Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Patience of Job

When it comes to the job front, I'm running out of patience, which was never my strong suit to begin with. I just can't figure out what's going wrong here.

It's been 25 months since I graduated college, magna cum laude despite extenuating life circumstances. It's been 25 years since I first dreamt of my future, of what I might be when I grew up, and to be honest - those dreams have not changed much. Many along the way encouraged me, highlighting my strengths and gifts, my personality and spirit. "You'll do great things," they always said. "You'll have no trouble making it in this world."

Yet, here I am. Doing nothing. Feeling restless, frustrated, desolate, inadequate and completely worthless at times. It is true that I have tried to blaze my own path, but with freelance design work all but drying up and no way to push foward my latest authorship project without sacrificing quality, I'm kind of at a stalemate here.

For so long, too long perhaps, I have been putting on a brave, faithful face. God is teaching me patience, I've thought. He is working on something incredible for me. Patience. The patience of job. But for all the patience I've been forced to develop, I'm running out of it...and fast. This year alone, I have applied for well over 200 jobs, fast approaching 250, and have had only two interviews. A handful of rejection letters with no specific details on what I'm doing wrong, and too much silence to count. That's just this year; the 19 months prior boast an even worse record.

And I've heard a million things from those trying to be helpful but not knowing what's really happening. I've heard that I'm too ugly, that no one will hire me as long as my face looks like this. I've heard that my wardrobe isn't professional enough, though I have added some interview-only pieces, as much as I can afford, to combat that problem. I've heard that I don't carry myself well, and I have been working on my posture and eye contact to change that. All postive changes and none that I regret, but so far, no fruit.

Guidance counselors and interested parties pushed me to focus on my studies, to work on my personal issues, to build myself up and that would be enough. To be smart with superior academic achievement - that is what would open doors, particularly if I could find that smile within me to charm any potential employer. So I was 4th in my class in high school and tops in college, all while searching earnestly to find the healing and beauty God so wanted to put into my life. I've found it, but it's not getting me any jobs.

Any experience is good experience, they said. So i have had a number of internships and volunteer work - the police department, a hospital, a paid gig at a non-profit, a start-up magazine, a large-market newspaper, not to mention mission trips, local volunteer work, and trying to make my way as a freelancer when the job market collapsed on itself. Initiative, they said this would show.

Hardly. A quick look at a copy of my old resume seems to emphasize that few have ever paid me to do anything. Maybe I'm just too generous with my time.

So I revised my resume, adding keywords and tangible accomplishments. Trying to show my capabilities. Listing my proficiencies and highlighting successes. Per the advice of the career education professor my last semester of college, I have done everything right: memorable resume, tailored cover letters, a confident smile and a firm handshake. I even continually update my elevator speech, though I have yet to be stuck in an elevator with anyone capable of giving me a job.

There are many employers who, right now, have my resume in their hands. Many positions I am excited about; some I can see as stepping stones to bigger things. I pray about this every night, pray that one day, God will make the phone ring. Obviously, I'd like Him to be magic. I'd like to see some fruit from my confidence and His assurance that something is coming. It's tough hanging on. It's tough fighting rejection after rejection. I mean, what's a girl to do?

The more I'm rejected for jobs I feel so well-qualified for, especially for those that suit my heart, the more I wonder if I'm missing something here. Am I qualified for anything? Do I have my own heart wrong? My passions? I just can't buy it; to say any of these things is to say that God has been lying to me.

So here I sit, waiting on the phone to ring, trying my best to follow-up with companies and HR people who probably auto-screened me out long before they read my cover letter, before they knew what a perfect fit I'd be for them. I am outright rejected and ignored by the jobs I would consider stepping stones, those flexible schedule retail positions that come and go in the blink of an eye. But there are others that I'm praying pan out somehow, those I can see myself staying in as a career.

A few may come as a shock to those of you who know my passion for communication. It is true that God has gifted me greatly with words and messages, and it is a gift I do not take lightly. Which is why my current writing project and the upcoming one are so important to me. However, psychology and counseling are my first loves. I love stories, and people are the greatest stories. Somewhere in the future, I still plan on graduate school for a counseling degree and license; I aspire to open my own private practice and specialize in trauma. God-willing, of course.

But for now, what I want is a place in this world, some niche to fit into on whatever path God has chosen for me at this point. Not what He's choosing long term, but just for right now. One small, faithful step at a time. It is obviously not an hourly job at the local retailer - He has made THAT clear, though that doesn't stop me from applying. But there's got to be something. Someone out there looking at my resume who understands what an awesome contribution I will make.

It is so hard to believe that in a day like today, employers are so reluctant to even talk with a well-qualified, honest, dependable, responsible, polite, professional, enthusiastic, disciplined, empassioned person with integrity like myself. So hard to believe that I can hardly believe it and choose, when my heart of faith doesn't fail me, to believe that God is working. He's working on something.

At least HE has a job.

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