16 November 2015

Over a Year...

Yes, that's how long it took me to find a new job.

If you'd have told me that my job search–which began in earnest 15 months ago–would be ongoing 15 months later, I’d have slapped your face. Friends and acquaintances know that this is no idle threat. As one who has made a study of best practices for landing an interview and a job, and as someone who has helped several peers land their own jobs, it seemed improbable. Needless to say, over a year later, here I am.

This slow journey to the next thing is due to several factors: my own lack of specified experience (in some cases), a tight job market, and a buyer’s market—more on that later.

A few years back I wrote at length about the up-tick in the number of applicants for any given job. In my present day experience, the numbers of applicants have increased exponentially. However, the ratio of highly qualified talent is roughly the same. This I’ve gleaned from empirical data gained in conversation with my hiring peers. Back when I wrote that of the 250 applicants for a job, I was faced with a hiring pool of 25 highly qualified folks; it seems that now managers are seeing 400 resumes come in over the transom and there may be 40 or 50 applicants worthy of a closer look.

Professionally I’ve always held closely to one plan, apply only for jobs that I want, as opposed to casting a wide net. This has steered me to fulfilling jobs with dynamic teams of creative and conspicuously talented individuals, that I happily call friends today. It’s led to challenging and rewarding work for me in every single situation. Conversely, one good friend from grad school always preached, ‘go for anything that’s available… you’re in this game to get experience.’ In half-decade since we left school he’s worked a 8 companies—moving up to art director at a renowned design firm before moving on to start his own. What’s the moral of that story? We’re both right—in choosing the tactics that work best for ourselves.

But I Digress...Back to my Woeful Tale

Saved by the Mobile app project!
A year and three months ago I applied for a job at a university, doing similar work to what I do now. The team was excited to meet me and made an offer before I left the third interview. I eventually turned it down. After three meetings, I’d gathered that the seemingly happy family was rife with dysfunction. Plus, I had just begun production of my first mobile app and could not foresee missing the opportunity. In 15 months, the same position which I passed up, has been advertised four more times (dodged that bullet!).

  • The iPad App for which I halted my search

I paused the search for a summer (about 4 months) in order to complete this important project. When the fall rolled around I rebooted the search for my new launchpad. App development experience and a new-found aptitude for professional development gave me renewed confidence.

It's important to note: in 3+ years in my current workplace I've worn many hats; one of designer and communications manager, one of multi-media and web developer, one of software tester, and another of trainer / workshop presenter and designer of professional development on a regular basis, and also occasional podcast host.

Casual Friday, source
Next up, I sought another job similar to my current one, this time in a university–within hollering distance of my city’s largest green space. I interviewed with them twice before the voice of reason chimed in…this new institution maintains an overall lackluster reputation, with enrollment down and retention rates both low and stagnant; moving into that job might be akin to jumping onto a sinking ship. While the members of the department were a group happy, accomplished, and extremely talented women, their joie d vivre seemed to me like they might have been operating in a bubble. Again, I withdrew from the running after a successful series of interviews, more certain of what I didn’t want.

Shortly after, I interviewed with a very prestigious university-based nonprofit and again got through two interviews before I realized that the culture was wrong. Interview number 2 took place on a Friday and all seven members of the panel were proudly clad in the most uptight casual attire they could muster. I’m talking about replacing one item from your regular professional garb with something denim. While I aced the interview, nothing about the team made me want to join them.

Originally posted on SimoneJenifer Design Blog
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