Job Searching in the Wilderness

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    Numbers 11:4-8 (ESV)

    4 Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. 6 But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”

    7 Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. 8 The people went about and gathered it and ground it in handmills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil.”

    Job Searching in the Wilderness

    I’ve often compared my seasons of waiting to the Israelites wandering through the desert. Waiting and wondering, “How long, O Lord?” They weren’t given their five-year plan, let alone a weekly plan. In fact, every aspect of their lives was entirely dependent upon the Lord’s provision – including their daily bread. God invited them to trust His plan day by day, abiding in His care and provision. 

    There is a parallel between the Israelites and the impact of COVID-19 on our work lives today. While our work varies, one thing we all have in common is that, in one way or another, COVID has drastically changed our work. We’ve all experienced a shift in our roles, our work environment, and the pace at which we work. 

    How long will the job search last? How many more hiring freeze emails will I have to open? Why do I have to continue letting employees go in the midst of COVID-19? How can I manage to be a parent, employee, friend, and spouse in this season? For 40 years, the Israelites wandered through the desert, longing to reach the Promised Land. Longing to have a sense of stability again. 

    How long, O Lord?

    The change in your work life might have stirred a sense of wondering, “what’s next?” Perhaps this season is an invitation to reconsider your career trajectory. Like the Israelites who abided with God day by day, this might also be an invitation from God to trust His lead and sovereignty. 

    If you’re in the midst of or currently contemplating a career change, here are a few ways you can feel more confident in your waiting and wondering:

    1. Surrender your desire for control. Commit to trusting God’s provision and sovereignty. The Israelites were commanded “You may gather the food for six days, but the seventh day is the Sabbath. There will be no food on the ground that day” (Exodus 16:26). They were invited to trust God’s promise of enough manna to eat. The tension between longing and waiting leads to the temptation to seek control of your job search. Like the Israelites, consider how God might be inviting you to deepen your trust in His provision. A heart posture of surrender creates solid ground to search for a job. 
    1. Gain career clarity. Where are you headed? What kind of job do you want? Consider working with a career coach or investing in a career course. Outside mentorship and wisdom provides direction in navigating a career change. Moses, the leader of the Israelites, mentored Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Moses commissioned Joshua, encouraging him to “be strong and courageous, for you must bring the people of Israel into the land I swore to give them. I will be with you” (Deuteronomy 31:23). What book, podcast, coach, or mentor could you glean wisdom from in this season to point you in the direction of career clarity? 
    1. Assess your transferable skills. Transitioning into a new industry requires thoughtful consideration of your transferable skills. One client I helped transition from healthcare to marketing was, at first, blind to her skillsets that were related to marketing. Her attention to detail, communication and client-care strengths, and management skills are just a few examples of transferable skills we implemented into her resume, cover letter, and interview. Spend some time thinking through which of your skills you’d like to utilize in your future job, and hone in on the transferable skills you can pull from your current or recent job experience. 
    1. Research and refine. Research your desired industry to gain insight into the impact COVID-19 has had on the market and the job outlook for careers in this field. Refine your resume, LinkedIn profile, and interview skills to adapt to these changes so a potential employer can see how you might provide value for them in a hard time. The Israelites sent spies into the Promised Land before entering to ensure the land was fertile and to see where God was leading them (Numbers 13). Consider your time researching and ensuring that the industry you’re moving into is fruitful and where you feel God leading you. 
    1. Build connections with professionals in your desired industry. Research proves that nearly 80% of jobs are attained through personal connections. Assess who you know and consider reaching out to them to learn more about their company and career journey. If you need to build new connections, utilize LinkedIn to find employees and send them a message. You’ll be surprised how willing others are to chat with strangers about their story, job, and company. 

    A final suggestion is to search for your manna. When the Israelites wandered through the desert, they didn’t have much more than the clothes on their back. God provided water and manna, “miracle bread”, from heaven every day to feed and nourish their bodies. Once the Israelites grew weary of the manna, they began grumbling to God, asking for more delicacies to eat, rather than dewy bread from heaven (Numbers 11:5-6). The Israelites’ hearts shifted from gratitude to grumbling.

    Where is the manna in your life that you fail to recognize and thank God for? In seasons of waiting, especially in the pains of job searching, practice gratitude. Recognize the good gifts our Father has generously blessed you with. Keep your eyes on the provider of all things, Jehovah-Jireh, “the God who provides.” Even though a job may not fall like manna from the sky, God is still providing for us, and we can find our deepest sense of security in that reality. 

    Lauren Carter

    I've been there - feeling overwhelmed and stuck in my own career path. That's why I love helping people define and chase their career goals. Before Career Coach Indy, I worked for Purdue University where I coached students/alumni, and helped recruiters with their hiring needs. I've worked with individuals from all backgrounds and in various seasons of life.