I admit it, I was nervous. I was only out of work for less than a week but I was still nervous. In the past month I’d applied for over 100 jobs in anticipation of my resignation date. In that time I was getting a lot of “we regret to inform you” emails in response to my applications. With the economy still showing signs of the recession, I was fearful that I’d be out of work for some time and that I’d become very depressed. I know of people, even family, who have gone over a year without a job. I knew that I couldn’t be one of them. I was going to dig deep and find employment in breakneck speed.
Sure, starting over means paying your dues again but I’m anxious to do so. A new town, a new job and a whole new attitude. I’d been applying for everything and anything that looked interesting. I knew that I wanted a change. After working in one career for over a decade, I knew what I did and didn’t want to do. I also knew that I didn’t want a long commute. I accepted the fact that my unwillingness to drive to the big city would impact what I’d be compensated. But I also know that the quality of one’s life is more than just a paycheck.
Valentine’s Day would prove to be a lucky day. The interview that I had most been looking forward to got rescheduled due to the winter storm and I was feeling pretty sad about it. Sure, I was glad to weather the recent storm in the comfort of home but I was also anxious to get back to work. We needed the money and I also don’t like to sit idle for too long. Imagine my surprise when I got the call for a job interview that would occur on Valentine’s Day. Since both my husband and I were no longer working, we opted to spend that special day very low-key. No cards or flowers, just the two of us spending time with our close-knit family. An interview with the hope of getting the job would be the best of Valentine’s Day presents.
I have spent so many years being on the other side of the table. I couldn’t tell you just how many interviews I’ve coordinated and sat through. A lot. Those days are now over. I no longer have the desire to be on that side again. The benefit of having had that experience also helped me to go into the interview calm and collected. I arrived at the interview thinking that I was the only one. I was wrong. It was like a little cattle call. There were six others vying for the same position. It honestly didn’t faze me. I went in thinking, if it was meant to be, it would be.
I was just myself. No bells and whistles. I was engaged and engaging. I used some of the skills I learned from conducting interviews but now on the other side of the desk. I looked at the interviewer and saw him as a regular person. He wasn’t just some suit behind a desk. I asked him about his experiences with the company and was sure not to give stock answers. When I was asked questions I didn’t just say what I thought he wanted to hear. After all, if I got the job it’d have to be my truth. If I fabricated anything at the start I’d have to live a lie.
After the interview I went for some retail therapy. Just a little. I didn’t forget that I was still unemployed. Although I knew that they’d likely need to fill the position as soon as possible, I didn’t expect to get a call. Sure, I thought I did well in the interview and went above and beyond by doing some quick research about the company beforehand. However, I also knew that doing well doesn’t mean you’re the person that will best fit that organization. Once the interview was over my mind had moved past it and was thinking of the upcoming interview with the company I wanted to work for.
I’m not saying that I had a premonition or anything but two days prior my 4-year-old niece gave me a fortune cookie. Inside it was the fortune, “take the next opportunity that presents itself.” At the time this interview wasn’t even on my radar. I simply smiled to myself and thought, well, let’s hope that that opportunity isn’t several weeks or months from now. The interview was with a company I’d never even heard of. But I went into it with no expectations or reservations. I looked at the other applicants and imagined that they were in similar or worse situations than I. I’d told myself that I wasn’t more deserving than the next person and that if this wasn’t the job for me, there’d be another that was.
I was the third person interviewed and I knew that I was seriously overqualified for the position. Regardless, I was not deterred. I was honest when I told the interviewer that I was not at all afraid of starting from the bottom and working my way up. That’s what I’d done in my previous career and I’d prefer to do that again. However, I thought he’d think of it as a desperate answer. I didn’t have much time to analyze the interview. Before I knew it my phone was ringing and in less than 20 seconds I was offered the job. I accepted.
I’m literally starting over in an industry that is completely new and a salary that I made about a decade ago. This time around I know that there is so much more to life and living it than a paycheck. Opportunity sometimes comes when and from where you least expect it. Sometimes you have to allow yourself to look and think outside the box. Things may not go the way you originally imagined it but sometimes what you get is even better.
This article also appeared as a web exclusive on The Union-Recorder’s website.