I Was Ghosted by a Job Recruiter, but I Came Out Stronger

Recently, I was offered a managing editor position. (Exciting news!) It was for a women’s lifestyle website based here in L.A.

Phone interview with CEO and Marketing Director. Check.

Edit test. (A mandatory step for any editorial job.) Check.

The hiring manager (we’ll call her Sabrina) offered me the job. It was the best feeling in the world. Small reminder of my background: I was laid off from my last editorial job in January 2017. I have spent the last year hustling in LA as a freelance journalist and traveling the world. (I even got to live in Italy!)

It’s been one heck of ride. To land an editorial job within my second month of returning from abroad to America was great news! It felt like all my hard work had paid off, and the finish line for the endless marathon I was running was in sight.

The hiring manager wanted me to start in four business days. (Red flag!) Then, the figurative floor was pulled out from under me. I responded the next day to the job offer asking about start dates and about the possibility of coming in to meet the team because I had not done so during the interview process (Another red flag!)

I did not hear back. So much silence you could hear a pen drop from China! (Big red flag) A week later, I followed up and to my pleasure, I received a response. The hiring manager connected me with HR for the brand’s parent company in New York.

I spoke with the HR coordinator two days later. (We’ll call him Ernie.) To my surprise, when Ernie called me, instead of giving me information about start date, pay rate and meeting the team, he called with questions for me about these things. He said that he would find out the information ASAP.

No answers. No information. No details.

I followed up with Ernie the next day thanking him for taking the time to speak with me and asked his timeline for when he might have information about start rate and pay. Another week and a half passed, and I heard nothing from the hiring manager in LA or Ernie in NYC.

Nothing.

Much to my pride’s dismay, I followed up ONE MORE TIME, this time CCing Sabrina and Ernie. Ernie responded, and he gave me a call two days later. The information he relayed was disheartening and confusing: He said the CEO has another candidate in mind she would like to consider and asked if we could “press pause,” while she considers this other candidate.

When I explained to him my confusion about this other candidate and I relayed that I had already been offered the job, he got quiet. He didn’t even know I had been offered the job. He apologized for the miscommunication amongst his team, and he said he would get back to me ASAP about the status of the position and the confusion.

I haven’t heard from Ernie in three weeks. I was, for lack of a better word, ghosted by this HR coordinator, the hiring manager and the CEO.

Ghosting.

A commonly used twenty-first century phrase. Something that millennials and Gen Z’ers poke fun at, but many (if not most of us) are guilty of having commited this crime of poor communication at one time or another. I am included in this group- I have definitely ghosted a guy or two and a friend who I believed was no longer a healthy fit. (Not my proudest communication moments.)

For those readers who are my parents’ age and older, ghosting essentially means falling off the face of the Earth. Mostly found in dating scenarios, it is when a guy or girl stops responding without explanation or reason. They disappear like a ghost.

Other words for it could be scapegoating, avoidance, dodging, ignoring or stonewalling. It’s a way of avoiding communication, of avoiding difficult conversations and conflict.

While I knew this behavior was common in the dating realm, I did not know that ghosting can even happen in the job market. When I was ghosted in the job process, I honestly did not know how to feel. I was offered the job, and then, I was given little to no communciation about why the team changed direction. They did not even officially rescind the offer (That’s the professional thing to do!) They literally just disappeared.

Nothing. Disappeared into thin air. Gone.

I have never heard of something like this happening in a professional or work environment. So I did not know who to turn to. I was frustrated, confused, disappointed, hurt and let down. I did not know how to process how I felt. To say I was upset (in my Drake voice) would have been an understatement.

It seems that our social media and Internet culture has greatly altered communication. On one hand, it has made it fast and easy to connect with people around the world. You never have to miss a thing happening in your friends’ or family’s lives who are far away, but it has also made avoiding communication (a part of which is healthy conflict) possible.

If you don’t want to break up with that girl face to face, then you can shoot her a Facebook message. (I have heard of this happening.) If you don’t want to go on another date with a guy, then you can just stop answering. Apparently, if you change your mind about a candidate, then you can ignore her too.

Let me be 100 percent honest- This is not OK. Conflict, hard conversations and honesty moments are a part of healthy communication. No friend, family member, boyfriend, girlfriend or job recruiter (specifically when they have offered you the job) should be falling off the face of the Earth. It’s lazy. It’s unfair to the person on the other end of the closed off communication channel.

I say all of this not in exemption of myself. I am learning hard conversations should never be had over a text. I need to call that person up or speak in person. I don’t get to stonewall you and go silent. It is unfair and immature.

This job situation sucked, BUT it absolutely made my resolve stronger. I love LA, and I want to be here. I want to work in women’s media as an editor. I am no quitter. I am tough. One opportunity gone sour will not detour me nor shake my confidence. I choose to allow it to make me stronger.

In hindsight, I know the job was not for me. If it was really mine, then it would have been offered to me, no ghosting or lapses in communication necessary. A coworker of mine made the best and most hilarious analogy. He said basically this company wanted to make me their side piece while they decided if this other candidate was the best fit. (A side piece is when a guy has a girlfriend but also has another girl on the side- super pathetic.)

Twenty-Something Advice (for Anyone): “When money and your livelihood are involved, it can be easy to settle, which is all the more reason why you should not. Don’t settle.”

I don’t want to be anybody’s side piece! No ma’am, not me. I need to respect myself in the professional realm as I would in a dating relationship or friendship. While I am sure the other candidate is a badass in the editorial world, so am I. I am valuable. I am a talented writer and editor.

Whatever your dreams or goals are, I encourage you not to settle. Do not settle for being second choice or for second-rate communication, pay or benefits. Ask for what you’re worth. Know your value.

Lastly, do not ghost people. To put it simply, it’s lame. Hold yourself accountable. Communicate why you are walking away from something or someone. That is the adult thing to do, communication, honesty and transparency. Treat people how you would want to be treated.

With hope,

Stevie

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If It Smells Like Pride and Looks Like Pride, It’s Probably Pride

Honesty moment: I recently realized a personal vice of mine, pride.

My form of pride does not present itself in the typical form, which makes it harder to spot.

I am not like the Kims and Kanyes of the world. The over-indulgent, self-absorbed, selfie-loving, me-focused personalities. It’s a quieter, more subtle kind of pride.

My form of pride is one where I choose to withold things, whether it be my gifts or talents, my emotions- good or bad, my thoughts and opinions. I withhold communication because it’s easier to shut down than do the work of being honest and, most uncomfortable of all, vulnerable. (Yikes!)

I have always thought that steering clear of the spotlight was a commendable trait. I thought it was a form of humility, especially when it comes to talents. I thought it was better to always allow other people to take center stage and for me to step back. I thought this was normal, healthy and even admirable.

I am an artsy person, which makes living in LA such an adventure. It’s a city of creatives- actors, dancers, singers, writers, musicians and artists. It’s such a gift living in a city full of passionate people.

Talking to my artsy peers, I have found that they share a common struggle as me, wanting to withhold their gifts, talents and passions. Why? Because it’s so much easier than putting yourself out there-for ridicule, for rejection, for judgment and to be torn apart by people’s opinions.

I love to sing, but rarely, have I shared this gift. I love to write, but it took almost seven years for me to actively share my blog with people. Why? I did not want the attention but more so, the possible failure that could come from sharing my passions.

Here’s what I am learning- My gifts, my talents, my passions are not for or about me. When I withhold these things from the world, I am limiting what God can do in and through me. Diming my own light won’t make anyone else’s shine brighter. Only by shining do I give other people permission to shine. Only by sharing do I encourage other people to do the same.

Twenty-Something Advice (for Anybody): “Diming my own light won’t make anyone else shine brighter.”

I am still learning that sharing is a part of the human experience- the good, the bad and the not so pretty. I write this blog “Life as Told by an Upcoming Twenty-Something” so I can allow other people into my story, the wins, the losses, the failures and the beauty from ashes moments.

What I know is my story, my life, is not all about me but about the people journeying with me. Humility says, “Hey, this is me- the good and bad. The strengths and weaknesses. I want to let you see me.”

Here’s to identifying pride- even the sneaky, hard to spot kind.

With hope,

Stevie

Finding Joy in the Imperfection

Perfection.

A lofty, unattainable, always fluctuating bar to reach for.

I am a recovering perfectionist. There has always been a goal, a dream, a next step to look to in my career, relationship status, zip code or bank account. In today’s fast paced, hustle culture, this goal-driven attitude is seemingly a good thing. There’s always #goals for relationships, friendships, career, fitness and dating.

I like goals. I like lists. I love planning. (I love planning parties for friends!) While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with these things, this mindset of always wanting the next thing can be detrimental. Focusing on tomorrow can rob you of being content today.

My friend Kelsie reminded me of this fact. In her not so subtle but loving way (Kelsie is known for being blunt), she showed me myself, that I struggle to be happy in the now. In my first two years living in Los Angeles and the last few months in Italy, there have been a lot of hard things. (Roommate drama, boy drama, a job lay off, friend drama, heart break, cultural barriers.) Adversity has a way of making it easy to long for a new chapter, a clean slate, a better tomorrow.

Here’s what I know:

There will always be hard things. Every season will have its mountains to climb, battles to fight and hurdles to jump. Each and every one. If you are so busy romanticizing what was or will be, then you will miss the brilliance of today.

Twenty-Something Advice (for Anybody): “If you are so busy romanticizing what was or will be, then you will miss the brilliance of today.”

Today, with its unanswered questions, uncertainty, hard things, it is beautiful. I challenge you to see that, to see the beauty in hard things.

I know this idea of contentment, of resting and finding joy is counterculture. It also isn’t easy or even normal, especially in the 20s. You are taught to hustle, to strive, to push for more. The irony is oftentimes you romanticize tomorrow hoping for what will be. Then one day, you look back in nostalgia missing what once was.

I don’t know what this season of your life looks like, what hurdle or uncertainty or pain you are facing, but I challenge you to find the joy in this moment. Today, your today, is good.

The things that bothered me a year ago, I don’t even remember now. I know the battles I am facing today will pass too. Instead of wallowing in the lows, I want to find joy in my todays and dance (dare I say, revel) in adversity.

The 20s, like every decade, has its highs and lows. Find joy in your today.

Here are some things bringing me joy right now:

Volunteering with kids

My church family

Friends welcoming me home to LA

With hope,

Stevie

Twenty-Something Tycoons: Erikka Yvonne’s EYCO Agency Is Home to Top-Notch Digital Branding Services

For the month of May, the Twenty-Something Tycoons series will focus on twenty-somethings who are heading their own businesses in honor of the 10-year reunion for Detroit’s Renaissance High School, class of 2008.

In today’s social media and internet driven culture, making a company stand out amongst the crowd can seem like finding a needle in a haystack. Detroiter Erikka Yvonne launched EYCO Agency, a full service branding and advertising agency, to help solve this problem. Erikka and her team are putting their creative skills to work to provide memorable and noteworthy online branding and design services.

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Here’s what Erikka had to say about EYCO Agency:

Tell me about your business.

EYCO Agency, Home of the Creative M.O.B., is a full service Creative Agency that provides branding and advertising strategy services. We work with brands to attract the right audience and create a lasting impression. We help to craft the message and elevate the experience. We believe insight, strategic vision and impact are the core of every life-changing brand.

How did the idea for your business come about?
During my undergraduate career at Grand Valley State University, I found myself being the creative mind behind events and graphics for all the organizations I was involved in. Once I graduated, I found myself facing rejection after rejection for agencies in the metro Detroit area! After some time, I decided I wanted to create a home for young creatives like myself to do what we love most- create!

What separates it from similar businesses?
My team is comprised of young creatives in similar situations like me. After college, they lacked the needed experience agencies wanted. Our team has both the passion for our clients and the drive to see them win!

Describe your business in three words.
Creative. Transparent. Human.

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Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?
In 10 years, I want EYCO Agency to have pop up locations in other major cities! I want those locations to not only house the staff but to be an off-site home to teach high school and college students graphic design, branding, social media assistance and more!

Who is your target audience?
Innovators- The people who tell stories or share content that is important and special to you. This includes authors, bloggers and even vloggers!
Creatives – This includes visual and fine artists, graphic designers and web designers!
Lifechangers – The people who want to connect deeply with the hearts and minds of others to spark something good. This includes nonprofits, philanthropists and motivational speakers.

What advice do you have for high school students thinking about starting a business one day?
Just go for it! Don’t let the unknown or fear of failure stop you. You’ll never know what you can accomplish if you don’t go after it!

How have you grown or changed since joining the entrepreneurial world?
Man, my faith in God has increased tremendously, as well as my confidence in myself! There’s a certain level of comfort I had in life when I was working a 9-5 and that all changed when I became a full-time entrepreneur!

For more information on EYCO Agency, visit the website or email Erikka at erikka@eycoagency.com .

For more interviews with interesting twenty-somethings, click here.
With hope,
Stevie

Twenty-Something Tycoons: Detroiter Turns Passion for Fitness Into Personal Training Business

For the month of May, the Twenty-Something Tycoons series will focus on twenty-somethings who are heading their own businesses in honor of the 10-year reunion for Detroit’s Renaissance High School, class of 2008.
With a lot of hard work, sweat and creativity, Detroit native and Renaissance High School class of 2008 alumna Laura Washington has built her personal training business from the ground up. A month into the entrepreneurial world, Washington is on a mission to empower women to feel confident and to redefine society’s definition of “sexy” and “beautiful” through physical fitness. Her personal training services provide one-on-one support and allow clients to set individualized goals and work toward them in a private setting.
Laura’s mission to empower women through physical fitness couldn’t be more timely with one-third of American adults living with obesity. This includes non-Hispanic blacks at the highest rate of obesity at 48.1 percent, followed by Hispanics at 42.5 percent, non-Hispanic whites at 34.5 percent and non-Hispanic Asians at 11.7 percent. Of young adults (ages 20-39), 32.3 percent are obese.

Here’s what Laura had to say about her personal training business and the importance of physical fitness:

Tell me about your business.
I offer personal training services to help clients reach desired physical attributes, improve overall health and gain confidence. I train in a private gym or (if preferred) at client’s at-home gyms.

How did the idea for your business come about?
I’ve always enjoyed fitness, not only for the physical benefits but also the mental and emotional benefits it offers. Yet, for years, I was unsatisfied with my weight and shape. I finally decided to invest in a personal trainer. I set specific goals and worked consistently to reach those goals. On my journey, I developed stronger self-discipline, perseverance and confidence. I transformed my entire body and, more importantly, my sense of self.

The world (TV, movies, music and social media) constantly makes women feel discontent and ashamed of their bodies. It forces a limited perception of what “sexy” and “beautiful” looks like, perceptions which we as women often unconsciously internalize. This unconscious internalization is detrimental to our self-esteem (i.e calling ourselves “fat,” comparing our bodies to other women’s bodies and hoping to lose weight.) My goal is to empower women to have confidence in their bodies through setting personalized goals and gaining pride through hard work to achieve those goals.

What separates it from similar businesses?
My personal training services is centered completely around the client’s objectives and desires. This can range from weight loss to toning to improving cardiovascular health. Workouts are developed to challenge and encourage the client when working toward his/her specific aims. Additionally, it offers a private setting (typically just myself and the client) to avoid the discomfort of most gyms.

Describe your business in three words.
Difficult, yet therapeutic

Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?
I hope to reach more people. I simply want to help people fall in love with their bodies and maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Who is your target audience?
My target audience is women of all ages, shapes and sizes who desire to feel more confident and self-empowered.

What advice do you have for high school students thinking about starting a business one day?
Stay disciplined and persistent. Obstacles undoubtedly will occur, but continue to keep your faith, hope and goal in mind to motivate you during the worst of challenges.

For more interviews with interesting twenty-somethings, click here.
With hope,
Stevie

Twenty-Something Tycoons: Breana Curry Is Disrupting Financial Illiteracy in Urban Communities

For the month of May, the Twenty-Something Tycoons series will focus on twenty-somethings who are heading their own businesses in honor of the 10-year reunion for Detroit’s Renaissance High School, class of 2008.

The costs of financial illiteracy are high. Poor money habits equal a bad credit score. A bad credit score equals a higher price tag on the cost of living. It’s a vicious cycle of poor money management. In America, families of color fall behind in building wealth compared to white familes. For example, in 2016, black families made seven times less than white families.

Detroit native Breana Curry wants to change the game of finances for the black community. Breana works to help urban families make better money decisions through her company, Curry Financials LLC.

The financial coaching company is on a mission to empower young people and adults with the necessary financial literacy to build their personal wealth. At it’s heart, Curry Financials seeks to disrupt long-established cultural and social systems that cause African Americans to fail by teaching them money management.

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Here’s what Breana had to say about Curry Financials:

Tell me about your business.

Curry Financials’ mission is to educate young adults on the basics of credit, budgeting and saving. The vision is for families to embrace financial literacy, end generational poverty and establish generational wealth.

How did the idea for your business come about?

When I moved to Atlanta in March 2016, it was a leap of faith. I didn’t have a job or a place to stay, but one thing I did have was a plan. After submitting what felt like a million applications from March to June and not hearing anything back, I was finally connected to the United Way of Greater Atlanta, a nonprofit I genuinely wanted to work for. I became a financial coach for the their veterans program.
I thought it was just an opportunity to get me in the door and help pay the bills. I had no idea it would turn into a business because finances was not my thing. Nevertheless, I grew to love it. I helped formerly homeless veterans increase their income, repair their credit and learn how to budget and save. After working with them and hearing their testimonies, I was able to see the difference it made when a person learns the art of money management. Check out a few of the testimonials on CurryFinancials.com.

What separates it from similar businesses?

Curry Financials is different from similar businesses because we focus on educating our clients. Companies with similar business models, especially those with a credit component, focus on “fixing your credit.” I’m not a credit repair lady. My mission is to educate you on how your credit score is calculated, how to make it increase and what will make it decrease. After we’re done, you will know how to fix credit yourself.

I am passionate about disrupting systems that are put in place to make African Americans fail. In order to disrupt these systems, we have to educate ourselves. The financial system was never set up to benefit us. Did you know the history behind Wall Street’s name? It is called “Wall Street” because there used to be an actual wall built by slaves where snipers would shoot slaves who tried to escape from being sold. We were the first commodity sold on the stock exchange. Clearly, we have always been valuable. Today, Wall Street is known as one of the most influential financial districts in the world. If the economy has always depended on us, then why are so many of us still poor? One reason we remain in poverty is lack of knowledge about our history and the basic rules of money management.

If you have poor money habits, then you probably also have a bad credit score. If you have a bad credit score, then you are literally charged more to live your life. You pay more for everything: from the type of house/apartment/car you can afford (because your down payment and security deposit depends on your credit score), to how much you pay when using a credit card (low credit score = high interest rate). Essentially, this is another form of control because you are only allowed to do so much. They’ll offer you credit cards galore, but no one ever teaches you to never go above 30 percent of your credit limit. If you have a credit card with a $1,000 limit, then you should never spend more than $300. Understanding simple facts like that and knowing how to manage your money can change the trajectory of our livelihood. They want us to continue to drown in debt, stress ourselves out and live paycheck to paycheck. They know how powerful and valuable we are, which is why so much effort is put toward the continuation of oppression. We must disrupt these systems by educating ourselves, strengthening our legacies and passing down healthier habits.

Describe your business in three words.

In less than three words- Financially Lit (lol)

Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?

In the next 10 years, Curry Financials’ curricula will be implemented into school systems across the country. It will include unique lesson plans for students in elementary all the way to college. It has already been created, but I’m taking these next few years to learn and become as solid as possible mentally, spiritually and professionally. This way when it’s time for me to steer the ship, it will sail forever.

Who is your target audience?

My target audience is young adults ages 16-24. I am dedicated to making the information relatable, fun and easy to understand. Young people are our rising leaders, and they need to learn about financial literacy at an early age. Eventually, they will know it so well they’ll inevitably teach their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and, most importantly, their future children.

What advice do you have for high school students thinking about starting a business one day?

Put your thoughts on paper. Goals in your mind are just ideas. You have to write them down to call it a plan. Once you write them down, keep them in sight. Write on Post-its or write on your mirror in erasable marker. Stay organized. The more you see it and the more you talk about it, the more likely it’ll come into fruition. Somebody has to do it. Why can’t that somebody be you?

How have you grown or changed since joining the entrepreneurial world?

I’ve become much more responsible. I take pride in my brand, and I understand I’m accountable for how my business operates. Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When people encounter Curry Financials I want them to feel love, compassion and genuine concern. I believe whatever you do, you should execute with excellence. Don’t waste your time or energy being mediocre. Give it all you’ve got.

For more interviews with interesting twenty-somethings, click here.

With hope,
Stevie

Twenty-Something Tycoons: Detroit Native Dominque Collins Is Levitating the Fashion World

For the month of May, the Twenty-Something Tycoons series will focus on twenty-somethings who are heading their own businesses in honor of the 10-year reunion for Detroit’s Renaissance High School, class of 2008.

There’s a worldwide trend in today’s twenty-somethings (or Gen Y- people born between 1985 and the milennium), they want to call the shots in their careers. According to an University of Phoenix study, 63 percent of people in their 20s either owned a business or wanted to in the future. Of those who weren’t already entrepreneurs, more than 55 percent of American adults in their twenties want to start a business.

Levitated Conscious is an apparel company founded by Detroit native Dominque Collins in 2016. Based in Ohio, the brand is a thought-provoking, edgy and fashion forward line that is redefining what style looks like.

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Here’s what Collins had to say about Levitated Conscious:

How did the idea for your business come about?
I started Levitated Conscious because I wanted to be a voice for our culture, the voice that makes you think about the bigger picture of life.

What separates it from similar businesses?
Fashion is such a dynamic outlet. So we decided to disrupt the minds of others through what we call statement pieces. We use the word disrupt because society embeds in our brains cultural norms that we begin to believe. Our goal is to disrupt every negative notion that society has placed on us as a people.

In order to truly be Levitated, you have to open your mind on a grand scale. This pertains to your well-being, relationships, money as well as your biases and prejudices.

Who is your target audience?
Our target audience is African Americans between the ages of 20-38 years old.

What advice do you have for high school students thinking about starting a business one day?
Listen to your heart and focus on what you love because that is important. Read lots of books on communicating with others and finance. Learn about budgeting for your personal life first.

Take chances on yourself because no one will believe in you before you do. Pray and meditate before making impulsive decisions. Entrepreneurship is hard, but it is also rewarding with hard work.

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For more on Levitated Conscious, visit the wesbite or catch the line on social: Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

For more interviews with interesting twenty-somethings, click here.

With hope,
Stevie