“Dear Job Applicant” – Job Hunting in the Times of Covid, Part 231 Mar 2021
Things I would like you to know, From an Experienced Job Applicant
1. It’s called job-hunting for a reason, so sharpen those skills.
Job hunting is a skill, which means it needs to be fine-tuned to develop. Most jobs are not one-step processes anymore. There is the initial application and then there may be a telephone interview, an online video interview, an assessment centre and a final interview; each stage requiring a separate skill set. I have applied for graduate schemes for a number of years, one particular one I have applied to for the past 4 cycles. Initially, I used to fall at the first hurdle not passing the psychometric tests, then the following year I passed these and not the video interview and this year I not only passed the assessment centre but got a final interview.
I used websites like AssessmentDay to practice. I learned how to thoroughly research each role and company and became much more confident in the knowledge that I know my ‘stuff’ the more times I completed an application. Sometimes you need a fresh perspective on your methods. We spend so long looking at our CV that we cannot see the room for improvement anymore so show it to someone. Maybe you need a change in tactic, there is no harm in trying because each job wants something a little bit different.
2. Don’t isolate yourself.
Working from home in lockdown can be an isolating feeling. Speak to people; friends, cousins, course mates or find a mentor. Share what you worked on in the day; people in jobs have colleagues they can discuss things with, so you have to find your own. Talk about your work in detail with select people and then with everyone else keep the conversation light. It can be disheartening to constantly bring it up. Webinars are also great ways to add some variety and human interaction into your day and you often leave with new connections which may lead to potential mentors and other opportunities.
Be careful not to isolate yourself physically either (once lockdown is lifted) – don’t miss out on family events, and friend meetups because suddenly you feel out of place, as if you can’t relate to them – no one is judging you as much as you are judging yourself.
3. Think outside the box – if not now, then when?
This is a really bizarre time, which has brought us unique opportunities for growth. With extra time on your hands, you can: learn a new language, do free courses on something that interests you, start a blog, tutor someone in need, make that scrapbook you have been putting off or even start a small business. So many ‘normal’ people have started small businesses from their homes during Covid-19 and it really is inspirational. Don’t focus on only the financial success (if you are able to), there are successes in learning how to set one up, producing an idea, generating social media marketing for it etc. Maybe your CV is geared towards something in the sciences but there is a creative side to you, you’ve always wanted to explore? There are a huge range of resources out there: Duolingo, free webinars and courses, virtual work experiences, etc. I’ve found so many through Tik Tok! Job hunting doesn’t have to be boring.
4. Write it all down.
Applying for jobs is a multi-step learning process, so there is a lot of information to retain. Have a method which suits you on where (eg; Google Sheets) or how to jot things down like interview dates, feedback from psychometric tests and questions which came up which you felt you could improve on the next time around. Writing down your learning outcomes may prevent repeating the same mistakes, keeps you more organised and makes chasing up applications easier. If nothing else, one day you can look back and see how far you’ve come.
5. Don’t take unsuccessful applications to heart!
You may receive 200 rejections, but does that mean your value has lessened? It’s absolutely not possible for it to! You are not an item for sale whose value could be determined by the economics of supply and demand. Do not let strangers, multinational corporations and HR people make you feel that you’re inadequate. They are only doing their job and they don’t mean anything personally, so don’t take it as such – just take on board the constructive advice.
Continue to believe in yourself, believe in your ability and capabilities because if you don’t, how can you expect others to? Babies fall down approximately 70 times an hour when learning to walk, but they never think, “it’s not for me”. Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before being published and selling in excess of half a billion copies. Rejection is part of life and keeps us grateful and humbled when we attain ‘success’ – whatever that may be.