Dating and Job-seeking: Separate But Similar

“Who wants to share bad news?” read a text message from a friend who is a hiring manager at a consulting firm. She was responding to a message where I vented my frustration with a company who failed to follow-up with me after an interview. From the way the interview unfolded and the fact that I was the perfect match for the job, I knew that (as Cher asserted in the movie “Clueless” ) “It was in the bag!”

Good point, I thought in response to my friend’s text message. Those words were never punched into my Android keypad, but her comment made me think of times where I had to be the bearer of bad news. I thought of men who had asked me on a date and I said “no.” I thought of men who had asked me to be their girlfriend, and I refused.  In fact, I realized that all my memories of me sharing bad news occurred between a member of the opposite sex and me. On numerous accounts throughout this grueling process, I’ve made connections between dating and job-seeking. Here’s how these two things are separate but similar:

1.     No one likes being rejected. And no one likes being the rejecter.

Recently, a fellow church member asked me out. He was a nice guy – considerate, funny, loved kids (especially his own) – but I wasn’t attractive to him. “Maybe if I avoid his phone calls, he’ll realize that I don’t feel the same way.” I told a girl friend via Skype video chat.

Jessica!” She blurted out, as if I had lost my mind, “Don’t do that. Just tell him you’re not interested! That’s trifling to avoid him.” She was right, and my stomach turned flips at the thought of having to tell him “no.”

The next time the guy called asking me out to a movie, I turned him down. It was a simple conversation.

Him: “Would you like to go to a movie?”

Me: “Thank you for asking. But no thank you.”

But that five-second conversation was ranked amongst the top 10 most difficult conversations I’ve had in 2011. I sensed the disappointment in his voice and I felt like a jerk. No one likes rejecters, and since employers  are people too (hard to believe, I know), they don’t like informing you that you weren’t a match for the position no matter how outstanding a candidate’s credentials.

2. You always want what you can’t have.

I move a lot. I’m semi-nomadic. I guess that’s part of the new 20something movement. About 3 out of the 7 times that I’ve moved in the last 6 years, a guy in the city that I’ve moved from will come out of the woodworks, days before my departure, to tell me how much he will miss me and how much he would like to be with me. My reaction is always the same: “You mean to tell me, that I’ve been here for [insert time here] and only now you tell me that you’d love to date me?” It aggravates me every time.

Similarly, employers will wait until I am no longer available to offer me a job. When I accepted a job offer in March 2010, my Gmail inbox became flooded with e-mails from recruiters I reached out to eons ago informing me that they had a position for me. One recruiter called me incessantly, informing me that among the 200 candidates who applied to the position, my profile was the only one that matched the job description. He even pleaded with me, asking me to consider rescinding my acceptance to the other job. (To which I responded, “No, but thanks for the offer.”)

You are more appealing to employers when you have another job; you are more appealing to the opposite sex when you’re unavailable. It’s human nature to always want what is unavailable.

3. Everyone wants to you to accept her offer.

“I like Atlanta girls cause their easy,” announced a guy I  met at the baggage carousel upon my arrival to Boston’s Logan International Airport in 2007. I guess that was his way of flirting with me? I was slightly offended and let him know that the “Atlanta girl” that he just described was not applicable to me. Men who go after women who are likely to say “yes” are far from being in a minority. My former co-worker used to brag all the time, “When I was in New York, girls were so hard. I had to perfect my skills to pick up women. But when I came to the South, my skills were up to par. And Southern girls were so easy! I like Southern girls better.”

In the same vein, employers are more likely to offer a position to a candidate who is likely to say “yes.” Before I accepted the offer from my most recent job in March 2010, the employer kept asking questions that would affirm my interest, “Are you sure you want this job? Are you willing to relocate?  Tell me why you want this job.” She wanted to make sure that when she offered me the position, I’d accept.

4. Desperation is bad.

The only thing more unattractive me than a man with a Jheri curl is a man who’s desperate. Women who are thirsty repel men too.  While hanging out with a girl friend at a Serani concert last month, we ran into one of her male friends. To be polite, she introduced me. After he expressed some interest in me, I took her aside to get the 411 on her homeboy. She told me that within the last year or so, he had not only hit on her, but five of her friends. Next! I thought. Desperation is bad.

Job hunting is frustrating at times. I am tempted to write HIRE ME in big bold letters on my LinkedIn page. I want to e-mail all my contacts with the subject that reads, PLEASE HIRE ME. A few times, I’ve drafted e-mails to former classmates that read, Your company won’t call me back, can you ask them why they won’t hire me? I never sent those e-mails because desperation is an unattractive quality.

What to Expect at SpelHouse Homecoming

“Are you going to Spel-House Homecoming?” That’s the million dollar question amongst all Spelman and Morehouse alumni. My response: “Maybe.”

“Maybe?!” My brother, a current senior at Morehouse, exclaimed in astonishment. I explained, “I’d go, but I just don’t feel like being…”

1. Overdressed for a tailgate party.

It’s understood but never explained why Spel-House attenders will drop some serious money on a outfit, get their hair did, eyebrows did, nails did, and sometimes a bikini wax to attend a tailgating party. I graduated 4 years ago and I still don’t get it. I don’t feel like having to shop for a new outfit, one that doesn’t look like I tried too hard, but am naturally fly. I don’t feel like making an appointment at Keep It Natural Hair Salon, so Rikya Taylor can straighten out my natural kinks so that it will bounce and swing in the light wind that October brings to Atlanta. I don’t feel like making an eyebrow threading appointment at Hair Images to have my eyebrow designed into a flawless arch and applying make up tips from Tierra of Make-Up-By-Tierra. These talented hairstylists and estheticians will make my natural glamour shine. Only an over-price pair of shades would complete my look. But I don’t feel like doing all this just to attend an outdoor cookout.

2. Disappointed if the Morehouse Tigers lose. 

I love my Morehouse brothers, but thank God they have other things going for them besides their football team. From the years I was a student at Spelman, 2003 to 2007, I can remember the Morehouse Tigers winning one homecoming game. You can imagine our amazement when the Tigers won the Homecoming Game of 2007. One Morehouse man exclaimed, “No! We’re not suppposed to win our Homecoming Game. It doesn’t feel right.”

I’ll admit: I don’t ever watch the football game. I’m usually tailgating with the rest of my former classmates. But surprisingly, I am still disappointed each time I hear we’ve lost the game.

3. Hearing that my former classmates are engaged to a millionaire and planning a wedding in Maui.

My lovely Spelman sisters are going to have their engagement rings shined and blinging on this day. They are going make sure that you see their ring. And while their hand is waving in the air exposing their princess cut diamond ring, they’ll drop some hints to let you know how loaded their fiance´is. Just enough to make a unmarried woman with no prospects want to upchuck the hotdogs she devoured from the Alpha’s tent.

Who am I kidding? I can’t wait for Homecoming 2011.

Choose Your Perspective

“Keerrrplum!” The sound that an owner of a new car never wants to hear, the sound that she cautiously tries to avoid. The sound of metal side swapping the passenger side of her pride and joy – her baby, her car. I looked over to my right to see a mindless 30something woman driver with long brown hair. She her head and looked at me as if I were the problem. You hit my car! How dare you! I thought.

That thought was followed by a series of Oh my gosh! How am I going to pay for this? What’ s my insurance company going to say? It was such a minor incident; no one was hurt. There was no impact when she hit my car. But should I call the police? Is my insurance premium going to rise? What’s going to happen now? 

And if that wasn’t enough, my thoughts continued: I do NOT need this to happen to me right now! I’m not working; no (real) income. The job offer may take a little longer than I anticipated. Bills are getting more difficult to pay these days, especially as my savings accounts diminish and my credit card balance rises. I should be working by now; I’m not. And on top of all this, my “friend” – he wasn’t my official boyfriend – and I just broke it off and I can’t really call him to share my struggles like I used to. Why is everything happening at the same time? 

And that’s where I stopped myself.  Lately, I have been challenging myself to remove the negative self-defeating thoughts and insert positive thoughts in their place. As mentioned in my “About Me” section, my favorite scripture is Romans 8:28, which basically states that All things happen for a reason. And this circumstance – even the unpleasant ones – all happen to make me a better person, regardless of how unpleasant it feels. Instead of raving about how wrong things are unfolding in my life right now, I’m going to boast about how wonderful it is. Be grateful that things aren’t worse than they are; look at the bright side of things.

And, despite whatever situation you find yourself in, I challenge you to do the same.

Three Reasons I Like Nigerians

The running joke among my friends is that I’ll probably marry a Nigerian man one day. I understand why they make this statement. In addition to finding Nigerian men attractive, I have worked in Nigeria and embraced its culture. I listen to Nigerian music artists, Naeto C, Bracket, and P-Square. I watch their movies. And I have made substantial efforts to learn languages of the country. I can’t predict the future, but I do like Nigerians. Here are three reasons why.

1.    They have a good sense of humor.

Nigerians have the worst reputation of any other group of people that I’ve ever heard: they are scammers; they are womanizers, and they are drug traffickers.  They are the scapegoats and sometimes perpetrators of Internet and credit card scams. Some are accused for having extramarital affairs with multiple women in multiple countries. Oftentimes, they are the ones that send you e-mails promising to make you rich if you send them a few thousand dollars. They take your money and you end up penniless. Tell a Nigerian about his reputation and he’ll laugh it off and make light of it. They don’t appear to be bothered by their reputation, but some will assure you that among 155 million people living in the country, only a small percentage actually live up to this reputation.

Many will even poke fun of their awful reputation. I once left my purse with a Nigerian friend of mine to hold while I ran an errand. He says, “I’m not going to take your cash, but I might take your credit card!” I chuckled, and grabbed my purse from him.

2. They are very direct.

If you want the un-sugarcoated truth, ask a Nigerian. They don’t beat around the bush. It’s not in their nature. I recently applied to a position at a company in Nigeria. After six weeks of hearing no response, I called the human resource department to inquire about my application’s status. He replies abruptly, “We’ve already selected the people we wanted for the position and you weren’t one of them.” Well,” I said, “Thanks.” I was shut down and did not have any follow-up questions for him (which is a rare occurrence for me). I thanked him for his time and hung up the Skype call.

I have been on the job hunt for a few months now and have applied to a copious amount of internships, jobs, schools, fellowship programs in my lifetime, so I am familiar with the script human resource departments (in the U.S.) follow when an applicant has been rejected from a position. They’ll say “Thank you for applying. This position had over 300 applications and we regret to inform you that you have not been selected for this position. You are highly talented. Please consider other positions with our company in the future.” In whatever they say, American companies will consider your ego; they won’t completely shut you down without at least an apology. That’s not the case for Nigerians.

3.    They are very intelligent.

I’m not a politics or history guru and I don’t claim to be. I know what I know about American history and politics, from CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and news networks and from whatever I’ve retained from lectures in grade school and that’s about it. But whenever I find myself in a conversation with a Nigerian about American politics or history, I am put to shame. They know more about it than I do. They will tell me what they believe Obama’s doing right and what Bush did wrong. I just smile and nod, too ashamed to admit that I don’t know what they’re talking about.