It’s a Buyer’s Market
There was a time that I thought I was cool because I had a portfolio, a pretty little black binder full of all the things supposed to showcase my competence. I put it together in 2009, when we were handed military orders that were taking us from one side of the country to the next. I actually made ten little portfolios, but let’s not dwell on my stupidity just yet. It was a little bit awesome and self-gratifying to flip through it on occasion and realize I was still kind of cool professionally. I’d turn the page and think, “huh, that’s a pretty god press release, girl you wrote that, well good job lady, keep up the good work,” or “wow, those are some mad grant writing skills, you’re on fire.” Narcissistic? Maybe. Extremely great for my inner monologue? Absolutely!
Great, until I walked in my office one morning, looked at the binder and had an “Oh s!@$!” moment. With confidence-boosting proof of my professional abilities comes great responsibility…I hadn’t updated the thing in 3 years. Well, crap.
A lot changed in 3 years. I moved across the country, moved back across the country, finished a Master’s Degree, changed jobs, and started my own business. Career-wise, a lot more changed. I matured, developed, trained, and gained way more experience than what I had when I thought I was so cool putting the darn portfolio together.
I really didn’t want to take on the massive task of performing a full update on my 2009 masterpiece, but honestly, it really wasn’t a masterpiece anymore. The professional I was 3 years ago was definitely not the professional I am today.
After more inner monologue about how I needed to get off my lazy bum and quit the moaning and groaning, I updated the whole thing, with a little help from the man of the house and my mini me. It had to be done.
Here’s why. In this world, employers, clients, and other potential sources of income are not coming to find us. They’re not seeking us out and begging us to work for them. I can guarantee they have an abundance of possible candidates suitable for whatever positions or jobs they are looking to fill. I would argue it’s a buyer’s market. To get where we want to go, there’s going to be some heavy lifting and pounding the pavement involved.
When I knew I was moving to Washington State in the beginning of 2010, I told myself there’s no way anyone would hire me. I was going from living and working in a population of barely 30,000 people to a population well over 1 million. Nobody knew me, our cultures were worlds apart, and the military life can be hard to understand for an employer unless they’re living it day in and day out. So I took out a piece of paper, pulled out my laptop, strapped my 11 month old in some contraption to keep her contained for an hour, and detailed a “get hired” plan. A week later, with the help of over-the-top grandparents, I flew myself and ten portfolios to the Pacific Northwest and didn’t stop until I had dropped off all ten portfolios at the top ten jobs I had outlined during my planning. I’ll be honest, it was a little bit painful dropping them off knowing full well I wasn’t going to get them back. You should know it also wasn’t very easy walking straight up to someone and having to give a quick elevator pitch, when I wasn’t sure they really cared.
But when I pulled out of Alabama 2 weeks later, and into my new driveway a week after leaving the south, I had 3 in-person interviews lined up, and one over the phone. When it was all said and done, I had 4 job offers after only being in the state for 2 weeks.
I’m not going to lie; I think my confidence and boldness has dwindled in 3 years, but just the act of updating something I hold so dear to my heart gave me a much needed boost. Professionally, I think we are all going to go through phases; one day we are flying high like I was on top of the Boll Weevil Monument, and the next we’re putting one foot in front of the other just trying to figure out the next step. The important thing is to do the hard work that getting ahead requires, even when it’s intimidating, time-consuming, and at times, expensive. I promise you’ll see the return on investment.
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