5 Stages of Job Hunting

Crikey? Image: http://goo.gl/nHqQQj

Based on the collected experiences of a dedicated research group of twentysomethings.

  1. The Search:
    You know your skills, you know your goals, and you know that you’re definitely in need of some form of gainful employment. Maybe you’ve just graduated from your fourth or fifth graduate program. Maybe you’re coming off a decades-spanning career in a high-stakes field (that no longer exists). Maybe you’re just a naive kid whose only crime was dreaming too big. At any rate, you’ve got to feed yourself, so you decide to hit the metaphorical bricks and find a use for yourself that will yield enough profits for you to eke out a meagre existence. 
    You pore over the search results for hours, navigating countless in-house employment pages, optimizing your terms, and deftly avoiding those scammy “entry-level sales management” positions that seem so popular for some reason. Finally, you see it — the perfect job opening. This is it. Your chance. It’s time for…
  2. The Application:
    Sipping your locally-sourced cold brew at your favorite coffee shop, you open your laptop with an air of great aplomb. This will be an application for the ages. Seeing this, seeing what you are capable of distilled into these few documents, will leave them with no choice but to hire you outright. In fact, they’ll probably make you the CEO. Or at least offer you the mythical “full-time position,” about which your ancestors used to tell tales.
    Hours later, sipping the dregs of a watered-down and lukewarm cup of cold brew, you finally hit “submit,” sighing in satisfaction at the materials you’ve compiled. It’s been tough, but you’ve adjusted your cover letter, shifted the emphasis of your references, and fudged your resume to make yourself really shine. There is nothing more you can do. The ball is in their court. Still, you’ll need to focus on something, so you decide to try…
  3. Obsessive Research:
    Since you’re feeling pretty good about the application, it wouldn’t hurt to do a little research. After all, you’ve got to figure out the specifics of where you’ll be living: whether you’ll rent a studio or a one-bedroom, the length of your commute, the public transportation situation, the bar scene in the neighborhood around the office, the best restaurant to take a first date, the best park to take a second date, the best chapel at which to hold the wedding, the best flight deals and destinations for the honeymoon, and which nearby suburban neighborhoods will be affordable for you and your future spouse. Not to mention the quality of nearby school districts, the availability of various grocery store chains, the best venue for your retirement party…
    You wake up the next morning fully dressed, having passed out in front of your laptop. Dreams of your new life — your employed life — had danced through your head, the pure bliss that would be brought on by the no-doubt incoming email or phone call foreshadowed by a vision of the future you’re about to ensure for yourself. You excitedly check your inboxes and, finding nothing, begin frantically thumbing through the spam folder on the off chance your job offer ended up with the long-defunct coupon offers that normally populate the otherwise ignored list. Dejected, you realize you’ve moved on to the next stage of the job hunt, known only as…
  4. Radio Silence:
    As the band once said, waiting is the hardest part. The first hours weren’t so bad, highlighted by the pure possibility of your imagination. The next few hours weren’t bad either, thanks to your on-again, off-again relationship with consciousness. Now, though, you’ve got nothing but time. You could start another job search, but it wouldn’t be as perfect — as real — as the last one. You could go out socializing, but that would cut into your already limited funds. You could go exercise, but yesterday’s experience left you so…tired.
    Instead, it’s time to fire up the Netflix, heat up some leftovers, and refresh your inbox at an admittedly unhealthy rate. Maybe scientists will finally invent time travel, and you’ll be able to skip this part someday. You check the latest research, and decide that it’s probably not going to happen this week. You start refreshing time travel subreddits at an admittedly unhealthy rate. This is going to be tough. It won’t be too long, though, before you reach…
  5. Acceptance/Transcendence 
    It’s week two, and you haven’t heard anything from your prospective employer. You’ve sent out a new application or two every day since, and your inbox refreshing has become a reflex, rather than a neurotic impulse. You’ve binged every show, caught up on every podcast, read dozens of self-help articles, and grown that much closer to complete financial collapse. 
    This is when it happens, though: you either receive that fabled call, that sweet reward known only as a “preliminary interview,” or you don’t, and the cycle continues. There is no easy exit from this wild ride beyond those two options. Your existential limbo either ends in glory or in…more limbo.

And you know what? That’s okay. You’ll keep pushing, and working on yourself, and searching for opportunities. Maybe you’ll take a step backwards, go back to school, and get more qualified. Maybe you’ll take a step sideways, and take a job in some tangentially related field. Maybe you’ll move home, start living in your parents’ garage, and finally invent that time machine you’ve read so much about. But the important thing is that you will do something, and that something will have value.

Keep hunting.


Brad Decker is a recently employed English and Theater teacher. His hobbies include impulsively checking his inbox, feeling existential terror, and time travel speculation. He owns and edits Panel & Frame and The Synapse. You should check them out!

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