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Nobody ever says no anymore

Twenty years ago – the last time I was looking for a job – I read somewhere that every job hunt looks something like this:

no no no no no no no no no no no no no no yes.

Times have changed. Nobody ever says no anymore. Now they just ignore you.

I spend at least a few hours applying for each job. I visit the employer’s website, I tailor my CV to the position I’m applying for, and I write the best damned cover letter I can.

And then? Absolutely nothing. Not even an acknowledgment that the CV was received.

I know, I know, everybody’s stressed for time and they get hundreds of applications for every job they advertise. I’ve been on the other side of the desk too, and I do understand.

But it’s been over a year since I’ve even had an interview. (Well, there was that government job with the multiple tests that led nowhere. I never got an interview, but at least they eventually told me I’d been eliminated from the competition.)

A couple of months ago I came close to getting something. It wasn’t a job, exactly, but it could have formed part of a patchwork quilt of mini-jobs.

An editor at a local newspaper contacted me. He said he’d been reading my blog, and he made me a proposition. If I would write them an op-ed, they’d publish it, and if all went well, they’d offer me an occasional (once or twice a month) paid gig writing op-eds about local issues.

I wrote it, they published it, and everything went well. But when I tried to follow up, my emails went unanswered. I later found out on Twitter that the newspaper, for reasons unknown to me, had fired the editor who made the offer.

Can you believe that??

I think I’m on the right track though. I need to stop looking for a job, and start looking for work. Lots of smaller organizations can’t afford to hire full-time writers, so they contract out their writing work to freelancers. I need to become one of those freelancers.

I’ve got one regular client. If I could get three or four more, I’d have the equivalent of a full-time job.

You know what’s ironic? In my old job we used to conduct research studies about the future of work, which amounted to short term precarious employment, contract work, no security, no benefits. And that’s what I’m now aspiring to.

7 comments to Nobody ever says no anymore

  • I went through a similar thing a couple years ago, applying for probably hundreds of jobs and getting very little back. Not only did they not reply to say things had been recieved, or that the position had been filled, but they didn’t even call when I had one (or multiple!) interviews to let me know that I didn’t get the job.
    I find that the best way to get a good job is to take a for-now job. I don’t know why, but I always get a good job right after accepting a less than ideal job. I went from unemployed for seven months, to working for Starbucks for two weeks, to assistant manager at a mall store for three weeks, to being a project assistant on a municipal arts grant project.
    May your freelancing career open many doors!

  • Hey Zoomy…don’t fall for that local Petfinder gig. All the mainstream dailies are trying to find cheap ways to fill their editorial. Seriously, go commercial. Start finding some commercial sponsors for the blog. It’ll pay better. And you will control the editorial.

  • Lo

    Do you have any experience writing policy for a not for profit? Email me

  • Lo

    Do you check charity village and peter’s jobs? Some good stuff there sometimes;)

  • Jan

    That’s exactly what I did last month, and for the same reasons. Now I have 2 1/2 clients, and a little traction, and the future’s looking brighter. So much better than sitting around waiting for someone to hire me. Good luck!

  • Job hunting is very, very frustrating, and it’s definitely normal to hear nothing back – which just makes it harder, because you can’t learn much from silence, and it’s discouraging.

    Definitely keep your eyes open for different possibilities. I was unemployed for 7 months in 2009/2010, and am now working a contract job I’m overqualified for, but it pays the bills and I can get up and leave promptly at the end of the day. (Of course, my contract is only until Dec. 23, so I don’t know what my employment status will be on Friday.)

  • Innana

    Hey Zoom,
    Check out the Conference Publishers, if you haven’t already. They are a contract publishing company who does newsletters, minutes, summaries, etc for conferences and meetings. They’ve done some pretty cool conferences including the AIDS conference in Toronto a few years ago. They are often looking for contract writers. Not creative writers, but people who can write up what other people say. Bonus – their office is located at Bank & Fifth.