Master of None

So I spent some time looking at job listings the other day. You know what that means? That’s right, it’s time for another rant! This time, let’s talk about feeling underqualified.

Now, I like to think that I have a wide variety of skills. I can write relatively well. I have a “knack” when it comes to basic tech support. I’m a martial artist. I speak French. I can teach. I’ve gone to school, for both foreign language and architecture. I’ve lived in a foreign country. But none of that seems to matter when I’m faced with the “Minimum & Recommended Qualifications” of a job listing.

There’s the basics, of course. 3-5 years for what is ostensibly an entry-level position? I’ve pretty much gotten used to seeing that. What gets me is the ones that are phrased in such a way that my breadth of experience seems woefully lacking in depth. And I guess that could be true, to a point: I’ve done such a variety of things I haven’t really concentrated on one or two skills as deeply as I might have.

But now I’m starting to wonder if I should have.

I mean, come on. I’m almost thirty, and I don’t have anything resembling a stable career. Popular culture tells us that we’re supposed to have it “all figured out” by a certain point, and I’m not sure I’ve met that (admittedly arbitrary) target. Sure, I’ve done a lot of stuff. But how does knowing how to find out the answer help me when a recruiter wants proof of competency via a fancy piece of paper that says “DEGREE” on it?

So what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to keep looking for employment in a system that doesn’t want me because I don’t have the right initials after my name? Or do I somehow magically assemble my eclectic skill set into some sort of unique career that I, as a special snowflake, can create for myself? You know, that thing that no one was taught to do.


I’m not expecting answers to these questions. I’m not expecting a “get rich quick” scheme to tumble out of the heavens and land in my lap. I just want to vent about how, at my low points, I’m starting to wonder if I didn’t screw something up along the way.

Jack of all trades: it seemed a good idea at the time. Now I’m not so sure.

1 thought on “Master of None

  1. Ailea

    Yeah, and employers wonder why they get so many resumes from people who don’t meet all of their requirements – people hoping nobody meets all of their requirements, and they are the best in the bunch. I have noticed a lot of the same issues, and I’ll add one – the amazing amount of specificity that they get into, even before the point of sounding like they already have a candidate in mind. “must have 5 years of experience in fish-oil based biodiesel production.” uh huh. The problem with this, is that employers are drawing from a very small pool of candidates, and the small number of companies that do this exact thing in this region just keep trading employees around until a given employee has gone through all of the options in this area and has to move. We see that a little in my current industry, and we are much less focused. To get “good” and resume targeting, I think it is required to get really good at creative writing and massaging your paperwork to look just enough like their paperwork to make them think they want an interview with you, then charm the pants off of them. (I’m a fan of the scattershot method) Or, as is more common right now, beg a friend who is already in a position to see if they can get you something. Probably first one, then the other as you loose dignity over time.

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