My best friend LiNa
I handed my resignation letter to the CEO on March 1. That time, no one thought a community quarantine would soon be announced.
Sir was too kind to ask me to stay. He told me to think about it again. But when I said I was so sure about leaving, emphasizing how much I needed to be with my sick father, he finally accepted my resignation.
What a relief! I thought it would be more difficult than that. In a few weeks, I would be home. Bicol, here I come!
Or so I thought.
In the middle of March, halfway through my 30-day job turnover, the government announced a lockdown. Metro Manila was put under enhanced community quarantine. A lot of companies had to suspend work as movements were restricted. Gladly, ours continued operations, although on a work-from-home basis.
Travel was limited, most especially public transportation from NCR to other regions of Luzon. I couldn’t go home to my province anymore. I wouldn’t be able to take care of my father as planned. Worse, I couldn’t take back my resignation because transition was already in order. The only choice was to get on with it. In no time, I completed the turnover.
On my first day of being unemployed, I rid myself of worries. As they say, optimism, like worrying, is a choice. I chose the former. So I fixed my mind on the best things about my unemployment. I could doze off and wake up any time I wanted. I could have more time for Kindle. I could write more pieces of personal prose and poetry. I could invade the kitchen each time I’d feel like pulling off the recipes I learned from my mother. I could post more tweets about my disappointment with the Philippine government.
The days went by, and I basked in freedom. I didn’t even worry about having no job because I made arrangements months back to make sure that a month or two of unemployment, which I prefer to call rest, wouldn’t leave me broke. In addition, among the reasons I quit my job was to give myself a long break from my desk job. Looking for a new job could wait until May or June. By then, I’d be more than ready to work again. I already canceled my plan to go home as someone was already there to take care of my father. Plus, I didn’t want to risk spreading the coronavirus in my hometown.
But the COVID-19 crisis continued to worsen in June. It wasn’t a surprise given the government’s consistent incompetence. The curve still wouldn’t flatten, but it didn’t stop me from staying faithful to my plan to start job-hunting in June. I began the second half of the year with the same level of optimism I had in April and May. As the world of the unemployed grew bigger, I knew who to turn to.
LiNa was there. If you don’t know LiNa, it’s either you’ve never tried searching for a job online or you got hired in the 1990s and have stayed in the same company ever since.
LiNa is every job-seeker’s best friend. I must admit, though, that when I was still gainfully employed, I found her to be a total annoyance. She would send emails I didn’t need.
But now, I live for LiNa’s daily job alerts. LiNa isn’t a person, by the way. She is an automated career agent made by JobStreet, a popular job-finding portal. Whether with the help of LiNa or not, looking for career options now takes only a few clicks. On the other hand, finally getting a job among all those options is a different ball game, especially during this pandemic when thousands just lost their jobs and hundreds compete for available positions posted online.
My optimism found its match. Not pessimism. Not LiNa.
At first I was confident I’d immediately land a job. Who wouldn’t want to hire me? I got an employer-friendly resumé, I knew so well how to ace interviews, and I got skills and experience.
But so did many other candidates. That was the reality I wasn’t so prepared for. This truth was too harsh that it got the better of my optimism. It was too strong that it rendered all of LiNa’s recommendations almost useless.
I looked past the competition until rejection upon rejection upon rejection joined the picture. My only consolation was perhaps those rejections were due to my expected salary. It made me feel a little better that some headhunters believed I was qualified, except they couldn’t give me the pay I wanted.
Emails that said they already found someone better were huge blows. I had to give it, though, to HR practitioners who said No in the least hurtful ways. “The position has already been filled, but we will keep you in view for other future opportunities here at Company X.” “We find your credentials impressive, but we’ve decided to not proceed with your application as another candidate more closely matches our needs.” “While your skills and experience are commendable, they don’t perfectly fit the requirements for the position. But don’t worry, we’ll let you know when a role that matches your credentials opens.”
More frustrating were the silent rejections. It came to a point when I would just find myself sulking in bed, casting doubts about my worth. I’ve been wanting to work again, but the last thing I’d do to keep my “professional sanity” is beg companies to hire me. It’s been over a month since I started befriending LiNa again and scanning a couple of other job-finding platforms. I’m still jobless.
Spare me the pity because I received two job offers. But I declined both offers. I was thinking I deserved better. However, there were times remorse filled my head that I couldn’t sleep. Stupid! I should’ve just accepted the offer! But the thought of getting an irresistible offer, plus the little money I still have left, keeps me holding on.
I know I’ll get a good offer soon.
This is all temporary. LiNa will outlive this pandemic in the same manner my worth will overtake my unemployment. I just have to keep believing my career reality will be kinder soon.
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Jonas T. Sergio is a 28-year-old Bicolano residing in Metro Manila. He is a former college instructor, online content writer, editor, and digital marketing project manager.
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