How To Assume the Mood of Newbie Job Seeker in The Bay Area

I have to admit — it’s not easy leaving Hawaii for San Francisco on a one-way ticket to find gainful employment. Despite the flourish of the next bubble jobs here, landing the right one can be a formidable challenge.

I’ve been here for a month now and still no dice. But that’s not to say I haven’t made any progress: in fact, I’d say it’s taken a month just to build some good connections and develop the right attitude.

Here’s the best of what I’ve learned so far:

Be Cynical

You have to be cynical otherwise you’re an instant victim to the cutthroat world of competitive job hunting. Don’t get too excited by any one company (like I did) because they don’t like that right off the bat. Maybe by the third interview you can let loose with the lovin’. Maybe — I’ll let you know when I get there.

Back in Hawaii, before I arrived, I was really naive and starry-eyed about working for big awesome companies like Google and Facebook. I romanticized how wonderful it would be if they just let me in and paid me tons of money to “make a big difference.” I doused my resumes and cover letters with words like “collaboration,”  “innovation” and “credo,” only to realize how unnecessarily Pollyanna-ish it sounded.

It wasn’t until a few hard rejections that I sobered up and developed the cynicism that helps me march through each day I’m unemployed.

Accept Rejection

That should be plural: accept rejections. You can certainly expect to get rejected over and over by many different places. This goes with being cynical, but it’s more specific to how you deal with being turned down.

First of all, remember that a rejection is almost never personal. It’s usually because your resume didn’t meet the requirements of the job description or your experience wasn’t a match, or they already found someone more qualified.

More professional and established companies will actually notify you if you haven’t been selected, while lesser ones won’t get back with you at all. You can usually assume that a non-response from a follow-up email after three days is a dead lead.

Being rejected by a company is where you can best leverage cynicism in your favor. The tough skin will actually end up helping you when you do land an interview because it’s a layer of protection against potential exploitation.

I see rejections as the rule and not the exception. The tenacity to accept them is a healthy and necessary virtue when seeking a job in a city like San Francisco.

Give it Your Best

Sure, this one seems obvious, but it’s tempting to half-ass things when you feel like “what’s the use of trying my best?”

But ask yourself: What are you here for? Are you looking for the ultimate shot at success—however out of reach it may seem—or a ho-hum stroll through mediocrity?

You should be putting everything you got applying to one company you’re passionate about rather than applying half-heartedly to several companies you have little or no passion for.

Sure, the stakes are higher, and the defeat may be crushing, but life is short…am I right?

Don’t be like most of the boneheads I see around here: comfortable, spoiled, with a sense of entitlement. I call it lucky.

And yes, maybe they’ve got the job I want at the company I’d love to “make a difference at”—the one I’ve been rejected from already—but something’s missing.

What’s missing is the spirit, the mood. The passion to fight for things you believe in, to push yourself beyond what you’ve been told you’re capable of. To stay standing when most people have fallen and can’t get up.

It may not feel like it now (trust me I know), but the right opportunity is out there, poised to be manifested by the right person: You.

Photos by striatic and david.nikonvscanon.