Recently I underwent the experience of looking for a new job and having several job interviews throughout the process. To give some background on my line of work: I started out as a private music teacher, which I did for about 8 years, which lead to me finding work as a high school teacher, teaching English overseas in Thailand for a few years. I then decided to return to Canada to do a degree, and once I had finished my degree this past January, I decided to come back to Thailand to live and find work again as a teacher.
For a number of reasons this particular job search ended up being much longer and much more difficult than any job search experience I have ever had, and throughout this blog I will go through each of these reasons, how I experienced myself, how I dealt with these challenges and what I have learned from it all.
When I was first finding it difficult to find work, my initial reaction was to want to blame this on the ‘job market’. As I tend to read regularly on this subject, I do often see all the reports that show how small the job market is getting, due to more and more jobs being replaced every day by technology, and the overall profit-motive of businesses being to always downsize and reduce labor costs in order to maximize profit, which is an ongoing process that will not cease. But while it is true that the job market is tougher than ever before, this does not absolve me of my own self-responsibility to really put the effort in to find work and prove that I am in fact a suitable candidate for the jobs that are available. I could have done more, and my job search did not need to be as long and difficult as it was.
Because I tended to find jobs in the past with a degree of ease, I took that experience and made the mistake of assuming that it was always going to be this way. The world is changing at an unprecedentedly and exponentially fast rate, and it is vital that we ‘keep up with the changing times’ so to speak and have an understanding of what it is like out there. So don’t get too ‘comfortable’ (lazy).
I would like to say that having the ability to do useful work and generally being a valuable person in the service of others is not just something you do, it is an expression of who you are. I say this because when I initially got here, I sort of went into vacation mode, and sort of said to myself “yeah, I’ve got time…I’ll find work later when I’m done partying”. Do not do this – the world does not wait for you, that is not the way of the world, so do not wait for it.
Because – why do we work at all? The answer should be that we work towards the betterment of all, but unfortunately that is not necessarily what is taught to us of work, and so we often just look at work in a kind of way where it is about putting our time in to see what we can get out of it on a personal level. I because I upgraded my credentials when I was in Canada, I also made the mistake of assuming that this would equate to being able to find work more easily – as I’m sure many people already know, it does not! This leads me to my forthcoming point that getting work and being effective in your work is not necessarily about just checking off a checklist of obligations and ‘doing all the right things’ – it is about you being, rather than your doing, so to speak.
Working towards the betterment of all is a self-expression that comes through in all that we do. Even when we are not at that ‘certain place at a certain time’ – everything do should be oriented towards this same objective. Even with seemingly personal things: when we work to feed ourselves, when we put in the time to educate ourselves, when we take care of personal hygiene so that our health is optimal, when we work to build relationships and social network, when we go on the internet to read things, write things and post/share things on the internet – all of these points should be oriented towards enabling us to be able to meet our ultimate goal – to be able to work towards the betterment of all life. There is no dichotomy of working for ‘me or them’ – we should all working towards a common goal. Where I come from in Canada I have heard people use the expression that they are in “work mode” when they are working, as if they are some kind of work robot – there is no such thing as ‘work mode’ – we are always working all the time whether we realize it or not (doing things) – the human body works 24/7 – being in ‘work mode’ is rather a mental program of being stuck in the ‘work dome’ which is the bubble we have created in our minds that work should be this robotic exercise we do in the name of survival and self-interest.
During my job search, I ended up undergoing several interview processes before I finally landed a job – 3 actual interviews and a several other correspondence with schools for potential jobs. The first thing I will say about this is that if something does not work out for you – DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY – the employers have their reasons, and you have yours, as to why it did not work out. There is no use in focusing on the reasons of the employers – the only thing you have control over is yourself, so my suggestion would be to be gently and yet brutally honest with yourself to see where you may have not done enough or what you could have done better. In my case, it was my self-interest that held me back from landing a job in one of those interviews. Because employers are human and not perfect by any means, it is too easy to point fingers. But when I look back, it is me who was not willing to give up my self interest and put in the time to better prepare myself for the interview (in this case I had to give an example of a classroom lesson, and while I settled on my lesson and preparation being ‘good enough/sufficient’, I know self honestly that I did not give it my all.)
The second job that did not come through was entirely out of my control, as it turned out that the employer had a bias towards teachers that had previously worked for government schools (as I had). In these instances I again suggest to not get caught up in any possible shortcomings of others and simply keep moving. After all we are doing business and business really is never personal. It is not about making friends or getting along or having some kind of good feelings or experiences together – they have a need, you have a need, and you are exchanging your services, which they need in order for the goods you need. It is as simple as that.
By the time my third interview came, I had learned from my past experiences where I had not given it enough that this time, I had to give it my all. The interview went well and I was asked to come back to do an example classroom lesson. I find this challenge of teaching a class in front of a bunch of other teachers very daunting, my first tendency is to want to go into fear, but the fact is that I cannot control the opinions of others – the only thing I can control is how much of myself I put into preparing and doing the best job that I can. The self doubt that arises may simply be a reflection of us doubting ourselves because deeply we know we may not want to put in the work – that is the only thing you can control and either know self assuredly or doubt – whether you are trying or not.
So unlike my first interview, this time I spent the entire evening preparing and doing research on this particular subject, developing my example lesson until I was satisfied and felt confident that I knew what I was doing and would be able to do work/present something that the teachers who were evaluating me would find acceptable. Because I was aware that I had put the work in, I also found within myself a deeper level of self satisfaction, and so my expression was quite content and cheerful when I went to do my lesson, which always helps – the positivity I was exhibiting was coming from a real place – I did not have to fake it or pretend, which really relieves the experience of fear and anxiety that one may normally experience in this process.
Finally, I got the job, and I am now a full time teacher at a primary school. I am proud to say this, not because of the personal achievement, status or benefits, but because I earned it and deserve it.
The job market is out of your control but who you are and your principals and values is something that you do control – and if you are consistent and dedicated in standing for/living/applying those principles and values – sooner or later that will noticed and recognized because you truly are a useful person to those in need of your service. The bigger issue here is that the world system and the job market really need people working within it who care about life and making this world a better place. We need a new kind of teacher, doctor, lawyer, policeman, politician – whatever it is – who lives for the common good and does not simply punch a time clock for a paycheck while counting down the hours of the day waiting to get back to his/her television or beer or internet or whatever. We are entering uncharted waters and the adhering to the old status quo of simply ‘doing all the right things’ but not truly giving of yourself in service of a higher purpose won’t cut it. Serve a higher purpose – do not just seek to fill a vacant position – that is what plugs are for.