7 Lessons Learned While Job Hunting During a Pandemic

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

ast March I took a risk and left a cushioned job and a good team at an established health system for a startup. Three months later, the startup dissolved because of the pandemic’s disruption to the market. So in the middle of an economic recession, I lost my income. And in the middle of a global health crisis, I lost my health insurance.

Despite my losses, I recognized that my privilege is that in that time of global struggle and suffering I was worried about finding the right fit. My privilege is that I didn’t have to worry about covering my bills because I had a savings cushion. My privilege is that with my new time I read books about racism amid the racial reckoning across the US and that I don’t have to experience it for myself.

I was unemployed for nearly 10 months during which I applied to over a hundred jobs. I interviewed multiple rounds, many through the final round, for 32 different roles. Those were 32 different prospective bosses, team dynamics, and work initiatives I researched extensively. I was ghosted countless times and endured hard rejections. Including being presented a job offer that was never intended for me.

All while finding the courage to decline offers that weren’t the right fit for me. There were days where I doubted myself and my competency. Job hunting and career transitions are tough, and it’s even harder with the added level of uncertainty when you’re in the middle of a pandemic. Last month I received three offers in the same week and accepted the very role I was holding out for.

I share both my successes and hardships to say that if you’re looking for a job and you feel hopeless — remind yourself that your time will come. And until it does, use this gift of time. As I used my gift of time to recenter and refocus myself, I came to realize that:

Time is the only resource we can’t accrue more of.

Money, like jobs, will come and go.

You can and surely will accrue more money over time, but you will not accrue more time than what you’re allotted. So take a bite out of life! I didn’t grow up visiting National Parks as a child, so I lived out my childhood dreams and hiked through seven National Parks that summer of my ‘funemployment.’ Some solo, some in the company of friends, and others in the company of strangers. As I explored my career decisions, I also explored outside.

Pursue your happiness relentlessly.

Happiness is not at the next destination — at the next job.

I’ve found the most enduring self-preservation is to avoid the illusion that happiness lives ‘there’ and not ‘here’ — wherever you are, currently. Until you give up on the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are. I tried not to get too anxious about how the future would line up so I could enjoy my present moments before they became memories.

Cruise control is great for your car, not your car-eer.

So long as you have the emotional bandwidth and financial cushion, wait it out till you find the right fit.

Especially if you’re looking for a reach role or a career pivot. It’s going to take time to find someone who will see the years of potential ahead of you, rather than the years of experience behind you. The rejections will sting along the way, but each rejection is simply a redirection.

Build a savings of 3–6 months of your income.

You just never know when your company might dissolve on a Monday morning.

Poof! Just like that. So knowing that you have enough to cover your fixed expenses alleviates the pressure to take the first opportunity, rather than to really figure out what you want to do.

Celebrate and clap for others even when their dreams take off before yours.

Show up for friends and celebrate their wins.

Even if you feel like there’s no movement in your life while others around you are making moves, buying homes, getting promos. Everything will come in its time.

Interviewing is like dating, and dating is like interviewing.

Both ultimately involve two parties determining whether they’re a good fit.

A friend shared with me this quote from the NYT; “Go on as many first dates and as many job interviews as possible in your life. Both are difficult, learned skills that get dramatically better with familiarity and practice. And no two things have a greater impact on your life outcomes than your work and your love.”

Shoot your shot.

If I could do it again, I’d take the risk of leaving a job I outgrew.

Every career move we make is a calculated risk. But the biggest risk of all is staying in a place that no longer serves your growth.

Perpetual learner. Voracious Reader. Subpar Storyteller.

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