I have always thought that once I have degrees and certificates in my pocket, finding a job will be like taking a walk on a beach during sunset. Oh well, not so fast there buddy! Finding a job nowadays is more difficult than I thought. This is due to several factors, like increased global population, increased number of educated people and technology that can replace human labour.
I would like to mention upfront that I am not a pretentious person, I would be fine even with cleaning swimming pools or being a cashier at a supermarket… but, we have volunteers and teenagers doing those jobs, they are… paid less.
Not to forget that companies are still and will still focus on MONEY! So they will not really care whether you are a great deal for the company or not, they are focused on getting faster to the short list of candidates. And how do you do the shortlist? That I will explain as part of the 1st lesson learned below:
- Getting to the shortlist of candidates: You initially have a large pool of people applying, if they meet the EXACT standards as in X years of experience in that, education in that, PhD in that and vocational courses in that, must be at least bilingual with a tendency of becoming a hyper polyglot, etc. Nowadays, there is ATS “applicant tracking system” screening for ideal candidates, hence no human factor in the initial process for the HR. Therefore, be sure to apply to jobs only if they are matching your profile because nobody cares you can do a job if you cannot prove it on paper! This can be terribly discouraging, because there is too much focus on accuracy and matching the points, when in real life you cannot use, for example, 3 years work experience in a job description as a constant. This is due to the fact that one person might acquire much more knowledge and experience in an intensive year of work in a challenging working environment as supposed to one that might have worked for 5 years in projects, but learned nothing essential! On the other hand, the same goes for the ones overly qualified for a certain job, the ATS will not recognize you as part of the parameters of the ideal candidate. Henceforth, make sure you adapt your CV or use your network to get that dream job you’re chasing!
- You have to learn how to sell yourself/your skills. This is the worst part for me, I love selling/promoting others and I love marketing, but when it comes to selling myself all my selling skills are disabled. If you want to get a job, you can sell yourself by mentioning how your skills and talents can help the organization achieve their goals (usually has to do with growth: sales revenue, market share, etc.). Just saying you are a great analyst because you did that and that, won’t really do the trick. You should mirror that experience into the organization you aim to penetrate so that they get the feeling it is about them – it is about what you can do for them.
- Not all recruiters are really people’s people. Recruiters are like sales people, they earn commissions with the placements. Some recruiters would really support you and guide you all through the way even if you don’t get the job. However, there are also recruiters that will discharge you without notice if the client is not interested in your profile. The lesson here is: if you are in the recruitment pipeline, make sure you also send emails/calls to ask for updates, some recruiters are too busy to come back to you with a negative answer…
- Know exactly who you are… or at least pretend you do. There is this social pressure to act tough and look like you have all figured out. In my world, nothing is sure, I am subject to change and I am pretty good at adapting and a master in flexibility. Tell this in a job interview and you’re erased from the shortlist! Don’t be vulnerable, don’t be hesitant and don’t be fully yourself when you are in the Dragon’s Den. Instead be what they want to see, smile and enjoy yourself while expressing your office persona. In my case, I won’t use this lesson cause I don’t like limiting my freedom of expression and as consequence – here I am, still job hunting…
- Personality tests and assessments are more damaging than helping. In the past 3 months I did multiple personality tests and I could understand the algoritm pretty fast. In my opinion, you cannot define a person’s profile with psychometrics, nevertheless could you understand a person’s fit within an organization by using these tools! People are more complex than a psychometric! Asking to select an answer from A to D or 1 to 6 is not really giving you valuable insights. Moreover, a lot of other elements interfere, like state of mind when you do it, what happened in the past hours/days, book you read, etc. Imagine the state of mind of a person desperate to get a job and having to do a personality test to see if there is a match with the company. You must be joking, right? Aaaa… the assessments, the ones that evaluate your logic, numerical, cognitive, verbal abilities compared with a mass! No worth getting into arguments here but as Einstein said: “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Lesson here, don’t get discouraged with all this standardized tools, do them and have fun while doing them. The outcome is objective to the standard and irrelevant to your whole beautifully complex self!
- Some people are preferred over others. Yes, discrimination still exists in some places, although lesser and lesser. it would be ideal if one can send an open letter saying honestly who they are and what they can do and then the company will take you and make a superman/superwomen out of you. It is actually possible, it is not a dream, yet to make it to the shortlist you have to meet some criteria that only a few people can. Here I mean that some people had more conventional educational paths to develop themselves to the current evaluation standards, while others have taken unconventional educational paths, such as developing skills without necessarily taking certificates to prove the skills. Now, how can you compare that and transform it into valuable insights to determine the best fit for a company? If you are a person trying to give a meaning to your humble existence in this world and have the idealist mindset that things should be fair or right, then you live in the wrong world. On a positive note: changes are made in some companies, allowing themselves to take more time to figure out a talented person.
- You have to keep a positive mindset. Rejections, rejections and some more rejections. It does not really matter anymore how many rejections you’ve gotten prior to getting that job you were hunting. It can be disappointing, discouraging and demoralizing, yet you got to keep it positive and think it is because something better is awaiting you. There is no person in this world that likes rejection, yet everyone is rejected at something at some point in life.
In a nutshell, it is good to enjoy the job hunting process whilst ignoring the less positive sides of the process. Be aware that it is not always easy to get that job you’re hunting and be also grateful that you have the luxury to decide which job to pick! Future employees compete against each other, but employers compete as well!