The Hunt is On!

by lauren atkinson

I've begun to really dig deep into what I want to do career-wise once I reach California. To be honest, I'm still quite stumped. A lot of my issue is a fear of rejection and really, my penchant for avoiding risk. But as I am in the beginning stages of my job-hunt (résumé building, cover letter writing, general web searches researching companies of interest) I've realized a big part of this that I don't enjoy is the process of selling yourself. Really, that's what the whole thing is: convincing prospective employers that you have the traits that they want. 

Sometimes the job application process makes me feel like I am begging, or that I need to lie through my teeth about my skills and re-approach actually learning something later. Instead, wouldn't it be great to be hired into a job based on character and the faith that you'll learn and grow into the position? Let's be real, I don't have any fancy work history and have made my share of mistakes, but I've seen a lot of idiots get jobs with salaries that look their nose down at mine, all the while I am knowing that I could run circles around the job if given the chance.

And how insanely pretentious and dishonest do you feel writing cover letters? I never feel like I am talking to a human. There is something absolutely robotic to introductory letters that makes job hunting even worse. Can't we just be ourselves? Does personality not matter?

Sure, I have technical skills. I am pretty good at computers and have great phone etiquette. I learn fast. But doesn't everyone say that? Sometimes I really wish all companies found some sort of skills test for human interaction: how many of YOUR coworkers would have failed that one?

So if I could write a cover letter and résumé in the way I wanted, it would probably read like the one below. Here is the (pretty) long introduction (cover) letter that I wish I could send employers. And not only send, but have be the letter that gets me the job. 

"Despite not having any specific job experience with the title of (insert job title that I've never done here) my previous experiences have provided me with the skills and traits required of such a position.As a manager of a store of over 40 employees, I learned the difference between making a plan and actually executing it. Many retail employees will often express that plans don't always get carried out and where those plans fall short, the motivation of a manager picks up the slack. Some days, you cannot anticipate moods but you can learn how to direct attitudes and short-comings into lessons learned and new ways to approach situations. Unfortunately, you can't manage every person the same way. I am great at adapting training towards the needs of individuals and am able to communicate based on personality. Sometimes it takes both a little sass and a little sweet.

I've been at what I thought was the bottom of barrel: where everyone in the company seems to be my superior, especially in my most recent position. "Administrative assistant" sometimes feels like a fancy way of saying "pretty front desk lady" and sometimes "babysitter" but I've learned that when I don't do my job to its full extent: I am more important than I thought. Sure, I'm not running the meetings, but I am the one that makes sure that they happen. I am great at logistical planning and organization: calendars are my best friend.

And maybe comparing cell phones plans for the best rate doesn't seem so exciting, but it is exciting saving $1000 a month just by asking phone companies questions that weren't asked by the last person. I know complaining about repairs incessantly to the owner of the building that our company leases our space from seems really annoying and at days makes me feel like a nag. Didn't that work eventually get done? And now, doesn't the building owner call weekly (on his own) to ask if there is any maintenance that needs to be done? I am able to assess the needs of the workplace I am in and provide solutions based upon those needs.

So really, small things do matter sometimes.

Did I graduate college? Sure did. You can ask what my degree is in and I will tell you, but first let me tell you why it doesn't matter what the degree is. I finished my degree in less time than anticipated knowing that the degree was for a field I didn't want to be in. I thought the degree was going to turn me into a world-changer by trade, but I learned too far into my schooling that it wouldn't and had two options: start from scratch or finish and learn some lessons along the way. I chose the latter. So what did I learn? Paying attention matters, learning is something that happens outside of school as well, and sleep is a necessary thing. I love to take notes, even if I completely understand what is being said and am constantly trying to learn new things. And I really like schedules and deadlines: planning your time allows for proper work/life balance. 

People sometimes look down at others for working in the food industry. But let me tell you something: if that person didn't work that job, who would serve you? My experience with the food industry taught me more things than some of my other positions did. I learned that details lead up to bigger things: if you miss cleaning a spot once, someone else will miss that same spot the next shift and then it won't get cleaned. Being rude to a customer because they're rude to you doesn't solve anything: it just makes them angry. My previous positions have taught me the necessary traits of positive-customer and client interaction. 

Every workplace has taught me a lot about the importance of communication, whether through a lack-thereof or from proper execution. I really don't believe that over-communication is a thing. I never assume. I also firmly believe that email communication shouldn't be seen as more casual than a formal letter or face-to-face interaction. There's something to the old-adage: "if you wouldn't say it to your grandma. . ."

Small parts make a big picture.

If you give me the opportunity, I will be the hardest worker you have come across, and if I don't know it-- I will learn it."

What do you wish you could say to potential employers without the fear of rejection?