Borderstan Candids: Job Hunting? It’s Cold Outside

by January 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,432 1 Comment

pnzr242, Borderstan Flickr pool

Job hunting can be a lonely, frustrating process. How do you help friends? (pnz242 in Borderstan Flickr pool)

From Candida Mannozzi. You can reach her at [email protected].

Last week I was vividly reminded of how tough it can be out there if you’re one of the millions of Americans looking for employment of the longer-term, less precarious kind.

I accompanied an intern (currently in her last month at the non-profit where I work) to an informational meeting with a personal acquaintance of mine. The conversation was friendly enough, my contact shared input on her resume and her overall job hunt pitch and strategy, and even suggested a couple of other target areas and organizations for her outreach.

All that advice and input aside, as we walked away from the meeting, having seen her resume edited, entire paragraphs crossed-out or moved, and many of her assumptions challenged, she was fighting back tears of frustration. I remembered my own past experiences on the job-seeking end of the spectrum, when I too was often seen as “promising, interesting,” but, in the view of some employers, lacked the “specific experience” in a particular field to actually land that job. I also imagined that I, or any one of us, could easily face those challenges again, as nothing in life is more certain than change.

It seems all the more disheartening to witness someone facing these difficulties in DC, one of the few labor markets that the media tell us is not suffering a job recession as brutal as in other parts of the United States. Tell that to the many college and grad school grads vying for internships or even volunteer positions that now seem to demand the same qualifications and expertise of a full-time job. Tell that to the mid- to late-career professionals who have a hard time re-entering or staying in the job market, competing against “cheaper” younger hires.

It really is cold outside.

I also find myself frustrated at my apparent powerlessness in situations such as the one I just described. For anyone I know currently navigating this difficult labor market, I vow to share relevant connections or advice, and to be of support to them in any other way I can.

Still, I fear I may be missing some opportunities or avenues to help. So, admitting that I’m not asking for responses to the specific (but purposely not very detailed) anecdote I began this post with, let me turn it over to you and ask for your thoughts, Borderstan:

  • What do you do for friends, colleagues or relatives in a difficult situation?
  • How do you handle, alleviate or fight frustration when it comes to you or to someone you know?
  • Do you egg yourself or someone you know on, exhort them not to give up? Is the occasional moment of despair and frustration also allowed: a healthy venting of pent-up emotions, and then back to the front line? Or is expressing frustration tantamount to defeatism and therefore unallowable?
  • Does just showing one cares help too, even if it may not always bring immediate, concrete results? Does is matter who that show of affection helps more?

Thanks for your insights, folks!


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