When You Lose a Job and Didn’t See it Coming: My Experience with the Career Discernment Program

I’ve worked for only three companies since graduating college in 1997. I’ve been in Healthcare Sales for 20 years and most recently finished my 9th year as a Sales Director for a midsize diagnostic laboratory. This past May, I was one of four sales managers affected by a “reduction in force initiative.” In other words, after almost 20 years of stability, I found myself without a job. I was caught off guard and felt lost. My resume had not been updated in years, and I asked myself, what’s next?

I immediately got to work getting my LinkedIn and resume up to date, but I knew I needed more. I met Missy Wallace and knowing my situation, she asked if I would be willing to participate in the Career Discernment Program, a partnership between the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work and the VOCA Center in New York. I reached out to the Principal Consultant and Executive Director, Dr. Chip Roper, and I realized what I was missing in my job hunt.

My Career Discernment Program was individually tailored and lasted about six weeks. I participated in one-on-one advising, multiple assessments, reading assignments, and 360-degree feedback from prior colleagues. The in-depth Highlands Ability Battery, Myers-Briggs, and 360 feedback not only validated abilities I knew I had but revealed new strengths I hadn’t even realized. The assessments uncovered my particular learning style which I could immediately apply to my job search and future work.

This process was not only about deeper learning of my wiring, but I also created tangible resources that I can reference. In fact, I have an entire “playbook” on me. I keep an actual notebook divided into sections and include all my assessment results, 360 feedback, and supporting information. My “playbook” has clearly revealed my God-given gifts and has dramatically equipped my decision making and overall career discernment. I have also had some perspective shifts on how I should use my God-given gifts to serve the work instead of seeking only for the work to serve me and my ambitions.

I am more focused and better prepared for my continued job search, interviews, and future career. While I did not decide to make a major industry shift, I have refined my interests, skills, and made a more succinct job search plan that has thus far resulted in exciting opportunities for me. Interestingly, the knowledge I gained allowed me to confidently turn down a job offer, which was the right decision but hard to do as an unemployed father of three teens. Based on the conversations with my advisor, findings of the online assessments, and referencing my “playbook,” I am able to more clearly identify the type of work and workplaces where my specific wiring will be fruitful. I have not landed in my new job yet, but I feel well-equipped to choose one where I can thrive.