I have walked around the city of Memphis suited and booted for the past four weeks. My feet hurt, and I STILL don’t have a job. I have worn about a million variations of my black suit wardrober (you know the one that comes with the black slacks, black pencil skirt and black jacket). If I wear that little chintzy pearl necklace with barely there earrings one more time… I promise. And this hair! I’ve been wearing yarn twists for a few months, pulling them back in a tight bun that’s not so small, but at least professional; all in an effort to keep my fro from frightening away the interview panel. Instant face lift with each wear. All of this in the name of networking.
And I know, it’s not about me when job hunting. It’s about what the potential employers want to see from me. But it is about me a little, right? I mean why can’t I be fearful and wonderful while looking for a job, right? The internet tells me (and the internet is ALWAYS right) that there are several rules for landing a job interview
- Wear conservative hair
- Wear conservative jewelry (nothing clunky or garish)
- Don’t EVER wear jeans
- Keep your shoes low in heel and subtle in style
- Wear neutral (if any) nail polish
For those of you who know me, all of the aforementioned are outside of my authentic style choices. Hair: the bigger the better. Jewelry: I like it big; I like it chunky. Jeans: my favorite piece of clothing. Shoes: The higher, the better. Nails: The darkest black or brightest green ever, WITH an accent nail.
Last Tuesday, I felt a “do me” spirit descending up on me. I was invited to a meet and greet by a local charter school. The invite said that there could potentially be on the spot interviewing, so come prepared. Tuesday is my long day–definitely NOT a suited and booted day. Deep down inside, I was saying to myself, ” this is going to be a fruitless journey. Why bother.” I knew as I fingered my clothes rack, that a suit was not in the plan.
I broke the rules.
Tuesday morning, I wore a pair of Old Navy sweet heart, dark wash, boot cut jeans; my favorite burgundy, Eileen Fisher, silk v-neck shirt; a cropped fitted navy blazer; a neutral colored 3-inch, Heidi Klum Pump and the biggest chunkiest afro and pearls EVER! I KNOW RIGHT!?!
I have to mentioned that I was even a little more laxed with my cover-letter to this particular institution. I said in my letter something like, “I’m not in the market to ‘pimp out’ my skills to any prospective educational institution, but rather am changing the conversation of my job search to discover, not who wants me to work for them, but for whom I want to work.” I KNOW RIGHT!?!
Yes, there were other candidates vying for the same teaching position. Yes, the other candidates followed the dress code rules. Yes, I was dressed as if I were going to lunch at a trendy bistro in Harlem. And yes, I got the call back for an interview the very next day.
I don’t know if I’ll get an offer. The reality on paper is that I am not credentialed to teach high school, nor do I have the experience. The truth is I am not just highly qualified, but over-qualified for the position. The truth is, I was rebelling against the job hunt system with every fiber of my being. The truth is, I was, in a sense, setting myself up for failure.
God got jokes. He showed me something different on last Tuesday. I answered, “I see ya, God!” Whether I am offered a position doesn’t bother me. What has inspired me is that, I don’t have to fit into someone’s mold ALL the time, to get what I am purposed to get. Dang, that’s good news.
Listen, I would not advise anyone else in their right mind to stray the course as I did. Because, frankly, it may not work for you. Then again, as you are preparing to acquire something that you don’t just want, but really need, don’t forget that who you really are, waaaay down deep on the inside still counts. Let some of the fearful and wonderful parts of you shine through your suited and booted situation. God has made us all unique for a reason, so that we may fulfill a unique purpose on this earth, even in the search for a new career. Be true to the you God has created and you will never go wrong.
Meeting and Greeting,