Mark of the Beast
Searching for a meaningful job in a field that I love is like being being led into the Playboy Mansion bound and blindfolded. I'll probably bump into something I like a lot, but there isn't a damn thing I can do about it.
Just spent the past hour or so traveling the web trying to find work as a designer. The Triad area is blessed with a surfeit of design firms, yet none seem to be hiring. Of course, all their websites have photos of their creative teams: hip young professionals smiling, having fun and reveling in the fact that they're getting to do something that I'd give my eyeteeth to do. A few days from now, I'm sure I'll find out that someone just got hired on at So-and-So Agency and he loves it, or Suzy So-and-So just opened her own agency and hired a bunch of people. But that does me no good after the fact, now does it?
Maybe they're not so much smiling as gloating. At me. "Lookee at the job we get to go to every day. What's that you're into -- retail? (Cue derisive, uncontrollable guffawing)
Yes, yes, I know the old dictum of 80% of all available jobs not being advertised, and I plan to go to the library later to see what I can shake out of the bushes, but over the past three years, I've shaken a lot of bushes, trees, hedges, thickets, fens and flowerpots. All I've gotten is chlorophyll stains and something on my hands that smells suspiciously like...ewww! Still, I send out resumes and follow up as best I can. Resumes I send out cold are never seen or heard from again, and resumes I send as a result of a job posting end up in competition with those same hip, young, smiling professionals that end up doing what I'd love to do, while I'm on the outside looking in. Again.
Meanwhile, I'm being pressed from all sides to "Take a job. Any job." I've lost count of the times I've been admonished that I may have to "go outside your field." Just yesterday, It was suggested to me that I take a job as a car salesman*. I've finally learned the art of not giving people that tell me I may have to go outside my field the death stare. I realized long ago that I'd have to "go outside my field." Hell, I seem to be getting forced out of it. The fact remains, though, that in order to afford a permanent place to live, I've got to make more than minimum wage; or failing that, the job has got to allow room for growth and improvement. Naturally, it's got to be something I'm qualified to do.
I also keep hearing "keep trying," "don't give up," or variants of that saw. But some days... I just want to know how many times I have to beat my head against the wall before I get to stop.
Meanwhile, I see those smiling faces on the websites and imagine those carefree lives, those cool creative jobs and the cameraderie that comes with working with equals and I get frustrated all over again.
Frustration. Hm. Seems the Beast has found a new weapon.
*A car salesman?! I was going to comment on that here, but my feelings about car salesmen would take an entire post, plus. Let's just say I'd make an astonishingly lousy one and leave it at that. Car salesman. Sheesh!
I’m also a designer. I’m about your age as well, a few years older, and I’ve worked agencies. Maybe it's just my location in the San Francisco area, but agencies survive by keeping the bulk of their talent young and churning through them rather quickly. If you haven't made partner by the time you are our age, you will not get hired on.
I suggest you turn your job search away from design firms and focus on an in-house design position in the marketing department of a non-design-related company: universities, manufacturers, retailers (corporate HQ level, not customer-facing). Assuming you've got the design chops to back it up, you'll end up with a job that's is higher paying than a non-partner position in an agency, you'll likely have a more complete benefit package, more ownership of your work and likely less job-stress as well.
I don't believe you need to turn aside from your career choice but I do think you need to better target your market.
As a designer you would bid for work that people put up. You can host you portfolio there.
I'm not a graphic designer so I don't know if your type of work translates well online.
We used it to procure our logos and a couple of website designs. Turns out the designer was from Turkey (we're in the UK).
I just found this http://contractedwork.com/rt.cfm?CatID=14 It sounds like something along the lines Steve mentioned.
I don't know, I am of the 'take any job' school of thought to take care of your family. Sometimes that's what you have to do until you can do what you really want. It's not like you couldn't also continue to look for work or take on freelance projects while being a used car salesman or whatever.
There is no shame in working at a job you don't like in order to keep a roof over your children's head.
Are you going to stay homeless until you find a good job in your field? How does your wife feel about your being picky about the work you wre willing to do?
For instance I have heard told that the starting salaries for graphic artists and so forth in this area are a full 50% below the ranges one could get for, oh, something along the lines of quality inspecting light bulbs or something of the sort.
Yes, unfortunately you may have to change tactics. With gas as much as it is, I would simply try to identify any company that is not doing something illegal, immoral, or fattening in a spiral pattern out from your house. Bring a resume but just drop in and don't just ask if they're hiring - ask what sorts of positions they do have when they do hire and take notes. When you crash into interesting ones, harrass the living daylights out of them.
And, yes, in terms of being able to bring enough money in relatively quickly for a family you may have to look at sales of some sort. Fortunately there are more interesting things in the universe to sell than used cars ...