My contract is about to end at my current job, so I have begun the arduous task of hunting for “my next adventure”. When I took the position 9 months ago, I knew I was taking a risk leaving permanent work for a fixed term contract. I had hoped something permanent would happen but due to factors outside my control it hasn’t panned out that way.
I’ve forgotten how challenging it can be to aggressively search for a job. There’s a different atmosphere when you are fighting against a looming deadline versus the casual pursuit of a dream position.
I read an interesting article by Mumbrella this week – No Ninjas Required: How language influences job applications. The piece looks at the impact of gendered words on how many men and women apply for a role. Words like “rockstar”, “confident”, and “leader” have masculine connotations and as such job descriptions containing these words tend to have drastically fewer female applicants.
One explanation, especially for words like “leader” and “confident” is how women perceive they are not perfect enough to fit these descriptions (which is also a cause for the gender pay gap but that’s another story).
I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and in it she also details how men can be 44% qualified for a role and will jump at the opportunity, whereas women will be 99.5% qualified but still feel they need to perfect the other .5% before they are worthy.
For me, I am on the cusp of the next step up in my career, but I can’t quite seem to find the right opportunity. I will see roles that are basically identical to what I have been doing, and I know if I apply for them I will be bored, but then ads for the next level up feel *too* senior and nothing terrifies me more than than the possibility of being fired for not being good enough.
Which is a really silly thing, isn’t it?
Yes, job security is important, but I have always managed to land on my feet fairly quickly when I have found myself unemployed from moving to a new country. My family love me unconditionally, so I need to shed this fear of being seen as a failure in their eyes.
The other thing that sometimes holds me back, which is even more ridiculous and something I am certain very few men ever experience, is seeing an awesome job and then feeling like I don’t look the part for the role.
On more than one occasion, I have hesitated on an application because I think that I’m not thin enough or stylish enough. My make up skills aren’t on point, I have bland hair, I hate high heels. How could I possibly get this role? And if I do, every day I will be anxious that others will not take me seriously because I do not look like what a person in this position should look like.
I feel like I am Andy, about to get torn to shreds by Miranda Priestly in the Devil Wears Prada. Except I wish I looked half as good as Anne Hathaway in “dumpy” mode.
I still apply for these roles, mostly. But I wonder if my trepidation sends a message to the universe that this isn’t the role for me, essentially self-sabotaging. My cover letter isn’t as sparkly as it usually is, or I miss a typo in my CV.
Anyway, I need to stop letting superficial b.s. like this get in the way of my happiness. I understand why I experience these feelings, so now I need to stop giving them the power to define me.