Hey, do you know what’s not fun?
Alright, there is an element of fun behind it. Personally, I quite like going through job listings. For me, it’s a lot like flat-hunting: it can be fun to see what different but similar roles entail, how you might respond to those challenges and learning what new skills you might pick up.
However, job searches become a royal pain in the neck when we are forced to look for them. The added pressure of needing a job right now, this Goddamn minute! also serves to suck any kind of joy out of the process. Then, of course, we have those wonderful “recruitment” tactics that plague the digital job search landscape. In many ways, it really feels like job seekers are a barrel of laughs for a woefully inept industry.
In the end, there are many of us forced to take jobs we know we will hate just to cover our basic expenses.
That being said, some of us are lucky to hold the wolf from the door for at least a few months. Maybe you’ve got substantial savings or you’re blessed with living in a country that provides decent social security (thanks, Germany). That can definitely take the pressure off – especially if you have dependents.
However, even with our basic expenses covered, looking for a job still often ends up being a painfully tedious, degrading and dehumanizing experience. It’s enough to make you want to run away and live in the woods.
I’m actually in the middle of a job search myself right now. I am also very much at my wit’s end. I applied, last month, to over a hundred companies.
Over a hundred companies.
Let that sink in for a minute. That is quite a lot for the space of a month. Now, let me tell you how many positive responses I got (i.e., interviews) I got.
Just under ten.
I had rejections left, right and center. Not even polite rejections, most of the time. A lot of them were automated responses. Not only is that intensely discouraging, it’s just plain rude.
Maybe, I’m just not good enough.
The above musings are nonsense. I did everything right. If you’re applying for jobs in a professional manner, you’re doing everything right as well!
We’re taking all the right steps, yet we get very little in return. It just doesn’t seem very fruitful.
Sadly, this is a totally normal experience for job seekers. It certainly seems bleak while you’re in the thick of it. You’re throwing CVs left, right and centre. Despite that, you’ve also got to remember that it seems worse because you need the Goddamn job right now, this minute!
However, if you’re doing your level best to get out there, you should always try to keep in mind that…
…you’re doing fine!
That’s why I threw the following points together. For anyone who needs a bit of encouragement and perspective, read on!
Hiring processes are painfully outdated
Application Tracking Software, online application methods and even my beloved job boards all, for the most part, suck. Now, job boards can be a great way of discovering new companies and new positions. However, when you’re applying, I would strongly advise you apply to the company directly. If possible. Don’t go through a middleman. You’ll just get lost in a wave of resumes.
Companies also seem more than happy to throw out a job listing and then spend the next eternity responding to candidates. They seem to think that automated responses constitute an actual response. Furthermore, many of them are woefully unprepared to deal with the onslaught of applications they receive.
I find it painfully hilarious when I get an interview for a job I applied to three months previously. While it is great to get an interview, it shows just what an utterly sad and pathetic state the HR industry is in. So remember, it’s not you. It’s them.
Getting the perfect position (could) take months
Terrible, outdated HR practices have a lot to do with this. At the same time, finding the perfect “match” is a lot like dating – much of it is down to fit. Do you fit in with the company culture? If not, that’s no particular person’s fault. If anything, you’re doing yourself a favour by turning that job down.
Then we have other points: salary is naturally one of the most important. While a good work-life balance is paramount, salary is the main reason you want a job in the first place. If it weren’t, I’m pretty sure many of us would be running our own raccoon kingdoms or setting up a circus or whatever.
Then of course there’s the work-life balance the job itself offers. Are you allowed to work remotely (that point, for me, is non-negotiable at this stage). Will you actually enjoy your day-to-day tasks? What are your colleagues like?
Job interviews are vetting processes. Not just for the company, but for the candidate as well. Remember, when you go to an interview, you are also interviewing them. This whole process of finding a position, applying, seeing if you’re a good fit and maybe doing “trial” days can end up taking a long time.
Many HR managers have no idea what they want
I’ve been quite lucky in my working life. When I was a freelancer, clients wanted written content from me. When I looked for work as an English teacher, language schools hired me to teach English. Pretty straightforward. Then, I got into digital marketing. In both cases, they were small but successful companies who knew what they wanted. We didn’t even have HR departments.
The sad truth is that most HR “professionals” have no clue what they’re talking about when they write a job ad. It becomes even more apparent when they interview you. I’m not saying all HR people are like this but far too many are painfully unaware of what the job they’re interviewing for actually entails.
Consider rejections as “standard”
Occasionally I receive a “you were not successful” email, along with an unnecessarily long list of instructions about how to deal with rejection. I find it incredibly patronizing but I understand where they’re coming from. However, if you’re a grown up who has had several jobs then you should be well-hardened against rejection now.
If not, remember: rejection is more common than acceptance. Apply for jobs and go out there fully expecting to be rejected. Consider each rejection as just one more step towards your goal of getting a job. It’s as simple as that. Even if HR managers knew what they wanted and we had the best recruitment systems in the world, you would still get a healthy dose of rejections.
All in all, I’ll maintain that looking for a job sucks. Companies don’t make it any easier on candidates, which is why these four points are so very important for us to remember. We are not the problem. We need to power through, look for those diamonds in the rough (I REFUSE to use that stupid word “unicorn”) and build relationships that way.