This seems to be the time of year when lots of folks are job-hunting, especially new graduates and educators looking for a new gig. You send out resumes and cover letters by the ream, it seems, and get enough rejection letters to wallpaper a room.
Way back in 1988 I finally escaped grad school and moved out of state with five hundred bucks cash. I lived with my sister until I was able to find a place of my own. I put my newly-minted M.Ed to good use bussing tables and washing dishes on the night shift at the local diner. (This was actually a great gig - I ate free, had the days open to job-hunt or work temp, and it was a block from my sister's apartment.)
I signed up with a temp agency and got steady if varied work doing data entry and other semi-menial office tasks. (The upside is that I worked with many different computer systems in many different companies. This gave me a real feel for the user experience in interface design, as well as exposure to a wide range of working environments.)
I also joined the local NSPI chapter to get to know local professionals. I looked for companies that were looking for instructional designers. I finally found one that seemed to be doing what I wanted to do. So I applied for a tech writer job and was turned down after the interview. I applied again or another writing job - and was turned down.
I really wanted to work for these folks - they were rising stars. An opening appeared for an instructional designer. But by this time I despaired of ever getting in with them. But a wonderful wise lady at an NSPI meeting suggested that I try one more time. About the same time I had read the Bible story of the widow and the unjust judge. The old lady essentially pestered the judge into hearing her case.
So I applied one more time, and this time I got the job!
A couple of years later I'm working on a project at about 9 at night, and my boss Larry is puttering in his office. (Larry = cross between Gene Wilder and Albert Einstein with a dash of Groucho Marx.) He calls out, "Hey, Corrie - I was clearing out my resume' file, and came across yours. Now I know why we hired you!"
"Yeah? What's that?" I asked, wondering what golden phrase on my resume' had finally opened the door.
Larry replied, "There are six copies of it in the file!"