All sticks and no carrots--please get me to job hunt!
November 26, 2018 6:18 AM   Subscribe

Please help me force myself to do job hunting, even though I don't want the jobs I somewhat qualify for and can't seem to transfer my skills into anything else either.

I work in a call center/clerical worker job in which we have to juggle taking calls from the general line in addition to our regular typing jobs. I didn’t originally get hired to answer phones, I’ve had it thrust upon me and I despise it. It makes me wish I was dead, it’s that bad. High stress, high demand, very hard problems, and everyone hates how I do it because I am an obviously stressed introvert and can't hide that I am stressed and miserable. They say you “won’t hardly ever have to man the phones” and then you are always manning the phones. I need to job hunt because there is no way I can get out of doing this here, I’ve been told to put up and shut up.

I would rather not have to leave my giant org with great benefits, but I don’t qualify for anything there any more. I used to be a professional writer, but you know how that business goes and I have no writing credentials for over a decade now. All I qualify for now as a former English major are clerical jobs and all of them want a smiling phone answerer who can also do your budget and payroll, plan all of your events and do your travel, and most of that I don’t do at work now so I have lost out on jobs doing such. I am trying to get experience in some of those areas where I can (it's not going great but I've gotten a little), but I really don’t want to be the finance person in a job at all. I am sick of my industry, but it seems like moving out of it is too hard, and my job other than the phone answering is fairly specialized to said industry and doesn't look too much like it's transferable.

I no longer have any career dreams or goals or care what I do, I just want it to be quiet and not stressful and I don’t think that exists any more. I read all of these job listings and I don’t live up to what they want and I don’t qualify. Please don’t tell me how men apply for jobs when they are only 50% qualified and I should be doing that. In my industry you can’t get an interview without 95% matching the qualifications and I haven’t gotten any jobs because I don’t meet 100%, and even the career counselor I saw agreed with this. I don’t want to freelance or run my own business. I suck at math (dyscalculia), have no business sense, would slack off if I “worked from home” and I want health insurance. I’ve done career counseling and life coaching and that has done next to nothing other than to get my resume revamped. I already have a therapist, who is also stumped as to what to do with me.

I don’t know if I want to move for a job or not--I like where I live but am pretty bored/sick of it at the same time. But I don’t feel like I can afford to move, and I live in an extremely tight/rigid rental market where you have mandatory yearlong leases and you have to commit at least six months in advance before your next lease even starts or you’re screwed. I have no effing idea how subleasing works or if I’d be able to find anyone and I doubt I can pay two rents at once. I live in a fairly pricey area and most likely would want to move to other fairly pricey to very pricey areas. Timing getting a new job and lease renewal and moving sounds impossible. I don't have any friends or family I could move in with elsewhere.

I read the job listings and talk myself out of applying. I don’t really want the jobs I see at all, they’re just what I mostly qualify for/am not immediately ruled out for and *might* have less phone time but I can’t really tell. Upon further reading, they usually want a receptionist for a busy office. I know I should suck it up, but god, I don’t even want to write a cover letter arguing for a job that I don’t think I should have and don’t care about at all.

I don’t want another job that’s as bad as this one or worse and it seems like they’re all high demand phone answering. The jobs that sound more interesting (writing/editing jobs) require years of experience that I don’t have. A former technical writer friend of mine thinks I could do that, but I don’t have the experience beyond writing out technical things for internal documentation at the current job. I want to sit quietly in a corner working and not be bothered all the time. I have a bachelor’s but no master’s and don’t want to go back to school for a master’s that I could never pay off as a clerical worker. I might be willing to do alternative schooling options, though I’m not sure if that would do anything since I don’t have years of experience in other things.

How the hell do I get myself to job hunt? Everything is awful here but at the same time it just seems way too fucking hard to escape the cage. Job hunting makes me feel worse and even more inadequate that I don’t live up to what they want and I already feel bad every day without this making me feel shittier too. I'd love to do something else but even the career counselor doesn't think I can because I only qualify as a clerical worker. I don't even know if there are other options any more.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
With an English degree and experience in customer service, you might look into large companies who need trainers for their customer service people. I am more advanced in the learning field but that's sort of how I started out. Your tech writer friend is on the right track, but actual technical writing might require a course or two in most companies - not a master's, but a continuing education course.

Find a pal also job hunting and make goals for yourselves, and hold each other accountable. Gently!
posted by wellred at 6:30 AM on November 26, 2018

Hi, are you me? Looking forward to any other responses you get because I could use some suggestions myself.

Anyways, maybe there is something less well-known in the medical field you could into with a certificate or associates degree? I was recently talking to someone who is a cancer registrar and hers is an introverted job for sure. She can also work at home sometimes. Not sure of any specifics but i believe it's a certificate course? I was actually going to research it a bit more myself so memail me if you can't any more details later.

Best of luck to you, it sucks out there for us literary introvert types.
posted by whistle pig at 7:21 AM on November 26, 2018

Are there any universities in your area? My English degree got me my first job as a secretary at a local college; a year later I was promoted to a coordinator and since have built a fulfilling career in higher ed and the nonprofit sector. The staff side of academia can be a welcoming place for introverted people who are dependable and get their work done on time. Some of the larger universities even have in-house temp services that place in long-term assignments to get a foot in the door.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:03 AM on November 26, 2018 [11 favorites]

Focus on what skills you have and how you can use them. Right now, you'e so focused on what you *don't want* you can't see what your options are. It's easier to move toward something. Career center and library are possible resources. There are far fewer resources helping job hunters these days, but there should be something in your area.
posted by theora55 at 9:42 AM on November 26, 2018

Nthing investigating job openings in higher ed—even in clerical positions, it's usually a lot lower stress, and the benefits are usually pretty good. Plus, if there ever was anything you wanted to go back to school for or any training you wanted to take, they usually have tuition waivers or other educational benefits you could take advantage of.

If you haven't already, getting the word out on your social networks that you're in the market for a new job can be a surprisingly effective way to turn up new leads, especially among your more "weak ties" friends—there's science for this and everything.

If trying to get back into writing jobs is something you're interested in doing, carving out a little time to investigate some freelance writing opportunities on Upwork, Fiverr, or Craigslist (no, seriously), pitch to some publications, or even start a blog might be worth pursuing. If you can scratch up a couple of recent writing credits and bylines, you might be able to spin your existing resume to be more skills-based than chronological. With your prior writing experience and educational experience, that might be enough to make you look more competitive for writing jobs.

Caveat: I know it is so, SO hard to make yourself want to do things like pursue freelance writing jobs after a full day working at a job that you hate. I feel this SO hard, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't in a similar situation right now. But I wouldn't suggest it if I didn't think it could work with a little luck and patience. The hardest part, at least in my experience, is not talking yourself out of a potentially cool job before figuring out what it is they need that you don't have and at least trying to see if there was a way you could fluff your resume or YouTube your way to semi-competence to gloss over any perceived gaps in experience or skills. Good luck!
posted by helloimjennsco at 11:23 AM on November 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

Study to be a paralegal?
posted by serena15221 at 1:54 PM on November 26, 2018

I'm not sure what exactly it is that you do. So my suggestions may not be helpful.

If it's the phone element you don't like then there's online chat support. For general admin, perhaps looking at jobs in a church would work. Front desk at a hospital might involve talking to members of the public but not as much about the phone. If you can write and are good with people then perhaps an entry-level job in internal communications would be enjoyable.
posted by plonkee at 12:55 PM on November 27, 2018

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