Keep Trying All the Time for That Job That Connects to You

By Jack Mulcahy

     When I sit down for the first time with a job seeker, the first question I ask is, "How do you want this resume to position you?" In other words, "What kind of job do you want this resume to aim for?" Usually, my clients have a fairly good understanding of where they want to go, but every so often I encounter someone who says, "I'll take anything."

     Such an answer is understandable in these troubled times, but it's both misguided in terms of resume-writing and it's a ticket to misery in overall life. I know the latter from personal experience. As the son of parents who had lived through the Great Depression of 1929-1942, when it came time for me to finish college and find a career, the message I got was, "Take whatever you can find and be glad you can get a job." What about a career? I asked. What about something related to my Bachelor's degree (English)? "Get a job, and stop this nonsense about a career."

     The purpose of this column is not to weep and wail at my misfortune. After all, I was a grown man when I graduated. There was nothing commanding me to listen to my parents any more. But I did. And for the next 40 years, my professional life was miserable. The work I found could not have been further from who I was and what I wanted. It took me until 2009 to find a career writing resumes that connected to my true self. And I felt as if I'd died and gone to heaven.

     So when people say, "I'll take anything," I tell them my story. I tell them about all the years of feeling like I didn't belong, and of feeling somehow like there must be more to life than getting up to go to jobs I hated. Along the way, I was fortunate enough to find mentors, both male and female, who helped guide me through the twists and turns, and who taught me many of the valuable skills that make me who I am today. So in spite of the awful jobs, I had considerable luck, and I can look back and see that there was a purpose to my wanderings in the dark.
     But don't ever decide you'll take just any job, unless you're literally starving. Then take that "whatever" job to pay the bills but hold out for something better. Keep looking for that job that connects to you, and when that brass ring comes along, grab it with both hands and don't let go. In the long run, you'll be glad you did.

     "If you just try all the doors, one of them must be the door into summer." - Robert A. Heinlein

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