Sunday, April 24, 2011

I will always have hope

My church has kicked off a fundraising campaign for renovating the sanctuary, and members have been asked to write devotionals for a six week series. The following is the devotional I wrote for the third week on hope.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).

I was laid off from my job of 8.5 years at the end of March. Like many layoffs, it was due to financial reasons, not because of performance. I was fortunate to have survived several rounds of layoffs over the years because I had been working on a product that was important to the long-term success of the company. That was not the case this time.

Since then I have had a few job interviews, both on the phone and in person. On a couple of occasions I was content with how I performed in the interview, but none of those opportunities have resulted in job offers so far. I have several months left before not having a job will start taking a toll financially, but hopefully an opportunity comes along before then.

I don’t know what God’s plan is for me, but I’m not going to confine what He can do by my limited human imagination. I know that whatever happens in my life He can use it for the good of His kingdom. As the psalmist in Psalm 71:14 said, “I will always have hope.”

Father, help me to trust the plan you have for my life and to be patient waiting for your perfect timing. Be a lamp for my feet, Lord, and make my path straight. Amen.

Friday, April 08, 2011

What kind of tree would I be?

I got laid off from my job last week, so I find myself searching for a new one. I've updated my resume, I've submitted it to a few jobs, and I've had a few interviews, both on the phone and at the prospective company.

During some of these interviews I've been asked one of my favorite questions (other than "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?"): What are your strengths and weaknesses?

When answering the "strength" part of the question, you're really trying to give the company reasons to hire you. So, you want to highlight assets you have that you think would benefit the company: things like being a self-starter, being an expert on a particular product (especially if the company uses that product or has a need for expertise with that product), or that you're a quick learner.

The "weakness" part of the question is more interesting, because you're really being asked to give reasons for the company to not hire you. Of course, you want to stay away from answers like "I don't like people" or "I'm a bit of a back-stabber."

There are two schools of thought on how you should answer the "weakness" part. One school of thought is that you should give a weakness that's not really a weakness, like "I'm a workaholic" or "I sometimes get so wrapped up in solving a problem that I won't leave work until I do." I'm not really a fan of this type of response because it always sounded disingenuous to me, so I imagine it sounds the same to the person who asked the question.

The second school of thought is to give an honest weakness, but one that possibly is irrelevant to the job: things like "I wish I knew more about product A" (when product A is not important to the company, or "I'm weak when it comes to testing hardware" (when the duties mostly revolve around testing software). When I interview I prefer to give this type of response.

And what about the kind of tree I'd be? Perhaps I'd be the type of tree with long branches so that I could smack the person who asked such an irrelevant question. :)