The last 18 months of my resume, to many recruiters and employers, will look incredibly messy.
I have a career break of about 7 months, then a role at a start-up for 5 weeks, and now 6 months into my current role, I am actively looking for another position.
This chaos began when I quit my job, during the height of the pandemic, joining millions of Americans for what is now commonly called, the Great Resignation.
I worked at, arguably, the largest bank in the world, acting like a mini COO to a high profile business in the middle market. Assisting with everything from the day to day minutiae of running a business to go-forward business strategy and monitoring performance metrics of the business. It was incredibly stressful, and quite common to push 80-90 hour weeks, glued to your desk, managing the ever increasing workload that was uninhibited by our remote work environment.
To me, this was one of many brutal workplaces that I had worked in before, so did not think much of it at the time. However, when the pandemic made its grand entrance in March of 2020, so did my father’s diagnosis of terminal liver cancer. I, with my mother, was his co-caretaker, and along with my punishing work hours, I used every free moment of my time managing his care.
Once he received his diagnosis, his health declined rapidly and in 5 short months, my father was gone.
On paper, I looked successful.
I started my career as an EA and then managed to pivot into a critical business operations partner at a Fortune 500 company.
But I didn’t feel successful.
My time at this major bank, as much as I was thankful for all I learned and accomplished, by the end of 2020, I felt despair and incredible emptiness. I was mentally, emotionally and physically destroyed. I didn’t have anything left to give and I couldn’t keep working in an environment where we were constantly forced to run around like headless chickens at every silly fire drill and handle workload volumes that just didn’t make any sense.
So, I decided to quit, with no back-up plan, in March of 2021.
Cue in my 7 month break.
During my break, in addition to resting, processing intense grief and having a lot of mental kumbaya sessions with myself, I also wanted to be really intentional with my next steps. So I did a lot of thoughtwork and exploration. I worked (and am still working with) a leadership coach who is absolutely wonderful. I even looked into whether tech recruiting was a path for me because I love people! I received a tech recruiting certificate and helped out temporarily at a small tech recruiting business, helping them source and try to fill their pipelines with candidates.
Shortly after, I was contacted by a former manager of mine who I had a great relationship with. He wanted me to join his team at a fintech start-up he had recently joined.
Cue-in my 5 week start-up stint.
I had many conversations with him and asked lots of questions. In my quest to be intentional, I wanted to make sure that this job was a cultural fit as much as it was a good career fit. I knew the commitment it took to join a start-up and so ensuring there was a values match was key. One of my top 3 must haves was rock solid leadership. Leadership had to be good people and open to feedback. He promised me all of these things and that I would have an outsized impact on culture as their first People Ops hire to the firm.
Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. The leaders were incredibly tough to work with and I experienced toxic interactions, some of the worst in my professional career. 5 weeks in, I walked away, with my manager’s full support. I told him that this was not what we had discussed and this was not what I had asked for. To his credit, he was new too, so I’m sure he believed everything he told me at the time (we are also still great friends).
After all the self reflection and mental work I did during my break, I didn’t want to subject myself to another punishing environment so I stood up for myself and left.
Cue-in my current workplace.
Shortly after I left the start-up, a close friend of mine, referred me to a female leader she knew at her firm that really needed my operation chops. Although the firm was very corporate and I had my reservations with that culture, I also really wanted to work for and under a female leader. My former managers were all male at this point and to work for a strong female leader was a dream.
She immediately set up a call with me and we had great exploratory conversations. She essentially told me she needed a lot of help and believed that I could provide the help that she needed with her org. I was so excited. I felt that I was going to finally walk into a supportive environment where I could grow sustainably and be challenged.
Unfortunately, as soon as I started, she was not around. I felt incredibly disconnected and isolated. She became dismissive, brushing off my requests for projects and work, saying she was too busy and didn’t have time to think about it. I was chastised for trying to be proactive about finding work if it was not directly authorized by her or being too eager about projects that she didn’t think had legs. But then chastised again for not being proactive enough when I honestly told her I didn't have anything on my plate (and have the bandwidth to help).
I have felt so small and devalued in this role. I went from being an outsized high achieving contributor to being a note-taker at worst and powerpoint reviser at best.
Cue in my job search.
I struggle with feelings of shame and the “just try and stick it out” mentality every day. Embarrassed that I am at this crossroads again. Self examining myself to see if it’s me. That I am the one who is flawed and just the worst decision maker lol.
But I also do my best to lift myself up. Tell myself I deserve better. To not give up on myself. That wanting a baseline culture of being treated with kindness and respect is NOT SHAMEFUL.
I have agency to change the trajectory of my future and I want to believe that finding a workplace where people respect each other and seek to lift each other up is the norm, not the exception!
I shouldn’t have to feel ashamed for wanting a manager that is invested in your growth and fosters your ability to lead. I shouldn’t have to feel ashamed for wanting to work on challenging projects and feel valued! I shouldn’t have to feel ashamed for wanting to be treated with dignity in my workplace. I should not have to feel ashamed.
So chaotic resume or not, this is me. My story.
I challenged myself to write a post and I’m not sure what this is really. It’s part storytelling, part self-compassion, part vent, part seeking for support and validation for how I feel and maybe this story might align with others and provide some commiserations too!
I feel crazy most of the time for trying to find another job right now. Sometimes, I think with despair, that no self-respecting recruiter will take my applications seriously because they look at the last 18 months and think I'm non-committal.
BUT, I AM MORE THAN my resume.
And today I wanted to feel empowered and tell myself that it’s OK to fight for ME. To have hope.
I also recently found out I am pregnant, and I want to show this little bean that Mom is a fighter.