The Least Qualified Candidate of All

You want to know why the thought of downing one too many pills crosses my mind every time I read job postings? They are just another jarring reminder that I have absolutely no employable skills and I’m pretty much fucked at this point. It feels incredibly lonely to be in this, well, alone. My husband doesn’t seem to get it— he knows I lose my job over and over again but he also sees me somehow pick up with another role and better pay somewhere else. But it won’t happen this time. No, this time I am actually screwed.

If I knew how to gain relevant experience I would leap at the opportunity but I have no idea how to learn things that would actually get me a job. You want to know where I fail?

1. Great communication skills – nah, I suck at communication—both spoken and written. Next.

2. Ability to influence others and work well with many different types of people. No. Everyone pretty much hates me or thinks I’m a joke.

3. Management experience. Being real here — I am overwhelmed managing people because hello – I can’t even manage myself.

4. Data skills – ok so I could learn some data skills, but which ones? And I can’t actually apply them at my job since no one seems to care about my work’s ROI so how do I have an actual story to tell on KPIs and all that?

I just feel so defeated. People think I’m exaggerating but it is that bad. My new role makes no sense. Any other role like this one at another company would require technical skills and pay a lot less. But I can’t get hired in my old role because I was never qualified for it in the first place. I’ve never been qualified for any of the jobs I’ve had since I graduated from college 15 years ago. I don’t know anything useful. I make it all up. I guess sometimes making it up works but not over time and certainly not at companies that have their shit together.

I look at my kids and feel like a complete and utter failure. How can I sustain this? I am crying all the time because I’m scared. Not yet that we will lose the house — I have savings to cover that for a while. But I may lose the tiny bit of sanity that I have left.

I just want to be good at my job. Is that so much to ask? But If my job involves interacting with other humans it doesn’t seem to go all that well.

There are roles out there I think I would enjoy — but I messed up by not being an engineering major 20 years ago, and by not paying attention in math class in second grade. Maybe it’s possible to change careers, but it absolutely feels too late for most of my dreams.

The career I’m interested in that may be possible has starting salaries of about 85k if my lucky. Here that isn’t much. Maybe it would be a path to liking my job eventually? It’s hard to give up on jobs that pay $200k-$300k for one that pays $85k or less but — I need a change. I need a path where maybe in a few years I can feel halfway decent. I need a job where I can work and be promoted, not demoted. But can we make it work on less salary? And even then I’ll be compared to other who are far more talented than I am. Younger and more talented. Who would hire me anyway? The job postings say “clearly nobody.”

So what do I do? Yes I ride this job out a while longer. I go back and save as much as possible. I set aside a large emergency fund. Then what? I want to provide for my family. I also want to sell this $7k a month house and move to the middle of nowhere—but my husband won’t have that conversation until I’ve exhausted all options and likely have ended up in a mental hospital. If he could earn more it would help but then he wouldn’t be able to watch the kids and he would be stressed which would make it all harder too. In many ways I like being the breadwinner and having a husband who can watch the kids and go on vacation whenever makes sense (not that we ever do.) I know I can’t have it all and i do want to work I just want to feel like I’m suited for my career and I’m not constantly falling on my face — but also that I can save for retirement and my kid’s futures with my income. So where does that leave me? Do I just keep pretending… 2 years here, 3 years there… until my working life is over? How long can I really do this for? One more year. If that.

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2 thoughts on “The Least Qualified Candidate of All”

  1. If it were my choice, I’d take the significantly higher salary and change jobs more frequently. This could mean that I could take entire year/s off work inbetween or while searching for the next job. That sounds amazing. I may not like the lesser salary job more than the higher paying job either or might like it even less. It depends if you are working to not work and retire, or working your passion and a job that you feel and doesn’t feel like a job to you. That passion and happy job may not even exist, and you might have to create your own business to do so.

    My 2 cents is to ride it out until it’s not an option, then seek to take some significant time off to put yourself and family first, and recover from the pain and exhaustion.
    Then apply for high paying jobs again when the time is right, and use the extra years of freedom funds to wait for the right salary and next opportunity.
    It would seem to make more sense to switch to a lower paying and less demanding (hopefully happier) job in the future if you relocated to a lower cost of living area. You could even retire or work part time in a lower cost of living area. Those are things to consider for long term. Your flexibility is really endless. Keep burning and earning but make sure to take some time for your happiness in the shorter term when that timing opens up. You deserve it, and I think you will enjoy that extra time with your family and time to re-energize.

    1. This makes sense — IF I could actually obtain a “significantly higher salary” with frequent job changes. The reality is that I am overpaid in my current job and it will be difficult to find another one that pays this much. I was lucky for the stars to align for this role but it is unlikely to happen again. If I switch jobs to a career I like more it’s possible I can eventually get to the point where I sustainably earn a decent amount even if I won’t start there versus constantly worrying I can’t get roles that pay well. The issue is in my field the high-paying roles are manager positions and they all want people with managerial experience of large teams. As an individual contributor it’s very rare to see the kind of salary and bonus I’m making now, esp with the stock package. If I can find a comparable IC role with this level of income/stock that would be ideal. I don’t think I will. So the other option is to try to convince someone to hire me in a managerial role — which I know I’m not good at and it won’t last. It’s hard to convince anyone of this now.

      I’m not sure I want to leave my field entirely. I’d like to find a good boss and an IC role where I can make enough money and learn how to be better in my position. My boss (VP) made it very clear that she wanted the person in the role to lead — as in, not ask her questions and seek guidance. She didn’t have time for that (nor the expertise in the area.) She wanted someone who would be a rockstar and not need the help. So I failed at that. I am hoping I can find a role with a boss who wants to be a mentor and enjoys helping their team succeed. I know I can’t expect full mentorship if I’m at a more senior level so I’m open to going in at a lower level, but then the pay will be lower as well. I just can’t take many more years of this … not knowing what I’m doing and failing.

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