Posts tagged ‘job search’
“We work in our day job in order to make money to support our vocation.”
These are the words I heard recently in a sermon about work.
“I’m thinking about quitting my job so I can go into ministry and do the Lord’s work.”
These are the words I heard recently from a participant in one of my small groups.
“It seems like your real passion, Michele, is the issue of faith and work and what you are doing here working in marketing is just a job.”
These are the words I heard recently from one of my coworkers.
These three statements have a common flaw. They assume that our daily work, be it hammering nails into a wall, conducting a science experiment, writing ad copy, is not an essential element of our call to be like Christ. Our daily work is a reflection of the very nature of the Almighty God. In Genesis 1, God created the heavens and the earth. In the beginning of Genesis, we also learn that God created us in His image.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Gen. 1: 26-28
The works of our hands, the very nature of work itself, reflects the call on humanity to care for and rule over the earth. Work does not pull you away from sacred activities like mission trips, Bible studies, and evangelism. Work itself is sacred. Work itself is noble. You are not a cog in a wheel. You are an essential element of the story God is telling. A story that brings dignity to your life. A story that gives your life meaning.
You may be thinking, “But my work does not feel very noble. I’m unmotivated, bored, and just plain tired.” Have you checked your heart lately? Are you working as unto the Lord? Or are you just viewing your job as a way to pay the bills? Be honest. Passion and desire will be ignited as you begin to connect your faith and your work. It’s no longer about you. It’s not even about the specific tasks you are doing. It’s about that bigger story. It’s about a broader calling on your life.
If you hate what you are doing for work right now, maybe, just maybe, God has you where you are for a reason. Maybe you are learning a lesson or learning what you don’t love to do so you can better recognize your heart’s desire when you see it. Or maybe you really are not where you are supposed to be because you took your job for the wrong reason (like to impress others). It’s not too late to begin considering your place in the larger story.
The bottom line is that the work you are doing right now matters to God. Stop thinking about what counts as “Godly activities” and realize that we don’t need to compartmentalize Godly and secular activities. Every activity is an opportunity to be Christ in the world.
I’m currently leading a class on strengths. We use the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment and materials developed by Marcus Buckingham and Gallup organization. The premise of the materials is that society focuses so much on improving our weaknesses that we miss opportunities to achieve real satisfaction in our work. By trying to improve our weaknesses, we can possibly reach adequacy. But if we can capitalize on our strengths, we can actually perform tasks with near perfection – we can learn to work with excellence. We can really work the way God created us to work.
To give you an example, my strengths are:
- Maximizer – I like to take things that are good and make them superb (small increments of improvement don’t interest me).
- Achiever – I have a great deal of stamina to work hard. I’m only satisfied with high levels of productivity.
- Learner – I have a great desire to learn. It’s the process of learning, not just the outcomes, that really excites me.
- Focus – I have an ability to stay on track with goals and direction.
- Input – I have a craving to know more. I collect things like books and information.
Past classes have been really transformational. Participants have identified new directions for their current work or even discovered completely new careers they want to pursue.
The interesting challenge to leading this current class is that most of the participants are unemployed. And the reality is that they may not have the luxury of finding that perfect job in the current economic climate. I’ve read some advice that people who are unemployed have an amazing opportunity to go for their dreams. This is great advice. But it must be tempered with the reality of needing to pay the rent or support a family.
So I’ve been asking myself… what the heck are the benefits of knowing our strengths in the current job market? Is this ‘strengths’ philosophy any good for someone who just plain needs a job?
I’m thinking the answer is yes and here’s why:
1. Knowing my strengths can actually shape my job search process. Given my personal strengths, for example, I could set weekly goals for myself and track my success by how much I achieve that week. I might study various industries to identify what types of jobs interest me. There is so much advice out there on how to land a job, but it might not take advantage of your personal strengths. Not everyone is wired the same, and not everyone will have success finding a job the same way.
2. Knowing my strengths will help me in the interview process. In my experience, talking about myself in a job interview in ways I thought the interviewer wanted to hear has left me without the job offer. It was only when I learned to articulate my strengths that prospective employers could picture me in the job and get excited about my potential. I’m confident that knowing what you do well and being able to articulate it will catapult you to the top of the pile. The level of specificity in which you can talk and your confidence will be attractive.
3. I can shape my resume toward my strengths. There are lots of things on my resume that I know how to do, but are they things I loved doing when I was doing them? Why not completely overhaul your resume and articulate all of the things that you have done in the past in terms of your strengths. Consider taking out completely some of the things you dreaded doing. For example, I probably would not highlight roles in the past that required me to have small talk with people I had never met before. Instead, I might focus my job descriptions around my love for managing people, my attention to details in project management, and my ability to bring structure to a creative process. Why not lean toward areas of strength? I imagine this would land me a job that is a better fit.
4. Knowing my strengths allows me to think creatively about alternatives. Instead of looking for work in the exact field of work I have always been in, knowing my strengths allows me to think about what I can do in different fields. Strengths are transferable across types of work. Skills and knowledge don’t transfer quite as easily, but my core strengths can be applied to lots of settings. I can ask myself, what kinds of work require my set of strengths? Reframing the question this way may open up a lot of possibilities.
5. I can volunteer. When we are using our strengths, we are energized. Find areas in your life outside of your work where your strengths can be used. Being reenergized in other areas can offset the drain you may be feeling in your work life. It can also help you hone your strengths and identify the types of activities you really love doing.
6. I can try to use my strengths in any job. You might be thinking that your current job is just temporary until you can find something you really love. Why wait? Are there ways you can look at your current role and find tasks that might be approached in a different way? Are there activities at work for which you can volunteer that might lead you to more exciting responsibilities down the road? I have seen this happen. A former coworker of mine had a job mailing college admissions letters and tracking applications. We were in a meeting one day about how to communicate better with students and someone said, “I wish there was a more creative way to use technology to communicate.” My colleague spoke up and said that she had a degree in multimedia and could create interesting messages using Flash. We gave her a few assignments, and eventually her role was completely restructured in the communication department. And you can’t tell me that this type of thing would never happen at your job because this example happened within an extremely structured, union environment. Anything is possible if you can be intentional about your current work.