Find Your Dream Job, Bonus Episode 55:
A Job Market in Flux: Jenny Affan’s Job Search Success Story
Airdate: August 1, 2022
This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.
I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.
One of the best ways to get good at job hunting is to talk to people who do it well.
That’s why once a month, I interview a Mac’s List reader who found a job they love.
Jenny Affan believes in the power of pacing yourself.
So she recommends that you treat your job search like a marathon, not a sprint.
I love my job because the founders – they’re a married couple – Junea and Cameron. They are just genuine, authentic humans, and the way that they run their business, the people that they’ve hired, and the culture that they’ve cultivated really, in my experience, is a testament to their character. And, you know, they’ve been doing this business for about ten years now, a little over ten years, and they’ve put in practices that has allowed it to just flourish, and there’s just so much joy, you know, it’s in the mission statement, but it’s true there’s so much joy in the company, the people. Overall, I’m just so grateful that I have found this place to work currently.
It sounds like a wonderful place to work. Tell us more about what you and your colleagues at the company do and the products and services you offer your customers.
So Brazi Bites, we create Brazilian cheese breads. They are naturally gluten-free. So they are made with tapioca flour. Junea – the co-founder – she is Brazilian, and she moved over here, got married to Cameron, and they started this business about ten years ago. So it’s in the natural food space, and because it is gluten-free and very delicious, it has its own unique lane, in my opinion, and bringing the Brazilian culture here and allowing people who might have celiac or a gluten-free intolerance to enjoy this is really one of the things that drew me into this company.
I feel that there’s this huge emphasis on community and bringing people together to create these moments of joy and connection, and it’s awesome that these little cheese bread bites can be a part of that.
Well, it does sound wonderful. Let’s talk about your job search, Jenny. Did you know the job that you wanted right from the start when you started your search? Or did that goal evolve over time?
That definitely evolved. I, at the very beginning, I did not know at all. I just knew that I wanted to get back in the workforce. I had previously closed and ended a business that I had co-founded. So, I was going through my own process of, you know, grieving that business but also moving on and learning what I had to learn, and you know, it was a big undertaking to do my own business. So, going back into the workforce, I definitely took my time.
I was very, I had this pace of not going too quickly because I had just come from such a grueling process of having my own business for two years, and I just really, I knew one of the things that was really important to me was going to be the people that I worked with. Not necessarily the job itself; that matters. At this point in my life, though, it was more so about the quality of the humans I would be around most of my time.
How did owning your own business for two years shape both your job search and the goal that you wanted – what you wanted to do in your next job?
It definitely shifted the role that I wanted, as far as whether I would be taking a role that I had a lot of responsibilities, or just taking a role that was a little bit more under the radar, and you know, still being a pivotal point of a company, but maybe not being a leader, per se. After doing that for two years and, you know, running my own business with my business partner at the time, I just was ready for a break. I was ready to take a break from being the leader and being a part of a company that really values its employees, and every role is important, whether they’re a quote-unquote leader or not. So, I knew when I was searching, especially having hired a few people with my prior business, how important it is for everyone to feel valued, and I was really searching for that.
How did you look for those opportunities? Once you got clear that you wanted a company that valued people, and you were clear about the role that you wanted, where did you look?
I first looked at, it was LinkedIn, and then I would go into Indeed. I’d go on Craig’s List a little bit. But it was mostly, I would say like sixty to seventy percent, LinkedIn and the rest Indeed and just a little bit of Craig’s List, and then, you know, some word of mouth from friends and family of kind of what’s going on with people they know or the different companies that they work for. But LinkedIn was the top one that I looked at.
And did you find the position you have today online, or was it through word of mouth? How did that happen?
It was through Indeed. So, online.
Well, congratulations. In terms of your search, I know in the website article you did for us that you talked about how demanding looking for work can be. How did you manage those demands, Jenny?
I was very fortunate at the time. I was living with my parents. So, I had the, you know, kind of just the luxury to take my time. I know that not all people do have the luxury of time and energy to give to looking for a job because, in my experience and what I have heard from many others is that looking for a job can be a full-time job in itself.
And, I think, in the chapter, I was in, and that moment was around last fall and winter when I started looking, I had the blessing of being able to go at my own pace. So I’m extremely, extremely grateful that I had that because looking for a job, even while you have a job; I wasn’t working at the time I was seeking, it’s a lot to handle. I mean, I’ve done it in the past before, so I know. This go around, I had extra time.
Besides managing the amount of time you put into your search, how else did you handle the demands that a job search brought?
It really all boiled down to allowing myself to have fun with the process. I go into interviews with this mindset of I get to talk about myself. And I know that can sound a little egoic or whatnot, but I think, in a lot of our culture, we’ve gotten used to not showing our skills and our talents in a way that we can be fully proud of, and at least for me, I go into the interview process just wanting to share my personality, and my conversational skills, and things like that.
There’s only so much that can come across on a paper resume or, you know, a digital resume, and I think once you get in front of the person for that interview, I get excited by it, honestly, and I know not all people are excited by interviews. But I think, for me, I’ve just framed it in a way where, whether I get the job or not, I get to share who I am as a person, where I am on my path, how I can offer my skills and talents to the role.
And I always learn something about myself during interviews and, you know, maybe about the company or the person that’s interviewing me. I just, I try to take a more curious approach to it. If it was this very serious kind of attitude, it wouldn’t be something I could continue doing for months on end, that’s for sure.
What are some of the lessons that you learned from your interviews? And how did you apply them to your job search?
Most recently, before getting the job at Brazi Bites, I had an interview, and I got to the second round. And I was feeling really good about it, and in the interview, there was a question they’d asked, and I’d answered it too honestly, I think, and I liked my answer a lot. But after the interview, in reflecting for the role they were hiring, and what they were seeking, and you know, what the company was all about, I realized that that probably wasn’t going to fit with what they were seeking.
And I didn’t end up getting the job or an offer, and what I learned the most out of that was, I really appreciated the answer that I gave, even if it wasn’t quote-unquote the right one that I think they wanted to hear.
And it just taught me so much about continuing to be myself fully. You know, in interviews and meeting people for the first time, we do want to put our best foot forward, and I’ve just learned to find this balance of putting my best foot forward while also being human, while also getting the message across that, you know, I’m not this perfect shell of a person. And just finding that balance, and I was really able to do that during the process before getting the Brazi Bites role.
You interviewed with several different employers before you accepted the offer for the job you have today, and you also got rejection along the way too, which is part of the process. How did you deal with that disappointment, Jenny?
It was hard. I’m not going to sugarcoat that, especially the one that I’d mentioned about getting the second round, and it really checked off a lot of boxes for me, and I hadn’t job searched during the pandemic. So I wasn’t sure what the job market was gonna be like. What I soon realized, once I reentered it is, it’s just in a crazy state of flux. It’s not what I remember two or three years ago trying to look for a job.
All the industries are so different, as far as whether they’re saturated or they’re not, and once I went through a couple of interviews, and especially the one that I was feeling really good about and I didn’t get, I really had to just sit with myself, you know, a few days after and just congratulate myself for getting that far in that interview process. And knowing that they chose the person that was right for the role, and if they had chosen me, there could have potentially been some challenges or roadblocks down the road, and just trusting in the process that they chose the person that was right for that.
And I had to look forward. I had to turn my head forward to the next interviews and what was coming next. But I think, really, what allowed me to move on was to first recognize that it was a bummer, and not gaslighting myself and saying that that didn’t, you know, suck that I didn’t get that job. But then also just allowing that to like flow freely through me, and like feel that fully, and then move on. And just keeping my chin up a little bit more than before. And know that like, you know, we said in the beginning, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and I truly believe if there’s something you want, the secret to success is just not to give up. So, looking forward to the next interview and keeping a good pace.
What’s your number one job hunting tip?
It would be to not be so hard on yourself and to have fun. I think that it’s an opportunity to learn more about yourself and just go in with a sense of curiosity and lightness about it, and when you’re at an interview and if you’re feeling nervous or, you know, scared, or anything, just take a deep breath. And know that the interview should be done, you know, at least in the next hour, and you will probably learn something about yourself; maybe you’ll have a fun little conversation with the interviewer about something funny.
Just keep curious and know that someone out there is looking for exactly what skill set you have, exactly your personality, exaclty what you have to offer. Sometimes, it just takes some time for those to line up and for those paths to cross.
Thank you for sharing your story, Jenny. To learn more about Jenny Affan’s job search, visit macslist.org/stories.
And check out the Mac’s List website for dozens of other success stories.
On the second Friday of every month, we add a new interview with a Mac’s List reader who has found a dream job. Go to macslist.org/stories.
In the meantime, thank you for listening to today’s bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job.
This show is produced by Mac’s List.
This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.