Day 15: Fake It Until You Become It

I just placed an order for Amy Cuddy’s book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.  I saw her TED talk a while ago, and I’ve also heard her interviewed a number of times.  She talks about how body language and mindset can change the way we feel and the way we present ourselves others.  She also talks about how she personally used to struggle to feel confident and how she overcame that by, in her words, “faking it until you become it.”

Confidence is important in a job search.  When you don’t present yourself as someone who has a lot to offer, people are less likely to see you as a good hire.  Of course, there isn’t necessarily a correlation between feeling confident and being competent, but in the context of a job interview, it’s important to convey confidence.

I’m eager to read Cuddy’s book, but I’m also just eager to get something in the mail.  Sometimes it is just nice to have something to look forward to.

Today’s application is headed to Massachusetts.  I meet the minimum qualifications for the job, and I think I’d be good at it, but it’s a slightly different kind of position than what I’ve done in the past.  I tried to craft a creative cover letter to show how my skills would transfer, but I suspect someone with real experience in that area would be more attractive to them as a candidate.  We will see.




Day 14: Wait, Wait, I Didn’t Mean That!

Today I spent a little over an hour working on an application for a job only to realize that it is probably not a job I want.  The original posting looked like it might be a good fit, as did the description of responsibilities.  Unfortunately, the more I researched the organization itself, the more I became convinced that it wouldn’t be the right fit.  I could have just quit at that point and started working on something else.  In fact, I kind of felt like I didn’t mean half of the enthusiastic things I wrote in my cover letter.  Nevertheless, I decided to finish up the application and send it in anyway, just in case it ends up being the right thing.

After all, it is very hard to predict what will and will not work out.  You know the application I sent in yesterday, the one where I thought they probably weren’t still taking applications?  I heard back from them today, and it sounds like they really are still looking for someone.  I’m glad I applied.

I’m sort of exhausted from all these applications, and part of me wishes I had created a 100-day project where you don’t work on the weekends.  What I like about this project, though, is the way it keeps pushing me forward.  I can’t obsess over the applications I’ve already sent in; I have to keep working on another one.



Day 13: Reading Tea Leaves

A week ago I saw a posting for a job in the suburbs of Chicago that looked really great, but the posting was a month old.  I called the number associated with the posting to ask if they were still taking applications, but my call went through to an answering machine.  I left a message, but no one got back to me.  My assumption after all this was that they probably weren’t looking for more applications.

Then they reposted the job three days ago.

I don’t really know how to interpret this.  Was the job reposted automatically?  Are they actually still taking applications?  Should I bother to apply?  Without a little more information to go on, I’m basically reading tea leaves.

I decided to send them an application since the job would be a really great opportunity, and I’d love to have them consider my application if they are indeed still looking at applications.  Realistically, though, I won’t be surprised if I never hear from them.

In more positive news, I received two more endorsements!  It warms my heart every time someone writes one for me.  And, hopefully, it will also help me find a job.


Day 12: Be a Friend

I’m helping a friend with a project today, so I don’t have a lot of time to devote to the 100-day project or to my job search.  I sent out a cover letter and resume early this morning, but that’s all I’ll be able to do today.

The nice thing is that I’ll be forced to step away from job-hunting for a little while.  Even short breaks are good for getting perspective.

I believe in giving myself little treats for hard work, so I’ll probably be stopping for a Starbucks midway through our project.  I think that’s the American version of a Fika (see day 6).


Day 11: What I Miss About Work

When you have a job, you often catch yourself complaining about it.  Work is often stressful, sometimes tedious, frequently unappreciated, and rarely well-compensated.  Work creates constraints in your life.  Instead of doing the things you’d like to be doing, you’re behind a desk responding to emails and trying to be cheerful even when people aren’t particularly nice (or even decent) to you.

And yet, having a job is still really, really great.

A job means structure.  You know exactly what you’re doing every day, and you don’t have the option of sleeping in and watching Netflix instead.  A job creates meaning.  You have responsibilities that matter, and you are contributing to society.  A job often leads to relationships.  You meet new people, learn to work with a diverse group of colleagues, and, sometimes, make a friend.  A job also gives you a paycheck.  Enough said.

Today’s application is for a local part-time job.  I don’t want a part-time job; I want a full-time job.  I have to be somewhat flexible, though, so I’m applying for this even though it is not perfect.



Day 10: Big Apple

I hit the ground running this morning and sent out an application for a job in New York City.  The job itself doesn’t look totally perfect, but the location, well, where do I even start…

I love New York City.  I lived there for two years while I was in graduate school, and it’s a place that is dear to my heart.  The energy of those streets gets into my blood, and I just want to work harder and do more when I’m there.  I get a little freaked out when I look at the (constantly rising) cost of a studio apartment, but the freak-out subsides when I remember how much I love the city.

I want to go to there.

Other news of the day:  The place in Indiana already hired someone.  Drat.  Another colleague endorsed me.  Yeah!  J. Crew is offering 50% off final sale items with free shipping.  Can I justify buying a work outfit when I don’t have a job?


Day 9: Sugar, Sugar

You know that feeling you get when you’re invited to two parties in the same day, and they both serve cake with lots of frosting?  You don’t have to eat cake at the second event, but you do anyway because it looks good and you feel rude turning it down.

That’s me right now.  Hello, food coma.

I did still apply for a job today.  It was one of those ones where the job listing says, “Due to the high volume of applications that we receive,  no phone calls, please.”  I tend to think those jobs are always long shots, but I really am qualified for this one, so there is no harm in trying.

I received my first endorsement today.  Yay!  I’m grateful that people are helping me out with my job search.  I do think it makes it easier to find a new opportunity.

That’s about it.  I hope to hit the ground running Monday morning.  I’ll have Kombucha and oatmeal for breakfast and return to the job search with renewed energy!




Day 8: Endorse Me

Yesterday evening I received an email from the recruiting firm saying that they want to work with me.  Considering that it can take up to two weeks to hear back from them, I was pretty surprised to hear back in less than twenty-four hours.  I was also pretty happy.  I’m a big believer in celebrating small victories, and this, at least in my mind, qualifies as one.

Today’s task is putting together my profile on their online site.  I don’t know if this counts as applying for a job, but it’s all I’m going to do today.  I figure since I created this 100-day project, I get to make the rules for it.

One of the things I have to do for the online profile is collect endorsements from people who think well of me.  I’ll be honest, I don’t like asking for endorsements.  I know they are important, but I cringe every time I request one.  It’s like begging for compliments – no matter how generous the compliments you receive are, you feel like you don’t deserve them.

I also have to make a short video of myself.  This is even harder.  No one likes the sound of their own voice recorded, and when you add the video element in, it’s almost impossible to be pleased with the product.

I saw a cute little plaque once that said, “Be the person your dog thinks you are.”  My dog adores me and looks sad whenever I leave him.  Sometimes he gets jealous of my laptop computer and spreads his little body over the keyboard so that I can’t type without first stroking his head.  I think I will always have his endorsement.


Day 7: Recruiting Firm?

Up until 24 hours ago, I had never considered using a recruiting firm.  Then last night I was googling something else and came across a place that, apparently, helps people like me find jobs.

The recruiting firm’s online Yelp reviews range from negative – “I am extremely frustrated and annoyed by their lack of professionalism.” – to glowing – “My placement officer was very attentive, and I got great exposure to some really excellent opportunities.”  I guess I should know better than to take Yelp reviews very seriously.

This firm doesn’t represent just anyone, so I have to apply and see if they are interested in me.  That process can take a week or more, so it will be a while before I know if this strategy is going anywhere.

In the meantime, I am still applying for one job a day.  Today’s application is headed to Maryland.

I’m also doing my darndest to stay, if not positive, at least not too negative about things.  This article about unemployment on Forbes is pretty useful for that:

My favorite suggestion in their list is #2, learning something new.  Every now and then I go on Duolingo and try to learn Italian, but my fluency is only at 38%.  Perhaps that is the next thing to work on.




Day 6: Fika

I told my mother I wouldn’t use the f-word on this blog.  I may break that promise if I get close to 100 days and still don’t have a job, but for now, the only four-letter f-word I’m using is fika.

Apparently fika is the Swedish word for a coffee break.    And it’s not just a quick cup of joe slurped down while hastily responding to emails.  It’s an actual break, one that is accompanied by conversation and, sometimes, a treat.  Swedes claim it makes them more productive and efficient since it truly allows them to recharge before returning to work.

When you’re unemployed it is easy to think you don’t deserve breaks.  After all, you’re not technically working, so why should you need a break?

I don’t think I need to explain why that’s absurd.  Looking for work is the worst sort of work, and it’s actually the time when most of us are most in need of a boost.

Today’s application is headed to Wisconsin.  Have a croissant and a cappuccino in my honor, everybody.