Haha if only I had such poetic skill.
I have wanted to write this blog for the past week but definitely thought twice about openly writing about my own mental health. Would it adversely effect my job hunt? The universe decided to give me some moral support yesterday in two ways.
Firstly, George a former colleague of mine celebrated his three year anniversary working for the awesome Sanctus — an organisation that promotes mental health in the workplace, he explained on LinkedIn how sharing his story helped him find his passion and purpose.
Secondly, in my twice weekly reflection session with the awesome career coach Candida (more about her later), the inspiration card I pulled today had this quote:
“ We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid our truth isn’t enough — that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing and impressing” — Brené Brown
So here is my raw truth, no bells, whistles, editing or attempts to impress. Just what has been going on in this brain of mine for the past 4 weeks.
So, I graduated from Makers Academy, boom! Incredible work, the tough part was over and now to get a job. Well, who knew the hard part was just beginning…?
Job hunting was never going to be an easy task for me — I have been mostly out of formal work for the past two years — but getting back on the proverbial horse has resurfaced some trauma that I definitely wasn’t ready for.
First up the dreaded CV — there is no perfect way to build a CV but everyone has an opinion on the right way! Refocusing my CV for a career in tech was harder than I thought and even with a history of working in tech companies how am I supposed to know what the recruiter or hiring manager wants? So many uncertainties — I was attracted to a career in tech because of the somewhat binary manner your code works or it doesn’t — this was not binary!
My anxieties played out heavily in the form of avoidance and procrastination — if I didn’t work on it I couldn’t be wrong, right? Once I did get around to it I came over the next hurdle of succinctly describing my ‘Jack of all Trades’ former jobs in a neat sentence or two — what specifically is going to make me stand out from my peers? I don’t even like standing out — my mind was going a million miles a minute.
My second hurdle was one I had dodged completely for the past 12 years — writing about myself. I decided against applying to university as my mental health was so volatile, writing a 3000 character personal statement about why you should choose me, was way out of the depths of the little self esteem I did have.
Master plan!! Go get a job instead and just avoid it completely. Luckily for me, clearing came through and off to university I went, never having to write the dreaded personal statement.
But here we are, cover letters, something in my career to date I had managed to avoid — but I had to face this nemesis. I have been fortunate that Makers has career coaches on hand and the incredible Candida has supported me through multiple drafts of my first cover letter — unfortunately a one size fits all wont work here and although my first was done, this was to become a daily task.
In the future I would like to advocate for a rethinking of recruitment processes and the use of cover letters — the pick me mentality required to write a good cover letter really does not come easy to many people and I feel it is an inefficient filtering system to find good talent — but for now, I need to get hired.
After getting my first batch of applications out the door, each specifically mapping my skills to their needs and values, I was apprehensively excited to see what kind of reception I would receive out in the real world.
There was an eerie silence — nothing good, nothing bad — just nothing.
I like control, not at the level of control freak but I definitely like to know what is going on to manage my emotions — I think we all do to differing extents. Unfortunately this silence gave my brain a little too much space, what ifs creeped up on me and by Monday last week I found myself deep in a depressive and unproductive hole.
One company, birdie, had the decency to reply to me and reject my application. Thanks guys! Surprisingly, this lifted my spirits for a few hours as at least it was an answer but I found myself heading deeper and deeper into a depressive state. No one was replying, so I felt like crap, feeling like crap meant I didn’t want to apply to any more jobs, not applying to any more jobs meant no one would reply and so it continued.
Fortunately on Wednesday, I had a call booked in with Candida to check up on how I was doing and I was pretty frank about the way I was feeling. Fortunately for me she is also an emotional wellbeing specialist and spotted the negative cyclone of thoughts I was in and helped me to see it too.
Sometimes you are so deep you can’t see the mayhem you have created in your mind and all it takes is for someone to point it out for it to come to a grinding halt. This didn’t dissipate the whirlwind but allowed me to process it, take some time to be kind to myself and slowly break it down.
After some time of deep but focused thought and reflection, catch ups with some of my awesome friends and a few days away from the grind, by Monday morning I was definitely feeling back to my normal self again. An added bonus, two of my dearest friends from my cohort had got hired — and if they can do it, I certainly can too.
So here is not the happy ending I would love to be writing — YET. But it is coming, digging deep in the self belief bucket, I will become a successful software developer and no application process will keep me down. If you want to hire me definitely get in touch and if you are going through it too, talk about it, it definitely helps.
My plea, to all organisations that pledge to care about mental health — respond to applicants, even just to decline our application, the daily grind is tough enough without the wall of silence in return. For everyone else hopefully I can encourage you to be kinder to your own mental health and if you need help with that it is mental health awareness week, I am sure there will be a lot of help and support out there.
ps. Hey friends and family, I love you and thank you for being incredible and supporting me ❤
pps. If you like what I have written feel free to support me by buying me a coffee
Software and Soca
One thing I can tell you, I am one of the most resilient people you will ever meet, so I am still working hard to secure that first job. Here is my Soca selection ‘Work for it’ by Patrice Roberts as I am still working hard to fulfil my goals and dreams!