As a twenty-something, most of us are constantly on the lookout for THE Job, or THE One. I have spent the better part of last decade battling for both, and realized that the lessons learned in both fields are strikingly similar.
Sometimes, hard work is not enough.
As a child, we were taught that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. If you study and work hard, then you’ll get an A. If you get involved and engage in interesting activities, you’ll get into a good college along with those A’s. Then we were lured with the false impression that if you went to good schools, had good grades and internships, then THE Job will be there at the end. False.
It turns out that even if you ticked off all the must-do boxes (and did them well), you may still end up facing endless rejections and worse yet, radio silence in the sea of resumes. In the real world, finding THE Job requires far more than hard work. This is not to say we should all sit back and be a couch potato, but simply realize that doing the best is all that we can do, and the rest is beyond our control.
I don’t know if I am the only naïve girl in the bunch, but once upon a time I truly believed that if two people genuinely were interested in each other, then being a nice, supportive person and working hard at the relationship was all it takes to sustain the interest. And then somehow, all of my relationships unraveled despite the care packages that I sent, cookies that I baked, and countless thoughtful presents that I purchased or hand crafted. No one told me that sometimes things just don’t work, and the number of nice gestures aren’t positively correlated with the love someone has for me.
Desperation is a turn-off. Build genuine relationships.
Networking really is key. I’ve never actually gotten a job through the traditional random resume-tossing route. Who you know is important, but it’s not just whom you know, but how well you know them. I treat networking more as a friendship building exercise. I don’t typically stay in touch with professional contacts with whom I wouldn’t also want to sit down and have coffee to chitchat about whatever. That approach has served me quite well. A 3-minute superficial conversation and a follow-up email is unlikely to be useful for anything, much less a job lead.
In the modern world of online-dating, it’s easy to want to line up the dates back-to-back and hope that one will stick. And even if one does stick, and despite how much you want to rip each other’s clothes off, learning whether the other person is a dog or cat person first may be a good idea. That is unless, of course, you are just out for some fun. Also, even if you are approaching the 3-0, or have already approached the 3-0, telling the person you met less than 24 hours ago that you’d like to alter your life plans for him/her is probably a bad idea. Give a week, or 48 hours at least.
Timing is half the battle.
So there is this PERFECT JOB. You even know people who can get you a meeting with the hiring manager. But, you have to start in two weeks. Problem: You don’t graduate for another 3 months. Well, damn. Or, you were sure that you nailed that interview (or interviewS), but they gave the job to the OTHER guy. Really?! Perhaps the timing just wasn’t right. You never know, maybe that job will come back around when the timing is better.
Finally, here is this cute, smart guy who likes everything I like and more, and he’s so funny that I am literally ROFL (mom, this means Rolling On the Floor Laughing) 5 minutes into our first meeting. Big problem, he’s moving across the WORLD in 3 days/weeks/months. Well, damn. You don’t want to be desperate. But do you hold onto every last minute/day/week you have together? Or do you cut your losses and count yourself unlucky? Maybe he’s just not THE One, or at least not THE One right now.
Luck is preparation meets opportunity: sometimes you gotta make a choice and leap.
So you got that fancy degree, you did that unpaid internship, yet the industry that you were sure to find THE Job is playing hard to get. The city you are living in has overqualified people running all over town working for pennies. You are prepared, but you need new opportunities. Maybe it’s time to leap. Maybe it’s time to transfer all that skills that you’ve been preparing to a new industry, and/or a new city. After all, there really isn’t THE Job, there is only the job that’s most suitable for you at this period of your life. One that is enriching to you for now, and you are the only person who can choose that. It’s THE Job for right now, but maybe not in 1, 3, or 5 years’ time.
After a long hiatus, you finally meet that person. Despite geographical differences, you made it work somehow. You are blissfully in love. But, there always seems to be something that prevents you from being 100% blissful in your life. You are looking for THE Job, or just a job, and that’s stressful. You recently moved to a new city, yet you are so blissfully in love that you forgot to build an independent social life. You aren’t confident enough with your present self, much less your future self. So you worry about the unknown.
Then suddenly, your blissfully in-love self is anxious, crying over god-knows-what, and wonder how to be happier. You are not prepared as an individual to join life with another person. Opportunity arrived, but you weren’t prepared. I don’t believe in THE One. I only believe in THE One you choose when two people are both ready to let go of singlehood, and enter into a life of twosome.
Clearly, I don’t have it all figured out. There must be many more lessons that apply to both finding THE Job and THE One. Which has been your biggest lesson?