84 rejection emails.
95 companies that didn’t even bother to respond.
18 phone interviews.
18 in person interviews.
My most recent job search did NOT go as planned.
Five years ago, I got my first professional entry level job. The process took 6 months and 75 applications. With 5 years of experience under my belt, I expected this second round of job searching to be easier and take less time. I believed that I would be a more appealing applicant to employers.
What I soon realized was that I was competing against hundreds of people for each individual position I applied for. Yes, I had more experience now, but SO DID EVERYONE ELSE. We were all looking to take the next step in our careers and competition was FIERCE.
The fun began.
For over a year, I slogged through application after application, interview after interview, and one rejection after another. Many times I felt I was THISCLOSE to an offer, only to hear that the razor-thin competition left me in second place.
A couple times I DID receive offers but ones that I determined did not meet my needs of either salary or benefits. (Despite the seemingly endless nature of job searching , I do NOT recommend settling for a sub-par offer – unless you are desperate.)
Waiting for a strong offer to come along was hard. I prayed the same prayer over and over again: Lord, please let me find a job that 1) I love 2) supports our family and future family and 3) I am able to glorify you through my work. I asked God to lead me to the path he wanted me to follow and I waited a very long time.
Through this endless search, I did three things that kept me motivated.
Even when feelings of rejection and “when will someone just give me a chance?” crept up, these things kept me grounded, positive, and ready to fill out another application.
1. Have a support system.
My system was threefold: 1) family 2) friends/small group and 3) a professional network.
My husband and parents let me jabber on and on about each interview I went on. They listened intently as I discussed the questions they asked, how I answered them, what the position entailed, etc. This went on for 13 months, but my family support system cheered on each position and shared in my disappointment when the jobs didn’t come to fruition.
The second branch of my support system was my small group. These friends deserve a special place in heaven for allowing me to share my struggles week after week, never complaining that my prayer request was the same for over a year. Then they took their encouragement to the next level by regularly praying for me and my job search. I regularly received texts from this special group of people letting me know that I was being prayed for and they were thinking of me as I waited for God’s timing. This was such a priceless gift; they will never know how deeply they blessed me.
Finally, attending professional networking events helped me meet other women who had been in similar circumstances in their careers. They provided not only a listening ear, but also a third party perspective on what I was experiencing. Through these events, I even met a career coach who assisted me with enhancing my resume and cover letter, coaching me through interview questions, and even helping me evaluate job offers when they came in. I am so grateful that I had a professional mentor to help me through the search process – because honestly, it is foolish to NOT accept all the help you can get.
2. Keep contributing to the work that you have now.
This could be in the job you have now OR not. Maybe you’re unemployed. Okay, that means your job is learning as much as you can about the current job market and what you can do to get an edge. I HIGHLY recommend subscribing to LinkedIn Premium to have access to their LinkedIn Learning service. There you will find endless videos from professionals who have dedicated their careers to helping others find fulfilling work.
Or maybe you’re a stay-at-home parent preparing to re-enter the work force. Great! Your work is caring for your family and all that entails from preparing meals, to caring for injuries, to refereeing sibling fights. Just because that work does not provide a traditional paycheck does not make it any less meaningful. If being a mom or dad is your current work, don’t neglect it.
And then there is work in the traditional sense of the word. If you’re job searching while employed, I’m talking about you. And me. This is the group I was in. As an employed professional searching for a new position, I could not “check out” and ignore my responsibilities. Staying engaged with the work I had was imperative to staying motivated to obtain the job I wanted.
3. Remember that you are capable of amazing things – because God gives you the strength.
“I can do all things through God who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
This is the part of the blog post where I motivate you by saying YOU CAN DO ANYTHING. And I truly, deeply believe that from the bottom of my heart.
You are amazing. I know this. I know you are the smartest, or the hardest working, or the most dedicated, or the most talented, or the fastest learner, or whatever your special gift may be. I believe that you can put your mind to achieving what you want to achieve with a heck of a lot of work to back it up.
But here’s the thing: I believe this about you because I know that God gave you a unique set of gifts combined in such a way that no one else has them. This means that yes, YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR, and that is awesome! But you are a rockstar because God gives you the strength to be one.
Remembering this was my mantra to start the next job application, and edit my cover letter again and again… and again. Knowing who I was in Christ was the key to my motivation in a job search for a highly competitive field among other super talented individuals. When you believe, REALLY BELIEVE that you are strong enough to handle any obstacle that comes your way because you are a child of God, your mindset changes.
IF you get a job becomes WHEN you get a job.
And yes, you have to wait on God’s perfect timing and that might mean waiting 13 months (or longer!), but as you wait, you can use your God-given strengths to your advantage. You can muster up the energy for the next application, and phone interview, and in person interview, and offer, and negotiation. Because you know that his plans for you a perfect and they will come to pass when the timing is right.
“… but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)