Job hunt as personal philosophy

Wil Wheaton writes compellingly today about the outcome of his latest audition. There are a couple of things here that spoke to me. First: Wil, like me, is in an industry that is playing the hiring game in a very risk averse way. In Wil’s industry, Hollywood, it makes a lot of sense—people literally make the part. In my industry, the software startups are coming off a multi-year venture funding “nuclear winter,” and now more than ever the old rule applies: A companies hire A players; B companies hire C players. That leaves people who aren’t picture perfect matches for product management jobs (including competitor experience, or industry experience, or multiple successful product launches, looking for the one position that they are the exact right fit for.

These fiscal realities don’t make managing the inevitable downtimes any easier, though. As Wil writes today: “I still haven’t heard anything about the amazing movie, and it’s getting harder by the day to maintain hope.”

This is the hardest part of the search. Last week I had what I think was a turning point: I was talking to Lisa after one particularly frustrating interview and started listening to myself as she offered some responses and helpful thoughts. I was rejecting everything she said out of hand, speaking very negatively, preemptively shutting her options down before she had a chance to elaborate on them.

And I realized. I wanted to shut down the options because I didn’t want to hope. I was afraid to get hurt again.

I decided two things that day:

  1. I shouldn’t be afraid to fail. There is at this point nothing to lose.
  2. I am going to start writing down when I think negatively about myself, and diving into why.

With any luck, doing both those things will help me catch some of my negative thinking before it paralyzes me again.