CONFESSIONS OF A JOB HOPPER
"If you don’t like where you are, MOVE. You are not a tree." - Jim Rohn, late American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker (1930-2009)
It was this random social media meme that has strongly convinced me to finally hand in my very first resignation letter. I was just 25 years old and the bread-winner of a family with four members. Other than this quote, I can vividly remember holding tightly on to God’s words, Matthew 6:25-27: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"
Despite all these great words, I was not without worries. The mere thought of resignation would mean suffering for the entire family since we do not have a stable source of income other than my job. However, my desire for a change of environment was so much stronger than all the hardships I know we could possibly face if I will resign from work without a concrete new job, but just the same I went. And it was a correct decision. I saw for the first time that there was a bigger world outside my company. Sure it was a world of uncertainty but it was so huge that you can never tell what kind of adventures and surprises you’ll stumble on. Somehow, there’s truthfulness in what people say, big risk - big gain.
"Every now and then, I would ask myself, what if I didn’t leave..."
After three years of working for the same company in two different roles, following a promotion, I must #confess it was more of a hidden retaliation. I thought that I wouldn’t want to be a contract-employee forever and that the only way to change that situation is to launch a laser-focused job search, of which at that time I call “the Saga”. I was aware that leaving a job without a sure job to hop onto is like a battlefield. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, modesty aside, I am a dearly loved employee by my colleagues. I think it was my innocence and pure desire to succeed in everything that I do that they all liked about me. But I made a lot of thought and I know I must struggle in order to find the success that I am looking for. Hence, years after that very first resignation, I am not complete without regrets. I sure do. But only because of “what if”. Every now and then, I would ask myself, what if I didn’t leave? What would I have become now? That perhaps, life would have been much easier and surer.
Of course, just like any other person, my hopes were high. I chose to focus more on the positive things that could happen about my decision: new role, new salary, new benefits, new boss, all things new. But it wasn’t easy, at all. Each day, by the hour, I am sending applications via different job search engines. Coupled with whispered prayers hoping for the next promising call and interview invite. Modesty aside, and with God’s grace, my resume is quite noticeable, at least with local employers. I would almost always receive an invite. But that alone doesn’t pay yet the bills and doesn’t give me allowance for the next day of job hunt. Far from the cold corridor and cubicle of my former office, I remember having to brave the scorching heat of a tropical country, just to reach my next interview/exam destination. Those efforts are without assurance if I am going to make it to that company, nor that if ever it did work out will I accept their offer.
Back then, and even now, one of my best talent is the gift of projection (lol). Plainly, any shortcomings I may have I am always able to carry out myself the best way possible, at least based on my own judgment. Outwardly, I am able to compete fairly with other candidates. I was neat, professionally-dressed, presentable, appealing, and equip. However, in a society full of first impression, as soon as they learn about where I graduated college, the first thing they’d ask is why. Of course the answer is very straightforward, I’m from a poor family, we don’t have money for college, it is where I was accepted through scholarship, the closest to our home that I’d need zero allowance. But the always ready (more like defensive) me, would respond like, well it is where I finished my high school and I believe that they are good enough to train me for the future. As far as I am concern it is one of the best colleges in my home town. I’m tough not to crack the facade of confidence I built for myself, though I am so crushed inside. I thought I have to show them that there is nothing wrong about it, simply because there isn’t. Although, I’ve also experienced daylight discrimination for not finishing college in a prestigious university. And guess what, it was and is effective to carry the right amount of confidence when you are job searching. With countless prayers, I always whisper to myself, that good personality, attitude, and character will prevail.
Yet, just after you succeeded in convincing them that you belong, that you also have what it takes to breathe the same air as them, the next thing you’d need to prove is why it should be you and not the other candidates they have. And, because to them you’re a job hopper, what guarantee that you are in it for the long haul. I laboured so hard to arrive in at least an acceptable answer. As a recruiter myself, I know what possibly is the other person might be thinking. While I have the tendency to exaggerate it, it is also true that because they don’t know you too well, they have the right to question the authenticity on how and why you were separated from your former organisation. Were you terminated, were you involved in an administrative case, much less a crime, were you laid off out of incompetence. Because if things are well or too well (because they know you know that you can’t talk bad things about your employer or it will give them glimpse of inner thought, things that you weren’t able to share your past employer), why would a person in the right mind resign from his/her post? And those thoughts are valid. I can not deny it nor that I ever will.
"It is your responsibility to make them see the gems in you."
Although, one thing that hiring managers should be able to understand is that each person has different sets of values. What important and number one priority for you may not be the same for me nor for others. But not all recruiters or hiring managers have the ability to see you more than your decisions and that’s a reality you’d need to face and prepare for in case you are in the same shoes as I was. You have the burden to prove them wrong. It is your responsibility to make them see the gems in you.
Knowing what you want in life is a good gift, believing that you can achieve it is just magic. It may have consequences for acting on it but never for a second consider it as a crime. Some people, in fact it is perhaps most of us, that we don’t really know what we want in life. In job searching, the longer it takes the longer the agony becomes. Because, the conflicting realities of your daily living is also chasing you. However, that is still not the only reason why things are a bit shaky momentarily. Just the same, when you know better, be sure to take your learnings with you and be twice smarter or simply be wiser.
When I learned about the “Abundance and Scarcity Mindset” through signature program of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, I realised that most of the time I am also guilty of having “scarcity mindset” or that of thinking that there’s so much less of things around and that I have to grab each chance because there’s no certainty that it will return or that there’s ever going to be more. And I understand that it is so hard to stay positive when you receive rejection after rejection. That’s where my being a Christian always find a way to understand beyond what I can’t because for all of the things that I can’t I am trusting that God can and that if some things are not given to me it is only because some things greater are awaiting me. Yet still, cliches are cliches for a reason. So when they say 'great opportunity knocks but once, I couldn’t entirely say it isn’t true. There is certain truth in it but they didn’t say it is absolute for anyway there are many other cliches contradicting other cliches. Plus the world is changing. Whether we like it or not, the world and the time around us will change things, it will change us.
"It is in our DNA, it is human nature."
Opportunities like our own imaginations are limited to how far we could imagine its boundaries. You can choose to think as wide as the rivers, the seas, the oceans, the cosmos and beyond. Or, you can also choose to believe that it never exists at all it’s all in the mind. A poet once said, "Only those who risk going far can possibly find out how far one can go” - T.S. Eliot. And those words are still relevant today. We wouldn’t know exactly how far our reach could be without us stretching it to its limit. Imagine this, we are created in the image of God. So if God is infinite, isn’t safe to say that man could also be infinite in so many ways. Of course, it is for as long as we serve our intended purpose for His glory. Therefore, have courage the persistence inside you for chasing your dreams is yours alone. It cannot be taken easily by any external means. It is never your situation, people around you, things (that you have or don’t have) that stop you from making and acting on a decision to change your path in life for the better. With history as our witness, struggling to search and create new things is not just a passing moment. It is in our DNA, it is human nature.