To the New Grads and those still looking...

If b.y.o.Résumé were to give a commencement or a hang-in-there speech, this would be it:

For those of you stepping out or back into the full-time working world, seeking a bright future, just remember, your future doesn't have to be bright right now. It's okay if it s*cks. I'll tell you why and hopefully my frustrations and difficulties will help you along your path.

Once again, you may be wondering if I've been eating paint chips or have stuck that pencil too far into my ear canal, but I assure you, there's a valid point to this.

I emerged with my second B.A., international experience, and multiple internships in my field of interest in the early 2000s to be slapped in the face by an already bad economy (yes, it's bad even when it doesn't affect high-paying positions and homeowners). It took a few years to find full-time regular (ftr) work, and, although the journey was exhausting, frustrating, and insane, it helped me immeasurably. Here are some highlights:

-Was offered a job a month after graduation, only to have the contract pulled before I could sign it, due to sudden budgetary issues.
The bright side: That company has been known for routinely laying off and rehiring staff as though their retention and hiring program functions like a revolving door/mobius strip.

-Worked in retail while looking for work that was more applicable to my skills and experience.
The bright side: I developed a new respect for those folks dealing with the public, was able to speak multiple foreign languages (part of my studies) with customers, and learned how to properly apply cosmetics.

-Following my stint in retail, I finally landed the first of a series of contract jobs. Learned first hand the sometimes dehumanizing way in which contractors are treated in companies (when they're support staff - that's another post in itself!).
The bright side: Some jobs were in highly unstable industries and the companies had to nearly shut down in recent years. Had I landed the jobs I wanted so badly, I'd be back where I started all over again!

-During the contract years, landed one full-time regular job in my field (HR/Recruiting) at a financial firm. Although I fancied myself a workhorse, I found that 11 hour days & 6 day weeks in the off-season weren't enough to tread water at a Type-A haven. The kicker? I wasn't being paid more than my previous contract work!
The bright side: It was the only job I'd ever quit in under a year, and the first Friday evening I had free in ages I became reacquainted with my future husband. Had I stayed, I would have been stressed-out, underpaid, and stuck on yet another Friday night in an office tower one block down from where his birthday party was taking place.

-By the time I had weathered my contract years, I had racked-up an impressive tally of being a candidate in approximately 100-125 phone screens and in-person interviews. During those experiences, I'd been put through the wringer and come out even savvier. I'd been:

  • Stood up by interviewers
  • Forgotten by them when I showed up for our appointment
  • Lied to by shady staffing agencies (not all are bad, though)
  • Indirectly scolded/insulted/dismissed by poorly-trained hiring managers (they did ME a favor by showing their true colors in the interview!)
  • Misled about the job and its temp-to-hire prospects, and so much more, woohoo!

-Probably the best teacher ever was my college debt. Luckily, my student loans were on the low side (<$20k), and I had to learn to budget VERY fast since my work was piecemeal and the pay was paltry. I was often shocked to learn in conversations with my luckier classmates and friends who quickly found full-time regular work, that they didn't know where their money went and always seemed as broke or more so than I was! I prided myself on my being broke-chic, and when I finally landed a stable job, knew exactly where my money was going.
Before you think I've finally found the rainbow in this poop storm, I haven't!

Even though I'm grateful to have a stable, ftr job with benefits, a great boss, a great commute, and I can take a lunch & leave at 5pm every day, it's neither in my field of interest nor uses my skills set AT ALL! That being said, I've learned to be patient, have found a way to utilize my skills and interests whilst getting the mundane tasks done, and am resourceful enough to leverage this experience just like I have with all the rest.

The Bottom Line:
Do your best to find a great-fitting job. If you do, count yourself lucky and mention to the recruiter that you have some contacts they might want to look at to fill their other openings.

If you find something that's a good start but not your dream, suck it up and deal with it. We all have to get started somewhere, and the universe doesn't magically owe us a super-fabulous dream job; it's up to us to wedge, kick, and cram our dreams into them along the way.

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