I saw an image post on LinkedIn that said, “Your value does not decrease on someone’s inability to see your worth.” I sat on this for a while.
I read it again and thought, my worth is independent of someone’s opinion in general.
I’ve been seeing my counselor for the past seven years. She’s helped me through A LOT and is still teaching and guiding me through many life events. The one thing that she’s had to remind me over and over (it is a deeply engrained trauma) is that I am worth it, and my worth is inherent to any situation, person, contribution, etc.
I graduated with my master’s degree in December 2018. I was unhappy with my position at work and saw zero growth potential. I started my job search without knowing what to apply for. I knew I wanted out of the higher education industry since my experience had a lot of toxicity but also wanted out of the help desk role I had been doing for the past eight years.
The problem I was facing was, as one career coach described, I needed to do a double jump.
I wanted to not only change industries, but also career paths. That double jump wasn’t out of the question, but I was facing a more challenging situation.
I had fallen into the world of IT, the help desk role, and constantly felt imposter syndrome. I walked around in a state of fear that someone would find out I was a fraud and had no idea what I was doing. Of course, this wasn’t true, which took me a long time to work through, but I felt this bubble back up in my job search.
After a few months of applying without any success, I needed to overhaul it. I did what I had learned from my helpdesk role and started troubleshooting. I redid my resume. I redid cover letters that I customized to specific jobs I was applying for.
In November 2021, I created a new email address to keep track of jobs applied to, rejections, etc. After over four years, I can safely estimate I applied to over 1,000 jobs. Now, that is including the “easy apply” option on LinkedIn, too but from November of 2021 alone I applied to well over 400 jobs. Over the past year, I’ve experienced very high highs and crushing rejections. I even started documenting some of my experiences via TikTok to try to normalize the process.
I had interviews that left me with the feeling I’d get a job offer in the next few days to be completely ghosted. I had interviews that went so well that they brainstormed how I could grow with their company to improve areas they were struggling in to get the rejection the next day because they went with the candidate that was their client.
In these situations, it was hard to think it wasn’t because I was not good enough. My insecurities and critics were showing up and telling me I was not worth it. How could it be this hard? If the media was right, and places are hiring all over, why is it so hard for me to find something? It had to be me! The burnout set in and I needed to pause.
After enough exploration into the hiring world and getting involved in similar communities, it was clear. We were being lied to. A lot of jobs that people were flocking from were like the job I was trying to leave. As desperate as I was to leave my current position, I didn’t want to fall into the same situation somewhere else. I started to doubt if all jobs were like this and maybe the devil I knew was better than the devil I didn’t.
I decided that my thoughts had power over me and I needed to reshape them for the better. I no longer wanted to think or speak negatively of myself or my situation. I needed to find ways to celebrate myself and focus on my strengths.
What makes me, me? I took to social media. I asked a variety of friends and family if they could describe me in two words, what would they be? This helped identify areas I was blind to. I say this all like it was easy, but let me assure you, it was anything but. There were a lot of tears, breakdowns, talks with my counselor, and fights with my husband. Instead of letting it break me further, I needed to rebuild myself and to do that, I needed some wins.
I wanted to see myself as I would see a friend and their accomplishments. I tend to think that anything I do isn’t impressive because I can do it, but if my friend were to achieve something similar, I’d celebrate them! I found ways to impress myself, even subtly.
After 3 years and 11 months of graduating with my master's, countless applications, and many rejections, I finally landed an offer. My offer was 64% higher than my salary and doing a job I didn’t even know I could apply for, let alone get an interview. I work under many powerful, compassionate, empathetic, and phenomenal women that are true leaders.
I’m still in the tech world and still in higher ed, but I no longer wake up in fear that someone will discover I’m a fraud. I have experience and knowledge to bring to the table and am finally enjoying what I do. The journey, as hard as it was to see at the time, happened for me, not to me.
I’m writing this to remind people that the job search can be hard and it can make you feel and think awful things about yourself that are not true. It’s important to remind yourself that your worth is not tied to the opinion of others in any sort of capacity. Your worth is inherent.
If your job search is causing burnout or making you feel any sort of less than, rethink, refocus, and regroup. Do what you can with what you know and when you don’t know, reach out and ask for help. Keep going. You are worth it.