The Job Search as Fire

We like to use spatial metaphors for matters pertaining to work, money, and employment — the process, the journey, the ways, the search. It belies our assumptions, that we’re ready, subject to incremental improvement and that the destination, along with the starting point, are arbitrary. I don’t have something, stuff is done, I get the something done or I achieve the something. Do a bunch of stuff, be the best version of yourself, persevere, and it will come.

I knew my A, unemployment, and my B, employment that promises a new career. I did all the transactional work of analyzing the past and seeing where I went wrong. I applied myself to the searched and networked. 7 months later, no result. More analysis. More searching. More transactional work. Nothing.

The questions were: What am I? What skills can I market? Which companies give me the most perks or pay?

I answered all those questions. I spruced up my LinkedIn. Still, nothing. I grew tired and frustrated, further burnt out by ranting and railing against the successful mission of the job market to keep me to be down-trodden.

“Rock-star developer with killer communication skills, passionate about [insert cause(s)], must know DevOps, great client handling skills, must make soufflés.”

I thought I was all that. I’m not. Opening myself up to a time of reflection and skills audit made me realize that my skills need deepening, need to be proven publicly, and my focus sharpened, too. Competition is rife and a thousand developers are punching out code — and getting paid for it — while I’m twiddling my toes.

The job search is no longer a search. It’s a sauna of fire, a refining fire. The focus is the person and who they are when they get out. Fire removes blemishes, scalds a person, gets a person to jump out of its way, or harness it.

It seems then that A and B don’t actually matter. Or, the A and B are there, but you’ve gotten to B and gone back to A, considered C, done D on a fluke, and now you want to get back to A. The destinations are irrelevant until the person is ready to compete in the market. To be ready, the person has to face themselves and be willing to be changed.

Face the fire.

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