Friday, January 22, 2010

World, Please Tell Your Friends About Me

or: Job Searching is Self-Inflicted Insanity.

Hello World,
It's me again. Jobless girl, reaching out to you from the ridiculous aperture of "I have an awesome life but I was bred to be constructively productive and I am unemployed, so my existence is a little lopsided right now."
I want to briefly discuss the job market.
Here's the thing.
Me and 15 million other Americans are unemployed and looking for work.
Me and x-million other unemployed Americans have a degree (or two) from a prestigious University and want to work in an intellectually challenging arena affecting growth and change.
It's this curse of optimism with which I was privileged enough to be born. I don't want to be a bean counter (no offense to the vocational bean counters of the world). I want a job where I can be witty and savvy and clever and creative and it makes a difference.
Now really. Is that so much to ask?

Job searching today is like brain-torture. Beyond the "I've scrolled through hotjobs, the Boulder Daily Camera, and Andrew Hudson's Job List so many times, I'm beginning to read secret messages embedded in the mush of sans-serif font" eye-blurring side effects,
there is the terrifying Mind Game. The "Am I Good Enough For This Job" internal analysis. Do they really need someone with a Ph.D in Aerospace Engineering to fulfill the position of HR assistant for Denny's? Or more realistically: If you're looking for a project manager, why do I need to have an intimate knowledge of Photoshop, InDesign, and Dreamweaver? Here's the thing: I would love to know how to navigate Photoshop, InDesign, and Dreamweaver, but no one's ever taught me, and I don't have an extra $1000 lying around to buy software and learn it on my own. Could I learn it in your office? You betcha. Quickly? You probably couldn't keep me off the damn programs once I had access to them.
But I've been the one with the pile of resumes, looking for the perfect candidate. I know what it's like.
You're looking for someone who inspires you to make an investment, and you're looking for excellent ROI. Am I right?
So we'll make this easy. Here, World, is why I am a good investment:

1) I love life. Really. No one wants to work with someone who considers it a chore to keep breathing. It's the optimist thing. Give me a few hours, and I'll find the silver lining, the open window, the stars in the shadow. And if I can't fix it, I'm really good at finding a way around it.
2) I'm clever. It evinces itself in the form of wit, circular conversation, double entendre, subtle sarcasm, and the occasional mind-reading.
3) I love to write. About anything. And I once won a Scrabble game with a triple-word-score on "Enlightened" that used all my letters.
I like words. I live in metaphor. And my grammar isn't too shabby, either. I've spent the past year editing articles for a lifestyle magazine written by college-educated journalists, none of whom would have passed Mrs. Papp's freshman year English/Lit class at my high school. (Parallel structure is your friend, world. Utilize it.)

4) I can multi-task. At age 24, I was promoted to the position of Marketing Manager for a small private airline. I had no assistants, and (no joke) 7 "bosses." Org-charts notwithstanding, have you ever worked for an airline? Nothing happens the way you expect it to happen, everything has to be done yesterday, multiple organizations with governmental clout are examining your every move, and planning is utterly futile.
One must arrive on one's toes, and stay there. Indefinitely.
If that's not proof enough, I give you this: Lately, I spend half of my days scouring the internet for career avenues, and the other half embracing the ruddy marrow of life. If that's not multi-tasking, I don't know what is.

5) I work well with others. Take all your sports analogies and chuck them. I never played organized sports growing up. I'll do you one better. I performed on stage.
Once you're on the boards, you have to know when to steal the spotlight, and when to support the harmony. You've got to have your dialogue memorized, and also be clever enough to create your own when someone drops a line. You have to recognize that a stellar actress in a crappy show is just that, but when all the elements come together, you can create a theatrical sensation.
And now I sing for weddings and funerals. Same principles: be absolutely fantastic, but don't distract from the overarching purpose of the day.

6) To that end: No, I cannot score the winning run for the company softball team. But I've got office karaoke sing-off covered.
7) Contrary to appearances, I'm actually extremely humble. Which, at this point, you may or may not believe. But I grew up in Atlanta and went to school in Philly. Then I drove across the nation to find my fortunes in Boulder, Colorado. Let me spell it out for you: I'm learning to be an outdoorsy person. Learning to ski/hike on ice/snowshoe for two hours to camp in a cabin engenders humility. Trust me.
8) Humility is a valuable quality when you're enmeshed in one of my favorite activities: Learning.
Teach me, teach me, teach me.
Have qualms that I haven't yet mastered LightRoom or InDesign? I taught myself Omniture analytics and an entire e-mail/survey platform. I'm a child of the technological era, so have a little faith. Give me a week and I'll be good to go. I can learn your industry lingo, your corporate cycle highs and lows, and your office social infrastructure. Give me two weeks, and I'll be finishing your sentences, handing you files before you ask for them, and know if you're craving a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato or a McDonalds Sausage Biscuit before I even arrive at work. (I do have a reference for this. She started as my boss and ended up as one of my great friends.)

9) Enthusiasm isn't something you can create. You've either got it, or you don't. And right now, I am aching to be productive. Bumming around Boulder reading the top 300 Novels of All Time as compiled from Time Magazine, The New York Times, and the BBC is a great vocabulary booster.
Taking pictures of the glories of nature is emotionally edifying.
Making new friends is dandy. But I like to eat. And thanks to my mother, I have a fantastic metabolism. Unfortunately, my cupboard is ever more rapidly resembling that of Old Mother Hubbard. So, world, throw me and my poor dog a bone.
I'm not asking for a Caviar and Dom salary, but perhaps something above the tuna fish and crackers range?

10) is for you to fill in the blank. Because one of the most important attributes of a new employee is that she fit in. So tell me, publishers, marketers, editors of the greater Boulder area, what are you looking for? Because I'm sure I could chameleonize myself to be a perfect fit.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
Chesley Turner

Photos: paperairplane girl - whatannaloves.tumblr, b/w girl photo - imfreelykeely from flickr, Roosevelt Memorial image - LCTGloriosity, St. Thomas of Villanova Chapel at Villanova University, FDR -, computer screen text - ShazMadani, brain sketch - Sucha Lefty Brain by yasmeanie on deviantArt, paper pile - Hobbs "perfectionist", Starry night -, Fireworks - LCTGloriosity, scrabble letters - Katie Weller, Michael Parkes illustration, ballerina - reblogged from izzapizza, Mary-Louise Parker image from New Yorker ad, Moulin Rouge movie still, microphone - kexplive at flickr, road map Journey - reblogged from, student image from Wikimedia, forest girl ready - Jenniferzwick, Old Mother Hubbard by Frederick Richardson, chameleon image by Josh Boysen

1 comment:

  1. "I have an awesome life but I was bred to be constructively productive and I am unemployed, so my existence is a little lopsided right now."

    My sentiment exactly. So well put, Chesley!

    I think your cover letters to prospective employers should simply include a link to this post. You'll be hired in an instant.