In late September or so, I read somewhere that a job search, on average, takes nine months. Nine.
That came as a suprise, because in my previous casting away, I was back to work in three weeks, albeit at a substantial pay cut. Regardless, we made it work. This time around, I was optimistic that this would just be another speed bump on the way to ... wherever we're going.
I was probably too optimistic. The first week, I did basically nothing. Rode my bike a bit, played video games, wallowed a little. It felt necessary for mental health at that point. (These activities made up a good chunk of the second week, too.)
But by October I was working part-time for the newspaper and spending an hour or so each day digging through job listings. I quickly grew to dislike that — the second part, I mean. Not fun. There aren't a lot of great fits out there. However, if you're a welder, congratulations on your ability to get any job you want, anywhere.
A few weeks ago, though, I found a listing that had my name written all over it. I had the relevant work, I had the connections (lots of them), I had an inside track. It was mine, except for one little thing: a journalism degree. The position required a journalism degree. Nevermind professional experience, for which I have years and years of clips. This position would only be open to those with a journalism degree, even if they were hacks.
My application was rejected without being considered — or even read. That was a hard day.
A week later, though, I found myself in an interview room wearing nice clothes (buttons on the top and bottom) discussing a position with Applied Underwriters. It's a Berkshire Hathaway company that handles workers' compensation insurance. The company employs a couple of former World-Herald colleagues already and likes journalists for their ability to get on the phone, conduct interviews and prepare reports. Shortly after taking my friend's advice and applying, there I was in an interview.
I got a call on Monday from the recruiter with whom I interviewed. I'll be starting in a couple of weeks. When I walk in the door on day one, it will be just a few days shy of seven months on the search.
There were times when it seemed every bit as long as seven months. I got a rejection letter from one company 30 minutes after I applied. Another time I got two rejection letters on the same day. Christmas was hard. Chris and I didn't really celebrate much. The kids got their usual haul, but we tried to dial back everything else. We've spent very little outside of regular expenses. And I sold a large portion of my bike stuff (including a bike) to pay the bills. But it all needed to be done.
Hopefully, we don't have to walk down that road again for a very long time. And if that long time turned into never, I'd be OK with that, too.
Thank you, friends, for your support during all of this. A text here and there, a cup of coffee or a beer (or both?), a quick email — it all helped keep me rolling forward. It would have been a very rough time without all of that.
I have a little less than two weeks before the next chapter of whatever it is we're doing here rolls on. In the meantime, I'm going to ride my bike as much as I can and figure out how to make these things work.