I Suck at Getting a Job

Over the last several months (or is it years?) as I’ve tried to find another job, I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion:  I suck at getting a job.

It’s not that I can’t do a job.  In fact, when I can get one, I’m really good at it.

Exhibit A:  My first job post-law/grad school was working as a legislative analyst for the NM House of Representatives.  Even while studying for – and then taking – the NM bar exam, and even while preparing and interviewing for the Presidential Management Fellowship program, I was really good at staffing the Judiciary Committee.  Even now, ten years later, they are still telling stories about my time there during this 2001 session.

Exhibit B:  The next job worth talking about was as a Legislative Assistant (LA) to United States Senator Pete V. Domenici.  From the moment I walked in the door, I was given the largest portfolio of any of the LAs.  I was often asked to take meetings with constituents and lobbyists, even when they weren’t dealing with my portfolio of issues, because I was really good at the job.  When my wife and I decided it was time to leave DC and get closer to our friends and family, the Senator laid on a pretty good guilt trip in an effort to get me to stay.

Exhibit C:  After another successful (dare I say legendary?) tour with the NM House of Representatives, Senator Domenici recommended to the President of the United States that I be appointed to head up USDA Rural Development for New Mexico.  The Senator clearly wouldn’t have made this recommendation if he was not pleased with the work I did for him in DC.  The President took this advice and, with the exception of the few employees who weren’t happy that I actually made them work for their government paycheck, my tenure is seen by most as being highly successful.

Exhibit D:  From almost my first day on the job as the Government Services Director at the Texoma Council of Governments, I knew it wasn’t a job I was going to particularly like. Nonetheless, I was referred to as a “rock star” and “wonder boy” because of my ability to transform a department, raising the morale of the staff while increasing their productivity.

Exhibit E:  On three different occasions, I have been asked to help out the Rio Rancho Economic Development Corporation with projects.  I’m pretty sure I don’t get the repeat business because of my looks (as good as they are!).

If you need further evidence, multiple members of the staffs I managed in my last two jobs have called and/or emailed to say that they wished I would come back and that things were better when I was there than they are now.  I treat the staff well and fairly; they respond (mostly) with loyalty and productivity.

So, I’m pretty sure that the question about my ability to do a job has been answered definitively in the affirmative.  It’s my ability to get a job that is at issue.  On three different occasions (after leaving the Senator’s office, after the President’s term – and my appointment – ended, and since at least September of last year), I have found it incredibly difficult to find a job.

I think I’m doing the right things.  I’ve got a pretty good network and I’ve worked it, letting them know I’m on the market.  I’ve sent my resume out hundreds of times and I’m probably in the triple digits of applications I’ve sent in.  Lots of breakfasts and lunches.  My resume is on all of the job sites (which means that I’m receiving a whole new level of spam).  I tried LinkedIn’s Job Seeker account.  I’ve read more articles than I count about what to do (and what not to do) in order to get a job; I’ve done (and not done) those things.  There’s a Governor and a United States Senate candidate, for each of whom I’d like to work.  I’ve talked to each of their top aides.  Both have indicated that they think they have a place for me on their staff.  Both have gone weeks without following up on their initial interest.  Both have ignored my gentle inquiries about the possibility of helping them out.

I’m out of ideas.  But, I’m not giving up.  I’ve got too much to offer and, even if I didn’t, I’ve got too many financial commitments; how can I not with 3 kids and a stay-at-home, kick-ass teaching wife/mother?  So, I’ll continue to work the network and apply for the jobs.  And, hope that somewhere, somehow, I’ll figure out how to be as good at getting a job as I am at doing one.


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