The one month itch

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Job hunting can take many shapes and forms over a number of hours, days, weeks, months and eons. Patience is a virtue that decides to wander a bit when it has been doing well for so long, and usually does this around the one month mark.

I don’t know where it goes or what it does. Maybe Patience catches up with Cool, Calm and Collected over a bottle of red. I just know that one moment it is there and the next a big, blaring neon ‘UNEMPLOYED’ sign you didn’t see before appears. We all know the sign was there all along, but because you were focussed on making your resume look awesome, good juju, and proactive action you had all those endorphins from making calls and sending emails coursing through your veins. There was no room for doubt!

But then you feel it. The one month itch.

I thought because I had been warned about the itch I would be able to slip past the worry. I thought that because I had received such great advice from fellow expats I would see the signs and be able to ignore them. But patience wanders, doubt on your abilities can creep in, and sometimes you just need a bottle of red.

When I moved over I was confident that within 2 months I would find a job. I have support from my friends and family, a UK phone number, and 5 days a week to contact recruiters and HR teams giving myself the weekend off so I wouldn’t burn out.

Job hunting is not easy anywhere around the world. One of the Aussies I have met so far has said it took her 2 months to start her job, and another friend 6 months of consistent job searching. My fellow expat The Roaming Blonde has also written about how New York City can push you in ways you didn’t know you could be pushed in work and life. It is no different here in Manchester. If job hunting was easy national unemployment rates would be a lot lower than 5% of the population and less tabloids about there being a skills shortage in the marketplace.

At the one month mark I still have a whole month to secure a job and achieve my goal. And yet, even though I am fully aware I still have another month, I am scratching.

The best piece of advice I have received is to watch out for this one month itch, acknowledge it is there, and acknowledge all of the things you have achieved up to this point. After all it has only been one month!

The itch can tempt you with the option of settling for less in the hopes that the job you really want will come along soon. This is the easy option and only the temporary solution to a long term goal. Don’t do it to yourself.

You can get to the point where you think you want to take anything. You want a job to keep you occupied, you want stability, you want an income. I get it, I am there with you, but eventually you move passed it.

Negativity has a huge impact on your frame of mind and confidence, so stop scratching, get the balm out and make a new move.

What can you do different?  
List the things you did that caught someone’s attention (I love lists and keeping them simple is key!). Look at what you’ve been doing over the past month. What has worked and what hasn’t worked at getting an interview or phone call?

  • Did contact via email, phone, or LinkedIn work better?
  • Was it when you attached a cover letter even when they didn’t ask for one?
  • Is there a particular job site you were able to find more roles to apply for directly to the potential employer?
  • Is a follow up call or email the best way to stay in touch with recruiters and HR departments about jobs?
  • How do you try something new – even if it is out of your comfort zone – to get your foot in the door?

When the going gets tough, the tough get going… again.

So crack on!

The misconception of job hunting

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Terror, fear of the unknown, and mornings spent lounging in pyjamas staring at a closed laptop. These may be a few of your not so favourite first thoughts starting the job hunt process. In one ear there are professionals commenting on a shortage of jobs available in the market, while in the other ear a job search website can reveal over 2,000 specialised positions waiting for the right candidate to apply.

The common misconception of successful – and relatively quick – job hunting is that it takes a special type of person to put themselves out there over and over again despite little to no response.

It can defeat a job seeker’s enthusiasm before the search has even begun.

But put yourself in the employers’ shoes – if you were looking for someone to join your team, wouldn’t you advertise above and beyond to get the cream of the crop? (Hopefully you say yes!) Thankfully, it doesn’t all come down to simply experience and qualification. How you present yourself, champion your skills and strengths, and personably respond to challenges are – in some workplaces – the deciding factors.

Part of the job searching process is having the courage and determination to apply yourself for a job above your capabilities.

How can a person learn if they do not acknowledge the skills they use need constant reworking? How will a person show their future employers they are a driven individual if they do not reach out and open a line of communication?

By throwing yourself in the deep end of job descriptions and responsibilities you are opening the door to opportunity. Be dedicated to highlighting your skills, strengths, and achievements in a visually pleasing format for recruiters and employers and you are guaranteed to receive feedback.

Here are three key things I started with to overcome a morning of mourning my resume and get down to business hunting for my next job:

1. Write down achievements.
Quantifying your experience in itself is a valuable skill to have in a workplace, and one that has to start somewhere. No matter what type of job you are applying for – whether it be an internship, graduate position, or executive role – you will have an achievement to highlight. It is a section of your resume that stands out more than Objective or Qualities because achievements provide a snapshot of a specific task you needed to complete, and give the employer an idea of what qualities it takes to complete such tasks without getting too wordy. Try and make these achievements varied so they outline your key skills you want to highlight for that particular role or industry.

2. Add metrics.
Once there are between three to seven dot points enhance them by adding a measurable figure and timeline. They immediately evolve from a sentence about you at work to a business objective you have accomplished. I think back to my university lecturers saying objectives need to be SMART: Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. If you were part of a team that increased sales performance by 20% in a week or quarter – put that statistic in. If you delivered a campaign or article that boosted engagement by 40% those are numbers future employers want to see. Writing SMART achievements will set you apart from other applicants.

3. Dot point skills.
The risk with writing your resume is that it can fill up with a lot of words and not enough white space to make for an appealing read. By dot pointing skills you are clearly identifying your foundations of working knowledge. I have read a lot of “resume how to” articles lately and a common thread between them is turning away from listing soft skills such as “excellent communicator” and “emotionally intelligent”. These may be important for your role, but I agree that they belong in a small summary section of you on your resume or LinkedIn profile and not listed amongst hard skills such as “writing and editing”, “project monitoring”, and software programs you use.

If you find yourself repeating skills, and wanting to highlight specific soft skills you know will be important for your next role, create a dot point list  called Strengths as part of your Summary on the front page of your resume.

Applying for jobs starts with updating and reviewing your resume. During my interviews with recruiters and HR gatekeepers I received positive feedback on these three particular aspects of my resume and it boosted me with confidence to hear the hard work I had put into my resume had payed off.

Look for examples online, read through job descriptions you want to apply for, and even search through LinkedIn for inspiration. The only relevant misconception of job hunting is that it is effortless and can be done effectively in one day.