So, I have written here several times over the past few months. I, like 1000s of others, have been unemployed. My previous team was disbanded over two cycles but they all found other roles. Why haven't I, you ask?
I live in a rural part of the US and not interested in relocating. Again, why????!!! Yes, I could have been employed by now if I lived in a city like Atlanta, New York, etc. I am not interested in living amongst thousands of people, loud noises, etc. Our family loves waking up to a quiet sunrise and sitting out in our pasture, looking at the Milky Way without light polluting the skies.
All of my lifestyle choices have made finding the next career challenge difficult. Over the last 7 months, I have exhausted unemployment, applied to 750+ roles, and interviewed close to 150 times. During this process, I have had 5 or so roles offered to me and later pulled, citing Covid 19 as the excuse.
Do I really believe Covid was the reason for the pulling of offers? In 1 of the 5 instances, yes. It was for a company that was looking for senior leadership to support the retail sector. At the time of the offer, retail wasn't doing as well as it is now in areas like apparel, toys, etc. So, it made sense to me that "they were going to keep me in mind, if financial issues change..." As for the others, no; I don't believe the pandemic had anything to do with it.
Here is why: I realized after one of the companies interviewed me 4 times and told me that my 5th discussion/drill session would be with the team that I would "own" and be working with. I was told that the role was mine and on the following Monday, I would be invited to a meet and greet of the team. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday all came and went. After I reached out, it was on that Friday that I was told that they were no longer recruiting me as their candidate. I inquired why and learned that they were interested in someone a bit younger and requiring less salary. YEP! Ageism is prevalent in the workplace.
In a nutshell, I have been dealt the trying hand of being female, highly educated (3 degrees), not 20 years old, IT professional; which is still predominantly a male field. Top that off with my last excruciatingly painful series of interviews with a government entity that said I wasn't inclusive and diverse enough! I didn't even know that you could be judged that way. Literally, spent 6 weeks interviewing with said company and was blown away at the specific line of questioning regarding racism in the workplace. I thought interviewing questions like those were taboo, like asking if I planned on having children or was a smoker.
I say all of this because I read how many of you are experiencing similar things. The idea of interviewing during this pandemic is mind-numbing. I had a recruiter ask me for advice yesterday on how interviews should be versus the way that they currently are.
Here is what I told her...a pre-screen is still a good idea. This is just a phone chat. Make sure that you are picking candidates that fit the roles you are recruiting for and that they are a cultural match to the company's mission statement. No one wants to waste their time in a meeting if both parties know there isn't a genuine interest.
Cut back on the now expected 5 to 6 interviews. Most companies are still in lock-down. It is senseless to schedule multiple virtual sessions just because 1 person from a team can't attend! Trim the fat folks. Interviewing now should be very similar to what it was pre-pandemic. Phone screen, meet-and-greet, offer. Don't add layers just to stretch the work day out.
I then told her to remind all parties interviewing to dress appropriately. The role that I mentioned earlier had me interview 4 times and NOT 1 person on the other side dressed professionally. The HR rep was in a t-shirt. The VP was wearing a hoodie. I had my hair done, make-up on, accessories, dress blouse, and blazer. If you are an executive, then be one and set an example.
At the end of the discussion, the recruiter told me "Thank you!" and she said that she hadn't realized just how bad interviewing became. I closed the chat out by asking her to not do the "Dear John" email. If you invested multiple meetings into a candidate, extend them the courtesy of a phone call or a personalized email explaining why a rejection was issued. You will earn my respect at the end of the day if you do that.
I am hopeful that 2020 will close out on a good note for me. The pandemic has caused a great deal of hardship for my family as well as many of yours. I still remain optimistic that there is a reason for everything. When I was laid off, I was angry BUT the timing couldn't have been better because as soon as I stopped working, my daughter started being home-schooled. If I were still employed at the time, I would have been traveling extensively.
There is light at the end of every tunnel. For me, it is a disco ball with various colors. I haven't given up. I have done more things to keep me active. I became a Girl Scout Troop Leader. I started cooking new recipes. I changed my workout routine. I got more projects done at home. I have been writing more. I also started my own consulting gig. I take on random work projects that keep me up-to-date in IT and change up the week for me, all while getting paid.
My advice to all is to not give up or give in. Take a breath. Go outside and be in nature for a while. Break routine and do something you always wanted to. Change it up. Good things come to those who wait!