Having joined the ranks of the unemployed again, I've returned to the full-time job of job-hunting. You know all those articles they keep running about employees being optimistic enough about an economic recovery to finally resign from their current companies? Yeah, I'm one of those. And my optimism level is falling about as fast as BP stock.
After hitting Craigslist and the classifieds, my next stop was going to be the temp agencies that I'd signed up with after I got laid off back in '08. The recruiters were usually impressed with my education, my technical skills and my references. But I guess there are so many highly qualified people out of work now, an intermediate knowledge of Microsoft Office doesn't even seem to rate anymore. And this one recruiter was very judgmental about gaps in my employment history, how it made me seem completely unreliable because I never seemed to stay anywhere more than a year. She hadn't even spoken to me for more than five minutes, hadn't spoken to my previous employers or references and she'd already dismissed me. It made me feel incredibly small and worthless. Even moreso than I did at my old job.
The thing is, that was my past and I can't really do anything about it now. I'm not skilled enough to spin it, and I certainly didn't do anything exciting or scandalous with that time off. I wasn't picking olives in Florence or building orphanages in Rwanda or doing a nickel at Attica. I was just...searching. I tried a job on, it didn't fit, so I moved to the next one. I tried a city on, until I ran out of money, so I moved on to the next one. I suppose on paper, it looks like a rather schizophrenic experience. But I can assure you that in practice, it's been far from fulfilling.
Nothing seems to fit. Nowhere feels like home. No company makes me feel comfortable. And I realize that's mostly on me. It's an insecurity that's plagued me since, well, puberty and I wonder if I'll ever be at home in my own skin.
The paychecks, the benefits, the five-year plan -- I know I need to worry about those things. But the primary challenge for me is being okay with who I am, even when temporary recruiters feel like belittling my existence. How do I stand up for myself when I don't really have a leg to stand on?