Employment Drama, Part II
So, there I was, in my temporary decent hours although feeling somewhat underemployed at my perfectly nice although job-posting-challenged Suburban Library System, and buckling down for at least the medium haul there since the coveted Big City Library System had announced a hiring freeze this January, when...
Big City Library System posted a job.
And not just any job. A cool, interesting, challenging, unusual job, working not at a reference desk but out and about with members of marginalized communities, especially those who might not ordinarily be inclined to come to the library. That kind of job could be really bad news if if's not well-thought-out, and/or if the Powers that Be aren't supportive and expect the moon and let librarians burn themselves out. But I didn't get that sense in this case. Just before the job was posted, in fact, I'd been to a workshop presented by members of the team doing this job, in which they'd talked candidly about the difficulties and frustrations as well as the rewards. I came out of it excited and energized and inspired and wishing like hell my job was more like that.
Then, the next week, the posting went up, an exception to the hiring freeze because this area is a high priority for the city.
I pulled out all my notes from my last debriefing and applied them: added more items to my resume; went over the posting and highlighted the important buzzwords; pounded out the most impassioned cover letter I've ever written, without even bullshitting.
The next week I got an email asking to schedule an interview for barely a week later.
I went into a flurry of preparation. I'd started a temporary once-a-week gig at BCLS for a month or so, filling in for another librarian who hadn't started yet. So the week before I had the interview, I spent some time at the end of the shift talking with the person in charge of the program, who confirmed my sense that it was well-administered, that the supervisors had a clear idea of the potential toll and issues and worries people might have about it. I left her office feeling even more sure that not only did I want this position, but I could do a good job at it.
The weekend before the interview, I spent a day putting together and practicing my assigned presentation, running questions with RW, and henna-ing my hair.
And the interview was great. I knew and liked the interviewers, and I felt prepared to answer the questions. They kept nodding and scribbling things down, and they were engaged during my presentation. The written question was on a totally unexpected topic, but once I took a few minutes to absorb it, I wrote like crazy and pulled up ideas I hadn't even known I had. I didn't come out of it feeling like I'd nailed it, but I felt like I'd done pretty well and even sort of had fun.
I didn't think I would necessarily get the job, though. Since seniority goes by hours worked at that library system and not by months worked, or by years of overall professional experience, even a new graduate who'd worked at BCLS as a student could leap right over me with the 10% seniority boost.
Which, as it turns out, is exactly what happened.
It was close enough that just a day before the "you were not the successful candidate" call, Human Resources phoned me to get information about more references, and close enough that both my interviewers went out of their way in the following week, both during the debriefing and at other times, to tell me how well I'd done and what a good addition I'd be to the library staff, and to urge me to hang in there and wait for the end of the hiring freeze, probably in the next year. HR even offered me an eight-month full-time position , which I turned down after agonizing about it for a few days, since the end of that temporary term could leave me without steady employment at all if the freeze didn't lift.
All of which was reassuring, and lovely for my ego, , but somehow I've taken this whole process harder than any of the others. Maybe because the job was so unusual and exciting, or maybe because the interview-preparation process was so particularly demanding that I got even more invested than usual. The fact that I've been working regularly at the library during the whole process, and getting to work with some of the players in a regular day-to-day way, might have something to do with it, too. Or maybe it was just that it was so very very close.
Anyway, it's not such an exciting story to anyone else: I applied for a job, I didn't get the job. But I feel almost like I did at the end of summer camp or the high school play or even a crush. It was an intimate experience. Even though I didn't talk at all about my personal life during the application process, what I said during the interview and wrote on my cover letter and in the interview written portion tapped into some of my deepest passions. I barely know them, but the people who read my application and saw my interview got to hear and know me in ways that not a lot of people do, and that was fulfilling all on its own; who doesn't want to be heard, known, appreciated?
And now, you know, that's over. The show closes, and you go back to barely saying hi to people in the halls. Camp ends, and maybe you write to a couple bunkmates every once in a while. And now that someone has been chosen for the posting, the job of the administration at BCLS is no longer, for the time being, to hear and know and appreciate me; they have lots of other work to do.
So, things go on. Eventually, the hiring freeze will lift. Eventually, I'll accumulate enough on-call hours at BCLS to have some chance of having seniority on my side, though at the rate I'm going, it will take a long time. Or maybe eventually the other finalists will blow their interviews enough that if I do really well I can beat the seniority advantage. Or someone at Suburban Library System will retire, or move, or maybe even another job will be created there, and I'll have a good chance at it. Whichever system finally does offer me a permanent job in my specialty, that's probably where I'll be for a good long while.
Today was the last of my weekly fill-in sessions at BCLS, though I'm still on their on-call list. The person who got the job started this week, so she was there, and I congratulated her, because it's the grownup thing to do, to pull it together to be warm and gracious to someone who beat you out for a job, because, you know, the professional world is small, and what else can you do? She seemed nice and smart and enthusiastic and I'm sure will do a great job. Really.
But still, I found myself unusually tired today.