What Are Your Options When You’re No Longer Attractive For The Job Market?
I’ve been avoiding the unavoidable task of looking for a job mainly because I’m already aware of what a complete waste of time it would be — sifting through lackluster job posts that provide just as much excitement as the obituary section of the local newspaper.
I’ve been out of work for about six months now and while I’ve been able to sustain myself with freelance work and the blessing of not having to fork out thousands of dollars for rent and utilities — as 2018 progresses — there is the nagging reminder that my timetable is patiently waiting for me to honor outstanding commitments.
The last full-time job didn’t end well. The last couple of years have alerted me to the fact that it’s almost impossible to find editorial jobs that live up to the promises of maximizing your worth with appropriate compensation, the security of steady hours and a robust benefits package.
After the temp job at ABC Digital ended abruptly after just two weeks — I returned to hustle mode (not that it ever stops) for a few more weeks before being referred to the digital content arm of another media giant. The duties were simple enough — and the best part was the ability to work from home.
Interestingly enough — even that quickly took its toll — as it became clear that I actually liked people a lot more than I realized and truly missed the daily interactions.
But back to the job. I was assigned a vertical that required sifting through large stacks of recycled content and choosing the ones that were pitch-worthy in order to keep the homepage well-stocked. This also meant periodic conference calls with partners from notable publications — who were desperate to retain their positions as the “go-to” outlets.
It took about a month for me to start buckling under the uninspiring regimen of navigating the strains of CMS — in search of content that all looked and sounded the same. As a writer it was intolerable to expect me to contribute to the symptoms of an ailing industry. I steadfastly bitch about how challenging it is to find original content that feeds the soul — and yet here I was earning an unremarkable paycheck as the reward for encouraging the extinction of something I was supposedly championing.
As the second month came to an end — I began to consider that all the pluses about my current gig were fading away. And apparently I wasn’t the only one dying a slow death — because the high turnover was another indication that molding us into a bots wasn’t going to be as easy as our employer envisioned.
Still — I was more than happy with the steady paycheck and was able to muddle though my guilt and intense fear that my writing and reading comprehension skills were going to suffer from the debilitating exercise of sourcing for badly written material — for hours and hours.
By the time I got the early evening call from the recruiter who apologetically confirmed that the next day would be my last — I was already mentally prepped for my imminent exit. I was no longer able to stomach the clickbait headlines and badly-constructed sentences — not to mention the endless sessions of providing captions for generic images.
The kind lady who broke the unexpected good news seemed a lot more upset than the person who just lost her job and all her health benefits. I did my best to assure her that I was used to the erratic job market — due to the experiences I have accrued working for big name corporations who rely on their reputations to hide how they will end up screwing you over — in the end.
I wasn’t that blatant of course — but even I had been — based on her job description — it’s hard to imagine that she would disagree.
Years ago — when I was stuck in a corporate job at a top financial institution — all I wanted to do was wait for the economic crisis to blow over — so I could venture out and land a real editorial job. By the fall of 2013 — I was able to write full-time even though I wasn’t getting paid for my services. Before then — I was supplementing my steady paycheck with freelance jobs in order to build up my cred.
By 2015 — I was getting jobs in digital from fancy start-ups and media companies that all paid shit money. The other thing they had in common was the reluctance to make you a permanent staff member in order to reduce the costs of such an investment.
It began to dawn on me that the job market had shifted into something I never anticipated. If I had known back in the spring of 2013 — that the digital world would meekly surrender to the content-churning machine that it has become — I wouldn’t have walked away from the option of holding down a full time corporate job.
The gamble wasn’t worth it when you consider the toll it took on my stability — as I risked it all to prove that I was capable of realizing the dream of calling The New York Times — home — or any of the other notable outlets that I have since discovered aren’t as illustrious with words as I had assumed.
So — now I’m back where I started. Reality has hit hard and I’m reminded of how relentlessly deceiving and unforgiving the editorial world can be. Aside from the intense competition that has only grown more violent with the consistent help of Twitter — there’s also the notification that nothing lasts for that long — so don’t get too comfortable.
Established portals with the best of intentions will coerce you into pouring your heart and soul and end up stumping all over it when the jig is up. Everything has a time limit and the only way to stay ahead of the curve is to carve out a space with your name on it.
At this point in my life — finding a job that not only suits my skill set — but also positions me for an enviable trajectory is something that I can’t fathom ever transpiring. I’m not young or old — which makes it harder for employers to know what the hell to do with me — and that’s if they’re interested enough to ponder.
The immense appeal I had almost five years ago has evaporated and now I have no clue how to convince anyone that I’m the best person for a job that I don’t even want.
So — what are your options when you’re no longer attractive for the job market — but have to work to sustain yourself and dignity?
Maybe — it lies in your priorities. At this point — it’s highly unlikely that I will ever hold an editorial position in a corporate setting that will allow me to blossom into a managerial position. So — I will have to take what I can get — while laboring on my own shit.
I will have to map out goals for future projects that will keep me motivated and excited about a craft that I still love — even if the climate is giving me plenty of reasons to hate it. I have to manifest my destiny without the false security of outside forces that only conspire to use you up — before tossing you out without a respectful exit.
I still find myself attractive among the ugliness of what the industry is constantly releasing — and instead of trying to convince suitors who aren’t interested — it’s time to accept the journey of re-discovery through self-empowerment that can only lead to the life of my dreams.
And that’s not work — it’s passion. The greatest love of all.