Several years ago, my family and I faced a Christmas season accompanied with an ongoing period of unemployment. Through no fault of my own, I had been laid off six months earlier from a high-paying job that ended as a normal course of business. The manufacturing computing project I had been hired to support had been completed and my services were no longer needed.
I had been laid off before in my career and figured this job search would last about the same amount of time – three months. As a computing professional, I keep my resume up to date and am very familiar with the agencies that help people in my profession. I began right away to work the system and was having some success but no job offers. Then November arrived.
“Check back with us after the holidays,” is a common response about this time of year. Even advertised jobs seem to be put on hold until January or February. I can’t imagine what it must be like today when so many are being laid off due to the state of the economy. I hope people aren’t hearing, “Check back with us after the recession is over.” That would be most disheartening.
The daily job search
So six months later, I was still in my job search. Every day I would get up, study the scriptures, pray and ask Heavenly Father for help in knowing where to search to find employment so I could provide for my family. At first, I was not concerned. After all, I had a nice severance package and Carol was still working. But now things had slowed down and I was beginning to worry.
I had made it a habit to fast and attend the temple once a week as part of my efforts to be in tune with the inspiration that I was praying for in my job search. Just before I had been laid off, I had been released from the Bishopric and set apart as the High Priest group leader in the ward. The Stake President had promised in the blessing that I would be able to provide for my family.
Coincidentally, the last time I had been laid off was when I was first called into a Bishopric. Is there something about becoming unemployed that makes a man humble and ready to take on new priesthood responsibilities? I later served on the High Council and was assigned to be the coordinator to work with the Church Employment Services in our area of Southern California.
Professional Placement Program
I planned my weekly trip to the temple to coincide with the regular meeting of the Professional Placement Program at the Welfare Employment Resource Center for my area. This program is designed for people like me who usually have extended job searches because of the level we are at in our careers. In other words, it takes time to find a job that pays as much as we are used to.
I will be forever grateful to Rich Vunder, who ran the Sylmar center back when I was conducting my job search. He has since moved back to Utah and works in the Ogden center but at the time, he led our weekly meetings and provided both instruction and encouragement in our efforts. It was a real help to discuss the job search and network with professional individuals like myself.
One of the best things that Rich did for us, and something that I think helped me the most, was to video record mock interviews which he would conduct and then play back for group critique. A good resume can get you interviews but unless you can convince the prospective employer in the interview that you are the right person for the job, then you are just wasting each other’s time.
Christmas without a job
I specifically credit this interviewing practice with getting me the job that finally came my way. One of the first people I contacted after I was laid off was the head of an agency that had helped me in my previous job search. He asked for an updated resume and said he would keep me in mind. I didn’t hear from him for the next six months and had been working with other agencies.
Christmas was upon us and looking very bleak. We did not anticipate even getting a tree or buying presents for each other. Our bishop was very discreet in keeping tabs on my progress and our financial situation. One night, a knock came at the door. When we responded, there was nobody there, but there was a basket with several hundred dollars worth of gift certificates.
We knew it was someone from the ward and expressed thanks on behalf of our family in fast and testimony meeting the following month. I did not yet have good news to report but we felt loved and supported by our ward family. Truly, we are blessed when we magnify our callings. I know we were discussed in the welfare committee and am grateful to somebody for their generosity.
The interview opportunity
My severance pay had long since run out. The Lord had blessed Carol with additional sales so she earned extra commissions that helped us, but still, we were hurting financially. I confess that against our better judgment, we were using credit cards for basic living expenses. We did not get food from the Bishop’s storehouse because Carol was working, but that might have been helpful.
One day in early February I received a call from the president of the agency that I had contacted when I had been first laid off. He said he had the perfect opportunity for me and wanted to know if I was still looking for employment. He did not know that we were down to our last few dollars in the bank and were seriously talking about moving out to go live with family to save money.
The resume was forwarded, the phone interview was conducted and then came the request for the onsite interview. The prospective employer wanted to meet on a Sunday to avoid suspicion with the existing IT Manager who was about to lose his job. Ordinarily to me that would be breaking the Sabbath, but I felt very strongly impressed that this was an answer to prayer and fasting.
The interview and job offer
We attended our morning meetings and then I left immediately from church for the interview at the airport, about an hour’s drive. I got there early, drove around a bit and then arrived just a few minutes before the appointed time. I felt an unusual sense of calmness and peace as I met with the Operations Manager and the Chief Financial Officer who both supervised the IT Manager.
Now here’s where the miracle takes place that provided for me a sure knowledge that the Lord hears and answers our prayers. While I was interviewing with my two prospective supervisors, I became aware that they were asking the exact same questions that Rich Vunder had asked me in the mock interviews a few months earlier. I knew just what to say in response to each question.
I could sense that the interview was going well. In fact, it was going so well that I knew I would get an offer. As my friend had said, the job was perfect for me and was an exact match for my experience and qualifications. They asked if I could come back the next day and have the final interview with the CEO. I did and the job was offered the same day – on Carol’s birthday!
Summary and conclusion
You may say that this was all a coincidence or just the natural result of my preparations and hard work in being diligent in my job search. I feel otherwise. What prompted the search agency to call me just at the time when we were about to give up hope of being able to stay in this area? He had met the CEO of my company at a soccer game the previous week and got to talking.
When the CEO learned that my friend ran a search agency, he asked if he knew of anyone who could run his IT department – someone with multi-location network experience. My friend Chris later said he felt inspired to think of me and say, “Yes, I have just the right person for you – let me see if he is available.” He and I had not talked in six months. That was no coincidence.
God knows what we need. He is aware of what will work in our lives when we aren’t even aware of it ourselves. I received three offers the same day I got the offer from my present employer. I knew which one the Lord wanted me to have and have been blessed because of it. To me, it was a miracle that I had been so well prepared for the job. But God knew all along.