When I started my job hunt back in November, I knew I was going to need a way to make myself stand out.
All I could think about was how long it had taken me to get that job—about seven months of solid searching—and this time, I was looking around Christmas time. Which is just about the worst time to try to find a job.
I had no idea if Shane and I could financially handle almost a year of only one income. We had no savings, credit card debt, and no idea how much we’d get from the system, if we got anything at all.
It was just a bit stressful.
So, to try to expedite the process a little, I decided that I’d make myself a portfolio website to show off my work. That way, potential employers could see what my writing style is like, and they wouldn’t just need to rely on a necessarily stuffy resume and cover letter.
I spent a day happily putting together pages that would highlight everything I’d done professionally, and I was almost done when I had a sudden thought:
Should I add the Girly Geek to the roster?
I mean, sure, it isn’t technically professional work, but I put a lot into it, and it shows the personal side of my writing. This is where I get to be myself at my most honest.
I wrestled with the idea for a while, but eventually decided sure, I’d put my blog on my portfolio and give myself the made-up title of General Mastermind.
I didn’t think it would actually come in handy for my job hunt, but hey, it couldn’t hurt, right?
Fast-forward a few months.
About a week and a half ago, I was flipping through online job ads when one caught my eye. As I read through the requirements, I mentally checked them all off as things I could do, which was promising.
It also sounded like something I would write, which was promising.
I decided to apply.
The next day, I had a phone interview. I survived that, got another interview for the following Monday, and may or may not have done a little victory dance.
On the Monday call, I got a little surprise when the interviewer mentioned how much he had liked the page I’d put on my portfolio for my blog. One of the sentences had caught his eye, and told him I’d probably be a great fit for what they needed.
Given that my last job had been nearly exactly what this job would likely be, and that I had a few editor positions under my belt, I really hadn’t expected that the thing that would seal the deal was my blog about how much I love video games and dorky things.
But there you go.
Into the deep end
After that call, I got to go in for an in-person interview. I am awkward at the best of times, and I can’t even tell you how nervous I get when something I want hinges on a first impression. I was determined to be prepared, though, so I looked up a bunch of common interview questions and came up with answers as best I could.
One of the questions that I thought might come up was “How would you handle conflict with coworkers?”
It’s a common scenario, and it’s really important to know before you hire someone. There was just one problem:
I did not have an answer.
See, I know this is hard to believe, but I’ve never really had conflicts or confrontations with coworkers that required any kind of conflict resolution. I let very little bother me at work, and unless I have absolute evidence that someone else did something wrong to me, I see no need to create a problem.
But I couldn’t really say that I had no real experience dealing with conflict in the office, because that’s just ludicrous.
So instead of coming up short, I decided to get resourceful. I’d be meeting with the same person who mentioned my blog, so I figured hey, it’s fair game to mention geeky things in the interview, because he brought it up first, right?
That meant I could talk about my experiences with free companies in Final Fantasy XIV, and how I handled conflict in those. It wasn’t really the same as an office situation, but it was the closest I had.
Of course, that question did come up in the interview. And I explained what I had prepared (and what an MMO is), with every understanding that while the world of gaming and geekery sometimes get misunderstood, I was representing myself as honestly as I could.
And that was all I could do.
And you know what?
I got the job.
Lesson learned: You really never know what will be valuable in your life, and you never know what could help you get that thing you really want. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.