Jobseeking 101

Look, I’m not going to go in to the whys and the wherefores, but I am currently finding myself about to be back on the job market for the first time in more than a decade. I know, I rarely mention the world of work on this blog, but I can’t think of anything else at the moment, so I’m writing it down.

Quick recap: I work as a research analyst by day, and I write this blog at the evenings and on the few points at weekends, when I get the chance to quickly rattle the keys at my desk. Blogging, and writing in general, are things I have been doing as a side-gig for years now: they are not my real job.

However, now it seems that my real job is coming to an end, and I have to look for something else with which to fill the hours of 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. And that is a very new sensation for me. It puts me in the position of having to answer a lot of questions, which I had not wanted to answer.

While I was doing my job, safe in the ignorance of not being about to be made redundant, I only had to focus on the work I was happily doing, and not on the huge questions of life, and money and of the purpose for which I find myself having to carve out at such an advanced age. What do I do?

On the other hand, I have been looking for another job for quite some time, and I have had a few interviews this year, with some prestigious employers. That is a big thing for me: it has given me the practice I have been lacking, and it did so with a safety net. It is also indicative of the fact that the situation and timing of my current position is not exactly the most unwelcome or unexpected thing.

I could tell that my role was ebbing away, but I chose not to see it. All I was aware of was the fact that I was enjoying my job less and less. That was taking my eye away from the job at hand a little too often, and making me look for alternative employment opportunities. Albeit in a relaxed way.

I now have to put my foot down and start looking in earnest, although before any real decision has been made about my future as a paid employee. I have to make it clear to prospective employers that I am available to start work, but I don’t know when I will be able to start work: it is one of the many unknowns of this kind of situation. I am all too eager to bring about my forthcoming demise.

The weight of having to take apart my home office, and send it all back hangs around my shoulders.

Being in a job which is slowly crashing down around one’s shoulders is a grinding experience. I have found over the past few years that, even though I am widely respected in my job, I have no idea what my skills are and where they could possibly lead me in today’s jobs market. I go to job search engines, and look for work, but I’m beset by doubts, aware only of my own lack of current direction.

I find it odd that the precise moment I am in most need of my full faculties for self-promotion and pushing myself forward, I am at the lowest ebb of confidence in my own abilities. The lowest ebb in the idea of me actually having any abilities. I have been collapsing under the weight of a job which is bad for me for so long that I do not know what a job which is good for me would look like anymore.

Every time I sit down to do some research or some planning or to make some decisions about what my first steps, my next steps, should be, there are other things which need my attention: children, chores, the final days of my current job. Not to mention a couple of evenings bathing my emotional wounds in whiskey. I can’t get my brain in to gear about what to do, and I feel I am running out of time very fast indeed.

On the other hand, the world of opportunity is mine. I have spent several days recently considering the possibilities of retraining as a maths teacher. I have the right qualifications to get started on the process, and I will have a financial safety net of a redundancy payment to help me through training. The problem is that I hate the idea of teaching anyone anything ever, so that’s probably out.

Likewise, the thought has crossed my mind that I could turn this writing thing professional. That does not seem realistic, and strikes me as a way to waste the next few years chasing a pipe dream, while pissing a lot of money up a wall, with no earthly hope of a return. I have been trying to get my writing to be ‘discovered’ for years now, and got absolutely nowhere with it. What has changed?

Other career changes elude me. I do not want to become a police officer, a soldier or anything else requiring discipline, the potential for gruesome death or more time away from my tiny family. I do not believe that setting up a shop – although I would love to do so – would be a long-term career. For anyone. Not now the internet has taken over the sale and distribution of all things centrally.

In the end, what is there left for me? I have spent years under the impression that I am a research analyst: I plan research from scoping of customer needs, through the design of data collection to the analysis and reporting of final results. Is that all I can do, or are those skills transferable?

Could I be a User Researcher, a Data Analyst or a Quantitative Analyst? Could I be a Senior Research Manager, a Business Analyst or an Insights Coordinator? Knowing the different names by which my own mix of skills could feasibly go is a big psychological barrier vaulted. It shines a light on the murk.

I have set up many passive job research tools: alerts on LinkedIn and Indeed, Guardian and Reed. They make me feel better for having done nothing to secure my future. I have applied for jobs which seem suitable, and started once more the burning wait for a response of some kind. I have signed up to myriad recruitment agencies, but heard nothing back from any of them. They don’t work for me.

This may or may not become a series of posts, depending on how well I take to this process and how quickly my current job comes to an end. All I know is that I know nothing, but I will do pretty much anything. Watch this space.