This past year(s) has been wild for folks for a number of reasons. Have you tried getting a job in the last year (or so)?
The job-searching process can be long and lonely, but if you’re reading this, there is a strong chance that you already know that. Especially if you’re already in a role and exploring a new one.
What it was like
Nonetheless, I applied. Oh yes, I did!! From Indeed to LinkedIn, job boards, and my own networks. I looked and applied to too many jobs. I did not want just any job. I really wanted to like what I did next.
I found it really easy to get exhausted and apathetic. The questions of, “am I good enough? or “do I even have what it takes?” began to settle in over time.
Needless to say, there were a lot of interviews and projects (can we talk about the projects? Why must they take so long?). I was a “finalist” several times. You know, the ones where you feel so so close to getting the job and you believe you finally got it. Or like the one where you are the only finalist, only for the hiring manager to tell you that you don’t quite have enough experience in the field. What about the ones where they ask for, and actually contact your references... and you still don’t end up getting the role. Yes, those types of situations.
Time after time, I remember opening up an email after a couple of rounds of interviews, riddled with anxiety, to read the standard “‘we’ve gone with another candidate” message.
Yes, I would ask for feedback. Sometimes I got it. And other times I was ghosted.
I said, “I get the interviews. I even get a second and third interview, but I get more and more serious and choke when I move up in the round.”
I found it really easy to get exhausted and apathetic. The questions of, “am I good enough? or “do I even have what it takes?” began to settle in over time. Imposter syndrome is real and I was having all of it.
My First Aha Moment
I remember my wife and I visited a friend's house, you know the type of friends where 3 hours feels like 10 minutes. As we were leaving for the 10th time (the Latino goodbye process takes several times), we continued to talk about what was top-of-mind for me. I couldn’t help but share how frustrated I had been in the job search process. I spoke poignantly about the struggles to find a more fulfilling role. I said, “I get the interviews. I even get a second and third interview, but I get more and more serious and choke when I move up in the round.”
I sat with that.
That night I was reminded of something: that I had always been a strong candidate, but now I just needed to be a candidate who could be himself.
I had to internalize and believe to my core that I am exceptional.
My friend recognized the behavior that was sabotaging my success: trying harder and harder to prove that I was worthy of the job as I advanced through the interview rounds. Reflecting now, I see how this translated to frantic responses the closer I got to getting the job. My friend looked at me and said, “getting the interview already means you are qualified for the job. You don’t have to prove anything.”
As I allowed myself to learn from others, my stories got better, my confidence increased, and I learned more about myself and my strengths. More than anything I had to internalize and believe to my core that I am exceptional. That I can do the work. That I know what I bring to the table. Because if you don’t accept that, neither will the person interviewing you.
It took me a long time to realize this. But once I did, I spoke more courageously about what I do and grew a greater awareness of what I didn’t quite yet know how to do. And that’s just as important...
The Turning Point
A week later, through a recommendation, I met with a leadership coach. He asked me a series of questions:
What are you running to or running from?
Why this role?
Why are you choosing to apply to the particular role in the location you're interviewing?
He reminded me that as a person of color, you’ve got to be assured in yourself and how you will benefit the employer.
After the coaching session, I took my new growth perspective and confidence into the 3 interviews that followed. I approached each interview with the clarity that I am a builder and a strong executor who can make the organization's vision a reality. I continued to affirm my value and speak to the passion that I have. I iterated to the interviewer and to myself that I had the drive to do great work and that I would be an asset to the next role I step into.
I received 2 offers within a week of one another. Luck? You might think, maybe. But I don’t think so. As I said, I believe now that I am exceptional.
What You Can Do Right Now
I am 7 months into my new role, gaining on-the-job work experience, and getting paid what I deserve. No, it’s not perfect, but it feels damn good to go into an environment where I am valued by my manager, and where I receive opportunities to grow in leadership as a new school administrator.
I approached each interview with the clarity that I am a builder and a strong executor who can make the organization's vision a reality.
The job search journey might be longer for you, and seem shorter for others (it sucks doesn't it). Right now you might even be at your wit's end. But you can start turning things around when you can confidently name your skills and believe you can do the work. This is more than half the battle. So take a moment to look through your resume and cover letter today and write down 1-2 affirmations that you will tell yourself every day. You'll get in the habit of speaking about the value that you bring to your work and do it authentically. Remember, getting the interview means you’re qualified. Have the confidence to put forth your truest and best you. Start today.
David Martínez. M.Ed is a DEI Education Consultant with a passion for organizing, education policy, and nonprofit administration. He's a former educator with 10 yrs of experience driving outreach initiatives, managing complex projects, developing strategic partnerships, and directing highly motivated teams. When David is not helping student-driven education organizations cultivate diverse talent and create an inclusive culture, you can find him advocating for his students and teachers at Boston Public Schools. David is a proud Boricua, Massachusetts native who is fluent in English and Spanish and has a Master of Urban Education - M.Ed focused in Education Policy from Temple University's College of Education. You can connect with David on LinkedIn.