It’s been tough for me to write lately. I feel like every time I put pen to paper, something angry comes out. With the state of our nation, it’s been difficult to care about much else these days than the atrocities that are taking place at the hand of our own government. It feels like everything I have to say comes back to the fear and heartbreak I feel for our country.
Last month, I asked you guys on Instagram what kind of advice you were in need of. I got a multitude of answers, ranging from how to find the best sunglasses for your face shape, to help with getting rid of toxic people from your life. I’ve sat down a few times to start writing my answers, but every time I got sidetracked and ended up on more of a tangent than a talk. But last week- something shifted. After the El Paso & Dayton shootings, and the round-up of undocumented immigrants in Mississippi which left a dozen children without their parents, I felt a burning helplessness to do something. And I realized the quickest way to do something was to start spreading kindness, compassion and empathy. And I know I can do so with my words. I also bought a stranger a cookie last week- only to find out they “don’t EAT COOKIES”!! So, here I am, back on my computer!!
So, without further ado, here’s my first article with “Ask Alex” or “Advice from Alex” or “Talking Out of Her Ass, it’s Alex!”- whatever we want to call it- I’m answering your questions!
“I’m in a job rut. I’ve been with my current employer for a few years, and I really hate my job and want to look elsewhere. How did you end up finding a job you like?”
If you would have asked me a few years ago (hell, even a few months ago) to dish out job advice, I would have laughed and then gotten in my 2001 Saturn Station and popped in a Jonas Brothers CD. SIMPLER TIMES! But I didn’t start out very strong in the job-scene (does anyone?). My first job, I diverted away from fashion, which I had gone to college for. I took a job that paid well-enough and gave me experience and I was grateful- but I was miserable. It wasn’t for me. And I remember in that time, everything felt so final. I felt like I had chosen my course and I let my job dictate my moods and my life. I never shut the job off, I came home every night riled up and angry.
Eventually, I left that job and got back into fashion, working for Linda Dresner. Out of college, I had pretty much stalked Linda, emailing and calling her store until she agreed to meet with me. At that time, she didn’t have any work for me. But I offered to come in and help with sales and whatever else she needed, and we formed a relationship. Three years later- she called me and I left my job to work with her. I worked with Linda for almost three years- and it was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. Linda brought life back into my goals.
When we moved to Las Vegas, I was convinced I would never find a job in fashion here. I was applying for anything and everything, sitting in coffee shops almost everyday firing off my resume. After about 5 months of nothing, I took a seasonal job working in the Zappos Call Center. I had really wanted to work for Zappos, and I felt this could be a good foot in the door. The hours weren’t ideal, I sat 8 hours a day in a call center, fielding customer service calls. I surprisingly enjoyed it- but I think more-or-less I was just happy to be working again and talking to actual people, not just yelling wrong answers at Alex Trebeck.
Three weeks into the 8-week program, I got an email from Chloe Gosselin. I had actually applied for a job to work for her husband, when she came across my resume. She was also looking to hire someone for her business, and we met for coffee. I left the call center and starting working with Chloe two weeks later.
Here’s the thing- sometimes luck just has something to do with it. But it wasn’t without hard work. For five months, 4-5 days a week, I was actively applying for anything that sounded remotely interesting to me. I reached out to companies that didn’t even have job postings. This leads me to my best job-hunting practice:
You do not have to wait for a company to have an opening. Think of what you want to do. Is it marketing? Advertising? Tech? Research a company that you admire or are interested in and find someone who works in the related department-or, if it’s a super small company, reach out to the owner. Many times, I would just send a cold-email, ask if I could come in and meet with that person over coffee because I admired their company or wanted to learn more about it. You would be shocked with how generous people can be with their time. Don’t get me wrong- 8 times out of 10 I got no response. But the other two times, I made valuable connections and was on their radar if an opening did arise- that’s how I got the seasonal work with Zappos. I emailed a recruiter asking to have coffee and learn more about Zappos- a few weeks later, she emailed me about the Customer Service role. I immediately went to Whole Foods and bought a lunch box, I was back in business, baby!!
Never think that a job or task is beneath you. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve talked to, fresh out of college, who thinks they should be able to skip “entry-level”. It’s not what you see on Instagram. You have to work and be willing to do it all. Sometimes you take a new job and feel like you’re taking a small step back. But one step back, to ultimately take five forward? I was terrible at math in high school but sounds good to me!!
If you are currently in a job that sucks the soul out of you, you have to do everything you can to not bring it home with you. Leave work at work. I used to sit in my car for 15-minutes after a certain job I had, just to decompress and shake it off. I was letting the misery of the job take the joy out of the rest of my day, and I didn’t want to give it that power.
If you work with people who are intent on making you miserable, remember that flowers still grow among weeds. Or in simpler terms, don’t internalize the bullshit happening around you that stunts your growth. That was the hardest lesson for me to learn, and the hardest habit to kick.
In terms of applying for jobs- making my resume was truly the bane of my existence. I thought I had a killer resume- until I sent it to a few friends who kindly roasted it into oblivion. My experience was strong! But my resume might as well have been written in Comic Sans. It had a lot on there, but it said nothing. The best tip I ever received was that every sentence should have a result. So instead of:
“Responsible for all e-mail marketing initiatives”
It should be:
“Responsible for all e-mail marketing initiatives, leading to a 33% increase in active subscribers”.
And while we’re at it- delete your objective sentence. Delete it like your racist Uncle from Facebook. It takes up valuable property on your resume, and it tells the employer what they already know- that you want that job, CLEARLY!!!
It also helped me to buy a resume template off Etsy- it took the hard work out of designing my resume so I could focus on the content of it.
I think we’ve been fed a myth about the “Dream Job”- and we pressure ourselves to find it as fast as we can. We tell ourselves we’ll be happy when we have it. In those five months that I wasn’t working, I realized that I had associated my happiness with work, and the jobs I had. If my job sucked- I was miserable, even when I wasn’t there. I had gotten completely dependent on my job to dictate the other parts of life. I struggled to find things that could fill me with joy and purpose the way I had told myself a job should make me feel. In those five months, I had to learn that my happiness came from other outside factors. I had to focus on how to create a “Dream Life”, instead the illusive “Dream Job”. And it wasn’t this poetic, romanticized journey people sell- sorry but that’s only for people who don’t need MONEY!!! It was challenging and stressful as hell.
I’m not a job expert, I’m really fortunate to be in a position now where I enjoy going into work and feel respected and happy. What I want the takeaway to be is that while your job environment is extremely important to your well-being, it can’t be the sole factor of it. If you’re ready to be onto the next thing, start putting yourself out there, be willing to get a little uncomfortable. The amount of cringe-y emails I sent (I actually put “Hello, Is it Me You’re Looking For? as the subject of an application email. GOOD TIMES!) and unanswered calls discouraged me at times, but all it takes is one. Again- you might be in weeds, but you are a flower (one of those cool, Instagrammy ones) and growth requires action.