Pic of the Week.

Two feet out-the-door.
Two feet out-the-door.

Let’s just get this out of the way: today is my very first day at my NEW job!

Finally! It’s no retail job, not a restaurant job, it’s a real-life, big-girl, 9-5, salary, career job!

Telling you I worked really hard to get it would be the understatement of my life.

Many of my longtime readers probably recall a day in early November of last year, when I walked into my job of nearly seven years and was told my services were no longer needed.

The termination was at-will, so there was no room for explanation.

It’s been almost exactly 10 months since that day, and during those months I’ve worked four retail jobs and have had dozens of freelance jobs to make ends meet. And there were months when those ends only met thanks to my tiny savings account and/or my exhausted credit cards.

I had built a life on a certain kind of salary and the salary was taken away. During the many hours on my feet, often folding clothes or straightening shoes, I questioned and analyzed every possible reason on WHY this happened.

I busted my ass at my job! I got the biggest raise in the office just two months before being let go. I’m not denying there were times I was reprimanded: for not having pleasant facial expressions (basically for having resting bitch face), for my Twitter account, my freelance work, and for this blog.

But as with any unresolved question or messy breakup, I had to push it aside and find a job that was going to fulfill me in a way the retail jobs didn’t.

At first, I made a goal to apply to at least five jobs a week. This satisfied the unemployment office (I never got a penny of the funds because I made more than my alotted $235 per week, and I even had to have two court hearings because my former employer claimed I “walked out” on my job) and it didn’t take up too much of my time, as I was working 60-hour weeks of retail.

Once the holidays were over and my work weeks slowed, I upped my goal to 10 jobs per week. After the 6-month mark passed with only one interview behind me, I went at my search like a fucking monster. I was sick of retail, tired of being broke, and I missed doing work I was passionate about.

On my days off, I would apply to 10 jobs. I was finally starting to get interviews, and lots of them. There were weeks I had four interviews; some of them during lunch breaks from my job.

A collection of job rejection letters.
A collection of job rejection letters.

Applying for jobs these days is a task. There’s uploads and resume parsing and building profiles. It’s very time-consuming. Job interviews are emotionally draining. Some of the interviews made me excited. I would get so excited for the job and imagine myself working there, and then I’d get the email saying they were moving on with another candidate. It was heartbreaking.

In the thick of my job hunt, I decided to resurrect my LinkedIn profile. I’d deleted it years ago because an ex boyfriend kept trying to contact me through my profile and I was losing my shit. But, I figured it was one other “stick in the fire” and as a web/editor/social media-lite/strategist I figured it was probably necessary to put myself out there, digitally.

What I discovered was an entirely new world of job opportunities. There were hundreds of new listings in my field every day. And, many of them allowed me to apply using my profile with just a click of a single button. That is how I came across my now-current job.

The listing was for an SEO Analyst position. It was a job I knew a little about, but not as much as I know about writing, editing, or social media. At this point, I’d applied for at least 200 jobs, so why not one more?

I got an email from the company’s HR rep, and she wanted to schedule a phone interview. After the phone interview, I was certain they’d never call me again, given my lack of SEO experience. But they did call again. I had two additional phone interviews, one with the head of their SEO department, and another with their CEO (who’s a woman, holler for girl bosses).

And a few days later I got the news: they hired someone else. I was crushed. They said they “loved” me, but they picked someone with more experience. I understood, but was really upset. They asked if they could call me if anything changed. Of course, I said yes, but I knew it was never going to happen.

But a month later, they called and said they’d done some internal shifting and the SEO Analyst position was open yet again.

“Can you be in Austin next week?” They asked. They wanted to do an in-person interview.

I said yes, and used my one day off to drive the seven hours to Austin, do the interview, look at an apartment, and drive the seven hours back — all between the hours of 6am and 3am, and then showing up for work at 8am.

The in-person interview was really important to me. I wanted to meet everyone I might be working with, see the office, and try and get a vibe for the place. My last job was listed as “creative,” but it was easy to see that creativity was not welcome. Free thinking and self-expression were also seen as giant no-nos.

During my job search, it was important to me to be my complete self. I didn’t want to put on an act to get a certain job. Ultimately, I just want to work in a place that not only accepts me for who I am, but celebrates my creativity and passions — and doesn’t ask me to hide them. Because of this, my blog was a part of my resume and I made sure it was an open discussion during any interviews. This is me: take it or leave it.

When I arrived at the office for my interview, I was happy to see a colorful office with employees dressed in my favorite uniform: skinny jeans, Chucks, and graphic tees. Welcome to Austin.

The interview was three hours, which included two interviews with two different groups of people, a short meeting with the CEO, a short meeting with the HR rep I’d been talking to, forms for a background check, and a brain-buster-type of test.

It was draining, but it made me excited about what I do. It was definitely a place I wanted to work — it was nothing like my old job.

Four days later (after they really did call my references), I got the offer I’d been waiting for. I couldn’t accept it fast enough. And so, here I am, in Austin, TEXAS, about to embark on an entirely new journey of my life.

For the first time ever, I feel like I’ve done something completely for me. I’m making a slight career change, but it’s something I’m really passionate about — SEO — and I get to work for a small company that’s doing big things. I’m really excited to be here in the beginning of the company, because when we go big in 10 years, I can look back and say I was here. I’m also thrilled to be working with people who are creative and different and major nerds who just like to show up to work and get right to it. That is always how I’ve rolled: prove yourself by the work that you do, not by the things you say, the smile on your face, or the things you possess. Prove yourself and nothing else matters.

When I got my offer, my mom asked me if I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I did feel relief that I didn’t have to job hunt anymore, but I didn’t feel a weight lifted. I knew that feeling wouldn’t come until I was here, in TEXAS (I can’t say it without yelling it, Tay-HASSSSS) ready to walk in the door. And that moment is finally, FINALLY here.

And I know this is not an Academy speech, but I do want to say thank you a million times to my friends who’ve listened to me whine, complain, and even cry this entire 10 months. Thank you to my mom who’s pretty much done everything a person can do for me. And thank you a ton to my references; I don’t know what you said to these people, but it got me a job, and I am forever grateful to you. And finally, thank you to my old job. Thank you for firing me. Because you’re right. My services weren’t needed. I’m needed somewhere else, and that’s right here.

I’m currently hotel-living in Austin, as my new apartment isn’t ready yet, and I also still have my apartment in Baton Rouge through the end of the month. I feel kind of fancy and displaced all at once; but it’s a tiny sacrifice to be able to work on something I’m excited about.

I don’t know if I’m an expert at job hunting or resume writing or even interviewing, but if I can offer any advice to any fellow job searchers out there it would be this: do not give up. I know, very well, that the entire process sucks complete ass. But, it’s important to find a job that’s a good fit for you, and it takes time. I heard for months, “Oh, it takes six months to find a job.” HA! I wish. It takes forever. And each day seems like a year sometimes. Just keep going. Head up. I constantly imagined myself walking into my new job and what that would feel like, and it motivated me to keep applying. Keep reminding yourself that you DO have what it takes — and time will prove that.

I’ll close with thanking you, my readers. You’ve listened to me, not only for these last 10 months of misery, but for five YEARS. You’ve sent me messages of encouragement and joy; you’ve shared your sorrows. And you wouldn’t believe how much it all means to me. I can’t wait to share with you the adventures along the horizon — grab your fucking spurs.

So Tuesday, LET’S FREAKING DO THIS!

(And I promise this is the only password-protected post).

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