“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
Let’s get confessional, ducklings.
Here’s the horrible, smug truth – I’ve been offered every job I’ve seriously applied for since I was 16. Yes, some of those opportunities came through connections, dumb luck, and even parental urging, but the fact remains that I have been very luckily in work. I know it and acknowledge it. I’ve been grateful for my good fortune, but I’m also now getting to go through a crash course in the program. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
You will get frustrated. Frustration is fine, but it does not entitle you to complain or get cranky. After a lot of frankly easy good fortune, it is no fun at all to come up against disappointment and difficulty, but you will. Deal with it with humor and dignity. Because…
You’re not special. In a place as varied as London, my skills are not unique and I have a lot of competition for positions. It is nothing personal when I don’t get them. On the other hand…
You have something special to offer. Just because I have the same practical skills as the next girl does not mean we combine them and our personality strengths in the same ways. I am a creative problem solver who is good at making existing systems and programs work better and coming up with solutions when issues arise. Someone else will be an organizer who is able to spot new opportunities and exploit them. Someone else will be team leader who is good at finding the right person to fix certain problems. We all could potentially have the same practical skills and work history, but our strengths are different.
You will make stupid mistakes that will make you cringe. A very kind person recently went out of their way to help me on my job hunt. I thought I had sent a thank you note after a meeting and an extremely thoughtful email, only to discover five days later that I might have written it but I hadn’t clearly sent it when they followed up with me. I was badly embarrassed to have made such a rookie error as to not have doubled checked I sent the damn thing before I closed a page! Double check everything, but know you’re going to make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up too badly when it happens (she says after thunking her head on the desk she felt so stupid), apologize if you can and keep on trucking.
You will feel overwhelmed. I’m effectively trying to make a career change. That means I’m starting from the bottom in a new city, on a new continent up against scary smart competition who are both sharp and local. Forget finding opportunities, I’m having to locate the sites and forums where opportunities are even posted! I’ve been lucky to have been pointed in some good directions, but it’s still a daunting prospect. It’s fine to feel out of your depth, it generally means you’re trying something foreign.
You will be rejected until you’re not. That’s nearly a 100% failure rate. Know that’s what you’re going into and be ready for it. It makes the word “No,” so much less scary than we often give it credit for. Hearing no, and often hearing nothing, has been less than enjoyable to adjust to, but knowing that it’s going to be the norm makes it much easier to deal with.
Again, it’s not personal. Frankly the people I’m applying to don’t know me, therefore it’s not possible for them to dislike me. Ergo, not choosing me for a position isn’t an insult, a slight, or even an opportunity to be mean or hurt my feelings. It’s just a “No, thank you.”
There are some of the lessons I’ve learned or had to relearn. Minion who have or are job hunting, share your wisdom! What did you figure out about job hunting that you didn’t know before hand?