources, which will either spit my resume to the trash bin or be moved to the next level of data sets. It is truly alarming how we are all put into boxes of data, am beginning to think resumes are a complete waste of time. Lately I’ve been told the following:
- Only give 10 years of experience, because if you do any more than that they’re going to know you’re old. God forbid, my experience seems like I’ve been around the block a few times – I can’t understand why a company would want that? Maybe they like to spend lots of resources on training.
- Don’t use words like Creative, Responsible, and Strategic – though you had to be all three to get to where you are now.
- Make sure cover letters are unique and convey you, but don’t be too you, just a little you to make you stand out. What the hell does that even mean?
Of the 25 jobs applied for, I have spent on average, 20 hours refining and fine-tuning for each application. That’s 500 hours of my time to slay the algorithms in order to be noticed. Of these jobs I have applied for, I have received three notices of receipt and two notices that they found someone who better suited their needs. One company – a non-profit- who responded with a thanks but no thanks, will eventually receive a monetary donation from me (that is when I start working solidly again). Why? Well, they do good work with environmental issues, which compels me to want to donate anyway and the other reason: they treated me like a human. I would much prefer to be told no, than to be completely ignored.
I have a pretty good hunch that this is why people give up on the resume process. Why must we spend so much flipping time fine-tuning something that for one reason or another won’t fit into that perfect little query? You are nothing unless you conform to the keywords and metadata. Even a fine fancy finagling of the thesaurus might not be of much use. Not responsible but accountable? Not strategic but prudent or even better shrewd! I love the word shrewd; it kind of rolls around the inside of your mouth while exercising your jaw and lips, it’s a word I should use, if for nothing more than facial exercising to keep myself looking younger than I am.
Then there is this little gem…no one wants phone calls. I get that, the phone can be annoying, particularly receiving constant calls from job seekers inquiring if their resume has been received. Every job ad I have read has stated explicitly no phone calls. Therefore you are left to accept that you may never hear from these people again. Think about that 20 hours you spent agonizing over your qualifications trying to convey you’re responsible and a team player without typing those words and never hearing another word? Well that’s time you’re never getting back!
Remember in the beginning of the post, my friend who told me I should write about this issue? She pointed out that I spent 500 hours trying to land a job, which could have been spent building my own non-profit, or business. And she’s right. Why in the world, should I spend another hour gambling my time away on another resume? I am going to start my own thing, and hire people who care like I do, and send thanks but no thanks letters to those who don’t match my criteria. Hmmm, it appears I want to be a job creator for good causes, but first, I must create my own job before going on a hiring spree.
I’ve got ideas – LOTS and LOTS of them. Now to find a benevolent benefactor who shares my same passion for sustainable community development, particularly for under-served at risk and distressed areas – of which there are plenty to choose from. Alas, I learned long ago there is no prince charming who will come and rescue me, therefore I must be my own knight in shining armor. I will not scoff at the idea of a kind multi-millionaire in need of investing money in a wackadoodle idealistic pragmatist like me. However, there is much work and research on my end to be done to prove I’m worthy of their money, therefore spending hundreds of hours on job applications will NOT get me there. So, I’ve decided I will send one resume a week (because I still believe I would be a fine asset to a good company plus a regular paycheck sounds awesome), and the rest of the time will be spent writing and working on my strategic plan oh wait…sorry… my premeditated plan.
How has your experience as a 40+ something been in regards to finding meaningful employment? And what are YOU doing about it?