I think it is about time that I include Job Seeker in my employment history. Some days, it certainly feels like a full-time job. I would even argue as a Job Seeker, you are on the clock non-stop. One has to be accessible at any time to quickly respond to emails and receive incoming phone calls. Then, I feel guilty not searching the cavernous depths of the internet at all times for fear of missing the right opportunity. There is always this sense of anxiety that lives within my chest. With every new application, a feeling of anticipation.
While I can assure you I am most looking forward to finding the right job for me, I admit that this process has taught me much about myself. Most importantly, the post-graduation jitters of “OK, now what?” have disappeared. I feel that I have a clear idea of the type of career that I wish to pursue. This would not be possible if I had not had to scour over – at this point – thousands of job advertisements. This new found clarity has focused my passion within the environmental field and allowed me to set goals and aspirations moving forward.
Much of what I have learned has been through personal growth. At first, the job-hunt was disappointing and would hurt anyone’s ego. The weeks of waiting with no response, the bombardment of emails of rejection, or hearing that I was not selected for the next round of interviews began to wear on my self-esteem. However, this allowed me to turn inward and reflect on the process. Often times, I am competing with 500+ applicants for one job. In the world of entry-level, it is difficult to stand out. With this in mind, I began to focus on my strengths. Competing with those who have been in the workforce, what I may lack in experience, I can overcome with passion and drive. I own my strengths. I believe in myself. The hardest part in the job-search is getting that foot in the door, standing out as a shark amongst a pool of goldfish.
Through the job search, I find that I have gained or enhanced qualifications that are often strewn throughout the job advertisements. Take for example: “Excellent written and oral communication skills.” I see it on almost every job advertisement in some form or another. What better way to learn how to write or communicate professionally than through interacting with employers? Often, the requested cover letter or writing sample is handled by a Human Resources Representative, an individual who may not be familiar with the technical background or experience illustrated in your writing. As a result, the job seeker has to eloquently describe biogenic volatile organic compounds or erosion and sediment control practices in a way that remains technical but that resonates with a recruiter. Then, following up on an application requires a professional dialogue via email or phone. Through the job search, I believe I have demonstrated “Excellent written and oral communication skills.”
For every cover letter that I write, a tapestry is woven combining my work and education experience and the company and job position. Another common qualification: “Possess the ability to perform (online) research.” Each cover letter written for a specific employer requires research. This includes company history, mission statement, recent projects, etc. I often look beyond a company’s website and search technical articles published, learn more about particular projects, discover employees and the work they have completed, or any recent news article. Often times, this not only helps stich together the cover letter, it enables to me to ensure that I stay current within the field while in the hunt for a career.
Take some of these other common qualifications:
- Ability to complete tasks in high pressure setting, outstanding organizational abilities and a strong attention
- Ability to work independently
- Experience with Microsoft Office, Excel
- A proven self-starter
- Adaptive; willing and able to learn new subject areas quickly
- Excellent judgment, flexibility, optimism, modesty, and graciousness
These qualifications were all pulled directly from job advertisements. Ironically, many of these qualifications I feel I have demonstrated through being an active job seeker.
I don’t think you will see Job Seeker on my resume anytime soon. But I do recognize that many of the skills requested in job advertisements are skills that will not be out of practice because of my extended job search. My intention is not to sound cynical. Rather, I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn about myself, to interact with outstanding professionals throughout the industry, and to further develop my passion for the environment. Fingers crossed for continued success on my job hunt!
Follow my quirky thought processes, my fears, my triumphs as I begin to apply to jobs, co-ops, and graduate schools.