The Emotional Roller Coaster of a Job Search

There is nothing like a job search to bring an ego down several notches. It’s easy to start questioning your self worth. And as millennials, it is statistically likely that we’ll be doing quite a bit of job searching here and there.

Millennials have been stereotyped as being job hoppers, and while Gallup’s polls are true that “60% of Millennials are currently open to a new job opportunity,” they also state that we “are by far the most likely generation to switch jobs” and that is not true. The distorted allegation was refuted by Forbes.com this past January in their article “Millennials Aren’t Job Hopping, Young People Are.”

A man sits on a stool holding a burning newspaper
Photo by Elijah O’Donell on Unsplash

They point out that comparing Gallup’s data to data from Gen Xers when they were our age, the percentages are actually nearly identical. Millennials who stayed with their employer for 5+ years stack up to 22% of our population, while job loyal Gen Xers of the same age range back in their day accounted for 21.8%.

“This research implies that Millennial turnover and employer loyalty is comparable to, if not slightly better than, at least one generation that came before them…. Young people have always been, and probably will always be, job hoppers, regardless of what generation they belong to.”

The bottom line: millennial or not, we all do a little job searching in our youth, or a lot. And job searching ain’t easy on the soul. It’s easy for even the best of us to give up after the first dozen job applications we put our heart and soul into go unanswered.

Jobs go even deeper though because they put a value on us. How much am I worth? you wonder. Am I worth $25,000 a year? Am I worth $17 an hour? Am I even worth minimum wage? And then if that’s the job you get, the damage can go deeper still. Yes, I’m only worth minimum wage. 

Minimum. This word takes us to the deepest place a self worth can go. or can it go even further? What if we can’t get a job at all? Not even minimum wage.

job search 1

Joblessness goes far beyond a designation of “unemployment” that gets you paid not to work for a few months. With the importance we attach to it in today’s society, it can get into our hearts. Jobs are so much a part of who we are that losing them can feel like our identity has been stolen.

Over the past 10 months I have been searching for a job as if I were searching for an identity. I recognize that there is a real danger in conflating one’s self with one’s career, but it is too easy to do. When who we are is what we do, it is natural to turn towards our actions as a way of defining our being, or as a way of re-defining it when we are not happy with who we are.

If I were to go back to the real beginning of this journey, I would really have to go back 12 years.

During my three and a half years at college I worked in the food court, at Starbucks, at Dunkin Donuts, at The Hempest, and for the Americorps program Jumpstart. When I graduated from college the first thing I did was teach English in South Korea for 9 months, but it was never meant to be my career. I had no clue what I really wanted “to do.” It is a travesty of our society that we push “college-age” kids to go straight to college! So already I was off to a rocky start.

After coming back state-side to have my daughter Mia, it wasn’t long before I felt the push again to work and contribute to my society. Unlike the unnatural push to pluck an arbitrary major out of my university’s course offerings, this push felt as natural as giving birth. It felt good to be involved in my community, so I started up volunteer projects and opened a small business sewing cloth diapers and selling them on Etsy.

Of course small businesses take an average of three years to make a profit, so less than 9 months later I had already dusted off my resumé and gotten a job selling ads for a local community magazine. Less than 3 weeks later however, morning sickness literally swept me off my feet and I decided I couldn’t keep doing my new job. Soon after I had my second daughter Josephine, overwhelmed and exhausted, with Papi deployed in Afghanistan, I closed my Etsy shop.

18 months of babies later, fed up and touched-out, I decided I needed some time away from my home-life. I spent 3 months working as a seamstress for a shop just outside Gate 3 at Ft Stewart called Ranger Joes, sewing badges onto uniforms. Working nights and weekends while my husband was not at work was depressing and draining, however, and frankly often dangerous for the babies, so it’s no surprise that that job didn’t last very long. By the time I left I was relieved to be home again.

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Two name tags, a business card, and a wedding ring lie on a table next to a jewelry box

A Mother's Day greeting card reads "Daughter, No matter how many hats you wear these days - here's a little advice..."
Like all amazing mothers, my mom has a way of knowing me better than I know myself…

Slowly my volunteer work built momentum and grew organically into a nonprofit that became a 501(c)(3) and an all-consuming facet of my life. But after another two years of incessant nagging from my husband, I felt pushed once again to “get a real job,” so I made a major sacrifice for my family and gave up my nonprofit for adoption to a team in Atlanta.

Since my children were still pre-school-aged babies, I tried direct sales for about 6 months, selling jewelry online and at local venues. I actually loved it and excelled at it, but after we moved into our tiny house in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico, it became impossible for me to continue vending or networking for future sales prospects, so my career in sales simply petered out.

By this point I was frustrated with what I perceived to be my many “failed” businesses and job ventures. I vowed never to start another business ever again. It allowed me a blissful 9 month respite where I surrendered to my spirituality and homeschooled my children, but as always fate had other plans.

When I enrolled in the year-long Institute for Integrative Nutrition‘s health coach training program and started planning to open my food service business, I made a solemn promise to myself that this would be the last time I would ever, ever start a new business.  I made a blood pact that I would never forgive myself if I gave up again. I would not. I could not. I would not fail.

The day I officially closed it is now 10 months, 2 careers, 1 part time job, and 1 startup in my past. Since then, I have been a real estate agent for 6 months, a second grade teacher for 4 weeks, worked at an organic juice bar for 3 months, conceived a baby, and started a blog. Welcome to a year in the life of a crazy person!

infinite

Considering the fact that I’ve been doing it for nearly half my life, I think it’s safe to say that I have plenty of experience with job searching. And it was my father who gave me the best advice I have ever received about it, back in 2009 when I had just graduated from college. Pop said, “When you are job searching, job searching is your full time job.” 

In a way then, I supposed job searching has been my job all along.

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After a decade of adulting through the muck of it, my best advice to job searchers is to just keep job searching. It may never end. It may be who you are. Maybe not. But either way, if you really need that job, you must preserve. Expect for it to take some time, or a very long time. As soon as you stop looking for the jobs, the jobs stop looking for you. 

A man wearing a VR headset and track suit stands on a tennis court. Text reads "As soon as you stop looking for the jobs, the jobs stop looking for you."
Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

I will say you should probably take the advice of a Manifestor like me with a grain of salt. When I job search, jobs usually just fall into my lap. My problem has never been finding them, it’s been keeping them aligned with my why. But I know that many millennials out there are hungry for job searching advice. So here is what I do:

  1. I tell everyone I know everywhere I go that I am job searching. I tell everyone I meet. I ask if they would please keep me in mind if they hear of any jobs I might be qualified for as well. But that is not enough. I ask if they would mind being a reference for me should I find a job to apply for. I also ask if they think of it if they would mention to others that they have a friend in the market for a job. Many of the jobs I have been hired for have come as a result of nurtured connections and the value I place on networking. 
  2. I search in unorthodox places. Aka I search under motherfucking rocks. I search on Linked In Jobs, Indeed Jobs, and the Classified section of the old school newspaper. But that is not enough. I also search on Facebook. Facebook business pages can now offer jobs, and they pop up in my notifications all the time. I also search on Craigslist. I also drive around and walk around downtown and look for help wanted signs in windows. And I also do completely random Google searches for jobs in my area with no other particular filters. You may be surprised what you find.

    A Facebook notification reads "Springs Rescue Mission posted a new job."
    This literally just popped up on my Facebook as I am writing this…
  3. I don’t stop searching. I don’t stop and wait for my last application to go unanswered. I keep my eyes open, my ears open, and I keep applying. I follow up, but I never set all my hopes and dreams in one job or all my eggs in one basket.
  4. I get unconventional. If I’ve been at it for awhile and I’m not having my usual luck landing that next gig, I get creative and just fucking make it happen. Try adding images, quotes, or statements about the job you want to your vision board or bullet journal, or if you want to get real funky you can put together this opportunity spell. It worked wonderful magic for me. Even if you don’t believe in woo woo shit, sometimes just the act of playing with your intentions in a different medium such as these can open doors and spark your imagination into remembering one more person you haven’t talked to yet, or one more rock you haven’t looked under.
  5. When I lose hope, I get it back again. I forget about the fact that my track record for job loyalty is pretty much as shitty as it could get, and remember the fact that despite my precedent, for some inconceivable reason, employers keep hiring me. So I clearly have something awesome to offer that everyone wants. You do too.
  6. When it is time to apply, I send a polished, one page resumé. Yes I said one page. Trust me. One page is enough. You just read this blog post. If I wanted to, I could write a 6 page resumé. Don’t. Whittle down the best of your best onto one page. Eliminate the margins! Drop the text size down to pt 10. Delete that IG account you don’t really use anymore. Omit a few skills this employer won’t care about. Edit your job descriptions. Do what you have to do, but keep it to one page. If the job you are applying for involves childcare, put Jumpstart and teaching experiences and homeschool on there. If it does not, take them off. They are irrelevant. Stacy Mojica resumé example
  7. I always send a cover letter. And I do not always constrain my cover letters to one page. If I feel like I have to beg for the job, I beg for the job. I write what I am that is most relevant to the position, and what I know will most likely get the attention of the HR rep or employer who will be reading it. Check out these excerpts from my latest cover letters..

Whole Foods has been a passion of mine pretty much since my first experience inside of one, in Savannah,GA, during which I spent two hours picking my jaw up off the floor as I took in every aisle with all my senses. I still have a very fond memory of catching a whiff of the black, smoky truffle sea salt for the first time. That scent is still my favorite scent in the world.

When I read the job descriptions for this position, it felt like I was coming home. As a prior business owner, nonprofit founder, Realtor, and avid volunteer, to say I am in love with my community is something of an understatement. But that’s not a good enough reason to apply for a job at the Gazette…

 

At the end of the day, what I’ve learned is that not all of us were designed to have a lifetime career. Some of us are designed to lead projects for specific purposes that last a short time. And this does not in any way lessen the value we have to offer our communities. In fact, becoming aware of this quiddity and living a life purposefully enacting it strengthens it beyond measure.

A woman holds a magnifying glass up to her eye
Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

From the deep depression of failed businesses and the profound unhappiness of being in a career that felt lightyears out of alignment with my soul, to the contentedness of a steady job and the pure adrenaline of growing a baby business conceived with all my heart and soul, I have run the gamut of the job search roller coaster, and I’m ready to get off. For awhile. Eat some cotton candy. Then I’ll remember that I’m completely insane and get back on.

A big thank you to all our Gold Millennial readers, followers, and fans. Thank you for reading, and thank you for being a part of our brand. Together, we are Gold Millennial. What is your best job search advice?

6 thoughts on “The Emotional Roller Coaster of a Job Search

  1. Omg LOVED this! Your resume and search tips (and attitude and stamina tips) are spot on perfect! Great advice. One other thing is even if it’s years after graduating from college, people should take advantage of their college placement services and job listings – there’s usually an email list-serv.

    Liked by 1 person

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