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The Stages of Job Hunting... via art

Stage 1: Despair 
(minimum one year)

The first stage consists of pondering your current work environment with appropriate horror. Your outlook at this time is bleak, your prospects of survival grim. Like the bald person in Edvard Much's The Scream, or  Macauley Culkin from Home Alone, you are mentally slapping both hands to either cheek and howling into the wilderness.

"Oh, God, why do I work here? Whyyyyy?"

Stage 2: Panic 
(minimum two months)

The second stage is characterized by mass confusion and the bloody loss of innocence. Like the innocent folk in Peter Paul Ruben's Massacre of the Innocents, the job hunter wrestles with the demons of panic ("Help! Help!"), hysteria ("I'll never get out of this hellhole!"), and delusion ("I'm sure no one knows I'm job hunting like a maniac!"). In the process, self-confidence and self-esteem are ground underfoot. As a result, the job hunter blindly sends out a ridiculous number of resumes to any and all prospects. This stage is a very low point in the job hunting process.


Stage 3: Panic Some More
(minimum one month)

Larger external factors come into play during the third stage. This is when the job hunter realizes that the average unemployment rate is 9%, meaning competition for ordinary jobs is fiercer than usual, and obtaining a choice position at a top company requires excellent contacts, a brilliant resume, aggressive self-promotion, AND divine intervention. Meanwhile, a bunch of projects are waiting for you at your current job. During this stage, you continue to compulsively send out random applications. The suffering at this stage is an infinitesimal simulacrum of the pain depicted in Picasso's Guernica. 

"Doom! DOOOOM!!!"

Stage 4: Reach Out
(minimum two weeks)

The fourth stage sees a slowdown in resume submission, as the job hunter finally takes some time to do the obvious thing: ask around for advice. The job hunter is told to apply only to positions where he/she stands half a chance, to create compelling and crafted cover letters and/or resumes, to invest in at least one power suit, and to calm the eff down, the world isn't ending and you'll get a new job one day, promise. In Michelangelo's seminal The Creation of Adam, we see the job hunter reclining in mortal ignorance, and the advice-givers represented by God, being carried by cherubs in a billowing cloth/holy carpet. Eve is under Adam, apparently waiting for her boobs to grow in. This is an allegory for the latent maturity that each job hunter will achieve in the later stages.

"Is that you, God? It's me, Adam. I need job hunting advice."

Stage 5: Smile

The penultimate stage is when the ball gets rolling and doesn't stop until it sinks into hole called NEW JOB, left corner pocket. This stage requires following all the advice dispensed in the previous stage, luck, and solid interviewing skills. During this time, the job hunter is called for a set of first-round interviews. Afterwards, there are second-round interviews. At this point, the job hunter may or may not invest in a second power suit, if she/he hasn't yet. If sufficient time has passed between the first and second interviews, the same suit may be worn. Rejections will keep pouring in from other places, but the job hunter's serene smile will remain because a second interview means a 50% chance of landing fresh employment!

"I'm almost there. FTW!"

Stage 6: Freeze Up

After the inevitable giggling/cackling fit that immediately follows a job offer, the job hunter then realizes that he/she will start all over again in a new place, with new responsibilities, higher expectations, and unfamiliar office dynamics. This does not prevent the job hunter from landing on the new opportunity with both feet and an extra leg just in case, but he/she will tend to be vague and unfocused during the final two weeks at the current job. The job hunter is now no longer a job hunter, but a new hire. The twin prospects of an unknown future and a different company freezes the new hire into a granite block with a rictus smile, like Woman III by Willem de Kooning.

"Yay! ...EEK!" *freeze*

Graphical Analysis:
The graph below represents the growth of the job hunter's self-esteem, self-confidence, and general happiness (x-axis) as time (y-axis, units variable, e.g. months/weeks) passes:

As indicated above, self-esteem, self-confidence, and happiness begin at a low point, and remain at low points even with the passage of time. However, these metrics experience a jump once stage 4 is reached, and continues to rise through the next stages, until the final stage is nearly off the graph. 

It is absolutely crucial that the job offer accepted is at a workplace that is healthy, secure, and stable in order to avoid having the graph reset to stage 1. New hires are advised to keep a low profile in the early weeks, and then balance shining efficiency with ninja-like skills of disappearance, should a promotion or pay raise be desired. But that's another blog post entirely.


Update, 1/4/2012: AHAHAHA that graph is so wrong! Stages 2 and 3 should be lower on the x-axis. My apologies, ducklings.

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