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

Advertisements

Cliques, Mean Girls and Old Friends: Revisiting High School 10 Years Later

One of my friends said it best. “So much has changed. Yet, so much has stayed the same.”

Last weekend was my 10-year high school reunion. (For my high school in Michigan. I split my high school years between two states- Michigan and Oklahoma). I woke up at 6 a.m., did my hair and make-up, put on a gown, and hopped on a plane at LAX to Detroit. I went straight from the airport to the reunion.

Fresh 6 a.m. makeup did not last!

Can I just say, I had the absolute BEST time. While I have seen all of my closest friends numerous times throughout the last decade (I lived with one of them and another I came home for her Master’s graduation last year), it was nice to be in the same place at the same time with a big group of my peers.

It was nice to see people I grew up with excelling and doing well. To see them happy made me happy. It felt good to just hug a few necks and swap life stories- even if only for a moment.

Lets call it a nice little pit stop on the journey to adulthood.

I laughed so hard this weekend. Friends recounted old stories, some embarrassing and all hilarious. (Most of which, might I add, I do not remember!)

Twenty-Something Advice (for Anybody): “Maturity is not something that comes with age. Maturity is a journey you choose to embark on.”

The weekend was well spent. The class officers from my grade did a really good job planning a classy event. It was overall a win.

The only downside- when you revisit the past, you find some things and some people stay in the past. After 10 years since graduating high school, there still seemed to be the cliques, the haves and have nots, the popular and not popular, the mean girls.

I was reminded that not everyone grows up just because time passes. I was encouraged by my peers and friends who have grown and who are doing amazing things, who are working toward a purpose.

I was surprised by others who had not changed at all. I am reminded that maturity and wisdom (taking your mistakes and learning from them and choosing to do better) is a choice.

Ten years changes some things, but some people and things don’t change. I think one of the greatest joys of growing older is just not caring. Not caring about what people think, or about the number of likes on a photo, or who is dating whom, or who is wearing what.

If there’s anything I could tell high school me 10 years ago, I’d tell her, “Care less about what other people think and to use your voice to speak up for other people more. Laugh more and enjoy your friends- not all will be here 10 years from now. Mean girls may always be mean girls, but shake off the haters. Don’t be afraid to stand up to them. Other people’s opinions are not your business. You will attract the type of people you are.”

Cheers to revisiting the past from time to time but always, always moving forward!

In loving memory of one of my greatest friends, Felicia Diane Robinson.

With hope,

Stevie

I Am a Woman- and I Won’t Apologize

I am a woman.

I won’t apologize.

I am black. I’ve got curly-kinky hair and hips that don’t lie. I am a millennial, a twenty-something still figuring it out.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

I am intelligent. Sometimes I use big words in conversation without meaning to, and I know more about sports than some men. I am a book nerd and always eager to travel and learn. There’s so much I don’t know.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

I am quirky and dorky. I am one of the clumsiest people I know. I trip on things I see, and I forget things people just told me, but I have learned to laugh at myself. Authenticity is better than pretense.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

I am a girls’ girl. Some of my very best friends are women. I have never had a sister, but I have friends who are like sisters. I cheer them on in their successes and hold their hand in their pain. I try to show up as often as I can, and when we don’t see eye to eye, I try to make amends.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

Some women don’t like me. All women do not get along. This is a reality. Whether competition, miscommunication, or lack thereof, women don’t always like each other. That’s normal. I am OK with not being everyone’s cup of tea.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

I am fiercely independent. I will probably research how to repair something rather than ask for help. I like to do things for myself. I have no problem moving heavy boxes or fixing a flat tire on my own, but I have learned it’s OK to ask for help too.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

I am a feminist, but I love men. (The two aren’t mutually exclusive.) I am learning to build up and honor the men in my life up with words. Yet, I will never play small, shrink back or diminish my intellect or value for a man. I believe I am just as valuable as the guy next to me.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

I am tough. I have had my share of hard times, loves lost, and friendships fade and come out stronger on the other side. I know it’s OK to not always be OK and that there’s beauty in vulnerability. I am both sensitive and strong.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman, and it’s beautiful.

How Life in L.A. Reminded Me of the Value of a Friend

Whenever I talk to friends back home about life in L.A., one thing I always hear myself repeating is the difficulty in making friends.

Sure, meeting people here is easy. There’s more than 4 million people in the Los Angeles metropolis area. With the endless amount of happy hours, networking events and social media professional groups, there’s an endless possibility to make connections here. However, making actual, genuine friends in L.A., that my friend takes work (effort, intention and maybe a dash of luck in meeting the right people at the right time.) Bebe Rexha so eloquently explains how she suffers from the “lack of realness” in L.A. and how friends come and go like the seasons in the song F.F.F.

As I’m writing this, I am sitting in a coffee, and to my left there are two women talking. It seems one has just been laid off (maybe just as recent as today- my creeping skills could use a little more work), and the other is playing cheerleader, counselor and career coach all at once.

Lay-off. Ouch, been there. It absolutely sucks, and it can feel painful, blindsiding, and like a stab in the back all in one fell swoop.

The cheerleader, counselor, career coach friend offered some very wise words to her hurting amiga. She told her she might have to cut Hulu or Netflix for ahwile. (I kept Spotify and Netflix when I lost my job. A girl needs her entertainment in hard times!) She told her of course to prioritize paying rent, but if she ever needed a place to stay, then she could crash with her. She also told her, most importantly, not to isolate herself but to continue to talk to people and network. Only by putting herself out there would she be able to hold her head up and not allow the job loss to hurt her confidence. Only by networking would she make connections that would lead to her next job.

I so wanted to lean over in their conversation and give them both the biggest hug, but considering that I am a complete stranger, I won’t do that. I loved this conversation. I loved this moment in my day (though only made possible through easedropping) because it reminded me of what true friendship looks like.

Friendship shows up in the hardest of times. Friendship offers comfort and a shoulder to lean on when you are having trouble standing on your own. Friendship isn’t concerned about what it can gain or get. Friendship doesn’t give up without a fight.

Twenty-Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Friendship can be messy, hard and stretching, but guaranteed, if after all life’s curveballs, unfair hands, ups and downs, you find yourself with a true friend, you are blessed.”

I think finding true friends in adulthood can be difficult no matter where you live but especially in L.A. With the Hollywood culture, there comes a lot of fakeness, people who smile at your face but whisper behind your back, people who use friendship as an opportunity to promote themselves and their careers.

The irony is that often some of the most real and down-to-Earth people in Los Angeles are the people who are actually from here. The wishy-washy, opportunistic people are often transplants from small town, Midwest or suburbia America who bring their ideas of the City of Angeles with them.

While I love L.A., the wishy-washy culture can make thriving here difficult. Everytime I meet a genuine person, it’s like a breath of fresh air. It seems so rare.

A true friend is a precious gem worth holding onto. Making and keeping friends in adulthood can be tough, but I encourage you to fight for your true friendships and to not be afraid to put yourself out their to make new ones.

With hope,

Stevie

The Girl Who Was an Outsider

People often romanticize travel and life abroad. Here’s an honest account of three months of my life abroad in Italy.

I have one full day left in Itay. I still have two classes to teach, goodbye lunches and dinners to attend, bus and train tickets to buy and bags to pack.

Before all the hustle begins, I wanted to just sit. Breathe. Take it in.

My time in Italy has been one of the craziest times of my life. It started with a bang, had lots of ups and downs in the middle, and is ending with another bang.

My first week in Italy, I was pickpocketed during teacher assistant orientation in Turin. Toward the middle of my trip, I was abadoned by new “friends” in London (in the middle of a snowy night.) My last week in Italy, my American checking account was hacked, and I had to cancel my debit card. You just can’t make up a better script than the one life writes for you.

Sometimes, you just have to laugh at the obstacles life hands you because it doesn’t always make sense. While some hard things just happen arbitrarily, other hard and painful things happen because of the person staring back in the mirror.

My time in Italy has been a lot of deciphering between the two, the things I cannot control and the things I can, like my attitude, my ability to communicate and listen, if I will forgive and let things go and my willingness to perservere and push through.

One of the hardest parts of living in Italy for me was the feeling of being an outsider. I am a brown, American woman with curly hair who speaks English walking up and down the streets of small town, Bra, Italy. There might as well have been a sign painted on my back that said: OUTSIDER.

It might sound harmless, but three months of getting stares wherever you go and few smiles or hellos from passersby is exhausting. I have been told by many Italians that this is the reality of northern Italy and Piemonte, the region where I lived, that people tend to be cold and not overtly friendly.

My semi-introverted personality couldn’t handle the stares and all the attention. My extroverted side struggled with the lack of hellos and smiles.

Within my teaching program, I had these “outsider” moments too. While a lot of my fellow teacher assistants had the financial ability to jetset across Europe every weekend, my bank account said a big, fat, “Hello….uh, no.” I am just a normal, middle-class, twenty-something American, who mommy and daddy cannot and will not foot the bill for. I was still able to travel to several really cool places though (Barcelona included!), but I was penny-pinching and saving money at every corner. I couldn’t go on all the pricey trips my peers went on, and when I did, I couldn’t do everything they did.

It’s true. I felt like an outsider here in my time in Italy, but I don’t think that has to be a bad thing. Being on the outside gave me an appreciation for some things that I may have previously taken for granted. It gave me perspective. It also helped me realize some areas where I can grow in. (Aaah, growth!)

For example, something as simple as a smile or a hello is magical. It can literally warm a person’s soul. Anytime a student stopped me to chat or said hello in the hallways or around town, it cheered me up instantly! I really appreciated a kind hello.

I gained an appreciation for a listening ear. The English department head at my school sat and listened to be rant and sometimes cry in the teacher lounge. I am so appreciative of her taking time to listen to my struggles. Several other professors helped me work through the stresses, or just got loads of messages on Whatsapp from me trying to work through them.

I gained an appreciation for friends. Friends back home kept me sane by checking in on me. The few friends I made here, English speaking Italians and assistants in my program, helped me laugh. One friend and I burnt a pizza and lost electricity all in one hour! Friends make a world of difference.

I gained appreciation for kindness. Daniela is a woman who works for my host family, and she is literally my favorite person in Italy. Get this- She speaks no English! But we talked every day. (Hello, Google Translate!) I learned that you do not need to speak the same language to communicate with someone. Kindness, warmth and a smile, they speak volumes. Daniela made me feel welcome and seen. (Boy am I going to have a hard time saying bye to her tomorrow!)

Twenty-Something Advice (for Anybody):

“A person is only an outsider until someone decides to let them in. That one person makes a world of difference. You can always choose to be that one person.”

I was nervous to think what I would say when people asked how Italy was. What will they think if I’m honest? Will they judge me if it wasn’t this picture-perfect, movie experience? Can I be both positive and transparent?

I decided I would be honest. Italy was hard, but in the midst of the difficulty, it was still good. I learned. I grew. I was challenged. I cried some tears, and then, I got back up and put one foot in front of the other. I struggled. I made mistakes. I got frustrated. I frustrated people at times (I’m sure!) I laughed. I adventured. I lived well.

Perhaps my experience as an outsider would have been a bit different if I spoke some Italian or maybe if my skin were a different color. Perhaps, then I would have felt not so different. Italy is currently in a time of political tension as it faces a swell of immigration from Africa and with it, a swell in racism. I asked my students about the current state of politics in Italy and how immigrants are viewed here. They shared that immigrants are often looked down upon and seen as outsiders.

There’s that word again- OUTSIDER

I can only imagine what their lives are like, to live in a country as an alien, to be seen as different. I get to go home, but for them, this is their day-to-day lives.

Here’s what I know- A person is only an outsider until someone decides to let them in. That one person makes a world of difference.

Thank you to all the beautiful people who made me feel welcome during my stay here. To the people who took me for coffee, traveled with me, made a seat for me at their dinner tables and showed me around wine country and small, Italian towns, thank you for making me feel like less of an outsider.

With hope,

Stevie

Thanks for Choosing Starbucks

Starbucks

“Thanks for choosing Starbucks, how may I help you?” I recently took on a second job. If you guessed Starbucks, then you guessed right! I’m saving for grad school and for my big move out west this fall. It’s a huge (expensive) move so I am saving every penny I make.

Today was my second official day on the job (outside of training), and let me tell you it was intimidating. I never knew how fast paced and detailed the behind the counter work at Starbucks or any food establishment could entail. I have much more respect for people who work in the food business now. There is so much to learn and an equal amount of things that you can possibly get wrong.

To be completely honest and transparent, I left work today feeling a little frustrated and discouraged. It seemed like I got more things wrong than I did right, and no matter how fast I moved, I could always use a jolt in my pace. I know I am new and I still have a lot to learn. I should probably give myself a break, but in the moment, all I could do was feel really discouraged.

Now, part of my stress could be the fact that I am working two jobs, one of which is the early morning shift (Hello to waking up at 4 a.m.!), all while applying for grad school and saving for a move. It’s a lot! Any normal human being might feel a little stress.

So when I sat to take my ten minute break (at the crazy hour of 6:30 a.m.!), I had to give myself a little pep talk. I had to counter all the negative thoughts in my head toward myself and replace them with some positive self-motivation: “You can do this. Keep your head up. You still are new. You are still learning. Show yourself some grace. You are brave to try something new.” The last thought it the one that really got me going: You are brave.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“It takes courage to try something new, to pursue a dream, to not quit. So keep going.”

You see, even though I screwed up countless ways on my first few days on the job, I do not completely and totally suck (the way I told myself in my head). I am still learning. There is guaranteed to be some trial and error at the beginning of something new. So yes, I made and will make plenty of mistakes, but I am brave for giving it a shot.

Some people would be too intimidated to apply to such a fast, paced environment as Starbucks. Other people might be too lazy to get a second job or to wake up at 4 a.m. to work. Others might be to prideful to take a second job at a coffee shop. Did I mention that I don’t drink a lot of coffee and thus, I don’t know a lot about coffee? Hence, another reason as to why I am brave.

So yes, I am brave. It takes courage to try something new. It takes courage to take little steps toward your dream: like taking a second job at Starbucks. It takes a bold person to clean bathroom floors, work long, early morning hours and smile through tired eyes with the warm greeting, “Thanks for choosing Starbucks. How may I help you?”

If you are a twenty something, working toward a goal or dream, then this post is just for you. I want to encourage you to keep going. Work those odd jobs. Bust your butt. Save, budget, and plan. It takes courage to try something new and even more courage to relentlessly pursue a dream. Don’t look down on yourself for starting out in humble beginnings or for not having it all together. We all have to start out somewhere.

Still learning,

Stephkt

Hold On to Let Go

LettingGo

If you’ve listened to the radio the last few months, you might guess that the title for today’s blog comes from the Top 40 hit, Lean On (by Major Lazer and DJ Snake). The song, with an eclectic mix of reggae, pop and electric, repeats the line “We would only hold on to let go.” This message has been etched into my head: That sometimes, even though all we want is security, the best thing we can do is hold on to the idea of letting go.

In the last few months, I have seen a lot of change in my life. From moving out of my parents’ home, to watching my closest friendship grow apart, to dating a guy to back to being single, change has been happening all around me.There have been a number of days where I wanted to stay in bed with the pillows over my head (and let’s be honest, I definitely had those days).

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“If you try to hold on to everything from seasons past, you’ll never see the beauty of today.”

Change will do that to the best of us. It’ll leave you scared, cringing in pain or running frantically in the opposite direction. I think what I have been realizing is that change, although painful at times, is necessary. If I try to hold on to everything and everyone from seasons past, I’ll never see the beauty of now, of today, of this moment. Everything and everyone isn’t meant to travel along with us into our futures. Although painful at times, letting go is a necessary part of life.

My godmom gave me a pep talk a few weeks ago, and she told me, “Stephanie, if someone is for you, they will be a part of your life.” What a relief that was to hear. I won’t have to beg, plead, force or finagle a person or a thing into my life. If it is meant to be, it will be. Sometimes you just have to let go. Whether it means forgiving someone, quitting a job, moving away, sometimes letting go takes more strength than holding on.

So for all my twenty something readers, maybe there are things that you can let go of. As fall steadily approaches and the new school year begins for so many, it may just be the perfect time to let go of something or someone. As you let go and release whatever you’ve been holding on to, it’ll be amazing to see what new things you make room for: adventure, growth, love, independence. The ball is in your court. Here’s to letting go!

-Stephkt