“The Best Investment,” Ensign, August 2019
Blanca Gregory had worked in banking for 27 years, including 12 years as an assistant manager—which is why getting laid off came as a shock. Her surprise, however, was quickly replaced by worry and stress.
Thankfully, Blanca’s husband, Eric, was employed, and the family had savings to tide them over. After recovering from an illness and being out of work more than a year, Sister Gregory began looking for a new job.
She updated her resume, enrolled in computer classes, attended job fairs, and began filling out job applications. As a result, she got several job interviews. With her work experience, she thought that finding a new job would be easy.
“I grew worried when I didn’t hear back from anyone,” Sister Gregory says. “I was like, ‘What is going on?’”
Months passed without a single job offer. Finally, her husband, who was then serving as bishop of their ward in Newport Beach, California, USA, suggested that Blanca check out the Church’s self-reliance initiative and then join a Find a Better Job group.
As part of a Find a Better Job group, Sister Gregory began a 12-week course that helped her learn to network, recognize opportunities, update her resume, present herself professionally, and prepare for job interviews. She also set daily goals related to identifying resources, making contacts, and holding face-to-face meetings.
“A self-reliance class is not like any other class. It’s an inspiration. You feel the Spirit there,” she says. “Our class taught us to exercise faith, be diligent, work hard, and plead with the Lord—relying not just on our own skills and ability to find a job but also on Heavenly Father’s help.”
Thanks to her Find a Better Job group, Sister Gregory gained extensive practice sharing her qualifications and contacting people and businesses using a networking tool called “Me in 30 Seconds.” A Me in 30 Seconds statement helps employers understand the kind of job a potential employee is seeking, the person’s experience, and how the person could help the business succeed.
About eight weeks into her course, Sister Gregory felt impressed one day to kneel and pray continually throughout the day for help.
“I humbled myself,” she says. “I really needed Heavenly Father to help me find something. I wasn’t saying I want to be a manager or I want to make so much money. I just needed a job. I poured out my heart to the Lord.”
As part of her “homework” that day, she applied electronically for five positions. The very next day, a prospective employer called to interview her for a position as a bank branch officer. She was excited her prayers had been answered so quickly.
“I wasn’t nervous about the interview, because I had practiced in the class for so long,” says Sister Gregory. Nevertheless, she prayed fervently before the interview. “Heavenly Father,” she pleaded, “please put words into my mouth so I can answer correctly and so that those interviewing me can see the value of what I have to offer.”
In March 2018, a few days after Sister Gregory’s interview, Mickey and Margaret Foster pulled into a Newport Beach Stake chapel parking lot to visit that evening’s Find a Better Job group. The Fosters, then serving as full-time Self-Reliance Services senior missionaries, arrived early and were surprised to see Blanca already parked there.
“She was so excited that she jumped into our car to tell us she had just gotten a job,” Elder Foster says. “She described how much she loved her Heavenly Father and what the self-reliance initiative and her self-reliance group had meant to her in her quest to find employment.”
Sister Gregory also testified to the Fosters that she had never felt closer to the Savior or felt His personal involvement more in her life. Overcome with gratitude and emotion, all three wept. A year later, Sister Gregory remains grateful for her self-reliance group, for heavenly help, and for her job as a bank officer.
“The pay is good. The schedule is good. The benefits are good,” she says. She is using her skills, developing new talents, and “growing in the company.”
“Joining a 12-week Find a Better Job group is the best investment you could make,” she says to anyone looking for a job or looking to change jobs. “It won’t just help you update your resume and share your skills, but it will also help you learn to exercise your faith and grow your testimony. That’s what makes the difference. The class is only a couple of hours each week, but it will really help. It will change your life.”