It can be easy to get discouraged by the job market and sometimes I’m not very enthusiastic about the jobs I apply for. I wish that I had been given the luxury of thoughtfully planning a career transition while I still collected a paycheck, but unfortunately that’s not the case. I tried like hell for months to find other work before my unemployment happened, even before I knew for sure that I was getting laid off. While I was still working, I was applying only for things that were directly relevant to my background, but now that we’re without any paychecks at all…and I’m now 3 months pregnant, I’ve been applying for anything and everything that remotely relates to my qualifications, but just haven’t found anything very interesting.
Then there are the times like this when I stumbled on and apply for jobs I think I could be really interested in, jobs that really connect with my experience and skills and interests, and that I would have applied for even when things were not starting to get desperate. Two case studies.
I applied for an editing job at a publisher that specializes in western American history. They are looking for an acquisitions editor – someone to read, evaluate, and make recommendations on manuscript submissions. I meet all the qualifications (someone with a background in western American history) and I couldn’t envision a more appropriate fit for my work experience, degrees, skill set, and most importantly, interests. I’ve been thinking for a long time – long before my layoff, actually – that publishing would be a great fit for me. I’ve done a ton of research and writing, editing, proofing, and layout, and at a full-service traditional publisher like the one that’s hiring, I could really see myself staying long-term as my role would likely evolve over time. Part of what has been so frustrating about museum work for me is that I’ve had to go from short-term to short-term gig, never settling for more than 18 months or so, as most (actually, all but one) of the jobs I’ve landed has been grant-funded project-specific work (e.g., catalog this collection, research and write this exhibit, develop these educational materials, etc.). In other words, you come on board to get the job done and when it’s done, the museum may not necessarily have money to keep you on full time. Or at all. (And where “may not necessarily” should be read as: does not.) I’d like a shot at a career that uses my existing skill set but working in a place that fosters my development and growth over time (instead of leaving it all up to me, as it has been for more than 10 years). I could totally see myself in this role in particular as something that’s key for me is never standing still – there would always be something new to read, some new author to meet, some new project to take on. In other words: I could totally get excited about this job.
Another job I came across is the baking recipes editor for a website. Qualifications: that you know something about baking but you don’t have to be a professional baker (check!), that you are detail-oriented and know grammar (check!), that you feel comfortable writing in a conversational blog style (check!), and that you know a little bit about photo editing and website coding (check!). Seriously – what could be more perfect?! And the description of the company sounds amazing. It’s a casual work environment, flexible hours, you can telecommute part of the time, they provide drinks & meals, and they have a…are you ready? On-site daycare. Hello! Even though I know a ton about baking and crafted a very clever cover letter and meet all the qualifications, I doubt I’ll make it past the gatekeeper, but I could totally see myself rolling to work against the morning commute, wearing jeans, and with my baby in tow to play with his/her little baby friends at daycare, where I would grab a free latte on my way down the hall to check in on baby. Benefits – fringe or real – have been largely absent in my museum work. I’ve worked in only one job that provided health insurance and/or retirement. Are you kidding me?! Why I was ever naive enough to be okay with that, I don’t know, but the older I get…and with a hospital delivery on its way…benefits like health insurance are nothing to scoff at. This one would combine my skills in writing with my creative outlet of baking with a dash of design and a pinch of coding thrown in for good measure.
It’s not just that these seem like great jobs – it’s that they could be just the spark to ignite a whole new career path, avoiding having to take the first job that comes along while I still float about the job market looking for a better long-term fit. When I find jobs like these two, I start envisioning the version of my self and my life if I got the job. Hopefully I’ll get to entertain those versions of my self in a little more detail if I can just get interviews…