The Fear and Hope of Job Hunting
By Derek N. Stavem
May 25, 2012
I’ve been there. I, like you, was once scrutinizing my résumé from every possible angle, holding it up to the light, asking my goldfish what needed to be changed. "Maybe if I just make the font a little bigger for my name and a little smaller for the job experience ... No, smaller ..." The problem was compiling a haphazard mess of experiences and interests throughout my last four years into something coherent. Basically, I was trying to make my experiences seem a little less like my college dorm room (my apologies to the students who lived there after us) and a little more like my mom’s kitchen, with everything planned and in its proper place.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. My education? I graduated from college with a degree in Bible and in English education. These would be great credentials to teach tenth-grade English, if I still had any desire to be an English teacher. But after a semester of being that awkward student teacher who made students wish they were a grade higher (or lower) just to be in a different class, I knew that teaching English was out.
So, here I found myself, in the same place you are right now, applying for jobs to be working with data, working with computers, working with people. Applying for jobs selling cars, shelving books or sending emails. Applying for any and every job that sounded interesting.
Sadly, the degree in English ed wasn’t a big help for any of those jobs. And I wasn’t even sure if I should list the Bible degree on my résumé for non-Christian jobs. Using my résumé to find a job felt like trying to start my Subaru with no spark plugs—it wasn’t getting me very far. And my work history? I painted houses for a summer. I worked at Menards throughout college. I worked in the college writing center, helping people edit their history papers. It was not exactly a cohesive job history pointing to something better.
So my résumé became a carefully crafted work of art. Was I an “expert in Microsoft Excel”? No, definitely not. How about “comfortable with Microsoft Excel”? No. How about “familiar with ...”?
With each refinement, my goldfish and I would discuss how great a résumé I had. We’d look at it and think optimistically, “This will get you the job you want.”
But as my savings account dwindled, with zeros in all the wrong places, and as my wallet had moths fluttering out of it instead of cash, I began to wonder: Did I make a mistake?And I know that many of you wonder the same thing. You’re looking at your philosophy major and then looking at the job market, and you’re asking yourself, What was I thinking?
Listen to what God says to you today, the God who created you, the God who brought you to where you are today, philosophy major and all:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isa. 43:1-3)
Maybe you’ve just graduated into a really tough job market, and you hoped you’d have been hired by now. Maybe you find yourself competing with experienced veterans in a field you’re not even familiar with. Maybe you’re not sure how your history degree will help at all. It feels like a flood threatening to drown you. It feels like a fire stinging your eyes and blinding you with smoke. I know the feeling.
And the scariest part is that God will not take the fire away. He will not stop the river from rushing through your path. He doesn’t promise that at all. But He does promise this: He will be with you.
As you feel the water rushing around, don’t panic! God is with you. Trust that He’s right alongside you in the midst of this trial and that He sees the other side of the river you just cannot see above the waves. He was with me, and He is with you.
I no longer find dust in my wallet when I’m hoping to find cash. From a data processing job to database management to an enrollment research position at a Christian university (with other twists and turns along the way), God has led me down a job path I never would have envisioned when I was 18 years old. He led me in a direction far different from where I planned to go at age 22. But now, looking back, I can honestly say that I am right where God wanted me all along. I just had to walk through the fire to get there.
Derek N. Stavem, M.A., writes short articles from his personal experience with broad Christian application. See more of his writing at theworntilefloor.blogspot.com.