Your career path is actually a jungle gym

This is how people look for jobs nowadays.

This is how people find jobs nowadays.

One of the best parts about being unemployed is sharing inspiring emails with the rest of your jobless cohorts. Today’s mailbox gem comes in the form of an online pep talk.

First things first: HR Consultant Peter Weddle tells us over and over: “You are not a failure. You are not a loser or a deadbeat or a flop.” Thanks, Peter! I’ll be sure to let my parents know.

Turns out, the reason we are full of self-loathing is because of two silly misconceptions.

1) There is no one climbing a career ladder nowadays. Instead, we’re all hovering dangerously over a jungle gym.

As you may recall from your schoolyard days, the jungle gym had two alluring qualities. First, you got to pick your own way forward–there was no teacher and today there is no employer telling you where to go. And second, sometimes you might move straight up, but occasionally you would move from side-to-side and even down and around to get where you were going. There was no discredit, disgrace or dishonor in the path you picked, because (a) everyone got to pick their own way and (b) if you kept your eye on your goal, you would eventually get there. The same is true with your career.

This metaphor is blowing my mind. But mainly, I wish I knew how to interpret what a side-to-side entry-level job looks like.

2) Wonder why your proofread, perfect, even goddammed perfumed resume isn’t cutting it? Weddle says your past experience and skills don’t mean anything anymore.

You have to reinvent yourself even as you are looking for a job. Update your skill set or add a new skill that will enable you to apply what you can already do in a broader set of circumstances. Enroll in an academic or training program or take a course from your professional association, and then, add that fact to your resume. Such a notation demonstrates that (a) you understand the importance of always getting better in today’s workplace and (b) you take personal responsibility for doing so. Those two attributes will help to set you apart in the job market and restart your career.

Hm. I wonder how Rabid Gossip Girl Fan will look in my skills section.