Me and my CV

It’s high time for an update here. Bit of a moan coming up, though, so stop reading now if you’re not in the mood.

As many of you know by now, I want to return to Britain permanently to be with A. and refocus my life. It’s a decision that has evolved slowly over time and which feels right.

I’m not the type to just up sticks and leave, though, so I need to find a suitable job so that I don’t have to rot in a corner, my brain doesn’t turn to jelly and I don’t end up a financial burden or a couch potato.

The search is proving tough, though: those of you who have been in this position will know what a rollercoaster it can be in terms of investment of time and energy, emotions, and impact on your self-image. I’ve only really been looking seriously for a few months and it’s not as though I am unemployed or a direct victim of the recession, but I can still feel my confidence ebbing a bit again at present and am hoping that having a bit of a moan will be cathartic.

What makes it all harder is that I love my job here – not only is it decently paid and secure contractually, but I’ve really grown in to it, feel very much a part of the department, and I love the intellectual and social stimuli the teaching brings.* And I have been given to believe that I am good at it. I’ve been lucky, and I’ve been spoiled – I entered into teaching English with almost no previous experience, but determination, conscientiousness and my own love of language study gave me a basis I was able to build on quickly and, I hope, effectively. Twelve years later, I’m experienced, know my stuff and have produced huge amounts of teaching materials, including paid contracts for books by a well-known educational publishing house.

I want to continue working in the areas I enjoy, so the jobs I am looking for in Britain are a mixture between university ELT positions and educational editorial / publishing work, also in ELT / dictionaries. I’ve applied for about 15 positions so far, but the majority of my applications seem to end up in a black hole, as most potential employers simply don’t contact you if they are not interested. Receiving a rejection letter is a short, sharp slap in the face, but as someone said to me recently, at least it shows that they are treating you as a human.

It’s also extremely hard to get any feedback out of people if you don’t even make it to the interview stage, but my main handicaps as I see them, and from what little feedback I’ve had, are:

  • no teaching qualification or MA in Applied Linguistics (most jobs list one or other as an essential qualification)
  • no research profile (this only affects some of the university jobs, thank goodness, but it is a Big Deal for those who do require this)
  • not enough editorial experience – if I did get an editorial job I’d almost certainly start in a very low pay bracket, essentially a 40% cut from my present salary

I got left in a rut by an unpleasant interview experience a couple of months ago, but I struggled hard to get my confidence back and applied for 8 jobs in April. No positive news so far (and barely any news at all), so I can feel myself beginning to slip down again. Instead of picking up the gauntlet and selling the skills that I have in a way that perfectly suits the job description, I am back at the stage of “can’t do” or “don’t have”, and all the well-meaning reassurances of “you can do” and “you do have” sometimes ring hollow, as I realise that I don’t really know who really knows what I can do. Do I?

I’d always been given to believe that I was a well qualified person: straight “A”s as far as the eye can see, and numerous letters after my name. I guess the ease with which I got through my academic education “on paper” and the sense of security I once had in possessing certificates is partly what makes me less well prepared for this challenge ,and less robust in the face of not being successful, than many other people I know.

I just have to get used to the fact that the likelihood of my MA and PhD in medieval studies being a real trump card in any of my applications is very small, not least because I have no interest in working in that area. Yes, I milk the transferable skills idea, but it doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

I’m not giving up, but I need to work hard to get out of this phase where every new job ad I see gives me an unpleasant, pressurized feeling and hinders me from feeling inclined to give it a go. I might in due course have to open up to alternative strategies such as freelance work (translation, editing, coaching, writing) or – gulp – becoming a kept woman.

* Nevertheless, I definitely don’t want to be still here in a few years’ time, for quite different reasons I won’t go into here.

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5 Comments

Filed under Up close and personal, Work stuff

5 responses to “Me and my CV

  1. renke

    the day you will leave will be a sad day for Freiburg
    (just mentioning, don’t invest too much time to think about my marginal comment)

  2. Kerstin

    I completely sympathise. Things here are up in the air. Both jobwise as there is the possibility that my contract won’t be renewed due to the recession and Irias mismanagement and also in my private life.
    However, I think what really is in you favour is that you know that you want to go back to the UK. So there is none of this I-go-wherever-I-get-a-job vagueness I personally hate. Related to that: Could it be that you are not shortlisted for jobs because of your German address? Potential employers might think that inviting you for an interview is not worthwhile since you might not want to move after all. So perhaps moving to the UK and taking a temporary, not so perfect job while searching for the perfect one is something you might want to consider. All the best! I’m sure everything will work out in the end!

    • Kerstin, it seems that there are quite a few of us going through similar transitions at the moment. Thank you so much for your supportive and helpful words.

      I’m sorry to hear that your own position is uncertain for various reasons. Mine is admittedly better in many ways.

      You could be right that a German address might be offputting in some ways, though I do always say in my covering letter that I am looking to relocate permanently (I don’t specify the reason(s), nor shoud I IMHO).

      Taking a temporary job is already in part the way I am thinking – I’ve applied for some 1-year posts and some others that are not ideal but would at least get me to a geographical point that might work better in a number of ways.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful comment, and if there is ever anything I can do to be useful in your own search, even if it’s just a listening ear, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

  3. Lena

    . (what renke said) *hug*

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