Award-winning writer, Corinne Copnick* is a regular guest writer for Gen Plus. Enjoy this abridged version of her story from “How to Live Alone Until You Like It…and then you’re ready for somebody else.”

I’m sorry I didn’t save all the rejection letters. They would have made interesting wall paper with a repetitive motif. Most of them went something like this:

Thank you very much for your recent application. Although we were impressed with your résumé, we have received a large number of applications from highly qualified candidates like yourself. We were able to short list only some of them. The position has been filled by a candidate whose experience most closely matched our needs. We will keep your résumé on file should another suitable position become available.

After you receive five hundred or more letters that tell you how outstanding your qualities are, but that there is someone whose qualifications are more closely suited to the position advertised, you begin to think you may not get a post commensurate with your abilities. You contact all kinds of people and organizations who tell you your qualities are so outstanding you should be a “big-C” consultant. You apply for jobs that do not demand the abilities you possess.

When you apply for a job as a saleslady at a fine jewelry store and hand them your professional résumé, they think you’re crazy. When you apply for a job as a secretary or receptionist, they raise their eyebrows at your graduate degrees and tell you you’re overqualified. You find yourself being interviewed by people half your age or by someone who knows you could do his/her job and naturally won’t hire you as his/her junior.
I went to the first of the several reputable community vocational services that I had contacted.

“We don’t have managerial posts,” the rather drab lady in charge said. “If you need money desperately, I can place you as a waitress or in a warehouse.”

“I’m not that desperate yet,” I replied.

Then I thought of actress Bette Davis who once placed an ad announcing that she, a former Academy Award Winner, needed a job. She got one! In a horror film, true, but she swallowed her pride to survive. My accomplishments were no match for Bette Davis, but they were considerable in their own way. I, too, would have to swallow my pride to succeed. I would not let my accomplishments be a stumbling block.

But when I applied for a job that was just that, a job (okay, not a warehouse yet), the prospective employer shook his head, “You’ll never stay.”

“I need the money,” I replied. “My financial planner says I’m not ready to retire yet.”

Not his problem.

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When I visited my octogenarian Aunt Sarah, she also shook her head sagely when I complained that I couldn’t even get a job as a dishwasher.

“They’re all machines now dear, anyway,” she said consolingly.

I finally got a job answering 33 old-style telephone lines for a Luddite company whose customers were fed up with voice mail. They liked having a mature human being answer the phone. So when I next visited my Aunt Sarah, she asked, “How’s the new job going?”

“It only pays ten dollars an hour,” I said. “But I’m also working for myself on evenings and weekends.”

“For yourself?”

“I’m self-employed,” I said proudly. “My own business. I’m an employment consultant.”

“An employment consultant?” she gasped.

“Yes, Aunt Sarah. I’m teaching people how to apply for five hundred jobs and still smile.”

“Oh,” said Aunt Sarah, relieved. “You must be very good at it. You have lots of experience.”

(*Excerpted from HOW TO LIVE ALONE UNTIL YOU LIKE IT…AND THEN YOU ARE READY FOR SOMEBODY ELSE by Corinne Copnick, © Toronto, 1994. All rights reserved.)

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