Just thinking about how I even managed to land my new job leaves me speechless and humbled.
I remember how each job-less day was a stressful ordeal Jayson and I had to manage in silence. We did our best to keep our composure and focus to be able to maintain peace and order in the household.
What scared me the most was the thought of my credit card finance charges rising till it’s impossible to catch up with the amount I’m earning. I told myself that if I was going to prevent this from happening, it has to start working towards getting out of this mess strategically and methodically.
Mind mapping my work goals
To fight the rise and fall of stress in my chest, I created a mind map.
It’s the brainstorming method I always use whenever I’m in a pickle and I need to get my head straightened out. I sat down with my Mossery notebook and started drawing lines and writing down goals I wanted to achieve before the year ended.
The “fundraising” project I set myself to do was to earn back the PhP 27,000 I took from pagerie and the family emergency fund. I had to use both to pay for my pretty large credit card bill, and I was determined to earn it all back.
Once I decided on it, I pulled out my old SELF journal from two years ago and started planning my daily agenda, making sure they aligned with the goal and that I was checking off or rescheduling tasks on a daily basis.
Looking for my next remote job
A branch of this goal was to find work to do. I sent out a tweet and asked my former colleagues to spread the word that I was looking for my next career “forever home.”
While looking and sending out applications, I managed to land a spot freelancing for a content marketing agency managed by a former employee of my old company. I passed the first writing project, got paid for it, and started writing for her on a weekly basis, or when there were no job interviews to attend.
During this time, I was open to almost any type of Support role—full-time, part-time, temp—just so I could earn again and build experience at the same time. I kept visiting careers and jobs pages of some of my favorite SaaS companies, hoping they’re looking for people with remote working experience and in the Asia-Pacific time zone.
I sent out applications, got rejected, sent out more applications, got rejected more. Each one hit me hard, but hardened my resolve to keep on looking and trying. I kept refining my resume, editing my LinkedIn and Angel.co profiles, and changing my interview methods to better communicate my abilities. I needed to learn how to advocate myself while overpowering my lack of experience with my strengths.
A much-needed awakening
I’ll never forget the two weeks that led me to getting my first job offer.
I attended an interview for a role at one of the most popular time tracking software companies in the world. The hiring manager asked something along the lines of, “What are your weaknesses and what have you done to overcome them?”
Without thinking, I went straight to how I wasn’t as proactive with learning the technical skills needed to troubleshoot and help customers at my old job—PHP, HTML, CSS, Twig, etc. I then ended that conversation with “I should’ve been more proactive in reaching out and getting more experience in those aspects,” not realizing that I’ve just given this woman the impression that I’m lazy and unwilling to take that initiative to learn.
The next day, I got the rejection email.
Not surprised, though I felt more regret and pain over this rejection. I was way too honest about my flaws, and perhaps that was what led to all the other rejections I received since I started job hunting.
I took to my Habitica family to talk about the issue, and to ask for advice on how to do better, and almost everyone gave me sound and constructive advice.
They reminded me that HR are always looking for people who can bring value to the company, that even if I don’t have as much experience I can prove my worth by focusing on my strengths and the value these strengths can be for their company.
Should they ask questions about what I lack or my weaknesses, I can frame them in such a way that they further enforce positive values, such as being more hardworking or more creative, and eventually become things I can overcome.
That was the jolt I needed to turn the tables around, and the key to landing my new role. Obviously, I went straight to Habitica to tell them the good news. 😊
Takeaways from the (remote) job hunting experience
My job hunting experience is just one of the millions that people go through when searching for their next opportunity.
But having worked remotely 💯since 2008, I’m proud that I managed to land a good-paying job without needing to relocate, take a Masters degree, or kiss ass. The tools, resources, and connections made testify to the fact that a remote career in software is a reality, and it requires sharper communication skills to let these people know that you have what they need.
More importantly, I needed this experience to teach myself important lessons:
- I’m always a work-in-progress. I’m not as valuable or indispensable as I assume myself.
- Confidence needs to come from an authentic place, and that means knowing what I’m good at, and what I’m doing to improve myself further.
- I can always for help. There’s nothing wrong with asking, because you’ll never get what you need if you don’t ask.
- Take extra steps to know the company, its people, and the work culture they adopt. It helps to know if they align with your own values and principles.
- Be yourself, but advocate yourself. Carefully choose what weaknesses or flaws to share, and frame them as areas for self-improvement.
I’ve recently finished my first month at the new company, and I’ll be talking about the lessons I learned from that on another Wednesday.
Until then, I want to end this my own acknowledgement speech, if you will:
I’ve so much gratitude and appreciation for my Kayako family—the people I’ve grown to consider as real-life friends—and my Habitica family as well for not hesitating to tell me what I needed to hear. I’m thankful for my sister, Annie, for listening to me when I was feeling down and regretful over my pile of rejection letters; and my friend, Johna, for being a listening ear when I needed it the most.
Above all, I’m thankful for my husband, Jayson, for being hard yet supportive during those late night hours when I felt useless; when I felt I had nothing to show. I’m thankful for him sticking by me and working hard to keep us afloat while I was still looking for a job, and for calming any doubts I had, all of which have led me to where I’m working at today.