More sudden realizations

Everybody’s all excited about working remotely right now, and while I’ve temporarily hit pause on the job search for another couple of weeks, the large majority of the positions I applied to were remote jobs. Some were in easily-reached locations like Indianapolis and Chicago, where if there were occasional days I needed to be in the office it wouldn’t represent a massive hardship, but the rest of those could be, well, anywhere. I didn’t apply to anything literally outside the country but I pretty much spanned the full width of it in those first few weeks.

So far I’ve been called for zero (0) interviews, which is … a little discouraging! One site let me know a human being had looked at my profile a couple of times, and I had somewhat high hopes for that, and LinkedIn has connected me to a couple of headhunter types who sent me messages about stuff I was either wildly unqualified for in one case or not interested in in another, but there have been no callbacks for anything. And it literally just hit me today: the disadvantage to the job searcher who is looking for remote work is that every remote job is a de facto nationwide search. I still have vestiges of that former honors kid’s confidence, right, that I’m good at a lot of things, better than most people, and that therefore I should just naturally float to the top of any applicant pool. But when you’re getting 5-600 applicants for a job (and I’ve seen jobs with way more than that) and they could come from anywhere? I have really nothing that’s going to stand out against that type of a search. Sure, I’m good, and I’ll be good at whatever job I happen to be applying for, but what I’m not is especially unique. There’s lots of middle-aged white dudes with a couple of Master’s degrees and an award or two. And even if I want to be super arrogant and say that I’m more qualified for Position X than 90% of humanity (or even if that’s an accurate assessment of my abilities!) when you’re looking at the entire country as your potential applicant pool that 10% is a lot of Goddamned people.

I may need to shift my focus here a bit, is what I’m saying. There’s no reason not to apply for these jobs, but I can’t count on finding something just by throwing a lot of CVs at remote jobs, and I may want someone with a little more experience in this to look at my résumé. I have a job this fall regardless, but I don’t want it, and it would be better for everyone involved if I was able to get something else. But I need to find a way to tighten up the pool of folk I’m competing with for these jobs, or I need to find a way to stand out against the big searches, or preferably both. I think I’m going to turn my personal website back on and see if that helps; maybe I’ll work on it tonight in between Elden Ring, grading, and planning for next week. Ten school days to Spring Break. I can do this.

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Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

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