Jobless in the bay area
Today I was lucky enough to be visited by an old friend who I hadn’t seen for 10 years or so.
She came because she wanted some interviewing advice and that is what I used to teach: how to sell yourself, how to work a room, how to get the job of your dreams. I stopped teaching because it was incredibly tiring and I had run out of hope to give people.
I found that today I really enjoyed doing my old job again and was helpful to my friend which is what it is all about to me. We spoke of her past employment and what she wanted now and then we spoke of how weird it is to be older and unemployed and having interviews with people 10 or more years younger than you.
I found this point the most interesting one as it is true for so many people today. You work hard, make a good living, advance up the ladder of corporate success and then lose your job. You have to begin a long search, learn to sell yourself all over again, and face the fear of never finding a job.
I find the younger generation hard to deal with as they seem to have no sense of humor. I often find myself out with a group of people younger than me and I notice they are really not having that much fun. Often they drink a lot, the men talk sports, and the women talk about schools for their kids. In this regard nothing has changed from my generation.
The one different thing is that my generation knows how to have fun! We had great music for fun. Anyone who grew up in the sixties and danced to the Beach Boys, kissed to the Beatles, and went to a Rolling Stones concert knows about fun. Fun is just good old sweet fun. Like spending an entire afternoon in a grassy field making out with your boyfriend.
My friend who is on a job hunt interviews with mostly young men and she isn’t having much luck. I think she isn’t having luck because it is really hard to establish rapport with a guy in his late thirties or earl forties. They don’t know the art of small talk the way we do. Small talk makes the big talk which comes after so much easier. These guys may also be threatened by a woman who is older and infinitely more qualified that they are. In any case they do not feel comfortable establishing a rapport and go right into hard core interview questions.
You know what I told her to do? Wear a pretty dress rather than the black suit she always wore to interviews. Well, that’s not all I told her to do but I did recommend that she do that. I think wearing a dress at our age to a job interview shows you have a good sense of self and that you are comfortable in your own skin. I think the old days of dark suit interviews should be swept out the door.
My friend did tell me that once she was 40 she vowed to wear all the pink she wanted to the office. So now she needs to remember that. We all do. It’s so hard to face fear and act as if you have none. People get hired who seem confident and competent. Acting fearful is a bad thing in an interview. It’s not so much the pretty dress as the attitude that says I am comfortable with myself and I get along with people.
After she left my sweet dog disappeared for a couple of hours. I felt terrible fear and was crying most of the time. I convinced myself she would never return and that I would never find another dog like her. I would be forever sad about losing her. She had been carried off by an enormous eagle that had eaten her piece by piece. Can you imagine anyone thinking like this? Crazy, right?
Fear is crazy. It paralyses us. It makes us unable to live our lives with freedom and joy. It is the worst possible emotion I feel yet is is always simmering under the edge of our lives. As the book says we have to “Feel the Fear, and Do it Anyway”.