What's better than one unemployed nerd talking about the job search? You guessed it—two! Jokes aside, I had a great chat with Aaron Nunley, a former Director of Engineering, discussing the upsides of being jobless and our pursuit of the perfect opportunity.
To weigh in on who has the cooler background, check out the episode here:
If you knew Aaron won without even looking, here are the highlights of our chat:
I’m going to start this off by acknowledging that we’re both coming from a place of privilege when it comes to being able to take some time off between jobs. I know this is a luxury everyone isn’t able to have. But if it is, I think some real and unexpected benefits come from pressing pause for a bit. Plus, we’re throwing in some job search tips, too.
So what’s so cool about this whole jobless thing? Well, to start, it’s low-key scary at first. Like when was the last time you took a break outside of a week here or there? Or maybe your “vacations” were just smooshed onto the end of a work trip? So often our lives get stuck in a rut of wake up, work, work some more, sleep, rinse, repeat with our “real life" only peppered in where it can fit. This grind culture has led us to repeatedly and unknowingly get our personal work boundaries and limits pushed. Sure, going the extra mile here and there is okay but it’s a problem when it becomes an ‘always’ thing. By forcing yourself to come to a grinding halt, you get clarity and perspective. This might be an instant realization or it might take weeks. But without fully stopping, how can you recognize these patterns and not just fall right back into them with your next position?
If you just parted ways with your job and you’re looking over the vast expanse that is “unemployment” thinking, “Wow, I’m going to start fresh and be a whole new person and take all those classes I’ve been needing to take and start running every morning and…” Maybe just take a breath? Give yourself the space to deprogram for a bit. Maybe that means meeting some old friends or coworkers for the lunch you never got to take before (filing that under networking by the way) or maybe it’s getting in an hour or two of video games. Good people want to work with good people, so if your last job made you into a shell of yourself, take time to build back up the things that make you full and passionate.
Now that you’ve reacquainted yourself with… yourself, you get to be picky about the next job you take. Aaron’s words of advice— don’t fall in love with job opportunities. Seems easy, but this might actually be the hardest part of the job search. When you think you’ve found the absolute perfect position, you lose sight of a few things:
- They may not think you’re the perfect candidate. Ouch.
- You lose your edge when negotiating compensation.
- You ignore some red flags and say things are okay when they’re not.
Take off those rose-colored glasses and put on the prescriptions because you should be so critical of a possible position that you almost talk yourself out of it. If you accept a job too quickly, you could be playing compensation catch up or saying “everything is fine” for years.