My Journey to Employement (As Told Through Instagram Memes)

One evening back when I was unemployed, I sat on the couch with Tom and scrolled through Instagram. I showed him a meme that made me laugh.

“Wouldn’t it be funny,” said Tom, “If you started collecting these to tell the story of your job hunt?” Continue reading “My Journey to Employement (As Told Through Instagram Memes)”

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The Unemployment Diaries

Subway rider in winter

On the E train downtown, I took a seat near the door and turned on my Kindle. A small, dark man in baggy clothes who’d been behind me on the platform stepped on and stopped. I wondered if he was looking for a seat and scooted down closer near the door to make room on my right, but he stayed standing and looked around. He looked relatively clean and wore a dark jacket over a grey hoodie. He had on a North Face backpack. A bottle of Axe body wash was tucked into one of the side pockets. Continue reading “The Unemployment Diaries”

How to Ace the Interview, Part 2: Tell (Some of) the Truth

This is Part 2. Read Part 1 Here.

Last to come in was the COO, with a J not an ‘H’. He seemed vaguely foreign with dark, slicked back hair and an angular face balanced atop a long, bony neck. He wore a crisp white collared shirt which seemed to be sewn into the slim, fitted suit jacket and jeans. I imagined (I didn’t want to look him from head to toe) on his feet were polished tan Ferragamos. “So Betty,” he said, and at first I detected an accent until he spoke for a few minutes more and I realized he had no accent at all.

Continue reading “How to Ace the Interview, Part 2: Tell (Some of) the Truth”

How to Ace the Interview, Part 1: Put in the Time

This was a time of life, she understood, in which you might not know what you were, but that was all right. You judged people not on their success – almost no one they knew was successful at age twenty-two, and no one had a nice apartment, owned anything of value, dressed in expensive clothes, or had any interest in making money – but on their appeal. 

Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings

Over email, the HR coordinator asked me to set aside an hour and a half to meet with “the team.” Continue reading “How to Ace the Interview, Part 1: Put in the Time”

After the Job Interview: Managing Expectations

Yes, that’s a cupcake. 
Greetings from DUMBO, where I just had my second interview at a startup and will now spend the weekend wondering, “Did I get the job?”
It went well, perhaps better than well. Perhaps other people in my position might say, “It went fantastic!” But I’ve had interviews I thought went fantastic only to learn a week later, after following up and following up that while the interview itself was fantastic, my fit for the company was not. 
Tom and I have a good laugh this time last year, when I came back from a handful of in-person interviews, glowing as though I had the offer letter in my pocket. The mouse was trapped. The west was won. The job was mine. 
“They loved me,” I would say, and launch into a starry-eyed delusion about with whom I’d get along best and would be taking my coffee breaks with (as though I were applying to jobs at Wal-Mart). 
Tom would raise an eyebrow and say, “Well, that’s great, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” 
And then a week or so later my indignation at them not having called me back and offered the position on a silver platter would have turned into an ill-tasting recalibration of my expectations. I took it personally, thinking they didn’t like my personality – because none of the positions I applied for required hard technicals skills (of which, I have written ad nauseum that I have few) – but as time went on and things like this happened again or not at all, I learned to let it roll off my back. 
People have been telling me from the day I started striving for anything to manage my expectations. In applying for college and graduate school, in hunting for jobs, in searching for apartments, in dating, in marrying! Manage those expectations. 
So when the girl who interviewed me today asked me what, from all my past experiences, I felt I could bring to the position, which is part account management, part sales, part being scrappy and fast and results-driven and smart, I wondered what on my resume couldn’t answer this question. She explained the job to me as she experienced it so far: people in this position were expected to be better than excellent communicators. They were liaisons who wanted the two key groups of people they worked with to get what they wanted out of the service the company provided. What could I bring? 
She was a bright-eyed petite blonde with side swept hair, a sweet smile and an adorably scratchy voice. She who wore a chambray shirt as did, coincidentally, the rest of the company. 
“It’s Chambray Friday,” she had joked. 
“It’s also Brooklyn,” I thought. 
She was proud and happy to be working there, and I could actually see myself sitting next to her, pushing the mission forward. Liaising, connecting, upstarting. But for starters, I had to get the job first, and she was asking me what I was good at. 
Everyone knows in interviews, you embellish. Within reason. When you put “Conversational French” on your resume what you really mean is you took French for two years in High School and went to Paris a few times in between then and now. 
But I am even more reasonable. I have learned better than most these past two years the skill of managing one’s expectations and I told her so. 
“That’s important,” the girl said. 
“It is, it is.” 
Three hours later she thanked me for my time and I thanked her for hers. And I left to manage my expectations.