I don’t think I need to tell you how bad the job search is.
I’ve been embroiled in a job search for a while now, and I must say it’s been one of the most peculiar times in my life. I’ve been thoroughly treated like a number. I’ve been ignored, condescended to, inspired with hope only to be ignored again. Ah, but now I’m telling you how bad it is.
What I really want to tell you about is resentment, particularly how it’s a major affliction of job searchers, myself included. Resentment arises once you’ve been put through the ringer for a few months. You decide that there must be an enemy — there must be someone whom you can dislike and, yes, someone whom you can even hate from time to time. Who better than the employers and internal recruiters who endlessly snub you? Who better than the other applicants clogging up the process?
But is this resentment warranted, and more importantly, is it constructive? I think not.
Avoiding Job Search Resentment
In the never-ending effort to become a common grounder, we must sometimes shed our personal biases. We sometimes have to stop rooting for ourselves for a minute and look at the reality of the situation.
Companies are Busy and Recruiters are Human
Filling a position is a daunting task, and the automation which makes it just a bit less daunting tends to dehumanize candidates.
Each position tossed out on Indeed or LinkedIn draws in a lot of competition. You may be viewed as just another resume (with optional cover letter) because, well, that’s what you are to the computerized sorting system. That’s what all 500+, or more, applicants are. Sorting through all of those apps would be impossible for a mere human, so certain desirable keywords are picked out, and the crowd of applicants is automatically thinned.
That thinning may include a couple of hundred people, and it’s similarly impossible for a single human to write nice, personalized, “Thanks, but no thanks” emails to each of the rejected. Time is quite literally money in this case, so template regret emails are sent out, or, a lot of the time, no emails of any kind are sent out. The latter move is objectively rude, but it saves a lot of time, and that’s understandable when a deadline looms.
And what about those recruiters, the ones with whom you trade an email or two (if you’re lucky) only to never hear from again? They’re humans too, and they’re engaged in a high-pressure, deadline-intensive search, much like you are. Filling that position is their job, and if they want to keep that job, they must perform efficiently. Doing so, however, means feelings have to get hurt. It’s truly nothing personal — positions might never get filled if it was.
Employers Don’t Look at Who Deserves the Job — They Look at Who is Most Qualified
Going to college, getting good grades, and having an abundance of applicable experience does not mean you “deserve” any job. It means you’re qualified, and many, many others are similarly qualified.
In the abstract sense of the word “deserve” — the way regular people understand it — yeah, you probably do deserve to have your hard work and hard times rewarded. But employers, or rather, companies, aren’t regular people.
To them, your personality matters not. Your all-nighters, your constant frustration, your ability to keep on in the face of adversity — all that stuff isn’t quantifiable. Except for in the interview stage, the individual exists only as quantifiable data, and again, that’s a necessary evil for thinning a crowd of applicants.
Feeling like you “deserve” a certain position runs dangerously close to feeling like you’re “entitled” to that position. Being that you are yourself, and therefore your own biggest fan, you see your merits in a different light. There’s something that makes you special; there’s something about you that puts you ahead of all those other applicants (whom you don’t even know at all). Of course you think you deserve the job, and of course, you feel spiteful when you get rejected, but so does everyone else who filled out the application.
One beautiful thing about the job search, I suppose, is that it’s helped me to find some sense of humanity. At first, I resented my competition, those nameless, faceless others who had robbed me of “my” opportunity. But now, a bit more humbled and a bit more mature, I sympathize with them. I take to mind the oft-misattributed quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet [or don’t meet, in this case] is fighting a hard battle.”
Your Success is Someone’s Tough Break
I don’t say this to detract from your new position. Really, congratulations! But take this as a reminder to stay mindful.
It’s the nature of the job search. There is a single winner and a lot of losers. It’s a very pure form of competition. The best — in one way or another — will get the position and all others will have to continue their journey.
When you finally are the winner, rejoice, but take a moment to remember the many, many times you lost. Remember the anger you felt, the resentment toward others I’ve spoken about here. Remember the disappointment, and remember the tears (if there were any). With your hiring, those feelings remain the reality for other applicants.
As I said, this isn’t to make you feel guilty for getting hired. You should only feel guilty if you fail to learn anything from the whole experience.
Look back upon the hardships of the modern American job search, and be humble in your new career. Be grateful that you’re not in the position you once were, and let it serve as motivation to be a better employee. You worked hard to earn this; you worked hard to beat out everyone else. Slacking now would be a disservice to yourself and, perhaps worse, a disservice to all those still stuck in the search.
Photo by Mar Newhall on Unsplash