Career,  Life

A Tall Glass of Juice: What I Learned During a Month of Being Jobless

Almost seven years after graduation, I experienced the most terrifying one month in my professional life. I was a bum for more than 30 days, with no savings.

I just got married last December. In January I was ecstatic to go back to work after our holiday honeymoon in the province. I was doing a Sales cum Brand Management job for a furniture importer in the Philippines. I was earning well, salary + commission which would sometimes shoot up twice as much as my monthly salary. But since the wedding in the province cost me and my husband a lot, we weren’t able to save for the rainy days.

And so, the rainy days came. My boss called me up to his office mid January. He wanted to discuss some changes in the policies which will affect the Sales Department, that includes me. He announced that he will be implementing a salary cap for all the commission/incentive-earning positions but the salary cap would be implemented on the payout preceding the announcement. Worse, my salary will be decreased by 20% following the salary cap. After hearing the announcement, my brain started planning. I automatically verbally agreed to what my boss just revealed. It is a new policy, and I don’t have a choice. So I am making a choice.

I drafted my resignation letter. Firstly, thanked the Management for all their support in my 1 and 1/2 year stint with the company. For giving me a chance to launch, develop and grow four new brands in the furniture industry here in the Philippines. For the earning opportunity I enjoyed and the money we used for the wedding that I worked really hard for. I ended the letter by explaining the real reason for my resignation, “Non-diminution of Pay”.

“any benefit and supplement being enjoyed by employees cannot be reduced, diminished, discontinued or eliminated by the employer.” – Non-diminution of benefits, Article 100 of the Philippine Labor Code, this includes the salary and any other benefits being given and consistently practiced in the past.

It was heartbreaking, for both my employer and me, but we all have to move on. So I did, last February 14, Valentine’s Day.

My job hunting journey started. And I have come to face my biggest fear, being questioned about my short stints. For 7 years, the longest I’ve been with a company was 1 year and 6 months, followed by 1 year and 5 months and 1 year and 3 months. The rest? Between 5 and 7 months.

But why? Because I haven’t found the “The One” yet. There are more detailed explanations that I had to do during job interviews like the diminution of pay, medical emergency, contract-basis jobs, etc. But I would like to think I was still looking for my niche.

So my search began. And I wish to share with you what I have learned for more than a month:

1. Submit your CV/resume to any company and any position you think you can fill in.

– it is never wrong to aspire or aim high. Who knows you can really get the job done? And besides, as a professional, you must know your capabilities and skills match for the position.

2. Keep all your communication lines open. Any possible means for the employer to contact you.

– we always put our best foot forward when we apply for a job and making it easy for a recruiter to contact you in just one try is a bonus point for you. Should they invite you for a personal interview and you are not available on that date and time given but will have an extra time a few hours after, explore the possibility of having the interview via web chat (Skype, FaceTime, Viber, etc.)

3. During the recruitment process, the Companies are on their best foot forward too.

– in the course of a month, I submitted 50 CVs via Jobstreet (I have reached my limit for a month) and around 20 via JobsDB. I only entertained around 15 interviews. Why? First, I was managing my money which is mostly from my husband. Second, I got turned off by how the recruiter communicated with me over the phone.

During the interviews as well, I have noticed major differences between what was stated in the job advertisement versus what was being discussed during the interviews and job offers. So be very, very cautious about it too.

4. During the examinations, try to answer the ESSAY PART first. 

– unless there is an examination facilitator who commands you which part to answer first, try to look for and answer the essay part of the exam first. You need healthy and active brain cells so you can express your self well. I am pretty sure your thoughts would not be as organized if you do it after a Mathematics/Arithmetic examination.

5. Always give your self an hour to breathe prior to the interview.

– always be mindful of your interview schedule and give your self at least an hour to relax and gather your thoughts. Know the exact location of the interview and the landmarks nearby where you can stay and relax. In the Philippines, I am lucky enough to see a 7-11 or a McDonald’s cafe within the interview vicinity where I can have coffee for less than Php 40.00 (USD 1) before the interview.

6. Try to refrain from taking a cab to the interview.

– in the Philippines, the recruiters would normally ask you “How did you get here?”. And commuting to the interview venue would give so much more to say when answering that question. It also gives the recruiter an idea of what kind of person you are and if you can handle the stress commuting in Metro Manila. Likewise, it gives them an idea on the length of travel you’ll have from home to your possible workplace.

7. The right answer to the golden question “What is your expected salary?”

– if I were the recruiter, I will be impressed if the applicant would compute right in front of me. Having the transportation cost, job details, workload, benefits, etc. factored in. But to make things simple, the most appropriate formula is Last Salary x 1.20 = Expected Salary. Try not to settle for less. Know your worth. Likewise, let the Jobstreet Salary Report be your guide.

8. Be thrifty.

– as mentioned earlier, DO NOT TAKE A CAB. I mean it. Whether you have savings or not, you will never know just when you will get hired and start or when your 1st paycheck in the new job will be released. In my 30 days of job hunting, I missed eating in a fastfood, a cup of coffee was enough for lunch, I gave value to stored-value tickets for buses and trains and I walked to the next destination if I could.

9. Share your emotions.

– job hunting is tiring in every aspect. During the first week, I got physically tired. On my second week,  I ran out of cash. On the third week, the questions here and there on why I am not working became emotionally and spiritually draining that I stopped going to church. I lost all the confidence I had for the next 2 weeks. I started crying in the middle of the night because waking up the next day would make me live the reality that I am jobless. My husband would always be there to hug me and whisper words of encouragement. He never made me feel like I am less of a person than I was when I had a job.

I started writing a journal whenever I have to pour my emotions out and he’s at work. And he would reply through the journal at night. Our relationship was tested early on.

My family was there for me too. There were moments when I would dwell on self-pity and would have a confrontation with a family member. But your family would always understand and they will never turn their back on you.

10. Be a better person.

– Being better at anything can be practiced until it becomes a habit, so as being a better person. The journey I’ve had not having a new career waiting for me when I left the last one, not having enough money to support my job-hunting, not being emotionally prepared to start over, made me a better person and a better professional.

The younger me was so naive that I would accept a job without a written agreement, I was so idealistic and considered every person I meet would always be true to their word. The younger me would settle for less. The younger me would not need the help of anybody in applying or taking a job because I can easily land one in just a week. The younger me would not pray for what God thinks that’s best for me. The younger me, would do what gives more pay than the one that would give a richer experience.

I think looking for a job is almost the same as finding your one true love. You have to be selective, you have to get hurt, you have to pray for it and you need to have a common ground. I landed a new job. This time, we have a common ground. And I would like to think it was answered prayer for it was given to me a day before the Holy Week break. We found a common ground like what me and my husband have. MUSIC.

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