I don't need to tell you how utterly dire the whole job-hunting thing is. The lengthy application processes, the brain-bending aptitude tests, the wall of silence that inevitably follows. It comes to something when you get so far into the process only to be told that you won't be going any further, and your first thought is, "Well, at least they had the decency to let me know". It can feel like hollering into a hurricane at times, it really can.
As someone who did English at university and followed it up with a Masters in Forensic Linguistics (yes, it's pretty niche), I'm well aware that I'm not in a position to be picky. There are a lot of people who are quite good at doing things with words. So when, a few weeks ago, I was offered a full-time position as a 'document writer' for a small but growing company, you'd expect me to have jumped on it. I turned it down.
I should clarify - I sort of got the job by accident ("Screw you and your accidental job-getting" said a friend, quite reasonably). I saw an advert for a document writer, thought "Hey, I can probably write documents!" and sent off my CV. I didn't expect to be asked to an interview a week later - you just don't, not these days. The interview went well, which surprised me, as I'm one of those feeble types who's terrified of new people, especially new people I need to impress. When I got the call the next day offering me the position, I realised I had quite the dilemma on my hands.
What the company actually did had been left off the original advert, and when I was told at the interview, I can't say I was filled with excitement - or indeed, any enthusiasm whatsoever. I know, I know - I'm a job-snob with a terrific sense of entitlement, right? I hope not. I've had some kind of job or another since I was 14; I'm not work-shy. The company were offering me a great salary and looking for someone to commit to them for at least a year or two - I felt it wouldn't be fair to take advantage of their generosity when my feelings were so mixed. I agonised over it for a couple of days - drank cup after cup of tea, chewed my nails down to stumps and asked everyone I knew, and some I didn't, whether I should take it or not. I'm not a natural decision-maker.
But I turned it down - graciously, I hope - and continued the search. It was a gamble; the thought on repeat in my head was, "What if this is it? What if nothing comes up for the next six months?" For a while, there was nothing, then a spark of something, then nothing again. I panicked - Christmas is coming, money must be spent - but now things have changed again, there is something on the horizon. I have a part-time job to tide me over, and parents who haven't changed the locks yet. Living at home when you're 23 and in a pretty serious relationship is far from ideal, but I know I'm not the only one. And on good days, I manage to remember that I'm luckier than many.
If there is a point to this post, it's this: when it comes to starting a career, trust your instincts. Normally, your 'gut feeling' is far too foggy a principle on which to base important decisions - you need a list of pros and cons at the very least. But if there is a feeling in the pit of your stomach, a voice in your head that won't shut up - listen to it. You're the one who has to live with the decisions you make, you're the one who has to commit to a job five days a week, forty-something weeks a year. It's got to be the right job - or as close to right as possible.