Don’t Quit Your Day Job

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It’s nearing December and I know now that satisfaction in my career probably won’t come to me any time soon. Part of it is not knowing what I want out of life and my future, the other part is fear that once I find it, I won’t be able to achieve it.

For over a year I was pleased with my freelancing efforts. I got to stay at home, I got to sleep in and make my own schedule. I got to move cross-country without worrying about finding a job when I got there. Everything I created while working was mine, every success was mine. I was stressed out,  focused on my clients constantly, but when I provided good work, I got instant feedback and support. The possibilities in freelance work are endless when you’re good at what you do, be it writing, design, or even tech support.

After my contract with Blue Volcano ended, and work for Firestarter slowed down to trickles and bursts of random tasks, I knew I needed something regular. If only to please my money-conscious husband. So for the first time in a long time, I entered the mass of job seekers. This time, in Portland. I went to career fairs and was bombarded with sales positions, I went on Craigslist and was stricken with  automotive service writing positions, and was so annoyed that I got a LinkedIn JobSeeker membership to contact employers directly. It took a week and I ended up at Bonfire. After a month of great work and praise, I was on the jobseeking hunt again.

Only this time it wasn’t a hunt. More like an angry, wandering prowl through websites and doubtful possibilities. I didn’t want to go through job loss again. I didn’t want to fail again. I didn’t want to put myself into that position again, in a small agency where my job could be dissolved without cause. I didn’t want to take a contract that could be over tomorrow because the employer ran out of money.

There’s a job that I’ve wanted for months. Technical Writer at my husband’s company. They’re paid fairly, it’s stable, and there are so many employees that there’s room to grow.

It’s been clear to me that no matter what I do, how many people I contact, how many times I contact the recruiter, they’re not hiring any more writers. They’re looking for engineers. Another slap in the face with my degree.

So where am I now? Really hating myself for taking a job that I really didn’t want in the first place for a paycheck. A meager, sliced up one at that with all the taxes and insurance payments that I didn’t have to worry about before. I’m not using my brain at all, I feel pretty stupid and it’s been barely a month since I started doing data entry in a cube. I feel even more stupid knowing that I’m the laughingstock of the office because I took this job with my stellar resume.

I’m kind of hurt, and lost at the moment. Trying to figure out what I want out of my career, so I can go after it, and leave this grey box of clickctrl+Cclickctrl+V.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Quit Your Day Job

  1. That first part – what do I want to do – is the hardest, I think. Since you are on LinkedIn, have you filled out your skills and experiences yet? Try to take that as a starting point and make a spreadsheet with the list of skills, where you learned them, where you used them and if you want them to be part of your ideal job.

    Then check the job boards for them, using them as keywords and see if it helps you broaden or narrow the list of titles you could aim for in your next career step (job).

    Do you see any skills that you don’t have (yet)?

    Does there seem to be a career progression? Do you want that?

    I’m Connie Hampton, executive search consultant (in the Biotech world) and job search strategy coach. I do a blog at http://www.networkpolishkit.com and a free monthly newsletter. I’ll be starting a series of classes in January for people who were never taught how to find a job.

    • Thank you for the thoughtful–and helpful–response!

      My LinkedIn profile is pretty well-developed, apart from my bio section. It had been fairly extensive, but I cut it down to “Job-seeking Technical Writer in the Portland, OR area.” My link is here: http://bit.ly/BrendaHarjalaLinkedIn .

      Currently, I know what I want. I want to be a Technical Writer for a local, non-creative company. I want to get solid experience in the technical side of technical writing, as my background is mostly creative. Getting that start in a science field is really the key, in my opinion, to a long-term career as a tech writer.

      There are skills I don’t have yet, particularly professional experience with the TC programs RoboHelp and FrameMaker (both not available at my university). A lot of writers start out in an entry-level position where they get the opportunity to develop that foundation. Sadly, I went to school in an extremely rural place, after graduating took jobs online doing social media, and recently moved out to Portland. Instead of finding jobs aplenty, I found listings for Technical Writers with 5+ years experience writing documentation for IT companies.

      Because of this, it feels like the career I want is out of reach. So much so, that I think I need to forget my goals altogether and just “get by” until I get lucky.

      I may just be throwing myself a pity party.

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