Getting fired from a job during a pandemic is bad. Now try imagining find another job in the middle of one. I was swimming in a boiling soup called life. Floating with unknown fears like salary cuts, a stalled job market, and forced relocation to my hometown. When the initial haze of shock and sadness lifted, I realised the soup was boiling and awaiting salty seasonings like mutual fund SIPs, rent and buying my dog’s fancy wet food at the end of the month. There was only one way of surviving, waiting till I landed another job and accepting the hopefully temporary career derailment.
Being forced to halt my saving plan was the hardest pill to swallow, more than cutting down on eating out. Next was the arduous task of updating my resume, website, social media. LinkedIn was the first platform where I did the first change. Followed by Twitter and Facebook. It was in a way actuating the situation for myself. Then came the updates on job search engines.
Setting the ball rolling
I don’t think I can count the number of websites I signed up for. The first week I focused on just signing up for job portals, their lengthy sign-ins, the subsequent experience and education descriptions and describing myself in words. After a point, it all becomes mechanical. It was a crucial way to set the ball rolling before I started to apply for jobs. My best discovery while applying was IIMjobs’ feature to allow applications for multiple jobs at one go. Evidently enough, I did not get a reply from any of those.
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This was the fourth time in my career I was looking for jobs. The other three times, it had been while sitting on the cushion of an existing job. I was used to the drill of no response, long tests, no interviews and cold trails yet doing it all over again, no matter your age or position is just as exhilarating. After the reverts came the tests. I may have potentially written over 12000 words for free for over 8 application tests. Interestingly enough, I enjoyed writing at least 8000 of those words. It felt like flexing my writing and creative muscles by going back to tools taught at post-grad school.
While I knew it was necessary to be moving fast and taking advantage of every job opening forwarded by friends, colleagues and acquaintances. I yearned a stopover to mourn being fired and mentally readying myself for another. I did not get a break out, which is why the process felt hurried, rushed and prolonged at the same time. However, like any true millennial, I found solace in coming across a meme that played deeply to my mental heartstrings. I laughed at the agony and irony of it all.
No reverts are possibly the most heart wrenching yet compulsory part of the process. The wait reminded me of Seinfeld’s The Waiting room comparison at the doctor’s chamber. How you are always transferred from a large waiting room to a smaller waiting room as a hint of progress. Through the waits for reverts, I longed to know if I had progressed to the smaller room or was I still stuck.
Signing up for certifications
I read on multiple blogs how a job loss can be converted to an opportunity by upgrading skills. The next step was naturally signing up for online courses. The rush of it along with other colleagues and friends acted as a moral propellant but I took my time. In a way, being able to complete a course on SEO Foundations was a pea-sized self-assurance of how I can regain control over my life. It has not all spiraled, I will slowly and steadily get it all back.
Then came the job offer, not completely wrapped in gold with a hike but an offer to get me out of the soup. It came with a salty aftertaste of a minor pay cut but I suppose you gulp it down. An overboiled soup can turn acrid. So I took it. After 90 days of unemployment, I was again a salaried employee, this time at a reputed communications firm. The bank sending across a mail of the salary being credited was possibly the sweetest mail I received, more than the job offer.
It has now been four months since I joined my new workplace. I can sense the career re-alignment, and I find it to be positive with a learning curve ahead. A track change I had predicted to do in three years was pushed forward by an invisible virus that wreaked global havoc. I don’t know what it will lead to in the future but it sure is survival progression.