During my high school years, this time of the year would mark the unofficial beginning of the prom season — aka the date of all dates. The junior and senior class would announce carnations/roses for sale, to be delivered on Valentine’s Day during home room. The proceeds would go to the respective class and essentially to the respective prom committees. For many if not most of the girls the carnations/roses represented an inclination of who would ask whom to the prom. The weeks of jockeying between the girls leading up to Valentine’s Day often left even the most assured girl feeling deflated at some point or unsure of her worth.
A few weeks ago a friend, and fellow alum, likened the job search and current market to the dating environment. At the time I didn’t realize how apropos her analogy is…..or realize how much I would find my confidence shaken by the process over the intervening weeks. I know that I am skilled, capable, willing, and able to do any of the jobs I’ve applied to over the last several weeks. I also know the ‘thanks but no thanks’ is not personal, and over the longer arc of the search speaks less about me and more about the temporal qualities of the time I applied to the position.
Recently, I applied to a position that I felt was tee’d up for me. I had the skills needed in spades, felt confident in my ability to excel in the role and felt I could make a clear case for being hired. I received a call regarding my résumé and 15 minutes into the phone interview was asked to come in for a second round in-person interview. The second round interview I Ieft feeling confident I had articulated what I had to offer the org, and what I could bring to the position. Because of the language during the later half of the interview I expected to advance to the third, final round, of the hiring process. When I hadn’t heard back from the org I followed up. The person who interviewed me, and the position would report too, informed me that there was a wrinkle in the hiring process. The HR director informed her that the cap on the position was 40K, which was well off the 56K salary line at my last position. I was willing to take a step back for the position because it was a good fit. I realized this bit of information represented an opportunity to negotiate so I responded informing her my floor was 47K and asked if the org would be able to come closer to this number. I was told it would take a few days to find out and that if it the org was able to meet this number I should be prepared to come in for the last stage of the hiring process — a presentation open to the entire org. I began preparing my presentation.
I found out that 47K was still too high and the best the org would be able to do is 42K. In that instance I found myself wildly flailing towards a quick depreciation of myself. I wondered how much I would be able to save by going to an income-based calculation for my student loans, if I could tough it out in my apartment for an additional two years, and I even tried to figure out how much I could save if I learned to do some basic sewing ( I figured I could save on work clothes if I could figure out how to make a basic work shirts — can’t blame a girl for trying). I was quickly preempted by being informed that she understood the 42K was too low and a good luck on your search response.
a few days later the job was reposted on the popular job search sites we all frequent. I found myself feeling like the girls post home room during high school doubley dejected and woefully nothing was comforting. It’s hard not to take employment search personal, especially considering how personal the grad experience is to some extent. You find yourself returning to school for personal reasons, pursuing coursework that personally resonates with your aspirations, and you sum up your grad school career with the highly personal thesis work.