Job Searches

What do you do when you feel like your employment talents are all washed out?  I’ve worked upward of 35 years in various admin jobs.  In my own mind I like to think that I was fairly good at what I did.  I didn’t always like what I did and the older I get, the less I like working with people.  Having worked most of my career in South Africa where jobs are detailed, and you know what is expected of you.  You have protection as an employee and, for the most part, I’ve worked for companies that took care of me and rewarded me appropriately and recognized the extra miles I went for them.

In the USA things are different.  I’ve lived here for 17 years and I still don’t really understand the work ethic.  I find workers to be lazy and skive off and blame colleagues.  Remuneration, benefits and general treatment is poor, and competition is high. 

My previous job was odd, to say the least.  I was working for a non-profit organization that was run by people who’ve barely had any experience in the workplace and have zero management skills.  I was laid off due to the pandemic, and the handling of that was dealt with very badly.  There was no warning, and I received the phone call when I was in my car running errands for said company.  Missouri is an “at will” state meaning an employer can terminate an employee “at will” for no reason and with no remuneration package, so of course, they did.  It took me 2 weeks to allow the fury to die down, but now I’m just thankful that I don’t have to deal with the colossal idiocy of those running the “business”.  I do miss my clients and am still in contact with some of them, but for the most part, I’d like to forget about those 11 years of my life and move forward with something positive.

So, how do I do that?  Having been on unemployment for nearly a year and applying for jobs at all opportunities, I’m not sure where I fit in.  If you are a nurse or have a medical background, there are literally hundreds of positions available.  I have no medical background and am not a nurturing soul.  Most admin positions require a good chunk of accounting or bookkeeping.  To say I’m hopeless with numbers is the understatement of the century.  If it involves counting more than the amount of fingers I have, I’m lost.  Restaurant/food service positions: well, I have a story about my attempt to “serve”.  I lasted a week, dropped and broke more stuff than I delivered and at the end of the week I owed more than I made.  So, that’s not a good option.

What CAN I do?  Good question! I’m not sure what I’d call myself.  I know I do NOT want to work with people and would love to work from home where everyone can just leave me alone and let me do my thing.  I love to write, and I think I’m fairly mediocre at it.  Data capturing is boring, but I can do it. Call center work – no!  It means dealing with people.  I used to be a people person, but people ruined it for me.  I’m not lazy and I work hard and deliver results.  I’m in my 50’s and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  I get seriously anxious about interviewing and having to “sell myself” and have no self-esteem to promote.

I am so envious of people who find their niche and love what they do.  Greg was lucky enough to revamp his career in his 40’s and did a 180-degree turnaround from what he was doing.  He loves it and is great at what he does and very happy running his own business.  I want that too, but as what?  If people ask me what I’m good at, I have nothing to answer them with.

It takes its toll on you when you’ve applied for hundreds of positions and get nothing.  I get an update every week confirming the jobs I’ve applied for and also how many other people applied for the same job.  It’s in the 100’s!  There are very few positions I’ve applied for where less than 50 people applied for the same one.  How do I compete with that?

I’m not at the bottom of the barrel yet, but I’m seriously despondent about jobs.

Cover Letters

Is it just me or does everyone hate writing cover letters to accompany their resumes?

I’ve been on Unemployment since April 2020 and have been applying for jobs since June 2020. The job market really is saturated right now and if you are in the medical profession (especially a nurse) you can pretty much name your price. St. Louis has several great hospitals so the need for good medical professionals is high. I, on the other hand, have not an ounce of medical experience in my body, so that’s out!

When applying online for many jobs, employers sometimes make it mandatory for you to include a cover letter. This is basically a precis of your resume and bragging rights for you to tell them why they need you. I’m seriously lousy at that, because, for one, I have no idea what to brag about and two, I always underestimate myself and consider myself to be terrible at what I do (I’m not, I’m brilliant).

When I left South Africa, I left a great job with a great company who looked after me, appreciated me for what I did, and I felt safe and secure there. Since arriving in the US and getting into the work environment I have never found my niche. I felt like I took a giant step backwards and since then, my skills have been forgotten and my confidence is at rock bottom. I’m also 15 years older!

The last time I was on Unemployment was after Hurricane Katrina. We’d bounced around a bit and finally found ourselves feeling more at home in St. Louis. I started volunteering at a non-profit and out of the blue they offered me a job. It suited my needs, was convenient and close to home, but in hindsight I should have moved on years ago. I wasn’t stimulated, I was disgusted with the overall management of the business and there was no scope for me at all. That job was the downfall of my skills, confidence and abilities. I should have known better.

Unemployment is a little different this time round. COVID-19 has dictated new aspects to be considered. This time round I’m actually getting rejection letters! Who knew that I’d be delighted to get a rejection letter? I’m sure they are automatically sent out by the respective websites, but still! Some letters tell me how many applicants applied for the job – it’s seldom less than 100.

Then there’s the cover letter. I hate the cover letter. Why send a cover letter when all the information you need is in my resume? Isn’t that why we have a resume? What happened to “look at my experience”, “look at my qualifications”, “check out my volunteer stuff”, “look at my accreditations and accolades”! Why do I need to spill it out again in a letter? Did you just read my resume and instantly forget everything in it, and need a letter to remind yourself? I have worked for an employment agency in South Africa and in the USA and they are pretty similar. The only main difference being the cover letter. In South Africa we don’t care about it. In the USA, YOU MUST HAVE IT, otherwise we just don’t know who you are and we cannot possibly consider you for a position because no cover letter means that you’re really not interested in the job.

Let’s scrap the cover letter and polish our resumes, include everything that is needed so that we cut down on paper. I have no idea who I am in the workplace. My skills, and lack thereof, are undefined and don’t fit into what I know. Most jobs here have fancy titles that really mean nothing. Everyone is a director of something or a research something or an executive whatever. Call a spade, a spade. Pay people what they are worth and give applicants an opportunity.