10 Things About Job Hunting That Nobody Really Talks About

But I’m gonna.

Photo by Domenico Loia

Job hunting is not something I ever intended to know a ton about, but here we are. In the last ten years, I can’t count the number of jobs, interviews, projects, and meltdowns I’ve had in pursuit of a day-to-day existence I love. What I’ve noticed more than anything is that we don’t talk about these things much. And it’s perfectly logical why: We see and talk to our coworkers more than anyone else, and you can’t talk to coworkers about job hunting. I don’t have any coworkers right now, it’s just me and a kitchen table from Target hanging out on a Sunday morning. So I can say whatever I want.

#1: It’s a job

Are you looking for a new job? Hope you don’t mind having an additional one in the meantime, because that’s what job hunting is. If you’re thinking to yourself, “but I already work 60 hours a week, when is that second job hunting job going to happen?” That’s a great question, Karen, it’s going to happen for an hour before you go to work and two hours after you get home, and literally all weekend.

What will it entail? The usual online platform searching of course, but then you can descend the next layer of hell and start submitting resumes to companies you admire but literally have no jobs listed that fit your expertise. Networking is an option of course, but that also involves sending out into the ether of people you know that you’re unhappy at your current role. Hope they know who it’s totally okay to tell or not tell about that.

#2: It’s exhausting

All of those morning, evening, and weekend hours spent job hunting? That’s when your mind and body used to rest and recharge. Now you’ll spend them not doing that. So if you thought job hunting was going to suck up your remaining affinity for life, you were 100% right. You’ll be really tired, really drained, but still really expected to put your best self forward so that you can get a new, amazing job. All while working full time. But I’m sure it’s easier to manage if you also have a family to care for and spend time with too, right? I don’t know, my cat is pretty low maintenance.

#3: It’s a dance

Job hunting involves a lot of dancing around topics you’re not sure when or if you should talk about. I’m dancing a particular dance right now. I am currently unemployed. If I was employed, I could never write this post, lest my current employer definitely know I’m trying to leave, at which point they’d probably just go ahead and fire me. Which is super frustrating because I think there are many, many aspects of working and searching for new work that I’d love to talk about with other people in a public forum but can’t because it’s the internet and it’ll ruin your life. But there are other dance moves, too.

If you talk about salary right away, you’re too pushy. If you wait too long, you’ve potentially wasted hours interviewing and preparing, all at great personal risk to your current role. I tend to go with option one, discussing salary as early as possible with recruiters and those either reaching out to me or responding to my initial resume submissions, just so I know the amount of work I’m about to put into my candidacy for a role won’t be misused because of a salary mismatch. Also, I always ask early if there’s a move involved. That’s huge and can sometimes sneak up on ya.

#4: You’re in stealth mode

I feel like I need an honorary degree from the CIA for the amount of secret interview missions I’ve completed during business hours. If you think “I’ve got a doctor’s appointment” is going to cut it, that’s cute, it really is. And those illusive “after business hours” interviews and meetings? They’re rare as comets, chickens, I’m sorry. And don’t forget, while your brain is both miserable in its current job and focused on finding a new one, you’ve still got to perform well day after day, to limit your risk of losing the job you currently have. Keep all those balls in the air and your feelings bottled up, no one can know. Shh.

#5: Everything can fall apart

Nothing is guaranteed until you have signed an offer letter, and even then, the job might not work out. You can feel in your bones that you nailed your last two interviews and projects and are certain they’ll both lead to offers, so you feel pretty good that your search is ending, one way or another. And then you get offers from neither. That happens. Or you can be strung along for three months by a company who came to you first because they thought you’d be such a good fit and insisted on multiple interview rounds, several packages of work samples, as well as a custom project and then in the end not get the job that they came to you for. Twice. By two different companies. Or so I’ve heard.

#6: People ghost

Along similar falling apart lines, people ghost. I mean really ghost. I’ve been ghosted after final rounds, ghosted after final projects, and ghosted by more enthusiastic recruiters who thought I was such a good fit for a role more times than I can count. Awesome conversations fizzling out like flat Sprite happen all the time. Again, nothing is guaranteed until you’ve signed an offer, so as much as possible it’s good to just let stuff go. Unless you’ve dealt with the two companies mentioned in #5, in which case hold onto that rage and channel it into creative energy later.

#7: They can do whatever they want

Ghosting is just the frosting, nay, the sprinkles of this process. In the end, the people posting open roles online and with recruiters don’t owe potential candidates anything. It doesn’t matter how much time and effort you put into a process, nothing matters until you’re on the payroll.

You can spend five hours meeting four different members of the team including the CEO, and they don’t have to hire you. You can figure out how to sneak out of your office three separate times and give up a weekend to complete a sample project and they don’t have to hire you. You can complete three interview rounds, two sample projects, a dinner out with the team, and more calls than one might imagine necessary, and guess what: They still don’t have to hire you. Regardless of how much effort you put in, the odds that you’ll walk away with nothing are higher than any of us want to admit. I like tea, biscuits, and a good cry, but deal with it any way you like.

I was once ghosted by a company following my final interview round because while I had discussed my salary early with one of the founders who was interviewing me, he hadn’t communicated that salary to his cofounder, and she thought I was too expensive. But she didn’t find that out until the last time we ever spoke. I didn’t get an apology, I didn’t get an explanation, and I sure as hell didn’t get an offer. It was their fault, but it was my problem. They can do whatever they want.

#8: They don’t always know what they want

There’s inherent trust between someone looking for a job and the job posting they’re reading. We take that posting as truth. And not just truth, we take it as authority. We assume the hiring company put the right amount of thought and preparation into the posting when they made the very necessary and completely thought-through decision to hire someone. Only maybe they didn’t, but they still get to post the job because you know why? See #7.

My personal favorite is the job opening that’s looking for the “right person” to come in and “innovate.” The official English translation of this kind of job is that the company is a hot mess, they don’t know what they want or need, and instead of hiring an actual human being, they’re seeking a miracle worker. Wonder what the going rate is for that.

#9: There isn’t any one right way to do it

There are endless avenues for finding and securing your new job. There isn’t any one right way to find the role that’s right for you and to find the company that you’re right for, too. If I have any advice here, it would be to explore a multitude of avenues, and diversify your efforts. Obviously review job postings, but make sure your resume and profile are out there, too. Put yourself in a position for something great to find you while you’re out there doing the heavy lifting. It doesn’t matter how you find your next gig, only that it was found. Always know that you have options and value, and while any time of your life spent job hunting most certainly sucks, it also…see #10.

#10: It is worth it

You will spend a massive percentage of your life at work. I believe you should enjoy that time. It isn’t possible for everyone, but if it’s possible for you, pursue it–hard. Take breaks when you need to, be patient, and let the bullshit slide as much as you can. Eventually, the work you put into finding new work will pay off, and you’ll find yourself earning a living the way you want to. In my mind there isn’t anything more worth our effort than that. You will go to your job every morning, the rent will be due every month, and if either of those thoughts are scary to you, update your resume, open a browser, and get to work.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store