3 Things I Learned When I Couldn’t Find A Job
Written By Chia Poh Fang
Poh Fang never dreamed of being in a language-related profession; chemistry was her first love. The turning point came when she received Jesus as her Savior as a 15-year-old and expressed to Him that she would like to create books that touch lives. She serves with Our Daily Bread Ministries in the Singapore office as Managing Editor.
Fresh out of college, I decided to dedicate one year to serving in a non-profit organization involved in youth outreach work. I figured, Hey! I’m young and I’m armed with a good degree from a good university. I shouldn’t have trouble finding a job later.
I was wrong.
One year later, my country Singapore went through a recession due to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. More people were looking for work than there were jobs available. I was one of those job seekers. It took me nine long months before I finally found full-time work.
Perhaps right now you are in the same position I was back then, worrying about your job prospects in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic. If so, I hope the lessons I’m about to share will help you through this uncertain and trying time.
You will doubt yourself . . . and that’s normal.
As you send out countless resumes, attend interviews (most probably over video during this period), and wait to hear from potential employers, you may be filled with hope one moment, and then disappointment the next. As the cycle continues, perhaps, like me, you will begin to doubt your skills and abilities. Am I not good enough?
Having gone through numerous interviews and now that I’m on the other side—interviewing people for jobs—let me assure you that if you’ve garnered that interview, it shows that you have the necessary skillset. But the recruitment process is a highly subjective one, and is dependent on many other factors, such as how well you market yourself or whether you’re the right fit for the company’s goals and current team. So if you fail to land the job, it does not mean you’re not good enough.
These familiar verses from Psalm 139: 14-18 encouraged me during the period when I was unemployed: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well . . . Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.”
It’s helpful to remind ourselves when doubt assails: I’m wonderfully made by God, and my life is in His loving hands. I’m constantly in His thoughts, and He is with me always! God knows what you are going through—your worries and concerns—and He cares. Because He made You and holds you in His hands, He will guide you to the perfect job for you—at the right time—as He did in my life.
You will doubt God . . . and that’s okay.
During this period of uncertainty, I kept a journal, and wrote this in one entry: “Have I been a stumbling block to my parents who do not know you? Dad thinks that I’ve wasted my post-graduation years serving in the non-profit organization . . . I don’t want to be a burden to anyone, but I feel that I’m one now. Instead of being able to give to my parents from the salary I earned, I’m still taking money from them.”
At that time, I wondered if God’s promise in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”, was true. Though I felt that I fulfilled my side of the bargain, God didn’t seem to keep to His promise, to give me “all these things”.
Could I really take God at His Word? Was it worthwhile to even follow God? Back then, a booklet by Our Daily Bread Ministries, titled Why Christians Doubt, brought a lot of encouragement to me. It assured me that I could bring my doubts to God honestly, and that He is willing to help us trust Him.
The life of the prophet Habakkuk echoes this truth. Unable to reconcile God’s character with His actions, Habakkuk lamented to God (Habakkuk 1:1), and God did not reject Him. Instead, God patiently explained His plan to the prophet, such that by the end of the book, Habakkuk could proclaim confidently, “Though the fig tree should not blossom . . . I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (3:17-19).
As I wrestled with God through my doubts, He too brought me to a deeper level of faith and relationship with Him through prayer and the reading of His Word. I learned to look at circumstances from His unchanging character, rather than allow changing circumstances to determine my judgement of God’s character.
Subsequently, I wrote this in my journal: “‘To live by faith and not by sight’ requires that we forgo the comfort and assurance of predictability, the option that we can do something by our strength and effort. It means total trust and total obedience when before us lies great uncertainty.”
God invites us to trust, that is, to lean our full weight on Him. God is fully dependable. As you customize your resume, prepare for the interview, and attend the interview, lean your full weight on God! This will take the stress of thinking that it all depends on you to clinch that job, off from you.
You are in for a roller coaster ride . . . but God is with you.
This period of job seeking will be an exciting journey of deepening faith, but it will also be an emotional roller coaster ride. Some days, you will be filled with faith and hope; some days, you will be filled with doubt and despair. I remember how my mind would spin with hopeful possibilities on the days I was called up for a job interview, but feel utter despair on the days all was quiet. But in all this, God is with you.
Perhaps you’re worried that your savings might be depleted or you won’t have enough to tide you through before you find a job. Most of us would rather God give us excess than provide just enough for each day. But our loving Father whispers, Trust Me. Just as He used ravens and a widow to provide for Elijah (1 Kings 17:1-9), nothing is impossible for Him. We can count on His love and power to meet our daily needs.
After nine months of job-seeking, I eventually found a job as a marketing executive. To be honest, the position wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, and that was not how I envisioned my career to pan out. But I accepted it, because I was following Christian author Elizabeth Elliot’s advice to “Do the next thing” which for me then, was to earn a living.
But God makes no mistakes, and His plan is perfect. On hindsight, I realized that it was the perfect job for me because I learned important skills such as email etiquette and how to work with various departments in a big organization to deliver end goals, which in turn prepared me for my real dream job—my current role as Managing Editor in Our Daily Bread Ministries.
So, if you’re looking for a job during this season, here’s my encouragement to you: stay close to God and His Word, He will lead you through. At the end of the journey, you will not only find a job, but also a deeper intimacy with God. Trust Him!
I can relate with this, personally. Job hunting can be daunting but it is also an opportunity to exercise our faith in God. He has promised never to leave us.
Thanks, Oluwaseun, for reminding us about God’s presence. We can have the confidence that He watches over us and our steps. Praise the Lord for this wonderful assurance.
This really speaks to me. Currently volunteering at an orphanage and so confused about my next steps in this pandemic. Gotten rejections and I’ve started doubting myself but I thank God for this.
God bless you.
Hi, Ikechukwu. I prayed for you today that God will continuously make His presence felt to you, and that He will meet all your needs. In His sovereign timing, may He help you find a suitable job.
I’m encouraged that you are volunteering at an orphanage. Pray that God will use you to show His love to the children.
Thanks for this Poh Fang. Glad it worked out for you
Dear Poh Fang
Thank you for your sharing and am very glad reading it as I had this similar experience. I cannot agree enough – “stay close to God and His Word, He will lead us through. At the end of the journey, we will not only find a job, but also a deeper intimacy with God. Trust Him!” It has come to pass for me and am thankful our God is faithful and true! Am now working for a self-funded voluntary welfare organisation (after 7 months of job hunting) and continue to look up to the Cross. God’s plan / purpose for us is perfect! And special thanks to Our Daily Bread team, you have encouraged me daily and see me through many seasons in my life! God bless!
Dear Poh Fang
Just to add on, I decided to write in today (26 Apr) after reading your article before church service. And I was pleasantly surprised, this morning live stream church service, our vicar also shared about Habakkuk (1:1) and (3:17-19). I believe, this is not coincidence. God is in control and His ways are higher than our ways! Thank you.
Dear Poh Fang
You shared that familiar verses from Psalm 139: 14-18 had sustained you. Mine (in Aug 2019) was Isaiah 43: 1-3 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name , you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And today (27 Apr), Our Daily Bread -” Through the Waters”… i read and reminded me once again that our God is with us always! Amen! : )
Wow…I so needed to read this! Thank you for sharing.