From job seeker to entrepreneur in 365 days

Today exactly 365 days ago, I was at the beginning of a whole new phase in my life. After working abroad for almost two decades, it was time for a career in the Netherlands. It was 1 October 2017 and I was officially looking for a job.

From day one I found looking for a job a thought-provoking and interesting activity. Again and again I had to find out what really interested me and if my skills matched what was asked for in the job description. I had just turned forty and applied for a job for the first time in my life: my jobs abroad always had come to me easily. I was convinced that it would be the same here in The Netherlands. I had done so many interesting things in the past years, my resume would stand out. And how difficult would it be to get to work as an “interculturally competent communication advisor”? I knew it for sure: I was in a very favorable position.

When applying for jobs became an obsession

But I really got that door slammed in my face! I did not get anywhere. What? I was not even invited to a single job interview. And so, applying for jobs became a daily task. An obsession.

At 5:30AM the alarm would go off, and after my morning ritual my day would start: I would scan the huge list of job openings that I had received in my mailbox, earmarked the best, scanned those from A to Z, and made a selection of what fitted me best. I would then focus on those selected vacancies, underline all the information that applied to me and that I could use in my resume and cover letter and then started composing those. Word for word I would carefully consider what to write. I would read and reread, correct, put the letter and resume away for a bit, read and reread again, modified sentences, changed punctuation… to finally send the – in my eyes – perfect cover letter with matching resume to that dream job. Every time I was confident: this letter was so good, my CV matched the requested profile so well, I would be invited. But unfortunately, it was of no avail.

The most active job seeker ever

But I didn’t let it get me down. On the contrary. I felt that I had to go in a certain direction, but that I had not yet found the route towards it. I kept on searching steadily, continued to see it as a learning process and always kept thinking: “I’ll just keep on moving. One day I’ll discover where my place is”.

People around me would call me the most active job seeker ever and indeed, I didn’t stop for a second. Besides writing cover letters, I started a study to develop myself further in my field, did voluntary work, visited a coach, did a course to learn the tricks of coaching myself, followed workshops and webinars about networking, writing application letters, following your passion, LinkedIn, personal branding… I even went on a silence retreat in Sri Lanka for 10 days – hoping that in the silence I would find an answer about what direction I would have to go.

When you discover networking

One day I met up for a coffee with an acquaintance. She also worked in communication and I was curious about her story. It became a fun and very helpful conversation. I got a lot of inspiration from it and decided to meet with someone else from my field. It turned out I had discovered networking. In the months that followed, I spoke to a whole range of interesting and inspiring people. It didn’t bring me so much further into finding a job, but it always gave me a ton of energy and inspiration.

During these conversations, I was often asked why I didn’t start my own business. Me? Starting my own business? Of course I had thought about it, but … how? And what exactly? I had many doubts. But still … a seed was planted and I thought about it more and more.

If someone else can do it, I can do it too

The day I made the decision came out of nowhere. It was suddenly there and it immediately felt right. I woke up one morning and thought, “Fuck it. I’m going to do it. I’m going to start my own business. If someone else can do it, I can do it too.” I opened my laptop, just like on all other days in the last few months, and went to my mailbox. One by one I deleted all the mails with job alerts. It felt as a breath of fresh air through my brains. As if I were in a flow instantly. As if I had been searching for a path through a dense forest in the last few months, through a maze of trees and bushes, and that I had finally found that path.

The best part of the story

Today, on the 1st of October 2018, exactly 365 days after I had become an official job seeker, I registered at the Chamber of Commerce. My company is called Magpie Communications and and it is my mission to create connection through communication. That is where my heart lies and that is what I am good at. I do this by means of training and storytelling. A golden combination. And do you know what’s the best part of the story? I already have two clients! Just like this. After 365 days of planting seeds, the time has finally arrived to harvest. And even though I still find it very scary at times, I am so glad that I have found this path and that I took it.

I am curious about your experiences. Are you also an entrepreneur? And what made you decide to take that direction?