Job Hunting (aka Testing The Waters…)

With all the whining I did recently about my unsatisfactory work situation you might have been wondering why I just don’t try to get another job ? There are a few answers to that, one of them definitely would be that I’m a lazy procrastinating, insecure human being :-) It takes some effort to first of all find any suitable job vacanies and it especially takes effort for me to figure out exactly what I want to do and what I capable of doing and what I’m good at and what my selling points are, so to speak. As someone who even in her mid-thirties hasn’t quite figured out how to build up her self-esteem that’s not an easy task to tackle.

But two weeks ago I stumbled upon a job opening which seemed like a great opportunity, and more or less on a whim decided to apply for it. (Before you all get too excited, I just handed in my application and thus haven’t heard back anything yet). I didn’t apply for it because I desperately need a job, as my current job is secure for the next two years at least and probably even longer, but because I first of all wanted to test the waters. To see what my chances are for these kind of jobs, because this job is in the broad field of environmental lobbying I’d love to work in. It would have been stupid not to apply for it now, when I don’t have the pressure to *get* the job. It’s definitely a much more relaxing state of mind to start off the whole job hunting process.
My co-worker was surprised that I would be willing to give up the security of my current job for a position which only offered a two-years-contract, but I think this new job would be a great starting point to get another job in that field after these two years. And I’m pretty sure I’d always be able to get some sort of low paid assistent job in the political field (which is what I’m doing right now) after that anyway. The point is: I do not want to to that job for the rest of my life, so I was all about “seize the moment”.

This job opening also was the perfect opportunity to test the waters in regards to how my certified disabilty would affect my chances of getting a job in this field. [And this is where I decided to write two seperate posts, because including all the stuff I wrote about yesterday in this post would have been insane *g*] In Germany all employers with 20 or more positions are required to employ disabled persons in at least 5% of the positions or otherwise must pay a compensatory levy for each mandatory place not assigned to a disabled person. The money goes into a fund that is usd to cover the costs of services to support the employment of disabled people.
I don’t have any valid proof, but I’d say that the public sector (including NGOs etc) are more willing to actually employ disabled persons while the private sector might tend to be more willing to pay the mandatory levy and not bother having to deal with employees who might need some extra assistance or time off and not work at the 100% capacity, which they are paid for. Job vacancies in the public sector usually explicitly state that the job is suitable for disabled persons and that applications from disabled persons are very much appreciated or even that disabled persons will have an advantage when they apply.
Bro2 who is working not directly in, but close to the HR department of a federal agency, once told me that with a certified disabled status I’d actually be a good hire for any public employer, because I’d help them fill their 5% quota while still being able to work almost 100% of my capacity. (Minus the few hours every month I might need for doctor’s visits and the chance that I might be on sick leave for a week if I experience an MS relapse). I would still need to be just as qualified as any other applicant of course, but the fact that I’m a woman (public sector employers also often aim at supporting women in the workplace) and I come with a disablity are two characteristics which might give me a tiny bit of a headstart compared to other applicants. At least that’s my theory which I’m ready to test at the moment :-) By law every employer even is obliged to at least ask every disabled applicant in for an interview, which means that even if I might not meet all the requirements in the job ad, I still might be able to convince them of my superb qualities during an interview. At least it’s an additional chance which right now I’m more than willing to grab with both my hands.
One last additional information about the whole disablity/job application topic: As disabled person I’m not obliged to include this information in my application or to even reveal it to any future employer, but like I’ve mentioned yesterday in any new job I would very much like to disclose it anyway sooner or later. If I’ll ever apply for a job in the private sector I might not bring it up before a final interview or even before I signed a contract :-) But in the public sector it might be the best way to disclose it right away for all the reasons mentioned above. But to be honest I’m only guessing right now what the best way to deal with it in during the process of job hunting. So it’s a good thing that I’m in such a secure position that I can test out if my way of dealing it actually is the right one.

This impromptu job application has kept me busy for the last two weeks until I dropped off my application Thursday morning, one day before the deadline. I had forgotten how much work it is to apply for a job, as I didn’t have to think about that in the last six years. And now I had to do it all in a rush. I know the process of applying for a job is different in every country and the following might baffle readers in the US, but in Germany you normally have to include a CV, a portrait photo and copies of letters of reference from former places of employment, internships etc. as well as of diploma, graduations certificates etc.
Besides drafting the actual cover letter and explaining why I am *the one* employee they were looking for ;-) I had to update my CV, get a good and recent photo from a professional photographer, had to ask the bosses in both my jobs for current letters of references, had to get a current certificate from my post-grad school (which took them ages and the delay made me so so anxious) and make copies of all these documents. Not to mention I had to find a  stylish but still easy to use folder to put it all in, which was a task of it’s own. I also was allowed to draft my letters of reference for my bosses *g* and I’m really glad all of them were really supportive of me trying to test the waters elsewhere, because they all know that I’m more qualified than the position I’m filling right now requires, but they just can’t offer me anything else. Thus they understand that I might want to leave my current job someday and although they would be sad to see me go they gave me stellar letters of reference. Which made me feel pretty awesome, I admit it. It’s just really nice to see how I and my work are appreciated. I should have asked for current letters or reference much sooner, just to boost my ego for a bit…

The more I thought about this particular job opportunity and during all the hours I spend working on my cover letter I realized that I’d really, really like to fill this position, even if it’s just for two years. I also started to believe that I’d actually could be really good at it, even though I haven’t done a job like that yet. But there is a first time for everything, right? And I’m willing to learn. The fact that I’m in the process of obtaining a 2nd degree should be proof for that, shouldn’t it?
And whether I really have shot at this job or not, I already feel so much better just by actively doing something about my unsatisfactory work situation. To actually take the time to think about what kind of job I’d like to do and why and to think about what kind of job or task I’m good at and what my qualifications and skills are and to have it all certified in the letters of reference, made me feel pretty darn good. And leaves me rather optimistic that sooner or later I will move on to a better and more fulfilling job. I can do it :-)

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2 Responses to Job Hunting (aka Testing The Waters…)

  1. JustHeather says:

    Keeping my fingers crossed for you! And as you say, whether you get it or not, it sounds like this has been a great start to a process of looking and thinking about what you do want for the future!

  2. Hope says:

    Wow, job searching in Germany seems like a lot more work than here in the US! Most jobs here just require a resume and cover letter.

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