I have a quick little tale that I keep getting the nudge to share – it’s even related to career advice. Gather round!
I was recently in the market for a new job, and I was interviewing fast and furiously. At times I had 3 or 4 interviews scheduled in a single day, which was honestly a lot on my introverted self – but I digress. I was pleased with the response I was getting to putting myself out there, and I was getting call backs and interviewing with really great companies. I am really trying to keep my ego in check (no, like actually. All the time. Ego death – or perhaps ego shushing is more accurate – is a topic for another post. Isn’t it so funny how one can be so self conscious at times and still have such a healthy ego?!) – but when I say great companies, I mean great. I don’t want to say that I was pleasantly surprised, but I was like looking around and OMGing and profusely thanking the Universe (who I assume giddily jumped up and down and cheered me on beyond the veil, like I TOLD YOU SO) and was like holy shit, so you really meant it when you said all I had to do was believe in myself? (All. So easy, of course.)
I was not only grateful for just the mere opportunities to be considered and interviewed (talking multiple – was making it to the 3rd round) but I was super proud of the way I was showing up in them, which clearly was making an impact. I have never felt so confident and clear on who I am and what I have to offer. And for once, I wasn’t afraid of the stuff I don’t know. There is lots I don’t know, it would make sense that there is a lot other people don’t know. The difference is being willing to figure it out and be resourceful and stop feeling this weird shame that I can’t even identify completely where it originated from (though I promise you, I am trying). I knew that even if I didn’t get any of the jobs that I had truly done my best and showed up as my best self, and I was satisfied with that. I commented to a friend that with this (and so many things) I feel like a completely different person, and she asked what’s different? The answer: I stopped thinking I’m stupid or not worthy.
I have never been stupid, of course. I have worked at jobs that weren’t right for me, I have been in relationships that weren’t right for me. I decided somewhere along the way that obviously I was the problem. The voice in my head had a favorites reel that played quite often of perceived slights, failures, judgments, and other blunders that chipped away at my self-esteem and my voice. As a result I shrunk myself and tried to be small, to stay safe. I hid behind other people too, let them speak for me and let them be my voice, even when their message maybe differed from mine. I was just easy-going, go-with-the-flow.
Let me be clear, I am not relaying all of this for a pity party, nor am I wounded or fragile. I am the strongest I have ever been. I have some work to do on me, yeah, and I have been doing it. I am not finished, I don’t think you’re ever really finished with this kind of work, not if you’re doing it right. I am sharing this because I wasn’t even aware of how loud the voice – the underlying beliefs and messages I told myself – had gotten. I slowly started to wake up to this, and realized I told myself quite often, usually jokingly, that I was stupid. I dropped my hairbrush – ugh, I’m so stupid. I realized the way you speak to and about yourself matters just as much as it does when you speak about other people. I don’t want to get into a long-winded post about self-improvement or self-awareness, because quite honestly I could probably write a series on my experience thus far – and I probably will. My point here is that we all do it, many times unconsciously. Pay attention to that voice, and shut down the negativity. You’ll be amazed at how your life changes.
During this time, I had two interviews that were complete duds – and if I’m being honest, I hadn’t wanted to do them, but did them anyway. I felt like any interview may lead to an opportunity I wouldn’t have expected, and they do provide interview experience at the very least. Both were with agencies, which I am generally not a fan of, although I did find my last job (which I loved) through an agency. With that being said – I should have listened to my intuition. Both were Zoom calls; one was with a man who was much, much older and clearly not comfortable with technology. After I had completed my ‘about me’ pitch (which I was not short and succinct with), he asked me to repeat all of that again – slowly – as he needed to type it up for his database…one letter at a time. He wasn’t familiar with many of the things I had done or talked about that should have been common knowledge in his field. I had to use every ounce of willpower to control my face, and thankfully the call didn’t last too long – painful.
However, the other was with a very well known agency who caters to creatives. I was speaking with a senior level executive of the agency, and I couldn’t tell if she was unimpressed, bored, or just going through the motions herself. It ironically made me super comfortable (not that I was uncomfortable) because I can’t take that approach seriously. Either do your job or don’t waste my – or your – time. But the thing that really got me was her critique of my resume. If you’re reading this right now you know I was – am? a writer, and I certainly include that on my resume. No, I haven’t actively pitched myself to media outlets for quite some time – my actual full time job and then my dad dying kind of changed my path a few years back – but I have a good sized portfolio, and the outlets I was published with clearly illustrate I am capable. Kind of like how you list the jobs you once worked at for relevance. She reviewed my portfolio on the call with me and dismissed most of my work. “Oh, you have listed here Harvard Business Review, but you didn’t actually write this piece…” Me: “Yeah, no. I have all pieces/opportunities I was a part of listed in my portfolio, which the caption describes… the author of that piece used my advice on conflict resolution and included it in their book… All of my work is clearly labeled, and I have almost 100 writing samples.” She basically shrugged her shoulders, unimpressed, and said she had been super excited because she was hoping she could cross-sell me as someone who could write content for her clients, but she didn’t think they would be impressed or see the value since I am not currently writing. She then said – honestly I would remove that from your resume because it’s irrelevant, but you can do whatever you’re comfortable with. She had no way of knowing that I was in the midst of final interviews with 2 major players in publishing (with a 3rd on deck), where I know my writing portfolio most definitely had an impact (even though I am not actively writing) so I am not going to say that didn’t help my confidence… but the sheer lack of logic left ME unimpressed. I thought, this is a senior level VP of this agency giving me shit advice. Talk about opinions being subjective. I was just grateful I knew enough to be discerning about that advice. I smiled and thanked her for the feedback.
I am happy to report that I received a job offer from my top choice, and even the other job that was in the running, while I wasn’t offered the position I interviewed for, HR told me they loved me (my feel is that the other candidate had more experience in one area) and to let them know if I was interested in any other open roles – they would connect me directly to the hiring manager to interview. I didn’t take them up on it since I received my dream offer soon after. It still doesn’t feel real. A fun little note about that, too – pack your bags, we’re going on a tangent!
Awhile back (like years and years) I had written about a writer I admired, and how I was thrilled that she agreed to meet for drinks. She was unimpressed with me (I’m fairly certain) as she came from a wealthy, very educated background. Since then, I know she enrolled and has since graduated from an Ivy league school just to officially have a journalism degree in a field she was already succeeding in. At the time I felt empowered because I didn’t get any advice from her that I didn’t already know myself; despite my lack of college degree, I was pretty much doing the same things she was. Well, small world – she works at the same company that I now work at. Granted, she has no idea, and we are all wfh anyway, but I just thought how crazy it is when things come full circle.
On that note, what are the lessons we have learned today kids?
- How worthy you think you are will literally dictate your entire life and the results.
- Believe in yourself. Seriously, you can do it.
- Pay attention to the way you speak to yourself. If you hear more negative than positive, evaluate and redirect. Redirect any negative talk and drown the fears. They aren’t real but they want you to believe they are.
- Advocate for yourself – otherwise, who will?
- Listen to – and believe – your intuitive nudges. They don’t lie.
- Be discerning with all the messages you receive, both internally and externally. Determine if the messages are rooted in love or fear.
- Remember that advice – and opinions – are subjective.
After all, what’s the worst that can happen?