Jobhunting Woes

Standard

There’s been a lot of exposure on job hunting over the past fortnight. Obviously this is all in response to the staggering and ever-increasing unemployment figures and about time too!

BBC 3 featured a live show over a series of nights…’Up for Hire’ and I must say, as good as it was at exposing the much debated subject, it certainly did grate on me somewhat!

As I’ve covered in previous posts, it’s hard not to get down on yourself when you’re job hunting. But there’s job hunting and there’s job hunting.

There were four ‘unemployed’ young people on the show. Two graduates and two non grads. Now I’m not sure why but this seemed to be a main focus and there was a blatant difference in attitudes between the two ‘groups’.

All self-proclaimed job hunters, the two grads were in no form of employment and hadn’t been for quite some time. Yes, the girl had done some interning but largely she had just been ‘unemployed’. Of the non grads, one had a bar job whilst he was ‘hunting’ and the other non grad was a full-time mum looking to get back into work.

Now the very distinct attitude differences between the two is something that’s always got on my nerves. As a graduate myself, I witnessed first hand those that feel they should land a job merely because they have been to uni for 12 hours a week, largely not having to work whilst ‘studying’ and having a jolly good time. Fair enough. You pay far too much for not enough time or resources and by golly yes you should be able to get a job after uni. And yes, hard work is involved and a lot of learning and effort goes in-again,I’ve been there myself and know.

But at a time where so so many have now been to uni that never would have done (myself included) as its so much more accessible, there was always going to be a point where the sheer volume of those leaving such establishments with such ambition just couldn’t feasibly be met by enough jobs.

And what gives a graduate the right to be more choosy over a job than a non grad?! As a job hunter myself, I’ve had a job for the duration. There are jobs out there, maybe not what you want to do but you just can’t quite frankly be that picky.

In times like this, if you really are desperate for a job, feeling depressed and worthless and so on and so forth, go get yourself a part-time job. There’s the hospitality industry, temping office work and retail that offer stable, friendly and (*gasp) sociable atmospheres.

When you’ve applied to these and can’t find a job, then you might get some sympathy as a true unemployed job hunter.

It’s a big ask to work whilst job hunting but I really do think it’s important. Never mind offering a few hours of distraction each day, you’re likely to pick up some valuable skills or knowledge whilst you’re doing a job you don’t like and not even realise it!

Knowing exactly what you want to do is great, but there’s just not enough jobs out there at the moment to support these ideals. Maybe standards have to be lowered as a stepping stone in the right direction towards your long-term goal.

*gets down off soapbox*

Anyway- on with the search!

Advertisements

Don’t Let The B*****ds Grind You Down!!

Standard

It’s a well known saying, and one I feel is entirely appropriate when considering your job hunt!

The build up of constant applications, constant searching, constant jobs via email, constant CV tweaking, constant niggling thoughts and constant lack of responses or rejections can easily get to the best of us.

“Don’t let them get to you!” they say.

“Keep going, something’ll turn up!”

“Chin up, keep trying!”

Pfffhhht!

It’s all very well saying this but reality really does suck in the day of the life of a professional jobhunter!!

As much as this drivvle really does drive me (and I’m sure a lot of you) insane what with the feeling of hitting constant brick walls and the seeming waste of time and effort, it is usually meant in the most sincere and least patronising manner….despite how it feels receiving it.

Good, solid and honest advice has been few and far between.

I’ve recently been following the ‘Dear Jeremy‘ column on the guardian’s website which has covered some really interesting subjects on job hunting, CV writing, applications and so on and so forth.  The latest article that has taken my interest (see above) is a letter that someone has wrote in asking for advice on applying for jobs, covering much of the subjects that I have in previous entries.  Essentially, the advice that has been fed back from the many users who look at the forum is really varied, genuine and pretty handy!  It’s really worth taking a look.

My favourite piece of advice from the whole article is as follows:

Firstly hear loudly from me that there is NOTHING more off putting to a prospective recruiter than the raw and unfettered message that you would do or consider anything. It’s instant bottom of the pile stuff.

Imagine going a date and being that easily pleased! Everyone needs a bit more chatting up and to be made to feel special. Even employers or their agents.

Blunt, funny, sharp and sooooo true!

And so, chin up jobhunters, keep trucking and something will eventually come along……..

On with the search!

Who Here Enjoys Their Job?!

Standard

Times are hard at the moment, we’ve established that.  Unfortunately though, the earning of money is essential in life. 

Throughout my jobsearch I, like many others I imagine, have been pondering just how many people actually enjoy what they do.  How many of us have visualised what we want to be doing, or where we want to be?  Some will naturally have more ambition and drive than others, determining just how satisfied we are or can be with our job roles.

I’m really interested in these figures (as depressing as they may be!) so take a look at the poll below and get voting!  Votes will be anonymous and will merely used for numerical value.

If you do enjoy your job, well done and good for you!  Long may it continue!  Are you indifferent?  That’s pretty good news too.  Maybe career direction isn’t as important to you as what you do in your spare time.  Or is your answer no?  If so, maybe have a look around.  Get inspired, either with different training and development opportunities both inside or outside of work, or consider a change of direction altogether……you can do it, you just need to want it enough!

The search continues!

Too Much or Too Little Experience….That is the Question.

Standard

A question indeed.  A current, interesting and debatable one at that!  Surely you can’t be too experienced you say……..unfortunately not!

For me, I am unsure of where I lie.  It’s an everychanging boundary I’ve found.  I have applied for many roles where I’ve been disregarded for having ‘too much’ experience thus I would presumably be restless and hastily move on wherever possible.  I have also applied for roles for which I am alledgedly not quite experienced enough.  Although this hasn’t actually been directly stated, it has certainly been implied through either lack of responses from positions that would be challenging but for which I fulfill person specifications, and also when receiving feedback from potential employers who highlight that there was ‘just someone else who had that little bit more experience’.  Whilst having not quite enough experience is understandable (although uber frustrating), at what point I wonder as I ponder the months of unsuccessful applications, does one become ‘too experienced’, and more importantly, what does it even mean?!

My first experience of officially being ‘too experienced’ or ‘too qualified’ was back in March when I applied for an admin position at an event staffing agency.  The role sounded like a great place to start; varied job description, great company, good prospects and generally a sound stepping stone within the world of events.  I’ve got years of admin experience and have always thought this a positive thing.  Along with my event coordination, operations and management experience  I thought I was well set up to land the job!  Apparantly though, for this role (for which I fulfilled all aspects of the person spec) I was a little too experienced and “would be more suited to a project management role.”

I suppose this is somewhat a complement really.  It means I should concentrate my efforts on roles a little more challenging and/or higher up the chain so to speak.  The problem here however, as you might have guessed, is that it’s oh so easy to be deemed too inexperienced for a role – particularly at the moment when levels of competition for jobs within the creative industries is so high.  Even with experience it is likely that there will be that one person who hosting just that little bit more experience than you. 

Despite this uttlerly frustrating situation, particularly at the moment when employers can employ people that might otherwise be seeking more demanding roles due to the ’employers market’ (see previous post), I can understand the idea behind this statement – not to say that I agree with it though!  I suppose it boils down to longevity really.  Recruitment can be an expensive business – a longer term potential employee with more scope for learning and possibly a little less ambition to move into those ‘higher’ or more challenging roles is an attractive prospect. 

One of the most surprising – shall we say – conversations I have had was in the early days of my search with a local internship company.  I found a paid one month internship with a local organistaion.  With a real interest in digital marketing but no direct experience it was the perfect opportunity to gain experience and useful contacts for potential future employment.  Only half an hour after sending off my application however, I received a phone call asking me why I had applied for the position seeing as I hadn’t detailed any digital marketing experience in my CV!

Hmmmmmmm.  Now correct me if I’m mistaken – my understanding of an internship was/is that it serves the purpose of allowing an individual to gain experience and learn new skills in a new industry or role, thus bridging the gap when starting out or changing career paths, helping you to gain employment in a new field – or at the very least providing you with a chance!

Not only do I have a genuine interest in digital marketing and the opportunities available to exploit within it, I do have some indirect experience in adopting methods and practices to promote events and myself through various social mediums.

Unfortunately though, despite relaying my thoughts on internships and the reasons behind my applying for the position I was simply informed that for this internship, and many others, you require experience in the given field.  The best part of this story is that when sharing this tale with a new friend only a week or so after applying for this, it turned out the internship was in fact at the company she worked for!  Oh, and that in actual fact you didn’t need experience at all to apply for it as full training was to be given, much like I had expected……

So, being in a position where you can have not enough experience and therefore not get a chance to thrive, to having too much experience to obtain a role that you could really take on as your own is really quite a predicament!  There’s a lot to contend with!

Whilst researching ‘too much experience’ online I found a useful article ‘Overcome being overqualified’ http://www.wetfeet.com/advice-tools/interviewing/too-good-for-the-job-overcome-being-overqualified

Although the website has a hugely corporate focus, it covers some really interesting topics from Cv and cover letter writing to interview techniques and dress code, etiquite etc….it’s worth taking a look.

Yesterday the Metro printed an article stating that the jobless surge hits the under 24’s the hardest, with 2.51 million as the unemployment rate between May and July, with the number of unemployed 18-24 year olds rising by 77,000  in only three months!  Blimey!! 

It’s important to keep going and stay motivated in order to achieve your goals:

The Search Continues!

It’s An Employer’s Market Out There!

Standard

Securing an ideal job can be challenging at the best of times.  Managing to secure an ideal job when you cannot secure any job at all is just ridiculous.

In Cornwall, prior to my Brighton move, I knew it was going to be difficult.  Although the job market has really come along in Cornwall – particularly within the creative industries – the volume of positions to apply for is relatively small.  Upon my move to Brighton however, where the number of businesses and the range of jobs is much greater, I was not expecting it to be so trying.  Particularly when one has such a strong employment history (and a First in my degree…).  Silly old me!

So, to those that suggest I have better chances of getting a job in Brighton than in Cornwall, I’m still searching!!

Maybe, yes, when the market was strong, potential for obtaining a job was good.  A little competitive but generally a positive outlook could  be had.  In an employers market such as now, the levels of competition for actually securing a job are unbelievable.  Literally.

A couple of weeks ago I attended an interview for a job that just would have been amazing.  It was exactly what I am looking for; a challenge, event orientated, business networking and learning focussed, with social media in the mix too.  Oh, and the pay was exactly what I am looking for.  The scope to grow within the role was fantastic and you could really make it your own – it couldn’t have got any better!

I didn’t get it though.  Unfortunate, however after calling the interviewer (who was by the way, really nice) I received some great feedback, which not only made me feel a little better (although obviously I am still pretty gutted) but also gave me an insight into just how difficult it must be at the moment to recruit when the job market is filled to the brim with jobhunters, as frustrating as that is to say!

150 people applied for this job.  Ony 12 were shorlisted for preliminary interview – me included – and only 4 of us obtained an actual interview.  Whilst this does offer me some consolation, and I am pleased that I not only got that far in the process, I have also been shown the calibre of job I am capeable of getting and should be applying for without comprising my ideals, and maximising my skills and experience.

Knowing that you are up against this amount of people is pretty unnerving though, even if a job is made for you.  However, if you thought this figure was shocking, wait for my next tale!

Think admin position at a production company.  Based in a well known and reputable venue.  How many might this attract?  Around the same amount you might think.  Maybe applications might even hit the 200 mark.  Nope.  Try over 400 applicants!!!  My lovely friend applied for this one.  We both used to work at this venue, him in the box office as well as other ad hoc admim duties.  Basically we couldn’t figure why he hadn’t heard back from the company so he called them up to find out and was told this news.  In fact he said that the recruitment lady implied that they’d not even looked at all the applications – where would you start?!

It’s all rather disheartening.

It’s also not uncommon to not hear back from potential employers if you’re not successful for application.  Not even a ‘no thanks’ email.  Of course, it’s understandable that what with the volume of applicants at the moment it’s inconvenient, but waiting around for two or three weeks before you must presume that you haven’t been successful is just a little bit mean.

Essentially what I’ve found, and I’m sure I’m not alone, is that applying for jobs is a full time job itself!!  What with trying to find the right calibre of jobs, scoping out potential vacancies and employers, getting those applications out and making sure they’re all tailored specifically is an effort and super time consuming!  It’s not surprising really that I find it difficult to find time to approach all things on my job hunting lists seeing as I have a 42.5 hour working week!!

So, in these challenging times it’s essential to ‘wow’ potential employers with your CV, your covering letter, and with yourself in order to have a shot!  Have a look at the article below on things to consider at interview to help you stand out a little.  Some of it’s obvious but I think it’s good to have a think about it regardless:

‘How to Wow a New Employer in 5 Easy Steps’

(http://theargus.co.uk/jobs/jobs_news/9183521.How_to_Wow_a_New_Employer_in_5_Easy_Steps/)

  1. Show enthusiasm;
  2. Give examples of success in order to stand out from the competition;
  3. Prove your ability with a professional qualification in addition to/instead of solely academic qualifications;
  4. Be flexible;
  5. Remember your manners.

Naturally, there is always going to be competition when looking for jobs, that’s what it’s all about – finding the right position, then finding the right person for the job role itself.  Without such a rigorous shortlisting processes it’d be a free for all, and we wouldn’t be matched up with positions that we should be.  It’s soo frustrating though, knowing what you’re capeable of and not being able to put it into practice.  It’s a long and difficult road, and no matter how many people tell you that ‘something will come along’ it just doesn’t make you feel any better.  Particularly when a career is what you’ve wanted for such a long time and is the one thing that you can’t get.  Some people fall into their job roles and good for them, it’s often about who you know (as we all know already) but there are others for whom it just takes that little bit longer to land on your feet.

Oh well – on with the search!

The Interview.

Standard

So you’ve finally managed to get to interview.  You’ve been selected, filtered through the short listing process – well done!  The goal posts are well within sight now, you’re almost there; what an achievement!

Only, hold on.  What do you wear?  What’s the office attire?  Do you blend, wearing a generic pencil skirt, heels and blouse?  Standard but effective.  Or do you wear a nice dress, stand out a little bit.  Dress confident and all that.

Oh and the questions!  What questions should you ask?  Obvious and generic training and development opportunities, and scope for progression.  Salary – is that allowed? 

How much should you know about the company?  Will they provide you with a company overview at the beginning of the interview whilst you sit and hold your tongue, trying not to butt in and demonstrate your in-depth and unnecessary knowledge on their company’s performance over the last year, client list, team members and more?!  And what will they ask you – oh the stress!  The worry!  Help!

Upon stumbling across a discarded tabloid newspaper the other day, my questions have been answered.  Or not.  Is it just me or is all interview and technique advice so obvious and patronising?

‘What Not To Do At An Interview’

Allegedly, it has been known for a man to attend an interview with a cockatoo on his shoulder.  A cockatoo.  And then there’s the lady who sang through all her responses.  Sure you’d be remembered alright but really!  Handcuffing yourself to the desk is clearly a massive no no; who in their right mind would employ someone who cannot demonstrate common sense or sanity at an occassion such as an interview!

Generally (and sensibly) speaking, looking smart and being prepared is key.  Useful advice from ‘Managing Director’ interviewed for said paper includes:

  • Don’t ramble; be succinct but offer more than one word answers. 
  • Be tactful about why you’re leaving your current role – no nasty remarks!
  • It’s not about what you say, it’s how you say it.

Thanks for that ‘Managing Director’, really original advice!

For further ‘useful’ advice on how not to act at an interview, take a look at the following link: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interviewsnetworking/a/interviewblund.htm which will provide you generally with a repeat of the above.

One comment that does however bode well…

  • Don’t act dejected if your interview isn’t going great – maintain composure.

Personally, I think it’s about engaging with your interviewer(s) and showing your personality.  Recently I had a really positive experience where prior to an interview the interviewer came and sat with me whilst waiting for her colleague, made me feel at east and had a little chat about where I was from etc.  Immediately relaxed, I felt less judged and less in an exam when the interview began and found myself really expanding on answers but not waffling, talking slowly and clearly, and most importantly – not finger twiddling!

Confidence is key, and an essential part of portraying yourself.  Nerves can easily manifest and take you by surprise, thus it is essential to really know the role you’ve applied for.  Know why you’d be good at it and why you want it.  Look at the company in detail and figure out what aspects excite you and interest you.  Whether you’ll find this information from the team structure, history of the organisation, the current blog or the client list, these aspects can really make a difference and I think it really does show through if and when you genuinely desire a role.

Rubbish then that after a long-awaited and positive second interview the agency lost a major client and the position fell through….

On with the search!

Applications, Applications, Applications.

Standard

Q: How many job applications does it take to get a job?

A: Unknown.

So far this year I have recorded sixty three jobs that I have applied for.  To make matters worse, I have actually applied for more than this however having been much more optimistic in January, I hadn’t felt the need to note each and every single position at that point.

These seven months have seen me undersell and oversell myself.  I have applied for roles I could fulfill with my eyes closed and jobs that would give me the opportunity to learn and be challenged whilst maximising my skills and experience.  Also positions that I have known there was no chance of at all but hey, worth a try!

Out of these vacancies I have obtained only two interviews through applications, both of which have been in the past month.   One for a Regional Events Internship at national charity and one as a Conference and Banquetting Coordinator at local corporate hotel.  Funnily enough, the first interview I had was the one offered to me, however put me in somewhat of a predicament.  To take it or not to take it.  CV wise, it was in the right direction.  Career wise, not necessarily.  Plus I would have had to move from a flexible temping position to a permenant position that I only wanted temporarily.  Knowing I’d applied for other jobs in the meantime that would be better suited to me was too much of a barrier so I had to decline the offer – thankfully, a decision that I still stick by. 

Unfortunately, it took me a month or so of applying for all jobs I was capeable of to realise that I needed to be more specific.  The problem here is identifying the vacancies in which you can fulfill more than competantly resulting in boredom, and those in which you have things to learn, skills to develop and ideas to offer.  A position in which you can grow in. 

So the question raised after overcoming unemployment and securing temping work was this – what jobs do I apply for?!  I needed a tactical plan.  Do I apply for everything and land myself in a job that won’t challenge me and allow me to begin my career in the direction I wish it to take.  Do I apply for jobs in which I don’t fit all the person spec but which I know I could competantly fulfill given the chance?  Unrealistic with this current job market.  Especially after hearing from a friend that at the University of Sussex that one hundred and ten applicants were all chasing a standard clerical assistant vacancy. 

The issue is finding a position which gets you excited.  Gets you riled up and ready for the challenge.  A position that makes you look at your CV and realise what you’re missing from it – things you did in other jobs and took for granted, making you assess your skills, knoweldge and potential; then research, adapt, read and adapt again your application and approach to the job.  It’s important I’ve learned, not to restrict yourself, and to look at what might seem an obscure opportunity at a different angle.  I’m sure you’ll find yourself realising a new potential aswell as being inspired and motivated to keep going.

On with the search!

So I’m a Product….Not a Person…..?

Standard

Sprucing up your CV, printing it off on nice paper and proudly walking it around town just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Although this is somewhat a good and efficient sales technique, unless a business is living in the dark ages (which does have its benefits sometimes mindyou!) this method just doesn’t offer the hard sell required to stand out from the crowd anymore. 

You need the ‘wow’ factor. 

Especially if looking for a job like me, in creative events, marketing, networking or social media.

I read an article in ‘Stylist’ magazine (stylist.co.uk).  Issue 89 if you’d like to know.  ‘What did we do with our time before the web‘, and it got me thinking about the methods I’ve rapidly adopted over recent months.

Now a fully fledged ‘Tweeter’, Linked-In member, and proud host of a blog (facebook is obviously a given), I have quickly grown to love, respect and appreciate what social media can do.  In a world where so much of what we do centres around cyberspace, and at a time where social media as a means for PR and communications is booming, it is essential to get yourself out there in the virtual stratosphere, promoting yourself and your specialities much in the way I feel, of a shiny new toy.  Or Smartphone.  That’s probably more appropriate here. 

Social media is all about communications and getting yourself known and interacting with other users and organisations is not just a must, but actually really enjoying. 

Unfamiliar?  Fret ye not!  Take a look at my uber savvy self proclaimed social media evangelist friend’s blog: http://abeginnersguidetosocialmedia.com/

I personally have found that approaching jobhunting using these methods extremely useful – not only in finding opportunities for work, but also in exploring aspects of yourself and personal skills and qualities and realising your potential.  These opportunities allow you to identify your ‘unique selling points’, thus enabling you to use sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, Flicker and even Youtube as a tool for widening awareness, prescence and promotion. 

The search continues!

Face the Facts – Your Unemployed!

Standard

It had crossed my mind a few times when recently travelling South East Asia.  Coming back to unemployment isn’t a great prospect at the best of times, but what with our country’s current climate it was hard to know what to expect.

I’ve always had a job.  Since the age of thirteen when I signed up for a leaflet round with my next door neighbour – despite the embarrassment.  So thrilled we were at the prospect of a few extra pennies each week, we initially failed to do the maths and figure out that we earned only two pence for each individual house that received our neatly and methodically folded promo materials.  Take from that the two hours per week spent actually folding those darned things and you equate to a pretty pitiful sum!  This feat, unsurprisingly, didn’t last the year. 

Following a stint of waitressing positions and a ‘Saturday’ shop job I moved into the world of administration as a ‘trainee’ at the local council at sixteen before going to Uni at twenty, then juggling two bar jobs, a couple of internships and some temp work in the ‘holidays’.  It was certainly an unusual predicament for me not to have a job! 

Luckily, although work was scarce and unreliable, as January merged quickly into February I managed to obtain some temping work here and there to tide me over in Cornwall before relocating to Brighton in March.  Otherwise referred to as a ‘survival job’ (see American job hunting websites), assignments over the last eight months have led me to work for a graphic design company, a car showroom, a health insurance provider and a civil engineering company. 

Anyway.  Back to January and unemployment.  Having stumbled across a ‘help guide’ for those facing the unemployment market http://www.helpguide.org/life/unemployment_job_loss_stress_coping_tips.htm I found some rather ridiculous advice, from how to inform your children that your current status ‘is not their fault’ through to grieving.  In order to ‘survive the emotional rollercoaster of unemployment’ one should consider the following suggestions:

  • Write a diary: let those feelings out!
  • Accept reality : for those of us who might continue to dress and ready ourselves for work each day, or maybe continue to go to work following redundancy and be forcibly removed by security!
  • Don’t beat yourself up:  pretty obvious, but pretty hard going when you’re applying for positions and not making any progress. 
  • Look for the silver lining:  whilst accepting the reality of unemployment….hmmm….

Brilliant. 

On a more positive note, the BBC offer guidance on where to find vacancies, benefits, budgeting and so on.  Basic but useful if you do need some direction http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12003339.

And so, after accepting reality, remaining as positive as possible and securing some temporary ‘survival jobs’ I began searching for a permenant job.  A position that I am passionate about.  It had begun.