A message to job seekers

This week I sat on a panel at my former university to share with current students what skills I gained through¬† leadership positions that served my job search and ultimate employment path. My response at the time was a bit varied and nuanced, as I find it less of a question of skill-building, than it is a question of vision. If you are only looking for a job to replace the current absence of employment and provide income, you shouldn’t have high expectations for that job to be fulfilling. On the other hand, if you are able to describe the qualities and environment of your ideal employment, your much more likely to recognize it when it shows up. For this reason, I think it’s much more important to begin with vision and come “down-to-earth” with possible application, than to start with basic skills and “pie-in-the-sky” hopes that something better will show up.

After my son was born, I choose to not work for seven months and stayed home with him. When I was ready to look for work again I was challenged to consider a different way of experiencing the “job search.” I had a pretty solid list of what I DID NOT want. This included strong vertical organizational structure, an absence of professional development, high value on traditional ways of operation, claustrophobic power battles, etc. etc. But I had less of an idea of what type of environment I thought I would flourish in. So a mentor suggested that I explore what qualities of an ideal work community are most important to me and to allow that to guide me in my search. I reasoned because we spend so much time at work, it shouldn’t only be a place to extract income, but it should be a place to extract learning, be challenged to grow and improve our technical and inter-personal skills. So I made my list and was surprised to realize that it was less important to me to be in the “field” of peace building and advocacy, but more important to be in a place that valued self-application of innovation, appreciation and community.

Knowing these qualities of my ideal work environment provided me with some guideposts about the types of institutions I was willing to consider. It also helped me say no to positions that offered more money, but the environment had very similar qualities to my DO NOT WANT list. And to me, the value of money was not more important than the value of JOY, FULFILLMENT and SERVICE. Within a few weeks of doing this activity, a friend forwarded an email announcement of a job opening at a company called EnCompass, LLC. I had never heard of them, but the description matched my value list perfectly so I applied. Three weeks later I was an employee and every Monday for almost two years, I look forward to going to work. How many people can say that?!

So to those out there looking for employment, consider this activity and get clear about why you are looking for what you are looking for. It may be that the only reason you haven’t found the perfect job is because you can’t recognize that it is right in front of you.

Get a new perspective. This is what re-imagining peace is all about.