When you’re not enough

In case you couldn’t tell by the title of this post, I’ll throw out a disclaimer that this is not going to be a cheerful post.  If you’re after sunshine and roses, it might be time to read one of the other blogs you follow and come back to mine later.  While I could give you a rousing rendition of “Everything is Awesome!” I did promise to be frank with my discussions on here regardless of the topic.  So, here I go.

Job hunting is one of the worst parts of life.  I am absolutely convinced of the accuracy of this statement.  Think about it: You are constantly living with a sense of instability because really – you have no idea when you’ll find something.  Even if you do find something, it could go to hell in a hand-basket because you just don’t know what you’re getting into.  You have a limited amount of time to review very few (and sometimes non-existent) resources in order to gain an understanding of the organisations you are applying to, and you have to be “on” whilst writing cover letters and attending interviews.  The entire process is exhausting.

All of that aside, I think the hardest part is when you’re just not enough.  Now, I’m not exactly a rookie in my profession.  I have several years of valuable experience under my belt (despite not yet having that piece of paper that says “degree” on it).  I also have a keen desire to move up in the world.  My goal is to one day become CEO.  I feel with my whole heart that I am ready to step into a more senior role and I have so much potential to be a great manager.

But, I can’t quite get there.  I am missing a certain level of experience in a particular skill that most organisations in my sector want their managers to have.  What’s worse is that it is something I know I could do and that I could do extremely well.  Unfortunately, confident isn’t going to cut it.  This was ultimately the reason I didn’t get a management position I interviewed for months ago, and it’s the reason I didn’t get another management position I applied for recently.

So, the old confidence has taken yet another beating.  I don’t want to give up trying because you never know what will happen if you simply try.  At the same time, it can be rather soul-crushing to constantly put yourself out there and continually fall short.  Sometimes (like today) I have to rely solely on my faith that things will turn out okay in the end – that my skills and expertise ARE valuable, and that someone WILL see my potential and eventually snap me up.

Don’t worry.  I’m not giving up.  I’m ultimately the kind of person who, if you tell me I don’t have the ability to do something, I’ll say, “Watch me!” and make it happen.  I’ll give myself these few emo moments, but then I’ll wipe away the tears of frustration that currently adorn my eyelashes and…well…make it happen.

Cheers to all of the poor suckers out there that are in the same boat as I.  It’s a rocky SOB, but I know we’ll find the shore eventually.

How much is TOO much?

I’m originally from the USA.  While I have lived here for over a third of my life, I find that some things are a continued learning process.  Case in point: Your career.

Growing up, I was taught that you should always keep your personal life completely and utterly separate from your working life.  You go into work, do your job and you get out.  Period.  You may make “friends” in the office, but you heavily restrict what you reveal to them – never going into any sort of detail about your family, friends or beliefs.  I remember that my mother would never even attend work social functions, always making some excuse or another as to why she couldn’t go.

This is what I was taught to do, but I have since discovered that this is definitely not the norm in Australia.  Not only is your attendance at work functions expected, you simply cannot succeed without making friends with your colleagues.  And I don’t mean work friends – I mean going out to dinner and drinks, honest-to-God friends.  Obviously you still want to steer clear of office politics (which is kind of crazy because if you get personal, you’re automatically in it to a certain extent), but people actually become wary of you if you don’t participate at a social level in the workplace.

The same goes for when you’re seeking a job.  Employers no longer want to simply find someone with the right skills – it’s all about cultural fit.  “Why do you want to work for this company?”  “What unique perspective can you bring to my team?”

For the most part, I find this refreshing.  It’s so much more fun at work if you have someone you can relate to and banter with.  It’s also a lot easier to brainstorm and come up with amazing ideas in a cohesive team that has your back.  But at the same time, I often find myself feeling like I should revert back to how I was taught to conduct one’s work life.

This goes tenfold while looking for a new job, as I’m doing right now.  For example, I am very interested in applying for a position at a specific not-for-profit organisation.  One of the things that interests me about this role is that I have a first-hand understanding of a key social issue they work in and, therefore, empathy with the people they work with.  I believe this perspective would be a valuable asset to my application and while I want to highlight it, I can hear that pesky little American voice in my head yelling, “Too much information!  Don’t reveal that much of yourself!”  And I am genuinely scared to reveal this piece of information, even in a cryptic fashion because it will ultimately lead to questions whose answers you cannot evade.

So where do you draw the line?  How much IS too much information in this day, age and culture?  I’ll be damned if I know.  Until I either know the answer to my own question or, in the very least, know how much I am comfortable revealing in this instance, I’m going to take a break.  It’s about time for a cuppa anyway.