It’s been about 2 months and I’m dozens of applications deep into my job search which has, thus far, yielded no results. Not even an interview. For the past week or two, I’ve been assessing my approach and presentation to see what I can improve upon or what else I should be doing.
The whole process is difficult based on the blind spots in the procedure itself. There’s little to go on in terms of who is going to see your submission since most applications are entirely online. Will it be a hiring manager in Human Resources? A Coordinator or Director? This fact makes digging into discovering an answer problematic. It also makes it time-consuming. For every submission, I’m entering information to confirm what I’ve already placed on my resume and freely posted on LinkedIn. For the effort I put into possibly addressing my cover letter in a more personalized way, I’ve sacrificed crucial time to send out other applications. At this point, I have to favor quantity over a limited increase in quality.
I already labor considerably on each cover letter to tailor it as specifically as possible to each opportunity. My writing has improved considerably from this commitment. I recently spent time changing my cover letter style dramatically, including more detailed examples, crafting substantial personal connections to the sought position and institution, selecting words more carefully, and conveying a sense of enthusiasm. These steps have produced better templates to work from and, depending on the type of job, these are useful starting points rather than continuing to start from scratch as I preferred to do. I quickly realized how unworkable that was, despite finding it more desirable to stare at a blank page. I love writing, but this isn’t that kind of creative composition, though it includes an element of innovation.
There was always obvious trouble where my resume was concerned. I’ve worked a lot of different places, with much overlap in responsibilities, and it stretched over two pages. I knew I needed to excise half, get it to a solid page, and figure out a manageable way to deal with this data. I made the transition into a functional resume from a chronological layout, to better group my teaching and separate bookstore management experiences together. You can never be entirely confident what the ideal format is because for every suggestion lauding a specific design, there’s another telling you to do it differently. It is much easier to read my revised version and I feel reassured by the fact that nothing is lost on a reader by being buried on a second page.
With the materials representing me appearing more formally pleasing, and knowing that the more I send out then the more likely a positive outcome, I’m holding myself to the new standard of dispatching 3 applications a day. This seems a reasonable amount, given the speed of my writing and the average span it takes to properly submit one, particularly to employers that I have not previously sent anything to, which requires setting up a new profile and filling in all the requisite information. I also allot time to examine everything one final time. Certainly this route of consistency is better than my previous binge and purge method of writing several letters and then sitting on them until I decide to relay them onward. My tendency to overthink and tinker was becoming a detriment to progress.
Expanding my list of potential employers is a priority that I need to make. I’ve been looking solely at colleges and universities, having spent nearly all my life working in schools, and I should explore other fields. Currently, I check about 80 places weekly for postings and this has provided a steady amount of potential positions. There are obviously plenty of other places to turn towards and I want to investigate the prospects of working for a non-profit, but I haven’t delved further into options. Perhaps steering in this direction would be beneficial if the familiar course hasn’t exhibited results.
And that’s where I’m at. I don’t know how to comment on the emotional impact of all this; it’s unquestionably daunting.
Drawing upon other resources, whether networking or utilizing career services from my colleges, is another path to follow through on, but again, there’s the balance of deciding what is worth my time and what might possibly limit it.
I don’t have a solution (no one does) but I’m going to trust my instincts and recognize that there have been instances where my success or progress is notable. It’s what has made the adventure in music so satisfying, the reminder that there are things I’ve been far less sure about and more reluctant to embark upon that have demonstrated how hard work does pay off.
I’ve been reminding myself repeatedly that all I need to do is get a single application to spark interest and effectively convince someone, somewhere, just once. It hasn’t happened yet though.