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As some of you will know, I’ve been looking for a second part time job for quite awhile now. I was talking to my therapist about it and she mentioned something called the hidden market. Sounds very ominous and almost human traffick-y but really it’s just using your network to get a job, whether it’s a referral for a job that may not get advertised or getting that extra leg up in the usual candidate selection process.

Now, the last couple of times I’ve seemed close to getting a job (got to the final interview stage, etc.), I’ve been told that I lost out to someone that was referred to them by a friend, another employee, etc. It was incredibly frustrating at the time but my mind didn’t instantly twig that maybe I should try using my own networks to find a job. It took my therapist to point this out and, initially, I didn’t take it well.

I was quite angry when she said I should reach out to my work contacts and see if they could pass on my resume or make an introduction for me. I can’t really explain why I was so resistant to the idea aside from perhaps pride. I thought my resume should be enough. I thought my winning personality in the interviews should be enough. I didn’t want to have to make contact and meet with old work colleagues to plead with them to refer me for roles that may or may not exist. Why should I have to get someone to vouch for me?

I went home angry and upset and determined not to see her anymore. But then I thought about it. Of course someone would prefer to employ a candidate that a friend or work acquaintance is recommending. That person comes with a kind of guarantee or seal of approval. Without it, you could be anyone just spouting off the right shit to get a job. Goddamn the woman and her unassailable logic.

Aside from my pride being hurt, I was also very resistant to asking for help. From anyone. I didn’t want to have to reach out to someone at my previous company and essentially say, ‘I’m having trouble finding work, can you please help me?’ I found that humiliating, embarrassing, demeaning. I like to think of myself as a relatively self-sufficient person. I want to be able to say ‘I did this on my own, no one helped me’. But when can we honestly say that in life? Someone always helps you, in some way or another. And how embarrassing or humiliating it is comes down to how I phrase the email, doesn’t it? Plus people do this shit all the time.

So, I did it. I had a few roles that I’d applied for at various digital publishers so I contacted people at work that I thought might have contacts there and gave it a shot. Everyone got back to me straight away and were really helpful. Sadly, none of them have any contacts this time although one did but his contact had left and he didn’t know anyone new. But regardless of it not helping this time around, I was actually surprised that it didn’t feel the way I thought it would to ask for help.

Everyone seemed like they would’ve been more than happy to pass on my details, if they could, and it didn’t seem like a huge favour or a big deal. It actually re-affirmed my belief in myself as a valuable worker because these very senior people remembered me and said they would be happy to help in the future. So, I suppose I now have to keep an open mind to these things.

My therapist actually recommended that I just contact people in general and ask them to pass along my CV without having a particular job in mind, which I haven’t done yet. But at least these people know that I’m looking and one of them asked more specifically what I was looking for so I hope he will keep me in mind if he hears of anything. And I pushed myself a little bit out of my comfort zone so that’s something different. This little leopard may not have totally changed its spots but perhaps it blurred them a little by rolling in the mud. 🙂

Image credit: Doe Zantamata quotes

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