Like half the country right now, I am eating, sleeping, breathing the job search. It’s what I think about the minute I go to sleep and moment I wake up in the morning. The first thing I do once I open my eyes is fire up CharityJob and scroll through jobs I’ve seen a thousand times. Why did I disregard that one again? Let’s just take another look…. before I know it, it’s 2pm and I’m still in my Tigger pyjamas. This has been my routine for the past 6 months.
I am now 12 interviews down. Yep that’s right, TWELVE. In some ways it’s impressive and in others it’s painfully tragic.
Rejection is now part of my weekly routine. But with plenty of time for practice, I’m slowly learning how to emotionally distance myself from it.
But I can’t say that it doesn’t register. For every charity I apply to and interview with, I envision myself working there. I work out how my passions align with their mission. I get invested. Because if you’re not invested, what on earth is the point? Especially as a fundraiser. If you don’t deeply care about the cause, then you’re never going to convince a donor to give.
Here are some tips that my frazzled brain has collated over the past six months.
TAKE A DAY OFF
It’s funny because my friends have always said this to me, even when I had a stable job.
But, in all seriousness, do it. Take a week off, maybe even two. I know that doing so is so utterly daunting now that your head is filled with all the relevant career-related jargon and soundbites, and that it took you so long to get into this constant rhythm of applying in the first place. But please, just do it. Without it, burnout is absolutely inevitable.
A break will allow you some time to gain a broader perspective. To reflect on what’s going well. And what’s not going so well. It will give you the time to come up for a gulp of air and perhaps reframe how you perceive both the process and yourself.
Try to cultivate more confidence in YOU
Again, easier said than done. If, like me, your confidence has been knocked on 12 or more occasions, it’s difficult.
Modesty is my absolute go-to. A recurring sentence in interviews for me is ‘I know I don’t know it all, I don’t pretend to know it all, but I am determined to learn’ – DON’T SAY THIS. In this climate, no one is going to hire someone they think they’ll need to spoon-feed. Plus, I don’t even need spoon-feeding! I’m just super keen to learn! I 100% phrased it all wrong. Reframe your shortcomings. Chances are, they can be presented as successes.
One of the best pieces of advice given to me recently has been this – when an interviewer asks you if you have an example to back up a question, respond straight away with ‘Yes’ (before then obviously providing your answer). This shows your unfaltering confidence in yourself.
As women, we are told repeatedly to shrink ourselves in order to present as calm, collected and likeable. But owning your knowledge and experience DOES NOT go against these things. It instills the employers’ confidence in you. Because if you don’t believe in you, why on earth should they?
Be bold enough to own your unique timeline
LinkedIn and social media drain me of life. All they do is serve as a daily reminder that others are progressing at unprecedented rates – career-wise, socially, financially, romantically, spiritually, physically, everything! And I am unemployed and living at home with my parents.
But we are all on our own unique path to get wherever it is we’re meant to be going. Even if we don’t know where that is yet (I certainly don’t). This is something I have really struggled to come to terms with, but it’s true. That job is coming. It really is. In the grand scheme of your life, what is 6 months, a year? As stagnant as your growth might feel right now, you are developing and learning something in this process. Even if it’s just how to get up in the morning when there feels like nothing to get up for.
Your worth is not equated to what you do
Because I’m one of the lucky ones that actually adores what they do, these are much harder to separate. But fundraising certainly doesn’t define me. It’s just one portion of a far larger picture of what makes me, me.
Try to map out that wider picture. Make a list of your ‘sustainers’ – things, people, places, situations, feelings that make your heart and soul feel full, uplifted and nourished. Now tell me, how many of these are work related? My guess is, far less than half. Hopefully, this will serve as a reminder that you so much are more than what you ‘do’, or did, or want to do. Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
Stick it on your mirror. Refer back to it often. The job will come. You are still you.