I believe strongly in the idea that women need to lift one another up; it’s a basic tenet of my feminism.
And because one system that tends to give us a lot of trouble is the workplace and our attempts at career advancement, when young feminists write to me and ask me to pleasepleaseplease Skype with them (or at least to write back) so that they can find out my supposed secrets to success, I’m all for it.
Except that I don’t actually have any secrets.
Hell, I’m not really sure how I ended up where I am in my life right now either. And if you asked me for my five-year plan—well—I got nothing for ya.
So our conversations end up sounding a lot more like pep talks.
But since a lot of young people seem to be asking the same questions, I thought I’d give you the answers that I do have.
So you want a feminist job?
Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Narrow Down ‘Feminism’
Contrary to popular belief (and Internet searches), feminist jobs aren’t only located in big-deal cities like New York and DC. I should know. I live in Philadelphia.
Feminist organizations exist everywhere. (I should know. I used to live in Maine.)
Sometimes we just don’t know how to find them because we think of feminism too broadly, as an overarching field, instead of thinking of all of the sectors that make up the broad scope of feminism.
We search terms like “feminist jobs” and “careers working with women” when we don’t know any better.
So try narrowing down what you’re looking for.
For example, do you want to work for a domestic violence agency? in sexual assault support services? sexuality education? with LGBTQ+ youth? in reproductive rights lobbying?
Figure out the topic that you’re interested in (abortion access, girls empowerment, body image), and then figure out how to use your specialty (education, policy, communications) in that field.
For example, my skill set is in education and in writing and editing – none of which are inherently feminist. But I found work as a domestic violence prevention educator and the editor of a feminist magazine because I figured out where to look and how I could best fit into those fields, given my interests.
People often ask me how they can start applying for feminist jobs when they don’t have any “experience.” But here’s the thing: You have skills. And feminist agencies exist that need your skills.
Focus on that.
2. Play Up Your Skills
I’ll be honest: I’ve got some good news, and I’ve got some bad news.
The good news is that skills are skills, and you can apply them to any field.
That is, any job can be a feminist job if you’re using your skill set to promote gender equality and empowerment.
Don’t think that just because you haven’t done feminist work, per se, that you don’t have useful, in-demand skills.
The bad news is that because the job market is so bad right now, employers are often looking to hire the people with the most experience.
But so what?
You might not think you have what it takes, but be more self-assured!
Confidence can play a huge role in (what looks like) luck coming your way. If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s hard to expect someone else to believe in you.
Convince yourself that you’re fantastic. Because you are.
Work on beefing up your resume with all of the awesome stuff that you can do instead of bemoaning your shortcomings. Highlight the positive instead of the negative.
And approach your cover letter honestly and confidently. Say that you’re ready to use your (super-duper, totally amazing) skills in a field that’s more aligned with your politics and your spiritual well-being.
The trick is that you need to believe that you deserve the job. Then you’re more likely to let that fact shine through in your application materials.
Go ahead and talk yourself up. Hiring managers want to understand why they need you way more than they want to hear you talk about why you need them. So let them know!
There are so few times in life when it’s appropriate to talk yourself up – during job applications is one of them.
3. Look in the Right Places
I’m all about Craigs List when it comes to needing to make material transactions, like finding an apartment or selling my car.
But when it comes to my very soul – like dating (I’ve had some bad Craigs List dating experiences) and job hunting – sometimes I really need a more conducive platform.
The Feminist Majority has an awesome site for job-searching, and it’s recently been improved. You can search for keywords, or you can just plug in your general location for a list of opportunities.
Idealist.org, which I’ve used for most of my job searches in the past couple of years, is great for finding jobs related to social justice and other activism. It’s also widely-used by non-profits and similar organizations, so you’re always likely to find a lot on there, depending on how flexible you are.
Call me old-fashioned, but another great way to find out about relevant job openings is to contact organizations that you love and simply asking them, “Do you have any job opportunities available?” Let them know your general skill set (or attach your resume) and see what happens. I actually got a teaching gig this way once.
For a more modern take on that, try following local organizations that you think are awesome on Facebook or Twitter! This can help you immensely because they’ll post about their openings. That way, you’ll have first dibs.
And this can’t be said enough: Network!
Talk to the feminists that you know across the country and around the world, and ask them what and who they know. E-mail your feminist superheroes and ask them for help or support. Find out who’s doing what you want to be doing, and ask them what they did.
There’s no single magical place to find all of the awesome jobs that you’re looking for, but the more people that you have on your (literal or figurative) friends list, the more of a network you’re connected to for when opportunities do come up.
4. In the Meantime
Not everyone has the resources to do this, but if you do, try volunteering.
It can be a great way to feed your soul (which your soul probably needs, since job searching is probably sucking the very life out of you).
But also, it’s a fantastic way to build up your resume – not only with new skills, but also with household feminist names.
Local organizations – try Planned Parenthood, for instance – are always looking for people to help them out with administrative duties or outreach efforts.
But you don’t even have to leave your house to volunteer!
There are a lot of online communities that need help running smoothly.
Try doing what you can with what you have.
Job searching can be a huge pain in the ass, and the results, if lackluster, can be really disheartening.
Sometimes, not being able to find an employment opportunity that makes your heart sing can you leave you feeling downright downtrodden and depressed – not to mention discouraged.
I understand your frustration. Being in that position is hard.
I’m not going to promise you that ~someday, everything will work out for you~ because 1) that might not be true and 2) that probably isn’t helpful.
But hopefully, sooner or later, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Melissa A. Fabello, Editor of Everyday Feminism, is a domestic violence prevention and sexuality educator, eating disorder and body image activist, and media literacy vlogger based out of Philadelphia. She enjoys rainy days, Jurassic Park, and the occasional Taylor Swift song and can be found on YouTube and Tumblr. She holds a B.S. in English Education from Boston University and an M.Ed. in Human Sexuality from Widener University. She can be reached on Twitter @fyeahmfabello. Read her articles here and book her for speaking engagements here.