I have been job searching in the Midwest for almost a year and a half. With varying degrees of seriousness and intensity, because job searching makes me want to bludgeon other people or myself, and it’s best for my mental health to take breaks sometimes.
Within that year and a half, the number of interested employers who contacted me back can be counted on one hand. Out of growing desperation, I accepted a half-time AmeriCorps position, teaching reading strategies to young students struggling to read at grade level. I was also working part-time at an agency that provides in-home assistance and care to adults with developmental disabilities. Both of those positions ended recently (one because the service contract was completed, and the other because I couldn’t stand to work any longer for almost minimum wage in such a negative and apathetic staff environment).
As I hit the ground job searching again, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had the skills that employers are looking for. What are my skills? Are those things that large numbers of other people can also do? Is there something that sets me apart from that mass of equally qualified people?
This process has not been pleasant. I realized I am a mediocre-ly talented human. I also realized that being a mediocre-ly talented human being in the present job market basically guarantees that I will not get hired.
How do you change this? How do you change the outlook and perspective of your future? How do you make it go from bleak to bright?
The best solution I have come up with is to diversify my skills. I have a bunch of generic skills, like writing, editing, photography, experience with office equipment, teaching abilities (but without an official license), being able to speak conversational Ukrainian. But so do a lot of other people (with the exception of speaking Ukrainian, maybe). I’ve been perusing Coursera’s website, and just started a Computer Science 101 course taught by a professor from Stanford. It’s an introduction to coding for people without any previous computer knowledge. So far it seems straightforward and well-explained. I’ve also started looking at what other open courseware sites (Khan Academy, MIT, Alison, iTunes U) are offering. Topics within technology are appealing because I don’t see the technology field getting significantly smaller in the future. And my antisocial side likes it because I don’t have to talk to people very often.
Has anyone else experienced trying to diversify their skills? What were your solutions? Did you find any useful courses?