This job-hunt process has been . . . illuminating. For one thing, it's brought into sharp relief the differences between people who have their career paths mapped out and those who thought they did, lost it, and now find themselves struggling to resell or reinvent themselves. Personally, I don't think there's much separating the two apart from luck. But if you're from a certain socioeconomic strata and have accumulated a lifetime of being taken seriously and given opportunities, it's easy to rationalize that you'll always be okay. I know, I was there! After a relatively easy post-graduation transition into the job market in a down economy (nothing compared to today, but I did have to take a temp job that turned into a permanent one), I have motored every onward in the world of the gainfully employed. Not reaching great heights like some of my friends, mind you, but employed, in a gainful fashion.
Now it's a different world, and I'm in a different age and stage in my career. As such, I'm accumulating an assortment of blazing insights that I'm bestowing, in volume, on a friend of mine who is looking to change jobs. But I would like for her to save herself a lot of time that I wasted finding this stuff out.
Blazing insight #1: Sending in resumes to online job lists is like submitting to literary magazines. The competition is fierce, you're one of hundreds. The odds are, you're not going to get to the top of that anonymous stack.
Blazing insight #2: Like in the world of dating, hiring managers can smell desperation. They don't want desperation. They want confident, competent professionals who make their lives easier.
Blazing insight #3: If you don't know what you want to do and/or you're not able to communicate it, two things will happen (a) your network will have no idea how to help you and (b) employers will pass you over, because their priority is not to help you with your self-fulfillment journey, it is to hire people who will do the job well and who want to be there.
Blazing insight #4: Network, network, network. I've always hated it and avoided it like the plague. It's such an imposition! I don't know how to pay folks back! But the thing is, other people are networking too. And if a conversation can result in a trade that helps everybody, excellent! If the networking involves friends, your friends care what happens to you. If they had a magic wand, they would wave it for you, with fierceness, in order to materialize the perfect position. And because they are your friends, the time may indeed come when they need to rely on your knowledge/expertise/network/ability to toss them freelance work. So it's not something to get hung up about. Treat people with respect, reciprocate, be a good friend.
Blazing insight #5: Together with projecting confidence and avoiding desperation, know your worth. For instance, you know what? I'm mighty awesome at organizing things. I edit with care and detail. I'm a pretty decent writer. I'm an extremely hard worker. And any place that hires me will be lucky to have me in the mix.
Blazing insight #6: Social media, investigate it. LinkedIn groups, twitter. Resources abound.