The difficulty of saying ‘no’

The Raging Bull

The Raging Bull doesn't mince her words

When you are two years old, saying no is one of the easiest things in the world. The Raging Bull spent several months emphatically answering ‘no’ to every single question I put to her. It was her first word and still one of her favorites. But when you are an adult, saying no can be considerably harder – and so it was with me.

If you read or even glanced at my post about finding a job, you will know that I traveled all the way to Atlanta for a job interview with a great company called WebMD. They are a health/medicine/wellness website with a ton of information and are very well known in the United States. In fact, they proudly told me at the interview that the company is the number 1 health information website in America. They are expanding into Europe and wanted someone with UK experience to help them tailor their newsletters to the British audience. It was perfect for someone like me – but it was also in Atlanta.

I miraculously got an offer, but I decided to decline it. This didn’t come without a fair amount of stress, anguish, soul searching, tears, you name it. I went through a gamut of emotions but, rather tellingly, I never felt totally elated about getting the job because of the location. Ultimately, it was the location that swung it. After a series of long-distance Skype conversations with the English Husband, we decided that we just couldn’t see ourselves there. It did seem rather pointless to travel all the way to the United States, to supposedly be closer to family and friends, and end up in a city five hours away by plane and also where we don’t know a single soul.

So I am back to square one on the old job search. In the last two weeks I have applied for a job at the fashion retailer Forever 21 as a writer for their clothing website (they’ve already rejected me); a job as a writer for a university in La Jolla (UCSD) that pays very little but I think might offer some decent perks; a job with a luxury magazine in San Diego that wanted someone with local contacts, so landing this one would be like getting told that I’ve won the lottery when I’ve never played; and a job to edit features at Weight Watchers (this one is in London). Not sure about that last one. I wonder if they will end up rejecting me because I’ve never had any major issues with my weight. But, hey, you’ve got try everything, people tell me.

A reason to cheer? – new figures on jobless claims

According to the United States Department of Labor, weekly claims for jobless benefits have fallen to their lowest level since last April. The number of people claiming unemployment dropped by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the Associated Press reported today. It was the fourth drop in five weeks. Economists say that a level below 400,000 could lead to more companies hiring, but this is still only speculation. Meanwhile, I heard a segment on NPR (National Public Radio) this morning about a college graduate with an accounting degree who has spent the last 10 months looking for work – and found nothing. He has now taken to the streets of San Francisco wearing a placard saying ‘Hire Me’. It has got him plenty of attention but no job yet.

This kind of desperation is not just reserved for the United States, however. The New York Times reported yesterday that the total unemployment in Britain has gone up to its highest level in 15 years; it has risen by 129,000 to 2.62m in the third quarter of this year, bringing it to 8.3 percent. Youth unemployment in Britain (defined as those out of work between 16 and 24 years of age) has now risen above one million, the highest level since 1992, according to the same New York Times article.

I am not 24 years old – and don’t I know it – but I am competing in a shrinking job market, in a very competitive sector. I don’t have the guts to wear a placard to walk the streets of downtown San Diego, in the hope that a bit of aggressive guerrilla marketing might do something my resume can’t. I would rather hide behind my computer and do anonymous job searches on the internet. This is both time consuming and frustrating. Maybe soon I will need to think about ramping it up a little.

My lack of progress makes me wonder if I will eventually regret saying no to the one and only job offer I’ve had. While the Raging Bull may not know what she screams ‘no’ to most of the time, I know only too well how close I got to something good.


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Filed under Job search, transitions

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