Last Friday I interviewed for quite a reasonable job. It was a rainy day and I made it to the appointment barely dodging raindrops along the way. The interview went exactly the 30 minutes that was allowed for it. I was interviewed by an affable and intelligent man who asked interesting questions, to which I made good answers. I walked out of there thinking that I had did well, but aware that I would have to do much more to secure the job.
The policy there, as it is at so many places these days, is to follow-up an initial interview with a bout of testing, followed by a peer review. I have no fear of the testing. I always blitz them, and would expect to come out of the that the leading candidate. Peer review is more uncertain, and impossible to predict without knowing the people involved.
All in all it was positive then, and I hope for a good outcome when the process is complete.
That night and into the next day I found myself contemplating the state of my career. Something had happened in the interview – I can’t say exactly what – that made me open my eyes to another possibility.
For the last few years the quest for a job commensurate to my skills and experience has been immensely frustrating. Basically I’ve got nowhere near it. Throughout I’ve believed that I only had to persist for something to finally come up. I have a good CV and a proven track record, and there was no good reason why I could not take up again where I left off. Objectively I think that is true, and that was the basis of all my thinking in those years. After the interview on Friday a subjective element crept into that assessment, and now I’m not so certain.
It’s ironic that I maintained this fierce belief all these years without anything to show for it; now, when I’m in the running for an actual role, I begin to doubt it. There’s something very human in that.
Let me try to explain, though it’s a vague notion I barely grasp myself.
I think at some stage during the interview on Friday a part of me separated from the person willingly answering questions, and observed from on high. It was an amiable discussion. The answers came to me, and I think I was able to impart some of my personality and philosophy in the discussion. As that third party I was able to observe that and tick the appropriate boxes. At the same time I was aware of my predicament – desperate for work, any work, desperate for dollars, a decent CV, a nice suit, a nice way with words, and getting on in years.
It’s that last part that stuck with me: getting on in years. As they say, I’m not as young as I used to be. I’m still active, still energetic and inquisitive, still driven, and still looking a good 5-7 years younger than my age. I shouldn’t complain, but somehow it felt inappropriate.
I wondered through the weekend whether my time out of the job counted for something. I still keep myself up to date, and still have the skills necessary, the question was more metaphysical. For the first time I wondered if there was a reason why I could not find work like I formerly did?
It’s almost as if I had my go, and for a good decade it was a red hot go. I did a lot, climbed a lot of ladders, went hard, had fun, learned a lot, became a lot, celebrated, spent money and felt limitless. Now I’m older. Now there’s a new generation in charge. The vibe is different.
You see, once I was a part of the push. I epitomised much of it. That was my time and I made the most of it. That time has passed now though, and I’m still trying to get back, to cling on as if I still belong. But maybe I don’t belong.
I wonder if it was the thought of the peer review that prompted that. They’ll be Gen Y, I’m Gen X, and in general terms we do things differently. I know plenty of Gen Y’s, and a good number of them think I’m cool, but still there’s a gap. The biggest gap is that now it’s their turn – we had ours. I had mine.
It’s unlike me to be negative like this, but it feels like a thing. Like the current has changed, like I’m on the ebb tide (as are a number of my contemporaries).
I figured out over the weekend that if this job doesn’t work out then that’ll be it. I’ll look elsewhere. Of course since making that call I’ve had interest from elsewhere, in roles similar, but perhaps more appropriate to me.* The notion holds true though. Maybe it really is time that I need to reinvent myself for the second half of my life.
*I think I’m better suited for independent roles where I can take the lead, rather than blend into a team where I might not neatly fit. If I can be myself without constraint then I’m fine.
Could be also that I’m undergoing a minor crisis of faith, hardly surprising given my prolonged circumstances.