The founder and CEO of Cubicles and Curls, Alicia Davis, joins the show to discuss a very important topic: what to do when you’re unemployed. She also relates her own experience with unemployment and shares effective advice regarding how to handle it.
Zach: What’s up, y’all? It’s Zach with Living Corporate, and you’re listening to a special B-Side. For those of you who are new here, B-Sides are essentially episodes we have in-between our more formal episodes, and they are even somehow more lit than our regularly scheduled content. That’s right, more lit. Now again, this B-Side is special, because we have Alicia Davis, CEO and founder of Cubicles and Curls. Alicia, please introduce yourself.
Alicia: What up? This is Alicia. I am the creator and founder of Cubicles and Curls, which is a blog or blog, you know, platform, for black professionals doing their natural hair thing, doing their career thing. We talk about hair care, we talk about hair styling, we talk about career advice. The whole thing.
Zach: Come on, now. That’s right, and it’s special also not just because Alicia is here–that’s plenty special of course, but because we’re doing, like, an interview/collab episode. That’s right. Alicia, why don’t you walk through how we’re gonna do this today?
Alicia: All right. So today’s episode is something that I felt was very important to talk about, ’cause we don’t talk about it enough. We’re talking about what to do when you are unemployed, and that could be, you know, you got fired, laid off, underemployed, you know, just haven’t found a job yet. [Everyone?] goes through it at some point in their life, and we really wanted to get into the whole nitty-gritty of how that feels, what to do, how to look for a next job, and, just, you know, letting you know it’s okay and it happens.
Zach: That’s a great subject. I’m excited about this because–you know, labor statistics show that non-white professionals are more likely to be unemployed and more likely to be unemployed for longer stints of time, so it’s really important that we, I believe, have this conversation. Have fun with it of course, but really just address it, and address it courageously, because it’s part of your career journey. And there’s a quote here. Do you want me to read it or do you want to read it, Alicia?
Alicia: Sure, I’ll read it if you’re talking about the Anna Wintour quote.
Alicia: So Anna Wintour, who is the editor of Harper’s Bazaar–sorry, no, I think she’s the editor of Vogue. She used to work for Harper’s Bazaar, and she said, “I worked for America’s Harper’s Bazaar. They fired me. I recommend they all get fired, because it’s a great learning experience.”
Zach: For sure, for sure, for sure. So right, we want to talk about our experiences of losing jobs, what we did during unemployment, and what we did to find a new job. So Alicia, do you want to start or do you want me to start?
Alicia: Yeah, sure. So I’ll start.
Alicia: You know, I would like to say that I’ve probably been unemployed a total of three times, under different circumstances. You know, once when I was in college. You know, another time it was just kind of, like, an issue of lack of work. You know, the company had to downsize. And another time I actually got fired. So, you know, those experiences really resonated with me, because, you know, something that I think we’re ashamed of a lot, and one thing–when I was going through that at first I was just so down, but once I got out of it I kind of saw it for the gift that it was at that time.
Zach: Yeah. No, for sure. So I was thinking about this–as we met of course and you proposed this topic, I was thinking “Okay, so I don’t think I’ve ever been fired,” right? And I haven’t really ever been, like, asked to resign or anything like that either, but I do remember in college just not having a job and desperately wanting a job, and that journey of, like, getting into the workforce for the first time for real and trying to, like, prepare myself for a real career after college. I also remember–though I did not get fired and I wasn’t asked to resign, I do remember quitting a job because the environment was so toxic, right? It was super racist, and I was getting called out on my name and threatened and things of that nature, which was, like, genuinely a dangerous and toxic environment, and I remember for about 3 or 4 months I was just, like, freelance consulting. I remember that, and that was a major part of my learning journey as well. So I’m excited about this for sure. And so then what did you do to find a job? Like, in those instances–
Alicia: [inaudible] fired?
Alicia: Oh, sorry.
Zach: No, go ahead.
Alicia: I said not everyone’s been fired, but I think everyone faces unemployment, either after college or underemployment, you know? Sometimes things just happen where you’re in-between jobs or, like you said, you quit ’cause you just can’t take it anymore, and so I think at some point everybody goes through one of these phases where you’re just, you know, in-between jobs.
Zach: Absolutely. And, you know, something I’ve also realized is how big–so the gig economy, which is, like, a whole ‘nother podcast episode, but in that same vein, contract employment, right, and working through temp agencies and contracting agencies where you’re not, like, a–you’re not your own boss, but, like, you’re working through someone–you’re working through an agency that if they don’t staff you on a role, then you don’t have any–you don’t have any paper, right? And there’s–that type of work lends itself to being underemployed for months at a time.
Alicia: Exactly, and even if you are making paper you don’t have benefits.
Zach: Right, right. You don’t have benefits, right. So yeah, I mean, let me ask you, what did you do–in those seasons of unemployment, what were you doing to find a new job?
Alicia: Right. So the first time, you know, when I got laid off, my company was downsizing, you know? It just was a matter of how scared–I had moved out, like, boldly moved out of my mother’s house for a year, and I was like, “I have to make ends meet.” So, you know, I reached out to, like, my contacts. I was, like, really just kind of nervous about it, you know? And I found a job kind of quickly, just ’cause, like, I needed something to do. So I found a job. It was decent. I was like, “Okay, we can do this.” It wasn’t really what I wanted to do. It was outside of my field, but it was a job. It had benefits, and I was happy for it until, you know, finally it kind of came out that really that job wasn’t gonna be a good fit, and, you know, they agreed it wasn’t a good fit. We had to part ways. After that, I was unemployed for a year, but this time moreso voluntarily. I wasn’t looking for a job at first because I really wanted to use the time–you know, ’cause prior to that I was unemployed for 2 months, and I was like, “If I ever find myself in that situation again, I’m gonna use the time a little differently.” So I used the time to kind of reassess the kind of person I am, what my goals are, work on projects that I didn’t get time to do when I was working full-time, and I was really–you know, I had saved up enough, so I was really just working to, you know, get myself ready to work and to come back to the workforce before I started looking for a new job.
Zach: So those are great points, and it’s interesting ’cause I think, for me, when I took a step away from that really toxic job, I was doing a lot of freelancing, like, contract work and kind of, like, staff agency stuff, and I really had to really take–for me, what I learned and what I really had to really pause and–there was a certain level of intentionality on my side of “Okay, well, before I just throw myself headlong into something else, what do I really need to, like–” ‘Cause that was–I probably need to find some healing from that situation, right? And everybody who quits or leaves a job or–you know, it’s not that it always is gonna be traumatic per se, but listen, man, leaving a job is hard. Like, even if you leave a job for something else that might be better, you kind of got to wash some of that old stuff off, right? Like, you need to–like, there needs to be a certain part of you that needs to kind of let it go. It’s kind of like getting out of a relationship or–to be honest, right? Like, platonic or romantic.
Alicia: Yeah, ’cause when I was [single?] I was like, “Am I describing my breakup?” Or “Am I describing when I left a guy?”
Zach: And then, you know, also, you know, your living situation and your–you know, your savings and your severance and unemployment insurance, stuff like that. I mean, having those things lined up too. Thankfully for me, when I was doing the contract work and the checks were not as steady because I was freelancing and doing a bunch of different other consulting work, my wife had a job at the time, so–and because of the way that we had budgeted and we lived under our means, you know, nothing went under, by the grace of God, but it’s important to think about those things too. So, you know, regardless of what they say, when you resign–when you leave a job, regardless if you leave–if you leave a job for another job or you leave a job just because “I got to leave”–people say “Don’t make an emotional decision.” Listen, it’s always gonna be an emotional decision. You will never be able to, quote unquote, take the emotions out of it. There’s gonna be some emotion involved with you transitioning away. At the same time, it’s important to think through, like, “Okay, what are my plans once these checks stop,” right?
Alicia: Mm-hmm, yep. And, you know, to that it’s really–one thing I want to tell people is if you’re quitting, you need to make sure you have the financial means, but however if you’re getting laid off, you might not have had that stacked up, you know? And one of the first things I did when I was laid off, I was like, “Well, can I get–” You know, talked about severance and all that stuff, and I was like, “Can I get unemployment?” And, you know, there’s different–I don’t know how it works in every state, but, you know, some states you have to have certain reasons. So if you’re fired you might not be able to get unemployment, but if you’re laid off you could, you know? So really that’s a conversation–and it is emotional like you said, but that’s really a conversation you do want to have with HR no matter what the circumstances and apply for unemployment right away if you can. If you can’t apply for unemployment, you know, what I did too–you know, when I had left the second job that I got after I, you know, was laid off for a year, I actually applied to be an SAT teacher, because I was like, “Well, what other skills do I have?” And randomly I got an email, and it was from Kaplan saying, “Hey, do you want to do SAT teaching?” And I was like, “Oh, I can do that,” you know? You might want to–like you said, you tapped into your freelancing. You know, think of some other things you can do with the internet. You know, there’s so many opportunities to, you know, make a little money on the side to hold you over until you can find something else. And I really want to stress, you know, utilizing those resources as best as you can. If you’re in your home town, you know, you might want to live with your parents. You might want to, like, rent out your apartment, you know, temporarily, Airbnb, whatever you need to do to make sure that you’re stable, ’cause if you feel like you’re drowning and you’re on the verge of, you know, going into bankruptcy, you’re not gonna be able to concentrate on getting better and healing.
Zach: That’s a good point, and it sounds as if really you were having to flex a few different creative muscles.
Alicia: Mm-hmm. Yep, that’s exactly what happened.
Zach: And I think–which leads to another point. You know, not everyone is super creative and, like, industrious in that way, and so I think it’s important to talk to people before you decide to leave, or if you know you’re about to get fired or let go or there’s some type of downsizing, have some trust and confidants around you that you can talk to as things are happening so they can maybe help you kind of navigate or they can point you in the direction of someone who can help you figure out how to–what the next season looks like.
Zach: I know for me–I know for me, when I did leave–and I was depressed. Like, we’ve talked about mental health and mental wellness on Living Corporate before. I have no shame in saying that. When I quit that job, I was genuinely depressed and ended up gaining a lot of weight, and so–and did not take care of myself, and it took me–it took me some years to, like, lose that weight–and a little bit more, but to lose that weight that I had gained, and it was crazy because by the time, like, another opportunity came up that was, like, a great opportunity, and I got the job, but I wasn’t in the best of shape. I wasn’t at my best self, and so I think it’s important as well, like, when you’re in that season, that off-season, quote unquote, that you don’t fall off, right? Like, go to the gym. Like, if you have–if you have some type of–whatever your belief system or structure is, pour into your local community. Like, continue to invest in yourself, that way when you show up at the next job you glowed up. Now, again, they hired you, so you have some level of [gold regards?], but for you to be at your best self–’cause I tell you, I regret not being healthier when I started my job, because I would’ve–you know, I would’ve enjoyed some things better. When I took business trips, I would have–I would have been more comfortable. I would have been able to explore the cities more, things of that nature, but I wasn’t able to because I wasn’t–I was not at a healthy–I wasn’t physically healthy.
Alicia: Yeah. And you know, I want to peel that back a little bit, you know? Like, when I was laid off as well, I was depressed, and, you know, I gained weight. I remember when I did have an interview I couldn’t even fit into any of my suits, and I didn’t have any money to buy a new suit ’cause I’m, you know, unemployed, but I really want to peel back. You know, a lot of people, when they find themselves in a situation, they do fall into these depressive episodes, and it’s really important to–I mean, it’s important to let yourself feel the emotions, but you have to tap into your support system, and I think a lot of times why we fall into those depressive episodes is because 1. because of the trauma of what happened and 2. because we assign a lot of self-worth to having a job, you know? I was embarrassed to go to, you know, events or leave the house ’cause I didn’t want anyone to ask me “What are you doing? When are you finding a job?” Because I felt so ashamed to just not be having a job for the first time, you know? And I think it’s really important. One of the things I did, you know, when I was, you know, unemployed the second time and I was using that me time was detaching my self-worth from what I do to get paid, you know? What my full-time employment is, and I think that’s something, you know, a lot of people need their support system and help to get out of, and I think if anything I just really want to stress that part alone, that you are not your job. You’re more than your job. Your job is gonna change 20 times over, and you’re still gonna be that person you are.
Zach: That’s so true, and I believe–well, we live in a capitalistic society, and the cost of living is going up, and wages aren’t necessarily matching the cost of living as it continues to increase, and so more and more folks are switching from work/life balance to work/life blend, because really our lives have become work, right? By some degree or another. That’s why the gig economy is popping like it is. You know, a lot of people are doing full-time jobs and they’re also Uber drivers and Favor delivers. Shout-out Favor, shout-out Uber. Y’all are not sponsors, but if y’all hear this, holla at your boy.
Alicia: What’s Favor? We don’t have that here.
Zach: So Favor is a food delivery service. It’s kind of like–so y’all have Uber Eats, right?
Alicia: Like Grubhub?
Zach: Yeah, like Grubhub.
Alicia: That’s what we have.
Zach: Okay. Yeah–
Zach: Y’all also have DoorDash though, right?
Alicia: We do. We just got that.
Zach: Listen, they getting all this free pub.
Alicia: I know.
Zach: But whatever, it’s cool. Favor is similar to DoorDash. Anyway, it’s hard not to disassociate yourself from what you do that keeps food on your table, but the more you can really align yourself with whatever–your family, your community, volunteer efforts, and things that really keep you going spiritually, mentally, emotionally, that’s gonna help you, because if all you are is your job, and you lose your–
Alicia: Zach? Sorry, you cut out real quick.
Zach: Oh. Can you hear me now?
Alicia: Sorry. Yeah, I can hear you now.
Zach: Okay, cool. Because if all you have is your job and you lose your job, then what do you have? So it’s important that you’re always thinking about that, and I think we’re in a really interesting season of self-care and mental and emotional wellness. I think those spaces have been rapidly growing over the past 6 or 7 years, especially for black and brown people, and so I think it’s important, like, to invest in some things of that nature just while you have a job. Like, invest in those things while things are good, that way you’re not scrambling if something changes.
Alicia: Mm-hmm. It’s all about foundation.
Zach: It is, it is. So to your point though about, you know, being laid off or fired, it’s not a mark of shame, and really there’s only so much about you keeping your job that’s in your control, and I think that’s the thing about–there’s a term when you talk about–oh, yes, job security. Yes, that’s the term. So job security is a myth, but most people think “If I have a job, and I’m getting paid a salary, then I’m going to–” Like, “Nothing can happen that’s gonna change me from having that job.” Like, we are–we buy into a certain level of–we buy into a narrative that our jobs are extremely stable and that having a quote unquote “steady paycheck” is more reliable than, like, being an entrepreneur or whatever the case is, but, you know, the reality is unless you’re, like, a VP, like, someone very senior at an organization, you’re really only, like, one or two decisions away from you not having a job, right? And it’s interesting as I’ve gotten a little bit older. Like, I’m 29, and as I’ve gotten a little bit older and I’m kind of moving up the ladder a little bit–I’m a manager, so I’m not in any real–I’m not making no real moves, but I see a few things differently now than I did at–like, when I was an associate or an entry-level employee, because I’m starting to see how things kind of move and push together.
Alicia: Behind the scenes.
Zach: Behind the scenes, and, like, when I was–and even before my current industry, which is consulting, I was an HR business partner, and I was working with the–like, with the CHRO. I was working with the COO of a start-up, and I was just noticing, “Okay–” There’d be people, like, three or four, five, six, seven levels under him, under me at the time, and in their world they’re thinking, like, everything’s hunky-dory, it’s all great, blah-blah-blah. They don’t know, like, their boss is about to get fired. They’re about to get moved to a whole ‘nother department. And the higher up you go, it doesn’t seem like anything to you. Like, you have to really practice empathy as you get higher up because at the higher–it doesn’t seem like anything to you, but to them, like, their whole world has changed, and so I’m just thinking more and more about that. Like, if you’re an entry-level employee, if you’re a non-executive employee, they can make one decision, and you end up moving from Department A to Department G or Department G to unemployment, and it’s like that. So there’s–it’s not in your control. What’s in your control is your attitude, your level of gratefulness, and how you show up to work every day, and then–and how flexible you’re being and prepared you’re being to find that next thing, but I think sometimes, because we buy into the fact that, like, these jobs are promised and that–and that things are just so secure that we can’t fathom, or we kind of–I know I did. I’ll speak for myself, that I really was shook when I walked away and I was like, “Wait, but I thought this was gonna work out. I thought this. I thought this. I thought that.” You know? Am I making any sense?
Alicia: Yep, absolutely, and I think that–I really like that emphasis of “it’s not in your control,” you know? You could have been the best worker, and sometimes it’s just a numbers thing, you know? And I feel like once you accept that, you know–if you did your best, fine. If you didn’t do your best and you got laid off, you know, really just take time to just learn from, “Okay, what could I change for next time?” I think that, you know, focusing on what you can control really can help prevent you from going into that whole spiral afterwards.
Zach: And it takes a while. Like, sometimes it may take–you know, so for me, like I said, I quit that job. I was doing some freelance stuff, and I was underemployed for about 3.5, 4 months, and I’ve talked to people and they’ll be like, “Man, Zach, that is no time.” Like, “There are people who are unemployed, you know, 6 months to a year.” It happens. Okay, so let’s–go ahead, go ahead.
Alicia: Well, I mean, speaking of that, you know, we should probably pivot into what do you do when you’re unemployed and looking for that next job?
Zach: No, that’s super true. Okay, so figuring out what you liked and didn’t like about your last position and crafting–can help you craft an ideal position and picture for your next job, right?
Alicia: Yep. You know, I think a lot of times we either over-romanticize our jobs or over-demonize them, you know? So we’re like, “That place was terrible,” or “This is the best place I’m ever gonna work,” you know? And I think it’s really important to really think about what you did and didn’t like about that job, and when you’re going into interviews or applying to jobs, look for the signs. Again, it feels like I’m talking about a relationship, but, you know, I guess we spend so much time at work it might as well be.
Zach: But it is though. You spend more time at work than you do with your family.
Alicia: You do, exactly. So, I mean, I guess the same tenets apply here. So, you know, you might have really noticed, “Okay, this is what I enjoy about my position. I enjoy doing these things, and I don’t enjoy doing these things.” Sometimes I was even able to, like, look at job descriptions, and I could tell “This isn’t the place.” It wasn’t gonna–like, you know, “can work without structure,” you know? “Quick on her feet. Doesn’t need much direction.” And I was like, “So you’re basically saying you don’t know what you’re doing, and you want me to come in and figure it out, and you’re not gonna help me at all?” And I was like, “I’m good,” you know? Like, you learn how to read in-between the lines after a while. I remember I said to one of my friends, “This job wants me to work 20 hours a day, I can tell.” They didn’t say it, but I know what “fast-paced environment” and “willing to go the extra mile” means, you know?
Zach: Oh, wow. Mm-mm.
Alicia: Mm-hmm. They’re setting you up to be like, “This is gonna be hard,” and if that’s not something you want, you know, you’ve got to read in-between those lines. Even in the interview, you know, we get so scared asking people questions, like, the real questions about these positions, but that’s your only chance to figure out if it’s gonna be right for you before you get in there. So, you know, ask them, “Why did the last person leave?” You know? “What’s the hardest part about this job?” You know? Or “What are the challenges of this job?” Or “Who do you think is gonna be a fit for this?” And be realistic with yourself of if what they’re saying sounds right to you.
Zach: Those are great–that’s just great advice. You know what? Alicia, you should really have, like, a blog or something. Oh, wait! [both laugh] Okay. So no, you’re right though, and it’s also recognizing what your non-negotiables are, right? So for me, I know–like I said, I quit that one job ’cause it was just super toxic, but I’ve quit some other jobs too. Like, some of my first–I was working at a major retailer, and I realized that for me–I had to walk away from that job because the scope was way too small. Like, it was focused on a store. That was it. And so I knew that when I quit my–when I quit that job I said, “Okay, I gotta find a new job that’s gonna give me more space to be autonomous and be creative and really flex some other muscles that I believe I have,” and so a non-negotiable for me was working in the retail industry at a store level. Like, that was a non-negotiable–that was a non-negotiable for me. A non-negotiable was having an extremely limited scope. That was a non-negotiable for me, but you learn that after you reflect and think through what you did and did not like about your last place of employment. There’s things I did like from that job, and so I took that things forward as well, but–we’re just gonna keep on relationship references. Sometimes we have friends–and if you don’t have any friends like this, then look in the mirror and then point at the mirror, and then you’re that person–they kind of date the same person.
Alicia: Mm-hmm, over and over again.
Zach: Right? Over and over again. It’s like, “Yo, like, you kinda got, like, a type.” “No, I don’t. I don’t have a type.” “Eh, you kind of have a type.” And, like, you keep making the same mistakes with this one that you did with this one, so… and I bet your friend, or you if you look–the person looking in the mirror, you probably haven’t, like, paused and reflected, “Okay, well, what is it that I like and don’t like about this?” ‘Cause there seems to be a pattern here. And a lot of us do that in our careers too. It’s like–I have people who, like, they are serial careerists. They have–like, they’ll take the same job and quit for the same reasons over and over and over and over. So it’s really important that you’re thinking through what’s working and what isn’t working.
Alicia: Yeah, I agree. I agree.
Zach: So this resume/cover letter refresh. Now, that’s important.
Alicia: Yes. So, you know, I thought my resume was pretty bomb. Like, I think my–I’ve always had a pretty solid resume, but you know what? I was putting out feelers, and I was getting–like, I was getting phone interviews, but I wasn’t getting past the phone interviews, so I was like, “What’s going on here,” you know? Like, my resume’s dope. One job, like, I matched it exactly. Like, and it was a pretty [inaudible] job, so I was like, “How could you not hire me?” Like, I am the one, you know? But what I did was I actually at some point got a career coach, ’cause one I was kind of not–like, I was ready to apply, but I was still feeling a little bruised from, like, you know, past experiences, worried. So, you know, a lot of the times when you’re writing these cover letters, it requires you to reflect on your experiences at these past jobs, and sometimes that’s causing you to live in the hurt and the trauma all over again, you know? Just writing the cover letter can be an ordeal ’cause you’re just like, “Wow, that job was really terrible,” and it’s coming out into your cover letter how wishy-washy you were about that job, you know? So what I did was I actually got a career coach to rewrite my cover letter for me, you know? Like, I [hired?] her, and she gave me advice. She rewrote my resume, because one thing she said was, you know, “You’re listing out the things you’ve done, but you’re not really giving me that, you know, “I’m a star” kind of thing in your resume. You’re mostly like, “I did this, I did this,” but you’re not really telling me “I accomplished this” or, like, “I’m the winner,” or, like, “I’m the best ’cause of X, Y, and Z.” It wasn’t shining, and my cover letter was much of the same, more just listing things that I did but not really, like, spelling out why I stand out, you know? And she was teling me that, you know, I think that comes from a place of you trying to be over-humble, and you’re trying to, you know, downplay yourself a little bit because you’re bruised. And so, like, getting her to refresh my resume really–honestly, the results were instant in terms of call-backs, in terms of moving on to the next level, in terms of even just changing my interview style, ’cause I realized, yeah, you know, I was kind of–like, I felt like, “Okay, maybe I’m not as good as I think I am,” because, like, I had been laid off before, but I was like, “No, I am as good as I think I am, and that was just an isolated incident,” you know? And it’s really just about your attitude, but sometimes you just need someone else to step in and do that work for you because it’s too painful to do it yourself.
Zach: Man, I just–I 100% agree. I think the other thing I’d like to add to the idea of a resume/cover letter refresh is a LinkedIn refresh, right? So, you know, LinkedIn is like the–I mean, LinkedIn first of all, as–I’m gonna put my futurist hat on real fast. So as millennials and Gen Z get more into the workforce and they start engaging LinkedIn, it’s gonna become–and it has already, if you’ve noticed, become way more social and, like, almost kind of, like, Facebook in certain ways, good and bad, the point being that it’s gonna become an indelible part of your identity, professional and personal. I mean, even if you Google someone’s name, their LinkedIn pops up. Their LinkedIn pops up more than their Facebook does, and so, you know, make sure that you have a professional and accurate depiction of who you are and what you want to present on LinkedIn is huge too, because that can have instant results as well. I’ve seen certain companies–if your LinkedIn isn’t popping it’s kind of like, “Eh, I don’t really know.” Like, that can be the difference maker, to your point, between, like, a phone interview and, you know, an actual in-person–
Alicia: Yeah, ’cause let’s face it, everybody looks everybody up nowadays. As soon as I hear your name I’m looking you up, you know? “What can I find?” [laughs] So either–if you have a generic name you might be safe, but if you don’t you better have that LinkedIn popping. And, you know, just real quick on that, you know, make sure your picture is great, or–you know, it doesn’t have to be a professional head shot, but it shouldn’t be, like, a selfie. It shouldn’t be inappropriate. It should look like how you would probably come for an interview.
Zach: It really should though. And I’ma say this, at this point–so again, a lot of this speaks to financial privilege and access. Everyone can’t afford, like, a professional head shot. At the same time, these cell phones… really?
Alicia: Right? [laughs] If you have an iPhone X, just go against a white wall and take that picture.
Zach: Take that picture. Get a nice outfit, you know what I’m saying? Get some drip. Okay, side-note, ’cause we’re in 2019, and Ade and I, we would insert slang in 2018, but we did not always give context to the slang, and I have–
Alicia: Explanatory comma.
Zach: Absolutely. And we have aspiring allies and non-black and brown folks who listen to the show, and people will hit me up and be like, “Hey, what does “the bag” mean?” And I’m like, “Oh, the bag is, like, the money and the wealth or the opportunity.” Anyway, so drip–for everyone who’s listening who doesn’t know–so drip is your fit, right? So drip is not to be confused with sauce, which is more influence and swag. One can have swag and sauce but not have drip, and one can have drip but not have swag. So with all that being said, you’ll be dripped out, right, in the picture. White background, iPhone X. It’ll be great. Now–
Alicia: As a friend of mine said, “Drip or drown.”
Zach: [laughs] Oh, that’s funny to me. Yes, drip–
Alicia: I think that’s my favorite thing I’ve heard all year. [laughs]
Zach: Drip or drown. You better–you’re gonna have to drip or drown. That might be the subtitle for this little B-Side, Drip or Drown. That might be the hashtag, #DripOrDrown. And then the last thing, don’t let desperation lead you to another job that won’t be a good fit. That’s real.
Alicia: I think that’s important, because you know what? I get it. Your bills are coming down. You feel like you need to get a new job ASAP. You really need to take–like I said, just make sure you’re making the right decision for you. The money could look good, but, like, if it’s something that’s gonna make you be working 20 hours a day, and you’re not the type of person that likes to work 20 hours a day–if it’s something where you’re gonna be working from home a lot or you’re gonna be traveling, you need to make sure it’s a good fit, else you’re gonna end up quitting or they’re gonna end up letting you go again, you know? Like, you really want to make sure that 1. this next move–a lot of times what people do is they’ll start applying to any job. It’s not even in their field, you know? But it’s like, “Okay, well, I think I can do that.” That’s when you’re getting desperate, and people can tell, you know? You really want to stick to what you want to do, ’cause, you know, you might be at that job for a long time, and if you want to be–
Zach: You never know.
Alicia: Exactly. If you want to be in consulting but you’re taking a job over at hospitality, you imght end up staying there for a year, and now you have a year of something outside of your field on your resume, and you’re gonna have to work to explain, you know, how it lines up, ’cause–what I always think is funny is, you know, people are very narrow-minded when they look at your resume, and they’re really only looking at your last thing, and you have to do so much explaining. Like, I had a whole major in health care. All of my jobs were in health care except for one, and people only focus on the one that wasn’t. And I was like, “I was only there for 3 months,” you know? And it’s so crazy how things like that–so that’s what I’m saying. Being intentional about, you know, your next move, even if it means passing up, like, a bunch of other, you know, could be easy wins, you really want to make sure your next one is gonna move along in your career path and not just pay the bills.
Zach: No, I super agree with that. You know, I kind of make–see, now, this is your fault, Alicia, ’cause you brought up relationships, ’cause now I’m thinking about all these relationship jokes. But it’s kind of, like, you know, when you–you might have a breakup, but it’s cold outside. Like, it’s cuddle season, and so, you know, it’s like, “Man, I gotta find somebody.”
Alicia: Oh, no. Yeah, don’t get a warm body job.
Zach: [laughs] Yo. Don’t get anybody. Don’t get a rebound joke is my point. Like, you’ve gotta, you know, find somebody that is going to put a ring on it or that you will put a ring on. I don’t know. You know, everybody’s proposing to everybody. It’s no problem, no judgment, but the point is figure out what is gonna really be stable for you, ’cause–this is two things. First of all, people very much so underestimate time, and underestimate it in terms of how fast it can go by, and the fact that you can’t take it back. So to your point earlier, you said about a year in hospitality. Like, you can look up, and you’re gonna have–there are people who are like, “I got this job 5 years ago ’cause I just wanted something ’cause I got laid off and I was just trying to find something,” and you look up and it’s like, okay, this is your job now, and you don’t like it, or you’ve been doing this thing for a year and a half, 6 months to a year, and then you try to interview somebody–you try to interview for what you really want, and people are like, “Okay, well, why were you doing this?” Like, what are you going to say? And not to say that you’re stuck. I mean, it happens, but it’s gonna take a little bit more work in how you craft your story and convince interviewers that, “Okay, no, I’m really actually interested in this.” Now, I would think that folks with a modicum of empathy and logic would recognize that life happens and that we don’t always find–land in the jobs that we want, but often times, like you said–like, it’s weird. Like, people put on these weird blinders during interviews and don’t always think about context and how just things shift and change and everyone isn’t the same, but anyway, this has been great, this has been great. Alicia, what else do we have? Before we go–you go ahead.
Alicia: Before I go, I just want to ask–the last question was, you know, if you’re an interview and it comes up “Why did you leave your last job?” And it’s not exactly an easy answer, that’s something you want to practice ahead of time, ’cause that’s always gonna come up, you know? You know, one of the things I said when I was laid off was, you know, “My company was going in a different direction. We were shifting from the work that I was doing to a different sector, and that’s not something I wanted to do, so, you know, we agreed it wasn’t a fit and I left.” And another job, the one that I was there for 3 months, I told them, you know, it was a temp job, ’cause basically [inaudible]. It just didn’t transfer over into full-time, you know? So don’t lie, but have some sort of, you know, palatable truth into your interviews, and practice your answers so that you’re not coming off nervous or, you know, it feels like there’s something shady going on there. I think that’s really important, but I do want to stress that most places, at least in New York–you know, your employer–your past employer shouldn’t tell your next employer that you were fired, because that would mess up your chances of getting a new job. I think there’s some legality to that.
Zach: No, that’s illegal.
Alicia: Yeah. It is, right?
Zach: It’s illegal, yeah.
Alicia: Exactly. So I want you to have that comfort in knowing that, you know, you kind of are getting a fresh slate as long as, you know, you kind of know how you’re gonna work it. Don’t feel like it’s gonna be, like, a scarlet letter that follows you for the rest of your life.
Zach: No, that’s super true, and it’s interesting because you really gotta figure out ways to politicize–not politicize, but politic that answer. So for me, you know, I was at a major retailer for, like, less than a year, and so even now–I’m 7 years into my career, and people will say, “Okay, well, you know, why were you here?” And I’m like, “Well, you know, that really gave me the–” Like, my answer now is “That really helped me baseline some HR knowledge and best practices. However, I realized that the scope of that retailing context was not conducive for my professional development, and so I ended up finding X, Y, and Z,” and I just kind of transition. And I think it’s also important, now that we’re talking about just how you interview and walk through your career, that you have, like, a story and a overarching narrative that you’re speaking to. So if you talk about it from that perspective, then you’re kind of–you’re talking about these jobs as just points in your journey and not necessarily “I was this, I was this, I was that.” It’s–for me as an example, I’ll say something like, “My name is Zachary Nunn. I’m very passionate about people.” And so you’ll see in my career, as you look at my resume, all of the roles that I have involve people, and then from there I just kind of walk through the story of “I was here, then I was in oil and gas, then I was in pharmaceuticals. Now I’m in consulting,” and it makes sense, as opposed to, like I said, having, like, a really segmented story, ’cause that’s how people like to–that’s an older way of thinking, but just remember we’re transitioning now into a much more fluid workforce, and it’s okay to be in different places and have different experiences, but–Alicia, to your point, I 100% agree that you have to have some practice and verbiage behind how you’re gonna spin that.
Zach: Okay. Now, look, this has been dope, and like I said, this is the first one of its kind. This has been pretty fun for me. Have you had a good time?
Alicia: I had a great time.
Zach: Okay. Before we let you go, where can people learn more about Cubicles and Curls?
Alicia: Okay. So you can learn more about Cubicles and Curls on our blog, CubiclesAndCurls.com, or you can follow us on Instagram @CubiclesAndCurls. Sometimes I’m on Twitter, and that’s just @CubiclesCurls, but, you know, Instagram is definitely the place where you’ll usually find me.
Zach: Aye. Awesome. Well, that does it for us, y’all. Thank you for joining us on the Living Corporate podcast. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @LivingCorporate, Twitter @LivingCorp_Pod, and subscribe to our newsletter through living-corporate.com or living-corporate.co or livingcorporate.co, livingcorporate.tv, livingcorporate.org.
Zach: I know. Yeah, that’s right, Alicia. We got ’em all. We don’t have livingcorporate.com because Australia owns livingcorporate.com.
Zach: I know, right? It’s crazy. It’s crazy. Anyway, if you have a question you’d like for us to answer and read on the show, make sure you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This has been Zach, and you’ve been listening to Alicia Davis, founder and CEO of Cubicles and Curls. Peace.