Apply Yourself

Sun 01.29.12 | 6 comments

Partly in thanks to a series of ritualistic animal sacrifices, I began 2012 with a brand new job. I do design now. I make posters. It’s nice and it took me about 5 years to get here. I have a number of friends who are currently hunting through the thick, dank forest of the Job Market. As such, I would like to share a bit of advice about how I acquired, tied down, and killed a virgin goat applied to jobs.

In the Beginning…

In the beginning, I signed up for Twitter to track my job application progress and to make light of it. This practice made me all too aware of the process. Particularly, how many applications I would send out, when I would send them out, and how I would never, ever hear anything back from anyone, ever. This is my first piece of advice though; Keep track of everything you send. Know when you sent it, who you sent it to, and try not to apply for the same job half a dozen times.

Found a job I really want. mailed heartfelt cover letter, resume, and business card on 9/04. Sprayed envelope with cologne. Now we wait. – Excerpt from Twitter

That particular Fall, I applied for about 25 jobs. I went through different methods; I uploaded resumes through the company’s job bank websites, I emailed my resume directly to the hiring offices, I even mailed hard copies on thick-stock paper directly to the hiring manager. I followed up with phone calls to HR, emails to each department, and I even showed up at the supervisor’s home with boxes of chocolates and a dozen roses.

Called design dept of Dream Job. Left a voicemail. Feel like I am asking girl to prom. Fear rejection. Will spend another prom crying @ home.

After following all the tips, doing all the tricks, I had managed to land a single call back for a job that I discovered would pay far less than my current job. This is when I resigned that my fate for 2009 was to remain at my current job. It was also around that time that my Twitter account was used to produce garbage. However, out of the 25 jobs I applied to, 20% notified me that I was not “what they were looking for.” The other 80% did not even bother to send me so much as a confirmation email, return my calls, or follow up with me in any manner.

Over the next few years, I would continue to send out resumes sporadically.

Embrace Rejection

Please bear with me for story time: In one particular situation, I had my foot in the door at an in-house design department for a travel company. I had a friend, Steve, who was leaving his position as a graphic designer to become Captain America. Steve passed my resume along to the higher-ups and they called me for an interview.

Weeks later, I sat through a very engaging 2 hour, group interview. I had a good rapport with the HR representative and I was immediately asked to speak with the head of the creative department. We chatted, I gave them my online portfolio information, and I left. Now we jump forward three weeks. I had not heard a peep from the company. I am spending my evening playing Halo 3 with Steve. I asked about the job between explosions and he tells me that I didn’t get it. That’s how I found out I didn’t get the job! During a game of Team Slayer on Coagulation. No one from the company ever contacted me.

Get use to that. I have been at my new job for about 3 months now and I still have 10 outstanding resumes floating around on some unloved HR employee’s faux-wood desk. Most of the applications you send out are going to be transmitted directly into the nearest black hole, never to be heard from again. You will learn to embrace rejection letters – much in the way a troubled child might learn to love his father’s belt – because it’s the only attention you’ll get for a while. During my latest job hunt, the quickest turn around time I saw from application to rejection was 3 days. The longest was 13 months.

I just applied to 3 jobs because what’s the worst they can do? Have me killed? If my resume is THAT bad, then I deserve Death’s sweet kiss.

Work Hard, Reward Yourself, Cry

I’m not going to sugarcoat this: 1 in 4 people in the job market will eventually give up, stop eating, and, eventually, die alone.  The other 3 might want to prepare yourself. Here comes the part where I actually give some advice:

First! Get yourself into a groove. Find a number of resources and check them on a regular schedule. Because I worked in higher ed, I would keep tabs a dozen or so university job sites. Every 2 weeks I would check them, again and again. Gather newspapers, do regular sweeps of job sites, even utilize Craigslist if you hate yourself and other people.

Secondly! Don’t let up. Every week, try to send out at least 5 new resumes and cover letters. Even if you are underqualified for the job, overqualified, or if it’s even only half interesting. This practice will keep your typing fingers limber and it will fortify your ability to lie about yourself.

Thirdly! This will suck, so reward yourself. You are putting yourself out there, to be judged by anonymous desk jockeys and people who hate you. Try to take the edge off. For every 4 cover letters you complete, have a brownie. My preferred reward was a shot of whiskey for every application I submitted. I apologize to who ever received my 5th cover letter of the night, which I am positive read only: “I’M SO SMART HIRE ME BY!

Fourthly! Don’t send out your cover letter the same night you write it. Sleep on it, then re-read it the next day. This will prevent any drunk-applications or simple spellging errors. I would also recommend bothering a loved one, friend, or parishioner for proof-reading.

Lastly! Don’t give up. Midway through this process, you are going to feel devalued as a human being. You will just assume that there is some reason that no one deems you worth so much as talking to. You’ll probably consider a life of crime and drugs. If you think you can pull off being the new Kingpin of Crime, I’d say go for it. The rest of you: don’t give up. Just keep chipping away. Eventually, everyone else will give up, leaving you by default!

I hope that something I was able to write was inspiring or at the very least life-changing. Does anyone have an advice? What is your process? How do you cope with a thousand No’s? Tell the world!

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    6 Comments

    • Sarah done said:

      Congratulations on finally getting a job that you enjoy, HP! I know it was a long process but I’m glad you didn’t give up and kept on applying. – Though, since you are happier now your Twitter has become less-entertaining, haha ;p

      As far as advice goes – I’ve found that you just need to apply everywhere. The last two jobs I’ve landed (and one I went on an interview for and turned down) did not have advertised openings. I just applied to everywhere I thought I would like to work at and it turned out that some of these places were quietly looking for someone or thinking of hiring another person when my resume just so happened to appear.
      It is a tough job market out there though… it’s hard to apply and apply and never hear back from 99% of the places you’ve contacted. Like you said, just keep trying until everyone else gives up! 😉

    • Melanie done said:

      I would say congratulations on your new job but that was so 2011. Fuck that. Instead, I keep encouraging you to continue acting like a douchebag in your new job.

      As for advice, perhaps I should start with a run down of all the jobs I’ve had in the past 4 years that I have known you. First, I was at HBS. Then I was at Dunster. Then I was at Whole Foods (WTF!?)… I had 2 different jobs at WF. Does that count as 2 jobs? I’m not sure of your “rules”. Then I was at Temple Bar. Then I was at the Mansion in Dallas (WTF!?)… Then I was at Central Market… Then I was at Whole Foods again (seriously, what the fuck is wrong with me?) Then I got my current job at my school. That’s 9 jobs (or 8 if you think WF is just one job)…

      So here comes the advice part: Never feel like you are too good for a job. Apply for all jobs even if they are janitor positions at a toilet factory. It’s not like they’ll call you anyway! Keep applying over and over and always lie. Lie about your previous experience. Lie about why you have been stuck in the same stupid job for 4 years. Lie about why you’ve had 9 jobs in the past 4 years. Lie about everything. In fact, you could even lie about your name. Also, always be sure to use friends as references and have them lie for you as well. (See HP for proof that this works!)

      Then, someday, if you are really awesome at lying, you’ll get a call back. Then you’ll get a job.

      But don’t worry, eventually you’ll get sick of it there and you’ll want a new job… At that point, you can come back to this post and relearn all the tricks.

      • HP done said:

        The trick is “lying.”

        And to cover my bases, I had a coworker AND an old professor act as my references, thank you very much.

    • Ashley done said:

      Aww….this is great, honey! I have to say I’ve sort of fallen into all my previous jobs. One of which was theatre at CSC…that was just fun.
      But IFS I sent a hard copy of my resume/CL and I got a call in a few days because they were doing some major turn arounds internally, leaving one vacant spot open. One.
      I say that it was luck and AWESOME timing that landed me that job.
      So I took it.
      …..and here I am.

    • Mellen done said:

      I think this speaks to all of us- in any field. Whether it’s going through an 8 hour physical boot camp audition, making it through 6 “cuts” only to find out that they are only hiring people with penises, or going to your local Indian-owned deli and finding out that having a college degree does not help in the making of sandwiches~ it is all daunting. I would like to add to the “don’t give up” section- and that is do you own thing. Whether it is purely for fun- taking kung fu, riding a bike, thinking dirty thoughts about fellow subway riders, etc.. or a serious attempt at making your passion into a career, DO YOUR OWN THING. One other thing- people with jobs love to tell you how to get one. This is annoying and heartbreaking. Don’t harm the person with the job, but simply take the advice and store it in a place where it can be useful. For instance, the person with a job says: “All you have to do is not care and good opportunities will come to you.” If you think too much about that statement then you are caring too much. So the fact that you are listening to that person in the first place goes against the rule that he/she just stated. The useful place to put this advice is out of your head and written down on a toilet paper role. Once used, it is flushed out forever. Your mind reels, I know. Creativity heals and organizes ones heart and mind, so forgetting the advice others becomes easier. Forget advice. Get creative.

      • HP done said:

        I have to say that “Get Creative” is a huge factor. Not only can it help you stay sane, but it can benefit you as well. Granted, this might not be very useful advice for those of you looking to go into finance or farming, but for those looking to get into an artsy field, this is invaluable. I landed my current job because my portfolio was loaded with all the stupid, bullshit, silly posters and projects that I did for fun, most of which end up on this website, viewed by a whole dozen people.

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