The discipline of finding a job by Suf Alkhaldi

The art of finding a job - Image courtesy of stockimages at
The art of finding a job – Image courtesy of stockimages at

Years ago, when I finished graduate school (three years for my Master’s and five years for my Ph.D.) and two postdoctoral studies, I was still trying to find a job. Every day when I went to bed, I felt defeated.  I had this metaphor where I thought that life was a battlefield. I worked hard to fight and attract opportunities, but I lost again and again. Every application I submitted made me closer to defeat. Every interview I had, it was more proof that I was not good enough to be hired.  I went to bed every night listening to aQuest tape trying to feel better.  In the tape David Whyte tried to answer the following question which summarized how I felt “What do I do when I am lost in the forest? What do I do when I cannot find my way around? What my life is about [is] to give myself over to something greater but I have lost myself [in] completely.”  Mr. Whyte replied by saying “Stand still, the trees ahead are not lost.  The forest knows where you are… the forest knows where you are, you must let it find you.”

I was at a loss and the agony of finding a job was mounting. I went to the library and checked out three books about how to find a job. After reading these books, I declared war between me and life in order to find a job.  I cannot remember how many jobs I applied for or how many people talked to, but I can easily say it might be around several hundred.

it is a puzzle - Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
It is a puzzle – Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Finally finding a job

After joining Emory University as a postdoc, I had 13 recruiters calling me for different job interviews. Emory had attracted a lot of bees!  What was amazing to me is that with all of these recruiters , I found a job through a sales rep who came to train me on one of my lab machines. As he was training me, I told him that I was looking for a permanent job. The sales rep was amazed that my current job was a postdoctoral position, not permanent. He told me that he would keep his eyes open. The very next day, he forwarded a job announcement asking me if I might be interested in applying.  I looked at the job announcement, and I found that all the qualifications fit my profile. I wrote an email and sent my resume. Within one week, I got a phone interview, and within two weeks I was invited to have an interview including delivering a talk. After delivering a talk for my job interview, I was offered the job within a week. Until now I am still amazed about how things moved fast from interview to hiring.

After all, David Whyte was right.  Just stay still and the trees will find you.  I stayed doing exactly what I was doing– avoiding the action bias , and the job (trees) found me. So If you are lost in the forest and you don’t know your way around, stand still! I have been working for many years and I have also hired many people. This is my advice for anyone looking for a job:

  • Be patient and don’t take rejection personally.
  • Network everywhere and with everyone all of the time.
  • Help other people to find jobs.
  • Go to conferences as much as possible and talk to everyone for possible leads.
  • Be proactive by working the extra mile. People will notice.
  • Read a lot of books about how to find a job.
  • Don’t limit yourself with place and time and kind of job.  You only need to get your foot in the door.
  • If you can not find a job, perhaps it is time to create your own job!  Build your own company!

This blog is published every week on Saturday before 10:00 pm. US Eastern time. Thank you for reading my blog. I would love to hear from you.

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