Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Job hunting is a stressful thing.

I am not yet unemployed; that won’t happen until I graduate in May. Even then, I’m lucky to have enough in savings (*cough* hoarded student loan money *cough*) that I can be unemployed for a few months if need be. Still, it’s stressful. I can easily imagine how much of a nightmare the process must be for someone who is currently unemployed and who has already drained his or her savings.

This is the first time I’ve gone job hunting in the US since 2002, and the process has become a lot more internet-based in the intervening twelve years. While there were some online application websites back in 2002, most of the jobs I applied for back then either required me to snail-mail hard-copies of my application materials, or asked me to email the relevant documents to the individual in charge of the hiring process. Nearly all of the jobs I’ve applied for in the intervening twelve years have been overseas EFL teaching jobs, and they, too, merely required that I email my resume, cover letter, and references’ contact information to their HR person. While there are a very small number of job openings (in my field, mind you) here in the US that do simply ask for documents to be emailed, most seem to rely on online job application submission websites. These things are responsible for a lot of the stress that I’ve been feeling lately.

Here are some of the thoughts I’ve had while dealing with these job-application websites:

  • If I am able to submit my resume to the job application website, why must I then manually copy and paste every single section of my resume into teeny-tiny little boxes? Surely one or the other should suffice!
  • I swear, half of these websites must have gone live a good ten years ago or so, and are desperately in need of an update to become more user-friendly.
  • PLEASE enable a save-as-you-go feature. Nothing like using an application website that doesn’t allow you to save until you have spent several hours filling in all the little boxes… especially when, right before you hit submit, your cat jumps onto your laptop and closes the browser.
  • Dear Job X: I see that you have been advertising the same positions over and over for MONTHS now. The reason why no one is applying is that your job application website is broken. After potential applicants spend several hours completing their application, the website tells them they can’t submit the application until they answer Question X. Except that they have indeed answered Question X. Even attempting to provide different answers to Question X or attempting to apply via different browsers does not solve this problem. I would contact you directly to inform you of this issue, but the only contact information you provided was this broken job application website.
  • If you are advertising a position on a third-party job-search website that allows applicants to apply for positions directly through said website, but you do not want applicants to use this function, please make this clear sometime before the applicant completes the third-party site’s application submission process.
  • If the instructions clearly state that letters of reference must be submitted directly from the reference himself/herself, why won’t the application website let me submit the application until I upload three letters of reference? You do realize that if I am uploading them, they are not coming directly from the reference, right?
  • UPDATE: If your website doesn't recognize *.docx files, even when it specifies Microsoft Word files only, your website is in serious need of an update.

It’s not just the job-application websites that are stressing me out, although they’re a good portion of it. For one thing, there just are not that many full time jobs in my field. I don’t want to graduate with over $20,000 in student loan debt only to make $15,000 a year as an adjunct, but that might very well happen. When faced with the option of making so little as an adjunct or going back overseas, I definitely start considering the option of going overseas again. I’ve even been corresponding with a potential employer in Kazakhstan and looking at job ads at Korean universities… although notice how that wouldn’t help me to take some of mom’s dogs off her hands. Not to mention that I feel all kinds of stress when I think about the logistics of international travel with Charlie and Mochi. Arrrrgh. Lastly, very few places seem willing to get back to applicants. How much effort does it take to email a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ form letter? So far, I’ve gotten one. ONE. Does that mean the others are still considering me? Have they hired someone else? Have they thrown my application in the trash and are looking for someone better? I have no idea.

Sigh. There’s not really any point to this post; I just wanted to vent. 


Crazy About Ukraine said...

Yikes, that sounds like an arduous task :( Hopefully something well-paid and enjoyable will result from all those hours of filling in boxes!

Would you recommend to anyone to follow in your footsteps and get a master's degree in TESOL? I feel like I've hit the ceiling in my current teaching position. There are always lots of students wanting lessons and the money is pretty good, yet I find myself really drawn to positions slightly out of reach, like materials development or teacher training, the kinds of jobs that usually require grad school.

Annie Nimity said...

I certainly hope so! I've actually been in contact with the director of a program for which I would like to work, and she sounded pretty positive... but of course, her org won't be posting vacancies for a few more months. I've also applied for a full time (but alas, temporary) position at my university (which would actually be a pretty good job, even if just for a year). We'll see where I end up I guess.

I think that if you enjoy teaching and want to remain in this field or get into things like materials development or teacher training (I've actually been teaching undergrad education majors how to teach ESOL students, and I love it), a MA is a good idea. Granted, the job search is frustrating because it isn't the most in-demand field, but I would not have been qualified for ANY of the jobs I've applied for based solely on my teaching experiences pre-MA program.

I would definitely recommend finding the cheapest grad school route available, whether it's going to a place that will give you in-state tuition or going somewhere that offers you a fellowship. (I have a fellowship that pays my tuition and gives me a salary, but I *still* have to take out student loans to pay my rent and bills.)

Crazy About Ukraine said...

Thank you very much for following up on my comment : ) I'll keep what you said in mind!