By Chris Mykrantz
Lest anyone think I’m not willing to shoulder part of the blame for this experience, there’s been more than enough self-doubt thrown around to disprove that notion. It tugs at me every day. Did I not call enough people? Enough of the “right” people? Did I skip applying for the one job that should have been mine? Do I not have enough keywords in my résumé for it to get past the software gatekeepers? Did I not turn over the right rock? Did I make a mistake by deciding I couldn’t afford New York or California? Did I somehow screw up the one interview that could have landed me a job? I second-guess myself all the time. The disconcerting thing is that I never used to do that. Being rejected more than 400 times takes its toll.
Some folks have told me I should throw in the towel … find another career. That seems like a daunting task to me. There’s a scene in the movie Up In The Air where George Clooney tells one of the guys he’s laying off that he should have been a chef. Middle-aged and he’s been in the wrong career all his life. So he urges him to follow his dream and go find his next career as a chef. Easy for him to say. He’s not the one being forced to reinvent himself at age 50. If I can’t get a job in a career I’ve invested more than 25 years in, what would make someone think I’d land an entry level job in a new profession … at more than 50 years old.
After all, we’re talking about a career here, not a job. I could probably get a job tomorrow … in a convenience store or a fast-food restaurant. A job means maybe paying some of the bills and not much more. It wouldn’t yield any of the things that go with a career—benefits, advancement potential, challenging work … esteem. I used to take those things just a bit for granted. I’d see men my age working the counter at Speedway or Circle K, selling gasoline, burned coffee and lottery tickets, and wonder what mid-career disaster landed them there. Now I’m just a job application away from being one of them.
Much as it might seem the easy way out, I’m not sure I can move on just yet. It feels too much like turning my back on the person I’ve been for nearly 30 years, and maybe worse, conceding to myself that the last 30 months were a wasted exercise. It’s a pretty big cliff to step off of without knowing what’s at the bottom. So I keep looking. Keep applying. Keep networking. Keep waiting.
Maybe next week, who knows?
I'm happy to get e-mails—writing boots at gmail dot com—from anybody who happens to be interested in talking to Chris about a job. Circle K and Speeedway need not apply. —DM