No Work for Squirrels
By Jacey Eckhart
At this very moment, I fear evil resume robots are scanning my work history with my 18 moves and endless list of clients and spitting me out onto the squirrel pile.
We squirrels are the ones who don’t quite fit into the desirable applicant mold. We have all the cheerful, industrious, darting-in-front-of-traffic skills of a squirrel, but we are not people who have stayed in one place or worked at one job or developed a ton of sexy “job-specific tenure.” Thus, the indignity of the squirrel pile.
Oh no! Don’t they know that NEW JOB is the Next Door I want to open most this year??
I know there are squirrel jobs out there. I have had a career full of ‘em. For me, this job is called “being a trainer in front of an audience.” I’m the squirrel who brings the energy to the room. Even when I am teaching a standardized curriculum, I can always get the participants on my side so we are all learning together and storing that nut away. Because that is how we roll in squirrel world.
The problem is that resume robots are not set up for squirrels—or anyone else. You can meet all three pages of requirements for a job description, miss one, and never, never make it out of the computer and onto the desk of a potential employer. It starts to feel like the world does not want or need the services of even the finest squirrel. Which is terrifying.
The thing is, we—the unemployed and underemployed and misemployed—all secretly know that human beings are required to participate in the world. We know we are designed to work with each other and use our talents because our brains fire off little sparks of reward when we do. When we don’t have a “work” of some kind or another—paid or unpaid—we shrink a little every day. So we know we have to do something.
Yet all the somethings we have to do to find a new job are so soul-crushing. I know if I want this door to a new job to open, I’m going to have to do all those things I HATE TO DO, like ask for help with my resume and work my network and request informational interviews. Bleh. I’m really going to have to change the way I relate to rejection. And I know all of it is going to hurt like crazy.
It would be so much easier to wait until “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” to do anything about finding a job. It would be so much easier to wait in this hallway and tell myself that eventually a door will open to me while I am standing out here watching all 154 episodes of The West Wing, or discovering which celebrities were ugly in middle school (all of them—everyone is ugly in middle school), or scheming how I can get a Paul Hollywood handshake when yeast hates me.
This is not the work, squirrel.
The work is admitting that there are only two choices: I can do the painful work of finding a job the hard way or I can suffer the painful consequences of not working (or, worse, working at the wrong things). We squirrels have work to do in the world. We just have to gird our furry little loins and get out there and do it.