Life achievements

tequilaYou know those times when you’re ‘in the zone’? Where it feels like a force greater than yourself takes over and life just … flows through you?

You’re playing soccer … football …. you know which sport I mean … and you feel like the ghost of Maradona has taken hold of you (just stay away from my hands, man). You perfectly trap the ball, zig and zag around the opposition and then make the perfect pass (because you’re technically a defender and can’t shoot for shite) to the striker who scores the winning goal.  I’ve felt it in those moments.

Or you’re writing something and the words just come to your brain and then fall out of your fingers onto the page like some kind of literary brilliance? I’ve had this too.

Recently, I felt The Force while writing a cover letter for an intriguing job I’d spied on Seek.  I’ve applied for three jobs (including the one featuring in this post) since we moved to New Zealand and each one I’ve carefully considered before braving the City Library computer chair bingo.

I’ve worked as a freelance graphic designer/admin assistant for the past two and a half years and I’ll be honest – working for me was pretty rad. I was a great boss. Very flexible. I let me eat at my desk and take countless breaks. Allowed the watching of daytime TV whenever I wanted. Or I could go on a long lunch date if scheduling permitted. On the down side, I only got paid for the work I delivered and quite often I had to chase it down before the virtual money owed me on my spreadsheet transformed into actual dollars in the bank account.

Working for myself not only gave me a chance to catch my breath and lick my wounds from what had been a very stressful half decade but also taught me a great deal about my skill set and how to value my time. It’s just my opinion but I believe that after working for yourself, you get a little more choosy when you decide to go back to working for someone else. Because of this, I made the decision quite early on in the job-hunting process that I was only going to look for jobs that I was happy to give up my time for (and I’d worry about the little matter of earning money later.)

I tried for a Receptionist/Marketing Assistant role and got as far as the interview stage but it was a no-go. I have to say I was relieved. It was early days and we still had nowhere to live and no furniture. I had exactly two outfits that would pass as workwear and it would mean a 20 minute drive each way every day. Not that I would have minded but it was a tapware company and I just don’t know how much enthusiasm I could have mustered for the product after a while.

Job opportunity number two was a School Librarian for a brand new Junior High School – so brand new that students had only started in February and parts of it were still being built. I didn’t make the short list for that despite having primary and high school library experience but it was a long shot anyway. I am new to the country, not familiar with the curriculum and hadn’t actually worked in a school library since 2007. Fair enough.

So when I read the line “we’re looking for someone with a gift of the gab” in the ad for job number three, I was hooked. The ad was bright, breezy and welcoming whilst successfully conveying the message regarding requirements for the role. I still had no computer and whilst you can do a surprising amount with a simple i-Pad, composing a cover letter in Word then converting to PDF and tweaking the PDF CV are outside that realm. So I girded my loins and headed off to the free-but-for-the-price-of-your-sanity computers at the library.

The thing is, as a former librarian who has worked in public libraries, I understand the necessity for time limits on the computers. I really do. But it’s very difficult to write a compelling yet pithy cover letter to a) grab attention; b) let them know you are capable of doing the job or c) at least get you to the interview stage where you can hopefully dazzle them with your genius, when you are being interrupted every 30 minutes by your computer kicking you off and making you re-register for another computer.

And I am totally down with taking turns and sharing resources but when it’s kicking you off AND THERE ARE FOUR VACANT COMPUTERS AROUND YOU, you get a little shirty. But enough of my grumbling …

Because The Force was with me that day. It didn’t go as far as making the computer bow to my will and allow me to sit in the one spot for the 150 minutes it took for the careful crafting of a worthy cover letter – but it gave me the tone and words to use to get to the next stage.  The phrase I am most proud of?

“One of the few lessons that stuck from my first foray at University (apart from the obvious ones about tequila) was that the prime responsibility of the communicator is to make sure the message is received.”

Yep. I wrote a cover letter that mentioned Tequila.

I think it’s one of the proudest achievements of my life.

I got the job.


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