Notes on Job Hunting

This week: a few quick notes on job hunting. But first, a blog update. This week I wrote about...

Also this week I’ve been taking a lot more brooding walks up into the hills of Noe Valley where the houses are upsettingly beautiful and the weather has been unusually hot and stuffy. Here, I snapped this pic of the city:

A picture of San Francisco

Okay. So. I’m looking for a new gig and it’s like dating but ten thousand times worse. You have to put yourself in scary situations, you have to be optimistic that this thing is going to work out and you won’t be terribly embarrassed and you have to hope that you’re not gonna want to hide under your bed for a month or so afterwards.

But it’s hard to stay optimistic because, just like a date, you can be all “Look! This thing!” and then get an eye-roll or a lack of enthusiasm or a lack of playfulness from the other side and you have to fight that inclination to hate yourself. You must realize that it’s just not working. We’re just not a match! And that’s okay! That’s great that we figured this out so quickly!

But it’s tough not to hate yourself all the same.

One time, years ago, I was in an interview with a dozen folks for a portfolio review. My work was projected behind me and I was doing my thing—explaining the tough parts of this one project that I’m proud of, what we struggled with, what I think we could’ve done better. I tried to be myself, I tried to have fun with the presentation and kinda be the snarky jerk that I am. And, dear reader, I have never bombed harder in my life. To this day I still wince whenever I think of that presentation, how maybe I shouldn’t have been entirely myself then. Perhaps if I just turned down the enthusiasm here, pulled back on the jerky jokes there, I would’ve done better.

But also I know that job would’ve sucked! I would’ve been working with a bunch of folks who don’t agree with me about what’s funny, who don’t agree with me about what’s important in the work itself.

So one of the hardest parts of being an adult and working with strangers is learning that sometimes it’s going to absolutely suck and there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no convincing them, there’s no charming them, there’s no amount of change on your end that will make this relationship work. You really just have to walk away and learn what you can from it.

Same with dating, you have to be confident in yourself and realize that hey just this isn’t gonna work. And this is coming from me, with years and years of me pretending to be someone else. I’d be whatever the person in the bar wanted—a cool biker, a drinker, a smooth talker, a flirt. Instead of who I really am, the guy who just played Baldur’s Gate 3 for six days straight and is very excited to tell you about how he beat the matriarch phase spider.

So that’s the hardest part about finding a new gig.

The second hardest thing is realizing that you can’t linger or wait for folks to get back to you. You have to be promiscuous in the beginning and assume that even if you’ve got an interview lined up then you should still have multiple plates spinning at the same time.

Years ago when I was applying for jobs I made the fatal error over and over again of getting real excited about something, waiting for a few days, then waiting a week for the onsite chat, and then waiting another few days for the decision. Once they’ve said no you’ve effectively wasted weeks where you could’ve looked at more gigs, been more open-minded about your future.

Because there’s not one singular, perfect future for me out there. And that’s what makes it so hard for me applying for jobs! I believe that there’s this fated place where I’m supposed to be, I was destined to work on this one cool thing or find this group of people. Instead, there are multiple futures out there for me and all I have to do right now is find them.