Continually hitting “reset”
I am in job opportunity seeking mode lately, and have had quite a challenging time getting myself back out of a dark place. It is simply a challenge to look back over my career and not wonder what sort of theme I have – after all, I have to have a story to tell when I speak with prospective employers, or people who may know someone who is a prospective employer.
For all of you out there who have never been through a period of unemployment I will say this – you are fortunate to not understand this. And it is simply exhausting to do this. To get up every morning and have to motivate yourself to make it through another day, especially when the phone does not ring and people do not respond to your emails and attempts to get together. To know what you have to offer and feel like no one else does (based on experience and current situation). To have so much experience, education, skills, etc. and yet still be searching for your story.
So on Saturday I returned to a group I had not visited in a year and a half. It is a group in the DC area that is for networking, motivating, job search skills building, and support. This past weekend, someone was there to discuss personal branding, its importance, and figuring out what each person’s brand message will be. In this day and age, if you don’t have one, you don’t have a chance.
I was somewhat dismayed to see so many people my age and older who were attending. A few of them were in a position of transition on a voluntary basis, but most were not. During the session, we were encouraged to think of some adjectives that describe us, and to try to come up with an “elevator pitch”. I was in the midst of doing a stream-of-consciousness list when my roommate, who had come with me and was sitting next to me, wrote down “All-Around Badass” on her notepad and showed it to me.
All-Around Badass. That sounds kind of cool, and rather positive. I wish I could put that on my business card, as it would at the very least strike a chord of curiosity in people with whom I connect. But the exercise, and her encouraging words, did bring me back to my life’s theme thus far: Change.
I have said it before – I am a change agent. I am an agent of change. I am a person who likes improving things, who can spot risks and issues and fix them. What it means is that people don’t get me, and sometimes do not like my direct/honest manner, or my message. What that has meant to this point is that I have been in positions where I am greatly underemployed and underestimated, and where I get bored.
So where do I go from here?
I have been trying to get into Management Consulting for quite some time, but am finding that, like so many other industries, the players want to take someone young (right out of college) and train them (and not pay them much). So a senior-level person like me runs into a lot of closed doors.
So my struggle has been, and continues to be – should I continue to be myself or try to be someone else if it will increase my level of success? Is it better to live life in an authentic manner or to change who I am to fit in?
I have not figured out the answer to this. I am told by many that someone will recognize what I bring, but my faith is running low right now.