Be Yourself, But Also, Don’t.

It’s 2:00 p.m. on a Friday.  I’m eating mindlessly, listening to the television and staring at my computer screen. My 20-year-old self would revel in the opportunity to be off on a Friday, sitting on her ass waiting for the promise of a fun weekend to unfold.  This is not the case for 26-year-old, newly married and freshly unemployed me.  Both are new concepts however I am only enjoying one of them. Being unemployed makes me want to rip my hair out.

I moved to a new city about a month ago. In the past few weeks, I have been on 5-6 in person interviews and have participated in just as many phone interviews.  Some were a complete waste of everyone’s time proving to be unsuccessful, then there were others that went extremely well, also proving to be unsuccessful.  There was one interview that went particularly well and I was even offered the job.  That was two weeks ago.  I’m still waiting for him to get back to me about my start date. I’ll go ahead and hold my breath.

I have been told that I shouldn’t complain because people have been without jobs and looking for far longer than a few weeks.  I have been told not to worry, the right job will come along.  I have been told that I am intelligent, interesting and capable of anything. My favorite is “just be yourself.” You mean as I sit here in this uncomfortable pantsuit that that I would never wear freely on my volition? Totally. And I know that you need to maintain a polished and professional demeanor during an interview, I know that that meeting is the first and only impression that will dictate whether you get that second interview or job. My point is that a healthy portion of the advice you’re given prior to an interview is bullshit, unless the person interviewing you is not a drone.

I was a full-time student for seven years while juggling several part-time jobs. I don’t know how to not work, but that’s my favorite thing about myself.  If I could have effortless, beautiful big hair everyday, that would be my favorite thing about myself, but that wasn’t a genetic gift bestowed upon me.

My resume is eclectic.  I can understand how that may not seem consistent to people during an interview. The interviews were always where I sealed the deal. But if you’ve already made up your mind about my resume before I get a chance to show you my personality, which as per your job description you’re looking for, then I don’t think I stood a chance. No matter where I went to school or how much money I spent on this fucking pant suit.

I have an AA in Liberal Arts and a BA in Multidisciplinary Studies with concentrations in journalism and sociology. I can make a killer recommendation on what cigar you’d enjoy, or perhaps what libation you’d like to pair it with. I can assist you with your AR and AP.  I am also capable of digitizing, archiving and over seeing the destruction of sensitive and confidential documents. I know how to follow procedures but also implement more effective procedures to solve problems. Problems sometimes offices weren’t even aware they had.
I also have a personality, that so many job postings require, and that personality proved to be interesting enough to make it to radio.

I actually did something different, every single day. I took chances, I put myself out there. It made me a fast learner, it kept me constantly interested and eager to do any job that came my way. It made me malleable to a work place: independent or working with a group, slow and meticulous or fast paced and chaotic. I know how to stay on top of tasks and people to make sure an office operates smoothly, because that’s just the type of person I am. Maybe because I’m from New York, people in this new state are not to keen on me?

I consider that a possibility.

I’m not shooting for the moon either when applying to these jobs because I’m realistic. I have no job experience in this state, I don’t know my surroundings very well, there is a gap in my administrative background and I do have a very broad degree of study. I take that into consideration because I have been apart of the hiring process. These things are not deal breakers, but they can put you at a disadvantage. I’m applying to jobs in industry’s I find interesting with requirements I’m more than capable of meeting. I’m not applying blindly and showing up with a lack of enthusiasm.  I wouldn’t hire that person either. But I’m not that person. I’m the person that’s gone above and beyond to demonstrate the ability and desire to be a resource. Applying and getting responses has proved to be somewhat successful, hence the number of interviews I have participated in.

So now I’m physically in the interview. I’m dressed in the one suit I own because that’s what you’re told to wear.  And what happens next is a pathetic exchange of questions, on both of our parts. You want to know about a time where I showed leadership, I want to know your favorite part of your job.  I tell you about a time that I’ve already explained during this interview because although the question is worded differently, you’ve already asked me this.  You tell me, everything about your job is your favorite because no day is the same. Excellent chat.  All your answer conveyed to me is that you couldn’t be more uninterested to have a conversation with me. That’s a real self-esteem killer for someone who spent days over preparing to sell themselves to someone who doesn’t even care to talk to them. But, when you’ve made it a point to become the equivalent to a slab of marble in these situations, you don’t let it break your spirit. Consider me a newly installed counter top with a fresh coat of sealant.

This is only the case for some interviews, clearly considering I’ve held a job before. I am still friends or friendly with every manager or boss I’ve had in the past 13 years. I’ve been on a lot of great interviews, like the one I went on yesterday. Everyone was extremely personable, we had great conversation. It was natural, it was authentic and it felt as if no time had gone by. I think it was my most successful interview yet, will I get the job? Who knows, I’m not a good judge when it comes to these things anymore.

My problem is not with the interviewing process. You do need to be interviewed for a position and you need to rock it. Someone else may need this job more than you and want it more than you, honestly they just might be better for the job than you. But when will the questions and the stigma change?  Am I supposed to put on a pair of tap shoes and close with a number on top of the conference room table? All I’m looking for is a starting point.

Quite frankly, I’m just frustrated with my new life so far.  I did what everyone told me to do. I went to college, I had good internships, I networked. Even with years experience in a professional environment in addition to my academics, extracurricular activities, awards and internships, I somehow don’t make the cut for entry level positions.

I’m categorized into the generation that gets criticized for being on the phone too much, yet somehow I’m not qualified enough to answer your telephone.  That must be some telephone!

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