I recently left my job. I’d been there several years, long enough for there to be whispers that I might be a “lifer” in the making, but I wasn’t quite there yet. I think I departed just in time, before reaching a point where future employers wonder “Why did he spend so long there?” I also left just in time to avoid becoming institutionalised. In every sense of the word.
I’m not one to go on about my working life. I manage to be reasonably anonymous online, but not so anonymous that an employer (past, present or future) couldn’t spend an afternoon stalking, and I don’t really want them discovering any more evidence for my unemployability or unprofessionalism.
And so there really are only the platitudes. I will miss the people. Ready for a new challenge. Etc.
When you find yourself writing countless applications and attending various interviews the truth and the platitudes start to merge anyway. There is how I felt about my employer, how I wanted to project how I felt about my employer in order to get a new job, and the somewhere in-between – a truth said carefully, sometimes hidden between the lines. I was well aware that whatever I said was a reflection on me anyway. Nobody wants to employ a whiner.
The job market was an odd one. I soon learned that plenty of employers write impossible job descriptions. One role had around forty ‘essential’ tasks, which seemed unlikely. Prioritisation clearly wasn’t their strength.
Other roles had crazy person specifications, insisting on relevant and recent experience across a wide range of skills, the sorts of skills that don’t often (if ever) sit under one role. There was no way anyone could have recent experience in so many disparate elements. And if they did, they would almost certainly be looking for more money than was on offer.
I guess when times are hard you just try to get the dream candidate. I expect it puts a few excellent candidates off. It took me a while to get my head around applying for jobs and just letting the employer decide. It is a funny enough sensation selling yourself, let alone selling yourself for jobs you’re not sure you can do.
Then the interviews. Always a pretty bizarre experience. My favourite involved being told about huge levels of turnover. “See, the problem is, they were younger than you, and thought if they worked well they would get some sort of job progression. We need more people like you. Older people who’ve worked a bit and realise that they won’t ever progress and are happy with that.” I clearly radiate ambition. And youth.
Anyway, a new job is on the horizon. It will pay the bills. It might be really interesting. And one day I’ll leave that job too. I will miss the people. I will be ready for a new challenge. Etc.
Congratulations on the new job! I had a similar job hunt experience over the last year when I moved to Denver. I hadn’t thought of myself as old until I kept getting beat out by people ten years younger than me. I was usually “overqualified” for a position, which I started to take to mean that they didn’t want to pay above minimum wage. I probably put in 250 applications in Denver (I’ll have to write about the two interviews I did get one of these days) before I threw up my hands and started applying out outside the city and got offers on the only two jobs I applied for that were not in Denver. I wonder how many people ten years my senior were grumbling that I beat them out.
Thanks Mike! It is a funny situation. It seems like once you hit your 30s you find yourself overqualified for a lot of jobs and generally have enough life commitments that you need more pay than you might have needed in your 20s. And yet there is quite a big leap to the next step where you can earn a little more and be rewarded for that experience. Although I expect that will still feel the case when I’m in my 40s and 50s. I look forward to reading about your interview experiences!