“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” –Japanese proverb

So I find myself job searching, once again. It’s slightly embarrassing to admit.  After 14 months (six months freelance, eight months full-time), I’ve been made redundant. I really thought the whole ‘heritage consultancy’ thing was going to work out. I thought it was the solution to my precarious post-PhD situation. It wasn’t. Still, I now have a fair bit of practical experience in the field – that’s got to give my CV a boost.

When I got the heritage consultancy work, I was probably a bit premature in saying ‘see ya’ to academia quite so fervently. But my academic career never really got off the starting line, despite my best efforts. I have been offered a bit of extra teaching this coming academic year, which is brilliant, but it won’t bring in enough money for me to live on. I don’t feel the need to chase a permanent lecturer position but I don’t want to lose touch with HE altogether. Most of my working life, most of my adult life, has been spent in further/higher education contexts. It’s genuinely where I feel I belong.

I would also like to explore my own research and writing – after all, I don’t have to be firmly ensconced within the academy to publish – but I need the time to do that. I have been so busy these last few months. Some weeks I barely unpacked my suitcase before I was off again on another work trip and ten hour working days don’t leave room for much else than slobbing on the sofa and putting on half a stone.

So my ideal scenario right now is to find a part-time job, perhaps two or three days a week, around which I can carry out my teaching responsibilities and get some research/writing done.

To these ends, I am looking at everything and anything, however loosely related to my experience and skills:

Teaching fellowships – my preference
Associate tutoring
Arts programming
More heritage consultancy
Museum /gallery curatorial positions
Editing and proofreading – my old fall-back

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” –Benjamin Franklin

I have found, applied for and been interviewed for one position since the end of May (encouraging but ultimately unsuccessful).  I am looking in all the usual places – Leicester Museum Studies Jobs Desk, Guardian, Jobs.ac.uk, Unitemps, University websites – but there has been nothing, nada, zilch for a couple of weeks now. I have been in this position many times before and I know my situation isn’t peculiar to me. But I am becoming discouraged.

I caught a few minutes of a documentary on Radio 4 this morning about Edward De Bono and lateral thinking. It prompted me to do a spot of procrasti-Googling and I found this. Maybe this time around I need to handle my job search differently?

So, hivemind, I would be really interested to hear from anyone who has gained employment through less than conventional means or has experience of recruiting in the field. Perhaps you or a candidate had something – skills, experience, a turn of phrase – that gave you/them the edge? Do mass-mailouts of CVs work? Is it worth the risk (and potential embarrassment) of making speculative advances to potential employers? Does persistence pay off or does it ultimately ‘put off’? Any advice, tips, leads gratefully received!

Photo: ‘Job search’ by Kate Hiscock. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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