Finding a New Job is Like Snack Hunting
What Changed Since You Last Opened the Door?
My kids do it constantly.
I’ve done it myself. I know you have, too.
Collectively, as a civilized nation, hell, across the globe, we’ve accumulated immeasurable numbers of hours opening the fridge door and not pulling anything out…. only to return a few minutes later to take another peek, still coming out empty-handed.
Once we terraform Mars and the first diaspora of humans create the first settlements there, we’ll be sure to bring our earthly fridges along with us so we can continue this ritual of ours.
Straight out of college, or after a termination (voluntary or otherwise), you have an idealized image of your dream job. This job won’t feel like a job. It will be better than the last place you committed half of your waking hours. You’ve heard the time-honored adage often, “find a job you love and never work a day in your life again.”
You know your worth. You know your qualifications. You know what benefits you want and don’t want. You know what you are willing to negotiate. Your resume has been polished up, and you can recite its contents from memory.
Game on! Let’s do this thing!
So, you open up your job-hunting website of choice.
You type your dream job title in the search bar. Click.
Your eyes scan the listings. You quickly skip over the ones whose salaries don’t measure up to your sense of self-worth, current financial obligations or lifestyle expectations.
That one has a similar title to the one you want! Yes! Oh, wait, they don’t offer any opportunities to work remotely. That’s the number one requirement on your list, after all.
Oh, here’s one! Remote work only…perfect! “Some” overtime it says. You already know “some” really amounts to “frequent.” Pass on this one.
You scroll through the listings. You even went to the second and third pages of the listings. More or less of the same offerings. That dream job was more elusive than you thought.
Sigh. Slim pickings. You decided to pause the hunt temporarily to peek into the fridge.
The Hunt Continues
You try different job sites. You try similar sounding job titles. Still nothing quite checks all the boxes on your list.
Days go by. Days turn into weeks.
Hmm, that one particular listing is still there! This must be a sign; they’re waiting for you! It would be perfect except it does pay 10% less than your last gig. That would be okay, you suppose. You could probably negotiate it up or get a raise fairly quickly. Oh, that’s the one with “some” overtime.
Hmm, well, maybe they do mean just “some” overtime. You probably were wrong about that assumption. You’re just “making up stories” as your therapist would say.
You decided to fill out that application. Phew! Okay, this is good. You’ve got something in the works. You continue the search and find a lot of the same listings from the last time you looked.
You decide that hybrid office options are acceptable. You don’t have to work remote all the time. A few days in the office would be alright. Actually, that would be kind of fun again.
You find a job listing that is almost perfect, except they use technologies from a decade ago. That’s no fun! You want advancement in your skillsets. You don’t want to backslide. Although, the more you think about it, you would easily be in the running for that job as, even though using that outdated technology feels like taking a step back, there would be fewer people who would actually have that in their resume. And you have a good ten years under your belt!
You submit that application as well. Alright, you got a few irons in the fire. You had to concede on some items in your checklist, but that’s okay, you tell yourself. You can accept a few changes in your lifestyle.
The Fridge Analogy
Within minutes of each visit, you open the door, look around, smell some food items, and still not make a selection.
What happens when you repeatedly open the fridge? With each expedition to the refrigerator, you subconsciously lower your standards. At the same time, the hunger pangs get stronger and stronger.
About the fourth or fifth time, you finally grab something to eat. You decide that that mealy apple you finally pull out is just fine.
As with the job search, you start off with a host of normal and some lofty requirements. With each submission, with each rejected application, with each unpromising interview, you decide that your dream job may not exist. It may not even be necessary to continue your lifestyle. All you need is a job, an income.
Ultimately, you lower your standards, and you lower your expectations. Friends, family, and recruiters may often remind you to never settle or make concessions, but with each passing day, the bills accumulate. Your skills stagnate and deteriorate ever so slightly. You feel left behind by your industry.
It comes to the point that you don’t want your dream job anymore. You just want a job. When the first offer is made after a long dry spell of hunting, you’ll probably accept it without even negotiating.
You’ll sign on the dotted line and make the best of your mealy apple.