By REBECCA RAKOCZY, Special To The Bulletin | Published February 26, 2009
Sue Clontz had run a job-networking program for years with her husband at St. Brigid Church, so she knew how to encourage others to find employment. That didn’t make it any easier when she was laid off from her job.
Witold Zabinski was looking for a career change, while Mary Pat Schaaf was seeking more fulfillment outside of her job.
All three came, along with about 20 others, to share stories, network and gain inspiration from Msgr. Pat Bishop, as part of a new St. Pius X alumni association program called “Faith and Work.” Msgr. Bishop was the inaugural speaker.
His parish in Marietta, Transfiguration Church, has sponsored a job-networking program for more than a decade, so he was quite familiar with job seekers’ trials and tribulations. But after the others swapped business cards and resume tips, he offered a different type of career advice to the group: the role God plays in our choosing, and being happy in, our jobs.
After introductions, Msgr. Bishop gave the group his own quick resume.
“Hi, I’m Pat Bishop. I’ve been a priest for 35 years and I’m looking forward to retirement. Unfortunately there are not 1.8 million people looking for my job,” he said, as the room broke up in laughter.
Then he got serious. Drawing on his days as a theology teacher at St. Pius, Msgr. Bishop recounted his old blackboard illustration of milk bottles, which illustrate approaches to life.
“One is full and one is half full; they’re both about maximizing the good and minimizing the evil” (in our daily situations), he said. That’s true whether someone has lost a job or is just unhappy at work, he said.
“You have to maximize the joy and minimize the pain and sense of despondency. For a Christian, there is only one constant and that’s our relationship with God. And over the years I’ve really learned that this relationship is the basis for all that is loving and beautiful and good in life.”
That relationship gets tarnished and God often gets the brunt of human anger when life deals losses and blows, Msgr. Bishop said.
“A lot of people who’ve lost their job get really angry at God. Everything we can’t understand, it’s God’s fault. That’s such a shame because Christ is carrying the weight of the cross for us. He is not the problem. He is not the obstacle. Just because your employer doesn’t appreciate you doesn’t mean that God doesn’t. You are not a number to God.”
Understanding that isn’t easy sometimes, even for priests.
Msgr. Bishop recalled how as a seminarian, he was struggling.
“Then I saw a poster of a kid with a baseball bat slung over his shoulder, and his shirt was torn, and he was dirty—he was a mess. And under the poster it read, ‘Be patient with me, God isn’t finished with me yet.’ And that one image did more to lift my spirits than all my spiritual theology classes. Because we are not called to be perfect; we’re called to be perfected in God.”
Msgr. Bishop noted that while it’s normal to pray to God for a job, that doesn’t mean that prayer is going to be answered.
“God does not intervene in the hiring process; that would be fooling with free will.”
“What God does want for each of us to do is use our talents and abilities first and foremost and see what you have to give to others. That’s where you start. Put God in the center of your choices.”
And pray. Whether you’re hunting for a job or not, God wants to hear from you every day in prayer, and not just in rote prayers, Msgr. Bishop said.
“I remember when my mother asked me, ‘Patrick, do you love me?’ And I was running out of the house, and I said, ‘Yes, I love you.’ Her response was, ‘Well, I just like to hear it from time to time.’”
“That’s true of God too. God wants to hear from you, what you’re thinking and saying. And then sometimes, he just wants you to shut up so he can talk to you. You need some quiet time with God, to sit and contemplate and listen. I love that Old Testament verse, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ If you’re yakking at him all the time, how the heck is he going to say anything to you?”
Some job networking advice gathered at the Faith and Work meeting includes:
- If you have posted your resume on a search engine like “Monster” remember to open online and change it a little every day, even if that change is only a period or a sentence. This means your resume goes back to the top of the search engine in your category.
- “Every time someone posts their resume, your resume drops down. This helps it stay fresh and on top,” said Sue Clontz.
- Sign up on “Linked In,” a professional business networking site and find your college and alumni associations to increase your contacts.
- If you are on Facebook or other social networking sites, make sure your personal page is “squeaky clean.” Many human resource directors go directly to these sites before they even consider an applicant; if there is anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see on this page, take it off now.
- Develop an “elevator speech.” An elevator speech is a 30-second resume, something you would say to a CEO in the time it takes to get from the ground floor to the top office.
- Get personal business cards and pack as much information as you can on them, including e-mail address and Linked In address.
- Start volunteering for a favorite nonprofit or other organization. Many job contacts are made through volunteer connections and related events.
For information on the St. Pius X High School alumni networking group, contact Vicky Dorsey, St. Pius X alumni director, at email@example.com or (404) 633-4290.