Awesome illustration from Austin Madison.

I don’t like to get bitter via digital media.

But I have to afford myself a little steam to blow off.  Especially because I know a lot of smartmotivated people out there who aren’t getting jobs.  Now I don’t want to come off as if I’m entitled to anything.  Because I’m not.  I’m a staunch believer in earning everything in life.  I’ve been extremely blessed thus far and my frustration of late has nothing to do with my feelings of misfortune.  It has everything to do with the flawed system.

It’s not “flawed” because I’m unemployed (though sometimes I like to convince myself of this), it’s flawed because it‘s such a mystery to so many people.  I’ve heard from some that the key to securing a job is acting professional, presenting a polished resume and iterating your genuine enthusiasm.  From others; “they don’t even look at your resume, it’s all about how you stand apart and be different”.  Those seem like very contrasting ideas.  How do I fit in and stand out at the same time?

My favorite is the conflicting conventions on opening addresses.  Take example employer, John Smith.

Do I address him as Mr. Smith? Mr. John Smith? John?

Do I open with a dear, a colloquial hey or hi?  Do I want to sound rigid, compliant and respectful or easygoing, flexible and human?

Another analogy that has become increasingly perfect for describing the job hunt: dating.  Your resume and cover letter is your way of flirting.  That awkward, nerve-wracking interview is yup, you guessed it, the first date.  The interview call back is well… the call back.  The follow-up email is that rushed text of jubilation.  Much of what is muddled in the dating process is also excruiciatingly vague in the job application process.  What is the other party looking for?  If it’s a no (and even that is unclear sometimes), then what could you have done better?

From the other perspective, I know that it’s not easy to sift through hundreds of candidates.   To be efficient, recruiters have to use some baseline filters; GPA, grammar red flags, schooling.  The stress and time-consuming process in itself, unfortunately, just weeds out those not willing to sacrifice a newborn for the position (no one).

However, this whole stressful experience has yielded one great thing: reassurance.  Knowing (finally) what you want to do arms you with the tenacity to face rejection time and time and time again.