How to Get a Job, and Charisma
I had been offered two other jobs during this process, which I turned down so as to focus my efforts on this dream job. So I ended up with nothing, just a lot of train receipts. So, why did I turn down these other two jobs? Because I thought it was unethical to accept a job offer knowing (as I was fairly certain) that I would be leaving for another job within a month. I thought I would save the employer the trouble of doing all that paperwork and having to go out and find another employee within a couple of weeks by just turning down the jobs. Classic Nice Guy thinking. And like other Nice Guy habits, a delusional attempt to be considerate of others' time left me the fool.
So why am I having such trouble with finding a job? Is it because I'm not assertive enough? I think it has more to do with than than any lack of skills. I know I'm pretty well qualified, and I learn quickly, so I can do anything in my range of experience. But I know people who are considerably less skilled who do much better in landing jobs. I have come to the conclusion that the most useful and important skillset to have, in pretty much every life endeavor, is that of confidence and charisma. I have it in some arenas, and not in others, but when it comes to jobhunting, I get the impression that charisma is more important than actual qualifications. Or at the very least, no amount of qualifications will do you any good if you don't have the confidence and charisma to stand up for them. When it comes to jobs, I seem to lack this charisma.
What is charisma anyway? I've done some reading on the subject, and one book I came across, No More Mr. Nice Guy, talks about a set of behaviors the author calls the Nice Guy Syndrome, in which men try to anticipate others' needs and ignore their own (among other things I will detail later in a book review). Nice Guys, despite their descriptor, lack charisma, mainly because they lack assertiveness. They spend all their time trying to please others and as a result come off as desperate and needy. So even when they are doing nice things for others, they are certainly not charismatic and ironically, despite their seeming helpfulness, nobody really wants to be around them.
Charisma is that quality of a person that says, "I have a great, exciting life, and I'd like to share that with you." It's certainly an attitude, an outlook, and it isn't all internal. There are people who give off the vibe, "I have a great exciting life." period. Nothing in there about sharing it or getting involved in others' lives. These people are either arrogant or just don't care. But I wouldn't call that charismatic. Then there are people who say, "I may or may not have a great, exciting life, but I want to share it with you or share yours." Those people are annoying, or clingy, because they lack certainty about the greatness of their lives or themselves. By definition, you want to be around charismatic people. They have a strong sense of themselves, and that attracts people. Guys with a strong sense of their social worth are attractive to women. Guys with a strong sense of their employability are attractive to employers. I think my problem is a lack of certainty about my employability. Considering my previous work experience, this is either a reasonable conclusion or a ridiculous one, but somehow that's where my mind ended up.
So, charisma, like many things, is a skill that can be learned. I am extremely confident about my ability to get into academic positions, and have no problem with applications to graduate schools, scholarships, or anything of that sort, probably because I was early on convinced of my academic worth, so I should be able to translate that mindset into the job market. I am a great, exciting person with a lot of skills and insights, and I just might be interested in sharing some of that with your company ;-).