“Dear Job Applicant” – Job Hunting in the Times of Covid, Part 130 Mar 2021
Things I would like you to know, From an Experienced Job Applicant
1. Write the opening date for each job, not the deadline.
One of the most useful things I have learnt is to stop writing down a job’s deadline – by that time it can be far too late – write the opening date and get the application in early! Think of being early as being on time. One part-time position in a pretzel shop I saw had amassed over 700 applications within hours and despite the deadline still being some time away, they closed the opening after less than 24 hours. Another time, I had been offered an assessment centre whilst my cousin was still filling out her application form. Writing down the opening date instils a much-needed sense of urgency. When things are already so competitive don’t let this be a reason why they consider someone else over you.
2. Be flexible.
These are not normal times; everything has changed, and you must too. Firstly, be flexible in your routine, you’re going to have days when everything seems over-whelming, when you struggle to see the point, when you feel burnt out – rest days are just as important as workdays. Rest days are also productive days!
Secondly, flexibility extends to the kinds of jobs you will be looking for, consider jobs you haven’t contemplated before; part-time, internships etc – so many people have lost their jobs during this pandemic and are now either looking for other opportunities or working in industries they had no prior training in; a complete switch. Use this as a chance to try something different and grow your experiences. You may be ‘over-qualified’ for a role, but in these circumstances to have the privilege of even being able to look for a job and being offered one is something which shouldn’t be taken lightly and is a big achievement. Remember, where you are now is not where you will always be, and you never know which opportunity you hadn’t even considered, lies behind which door
3. Asking for help is not the lazy way out.
No one has ever gotten anywhere they are without the support of people advising them, guiding them and lifting them up, so do not be afraid to ask for help from others. If someone doesn’t reply, message them again – people are busy, more likely than not the email has just gotten lost in the heaps we all receive every day, and not intentionally ignored. Use networking sites liked LinkedIn, there are people with experience just looking to share their wisdom with people who need help. Additionally, there are countless opportunities which are recruited for without advertising and this is where your networking skills will help. Internships can turn into paid employment easier than you may think.
The job market is more competitive than ever so use your networks for support. They may not be able to do something for you themselves but, everyone knows someone.
4. Keep things in perspective – your self-worth should not be determined by career.
I cannot stress this point enough: your self-worth should not be connected to your career, your value in life is not connected to your career, your career does not define you. Yes, a career is something which plays a huge part in our lives, but it should not seismically shift how we feel about ourselves or change how people who know us, view us. People remember how you make them feel, not what you spend your 9-5 doing, so try to keep things in perspective.
If somebody makes you feel less than, it comes from a place of ignorance, because anyone at any time could find themselves in a similar situation. Your life begins the moment you are born, not a magical moment in the future when you think you have it all figured out. Lose the expectations you have held on to so tightly and embrace change. Don’t hold off things like meeting friends, holidays, relationships etc. because you think you don’t deserve them now, you deserve everything.
5. Kindness begins with yourself.
You need to view yourself through the lens of kindness. It’s a: global pandemic, it’s a lockdown, you haven’t seen your family and friends in months (maybe even a year), you might be finding comfort in food so your body image is deteriorating, you’re wondering when things will ever start looking up, tensions might be running higher than usual in your home, your worries keep you up at night so you wake up late and miss the majority of the sunlight hours and you’ve been getting rejection after rejection whilst well-meaning people keep giving unsolicited advice. Breathe! You. Are. Not. Alone.
Social media makes it look like people ‘have it together’ and that might push you to try beyond what is healthy for you at the moment, but after many discussions with friends from a variety of professions and walks of life – most people are struggling in some way. Keep trying the best you can in the circumstances we are in, there are so many things you are juggling without even realising.