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Patience, Grasshopper

By Amy Nielsen

Somehow this all seemed easier and less daunting when I was a new college graduate, still wet behind the ears and full of myself.

Now that I am older, and know more about me, I should, in theory at least, be better at taking a calculated risk. Instead, I seem to find myself stepping back from opportunities I would have plowed forward towards when I was younger.

Perhaps my age has made me more cautious. Perhaps my age has made me less ambitious. Perhaps I really just like how my life is now and a new job would mean change and change is scary.

I have three months left in my current training and a bunch of conferences I want to attend to this year. Now, I just need to figure out how to raise a client base to pay for the continuing certifications I want.

Alternately, I need to find an organization that wants my specific brand of knowledge and is willing to hire me and pay for more classes and make me an even better asset.

Isn’t that what everyone wants? A job where they are appreciated, compensated appropriately and  given the opportunity to expand their knowledge? To be a more productive member of the team?

For someone in a career change, that first job is a heck of a leap of faith, both for the employee and the employer.

Finding or creating that first job in a new field is where I am stumbling right now. It’s getting my foot in the door that is tough. In this age of on-line applications, if you don’t click the right box or have slightly different, yet related, experience, the application algorithm won’t make the distinction that you might be a good candidate and your resume never even makes it to the possible pile. It’s amazing anyone gets hired for anything these days.

Case in point: I applied for a position at a local school. It is a new position new for the organization and has never been filled before. The nature of the job is pretty vague in the posted description. The organization is related to a past career of mine and the job title lends itself to the kinds of experience and training I have.

However, because I don’t have a way to relate the crossover on the on-line form, my application was automatically rejected by the automated system as not having appropriate experience.

Many employers won’t accept snail mail resumes now, often making the assumption that the person sending the letter doesn’t know how to use the computer. It is a valid yet flawed assumption as most assumptions are.

It also means that there is no way to circumvent the process to get in sideways.

The remaining option is a phone call to the human resources department in hopes that you might reach someone with a clue about the actual position in question. If they can answer your questions about the position, you might be able to get an in. At least you will have a specific person who might actually read your information.

If you have been reading my blogs, you will know that I have been going round and round about what I really want to do when I grow up. I have a shiny, new career and the will to use it for the greatest good.

Because this career is in the emerging field of wellness rather than the established path of health care, I am free to follow my wiles and make a mash up of a job that suits exactly me.

I am old enough that I know a lot of things but young enough that I have plenty of time to learn new tricks. I’m too old to go back for another bachelor's, but a master's isn’t out of the question. Better yet I would prefer to earn a collection of certificates in specialized training that allows me the freedom to create a specific niche and service for my clients.

The effort involved in a new venture isn’t daunting, it’s the fear of success. When I was younger I felt like I could fail and still succeed at something else. Somehow now I feel that if I fail at this then succeeding is less possible. Failing is easier than succeeding in this case because there is nothing at stake yet. I can just continue on as I have been.

That leaves me with networking my way into a job or working for myself. I was originally intending on opening a business of my own, but the idea of being totally responsible for yet another entity, other than my children, makes me quake. I am sure I can probably do it. I am an intelligent, resourceful woman of means. But it is not my first choice and I think I would struggle with the business side to the detriment of the art side.

So I put my trust in the universe. I have to tell myself that I don’t have to have it all figured out, exactly right this second. I have to trust that there is a niche for me out there and that it will find me. Until then I need to concentrate of finishing my studies so I can be as knowledgeable as possible when I bump into that person who will be the key to my new job.

We could meet in the grocery store. Or in line for coffee. I firmly believe that is how this new venture will start. It will be an energetic spark that flies between us and compels us to do this work together.

Or maybe, the automated system will let my resume slide through. Just this once.

Either way, I will get my foot through that door.

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