I teased this post just after I began my new role that I had long prayed for and worked towards. This was harder to write than I imagined because I had to articulate my journey and season of discomfort.
I went 5 months without a full-time job. As many people can attest, the job search can be quite a ride with the ideal job offer like a mirage. Waiting on a job prayer to be answered while keeping complete faith in God’s timing got harder as the job search went on.
My waiting period was filled with a mix of emotions from the highs of getting interviews and the lows with getting No’s, to the stress that built over my security and finances. All of this was coupled with the internal over-analyzing and the subsequent blow to my self-assurance that was up against my determination and faith.
My season of waiting reminded me how important it is to channel anxiety into a season of prayer and realize we’re being pruned for what’s to come.
1. MAKE PEACE WITH THE FACT THAT YOU CAN’T CONTROL EVERYTHING
I’m a planner so one of the hardest things for me grasp was that I had been actively applying for months before I ultimately left my job without a new one secured. I knew it was overdue for a new role and office culture, and to top it off, my client was leaving the agency. The outcome was a gentle reminder that I’m not in control. I had to swallow that hard pill and own it.
For background, another reason I wanted to be super proactive was that after college it took me more than a year to get a full-time job. Once again I planned… I interned nearly every semester of college at the likes of NBC and TIME. Still, the job search was quite the journey. One major roadblock was that I had moved back to Tallahassee/ Atlanta and was applying in LA and NY and traveling for interviews. In hindsight, moving to the city you want to work in or staying with someone for a bit is a more feasible option to job searching in a different city. I blogged about this season as well and I’m so happy for the progress I’ve exhibited with my self-growth in how I handled it.
After I left my job, I decided to take a temporary role at another media planning agency when I realized my full-time interviews weren’t panning out. I was still able to have a full-time income and flexibility to job search so it wasn’t until January when I returned from Ghana that the reality of being unemployed set in. I no longer had a temporary distraction and had to face the reality head on.
2. WAIT WITH INTENT
If you’re not making headway on the job front, let the wait be a time for self- growth so that you’re making progress nonetheless.
When you’re asking for God to do something you have to be really specific in your ask and completely tune into it. So in addition to seeking the word and prayer, I fasted. I realized that maybe there was some growing I needed to do that was potentially standing in the way of the answered prayer . I had never done a serious fast and I have to say The Daniel Fast is a major way to begin the practice. For 21 days, I ate the mainly vegan diet that excluded caffeine, bread with yeast, white grains, alcohol, and sugar. I was very hungry! In those moments in which I yearned I was reminded that I was working towards a greater goal and challenging myself to focus on the ask. After completing it, I felt a sense of achievement which was a nice moral boost as nearly another month without the “yes” I was looking for went by. I will say I definitely loss some weight from it, but I recommend attempting the Daniel Fast at least once.
I also didn’t go Social Media until noon (blog and @paintedpink4bc social media duties were still calling) and I enjoyed finding other forms of morning stimulation, podcasts, devotionals, and gospel music.
3. LEAN ON YOUR TRIBE FOR ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT
One of the things that made the humbling journey so much better was getting support from friends and family. This came in the form of calls to see how I was doing from my sis that seemed to be the perfectly-timed morning motivation I needed to get out of bed and start applying to getting connected to people in their network who also worked in media to getting sent jobs and motivational words. My sister had recently emerged from her own unemployment season and so it was comforting to have her empathy.
One thing that can be hard is getting a lot of “how’s the job search going” when it’s not really going anywhere, but it was so nice to receive genuine care.
On the other hand, there can be challenges when making professional connections with people you don’t know well. Network, network, network is what they always say, but it’s easier said then done.
I dealt with getting “let me know if I can help” as a pleasantry from associates, which was evident when I did follow-up. In addition, connecting with mutual contacts usually takes a few attempts to get responses because the connection is distant. I made sure to follow-up post initial contact and in some cases it resulted in getting referrals for roles. Something I recently learned though is if you want someone to refer you and get the credit for doing so (my current job offers the referring employee a bonus) you have to make sure that they submit your resume to HR before you apply for a role.
All in all, I’m super grateful for friends and friends of friends that took the time to send my resume along or connect me. Ultimately my new role didn’t come from a connection, but who knows how one of them can manifest in the future.
4. KNOW YOUR WORTH AND DON’T COMPROMISE ON IT
A challenge with jobs in general is knowing when and how to negotiate and deciding between having “a job” versus “the right fit”. The wait of a job search and getting “No’s” can lower your confidence but it’s crucial to remember your worth. You should always give an offer a little bit of time to think about and try to negotiate some aspect like the salary, start date, or the benefits . For the role you’re seeking and based on the experience you have, you should have an idea on what salary range to expect. The features on Glassdoor and LinkedIn premium are good for this. In addition, Glassdoor is a good place to read reviews. I’ve come to know that company culture is a really important factor to take into account. Reviews can give you an idea, but it’s also important to remember that sometimes negative reviews are from disgruntled employees.
It’s still something I’m learning and during my job search I was hit with a test that caused me to have a revelation about this.
I widened my job search to LA, where I’ve aspired to relocate and work since college. I got a job interview at a well-known multicultural, media start-up. The interview was great and it was followed with an offer. The first thing to consider was that I was offered the lowest amount of my salary range which was $1k less than I was making a year before and it wasn’t negotiable. I asked for time to think it over and as I did I got more clarify to the tough facts that it might not be the best fit. I’d be moving across the country with no relocation assistance, one of the first people on a team starting to execute paid digital advertising for the brand, and making less than I knew I could with my experience. Not to mention when I expressed this to the recruiter, they offered to recruit me for other companies if I wanted to explore other options. So I ultimately didn’t feel sure that was the right role for me.
Hours after making the tough decision to send a decline email, I got two requests for interviews including my new job. It was clear God had provided a test for me to have faith that He had more in store for me. I ended up getting about $10K more with my next offer.
5. CONTINUE TO PURSUE YOUR HAPPY DURING THE WAIT
“Life doesn’t stop because you’re going through a difficult season” – a quote from the Elevation podcast that speaks to how important it is to not reduce ourselves to our situation.
Sometimes when we have something going on it consumes us and we feel like everything else stops. Especially with it being Mental Health Awareness month, I want to shine a light on continuing to seek happiness as an act of self-care even when we’re not where we want to be. Contrary to Corporate America, work isn’t our whole identity nor is your employment status. If you’re like me, I’m my toughest critic so it was really important that I still did things that made me feel productive and that sparked joy.
Fortunately it was my sister’s wedding season so I was able to pour into my Maid of Honor duties. (I shared about her traditional engagement, how I put together her bridal shower, and the bachelorette trip planning and wedding day gift posts are to come.)
I realize that I decided to share my story after I got my desired outcome, a role at a women’s media company. IRL, I was striving to be present in the uncomfortable moments and not abstaining from living my life.
Although I’m not very emotional, I cried tears of joy. I reflected on how I’d gotten to a point that 18-year-old me only dreamed of when I packed my bags in Tallahassee and headed to NY.
This is my testimony so far and I’m so grateful to reach this point! I’d love to hear your job search journey.