Last Updated on May 30, 2023 by ThoughtsStained
Oh goodness, get prepared for both a celebratory and a spicy post, friends! Your girl has some OPINIONS she needs to get off her chest. As many of you know, I’ve been job searching for the past seven months. I am so excited that I finally found a new job! Thus, escaping my toxic job!
But, going through all of this has left me with a lot of Thoughts™. So, I wanted to dive into some of those, both to process for myself and to give some insight to others who might be in the same boat.
Spoiler alert: job searching right now is absolutely awful.
I’d be remiss to not celebrate the new job, before reflecting on the journey it took me to get here. (Honesty, I think Frodo had an easier time taking the One Ring to Mordor.) As I’ve written about before, my day job has grown increasingly toxic, to the point where I was in a massive depression.
I got a new job at the same university, but the new team (and, more importantly, supervisor) seem absolutely wonderful. I start at the end of June and I am so excited about it. Even more excited I’m allowed to use up my remaining vacation to take three weeks off in-between jobs.
Job Searching Journey
I started job searching in true earnest in December. Perhaps not the best move, considering things were winding down for the holidays. But, after the worst semester I’d ever had, I needed out. Perhaps it was my naivety, but I was excited about the idea of finding a new job over the holidays, starting off 2023 fresh.
*cries in capitalist hellscape*
For me, the goals were simple:
- Work fully remote
- Earn more than my current job (45K, pre-tax)
- Find a non-toxic environment
In all, I applied to over 200 jobs. Almost all of them included a personalized cover letter. It was hours upon hours of work. I targeted two main sectors: academia, where my 8+ years of professional experience stems and publishing/editorial work.
Out of those 200 jobs, I had:
- Roughly 50 jobs send a rejection notice
- Over 100 jobs send no update or resolution at all
- 6 that were initially interested, but then chose not to interview
- 3 informational interviews
- Ironically, NONE of these led to an actual interview, even for a job where I was personally recommended
- 4 interviews
Throughout it all, I also consistently heard a few different refrains. Most loudly was on TikTok, where other job seekers like me struggled to get noticed, interviewed or receive certain resolution for their applications, their searches tallying into the 100+ applications, too. Most annoyingly were those who claimed “no one wants to work anymore,” which I can’t for the life of me take seriously.
Regardless, it was one of the most disheartening experiences I’ve ever had.
There are a few conclusions I’ve come to, after a harrowing 7 months:
- Employers are not required to list things accurately, if they list them at all. The amount of jobs I applied to and then found out after the fact they were ‘remote with one day in person” was infuriating. Or how many refused to list pay, period. Many who did, do so by including a scale in a posting that, in the application materials, was well below the scale advertised.
- Everyone is underpaid. I was barely making a living wage at my current job (45K). My new job, I’m actually taking a pay cut (41K).* Yet almost every job I applied to was either a) asking for ridiculous levels of education and experience to justify a living wage; b) requiring overworking to an nth degree (with pay ranges from livable to abysmal); or c) offering pay that, when I started to get desperate and consider fully in-person jobs, nowhere near matched the cost of living. Let alone moving expenses.
- Entry level is a scam. Say it with me, employers: entry 👏🏻 level 👏🏻 cannot 👏🏻 require 👏🏻 experience! And yet!
- It’s still a popularity contest. What was most enlightening to me, though, was how little I was selected for interviews. All the interviews I received came when I started applying for lateral positions at my current university. Every one of them said they liked my application because I already worked there and “knew the culture,” even though it was always completely different departments. I didn’t get a single bite from a different employer. Despite being two months away from a completed Masters. Despite almost a decade working full-time. The fact I have won awards related to the jobs I was applying to and didn’t get a rejection notice, half the time?
Y’all, I can say this with confidence: it’s bullshit, right now. Systematically, we are setting up people to fail. From requiring education that puts you in debt before you can earn money (and now education is no longer enough to guarantee a paycheck); to refusing to pay living wages to reverting back to older, ableist practices, like forcing in-person work for remote-capable positions.
It all sucks.
*If that fact alone doesn’t speak to the volumes of toxicity I’m trying to escape, I don’t know what else would.
Changes I Want to See
Going through all that and landing a new job feels like a miracle. Yet it was a miracle where I had to compromise on all three items I initially set out in search for. So while I’m excited, I’m also disappointed.
Whenever I job search next, I hope I see the following changes:
- Pay transparency, required for every posting, by law.
- Penalties to employers who misadvertise.
- A cultural shift from “silent rejections” to guaranteeing a response in a timely manner.
- NOT HAVING APPLICATIONS THAT ASK YOU TO REGRUTITATE YOUR RESUME. For fucks’ sake.
- More flexible workplaces, spaces and relationship with work. For example: remote options, more time off, flexible working hours, less working days.
- Healthcare provided outside of the workforce.
Yes, I realized I’m asking for a more socialist approach, with universal healthcare, a living wage, a post-capitalist society and work life balance. So sue me.
But, as a working professional full-time since 2016 and having worked at least a part-time job since I was 14, I mean this with my full chest: capitalism is a hellish model to form your society off of. It has left me traumatized, asking to sacrifice my mental and physical health. I have burned out, had dreams crushed, gone into debt and lost opportunities because of it.
I will never, ever, support a society based off capitalism.
Basically, I wouldn’t wish job searching on anyone right now. It’s a hellscape. If you are job searching right now, my heart goes out to you. I hope you find something that doesn’t ask for compromise and ticks all your boxes.
Also, if you’re a creative like me, you might be noticing some similarities with being in the query trenches, compared to the job market. Trust me, it was just as depressing for me to realize, too. 💀