What looking for a job is like

When I came back home at the end of June I was ready to start the next phase in my life: work. I knew I wasn’t going to get a job immediately, but I was confident I would get something soon. I had had some training in writing cover letters, designing CV’s and going to interviews, and after having had an amazing time away from home I was ready to settle down for a while and start doing the real thing. Time passed, and slowly I became aware that this ‘next phase in my life’ wasn’t actually the next one. The real next phase was this: sitting at home, writing letters, and getting rejected. The rejection phase.

I have been rejected for jobs before, but that was nothing like what I’m dealing with right now. Before, I just wanted a job to be able to save up some extra cash. I wasn’t trying to start my actual career, but simply wanted to do some extra work so I could travel a bit longer. Back then I would spend a couple of minutes on changing my CV and my cover letter so they would be appropriate for the job, it didn’t really matter if I didn’t get the job because I could just apply for another one. If I really wanted it, I would put a lot of effort into writing a letter, and that would actually often pay off. I did get the job as an ambassador, I did get into the Honours programme and I did get the philosophy scholarship. This made me confident: apparently I could do anything if I just wanted it enough.

A couple of months ago, with that in the back of my mind, I started looking for the job ads that really got me interested. When I found one, I would spend a couple of hours on writing the best cover letter I could come up with, often using my previous one as an example but never exactly copying it. Every time I would revamp my CV, making it look or feel better than the last. I started an Excel file to keep track of when I should hear back, and noted down the results if I actually did. After submitting the application I started thinking about what I would need to do in case I got the job – perhaps move, or maybe figure something out to cover the living costs for the first month. I was aware that there were probably a lot of applicants, but surely my effort would pay off for one of these jobs. I didn’t necessarily expect an invitation, but I surely hoped for one. Two weeks later my heart would jump a little: I got an email back.

Unfortunately, having now reviewed all applications, the interviewing panel have decided not to progress your application any further on this occasion. This is because they felt that other candidates were a closer fit to the role profile.
(Got this one a couple of days ago, and I actually thought I fit the role profile very well in this particular case…)

I would be bummed out for a while and then find a new amazing job opportunity, recover my good spirits and start all over again. Lately it’s been different. I still get excited about the job ads. I still spend a lot of time on writing the letters, perhaps because it makes me feel like I’m doing something useful instead of sitting on the couch and watching TV series all day. But as soon as I’ve pressed ‘submit’, my excitement and hope fade away. I do still want the job, but I immediately pull up a mental wall to protect myself from the blow that’s probably up ahead. If I don’t hope for anything, I won’t be disappointed. I guess now it’s time to start waiting for a surprise.

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