Job hunting can be an intimidating process that affects our confidence, morale and perceptions of ourselves. After searching for a graduate job for 3 months, I have to admit that I have found more questions than answers about myself and my role in the graduate job market. Those 3 months, however, have taught me a few valuable lessons that I have learnt to apply in my job search. The new year will show how effective they are, but I believe that I have become much better at staying focused on what I want to achieve, I have learnt to deal with rejections, and to stay motivated.
1. Stay focused
Irrespective of how many rejections you have come across in your job hunt, never despair! The truth is that the job market is suffering in line with the recession and unemployment at the moment, so if you are not getting employed, it might not at all be due to your personal history/experience/mistakes.
Research the general trends in the job market in the area you would like to work in, because this will help you identify the factors affecting your employability, that are out of your control. Narrow down your options of the jobs you are likely to get employed for.
At the same time, do not attribute your lack of success entirely to the job market, forgetting yourself and any possible weaknesses in your own strategy. Once you have identified the trends in the job market, adjust your CV, application tactics and interview technique in line, to maximise your chances of employment.
Being focused is vital, so use your time and make a real effort to understand yourself, your qualities and skills, as well as the job market. This knowledge combined, will not only help you stay focused on the key issues that are preventing you from getting a job, but they will improve your confidence and awareness of yourself.
2. Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback is a must, if you want to be successful in your job search.
If you do not hear from a company/institution after submitting an application, write to them and ask for their feedback. This gives a good impression, allows you to show your determination, and will help your confidence. Do the same if you have attended an interview, but still did not get the job. Asking for feedback, whenever possible, will help you identify your mistakes in the application process, your CV, interview technique.
I have a friend who failed an interview, but once she asked for feedback, the company told her she did great in the interview, and as a result of her interest and determination, a new position was created for her, because the company did not want to lose a dedicated employee to a competitor.
Asking for feedback from employers is probably the most important source of information for a job seeker. However, asking friends for feedback could be just as useful. Ask someone to look at your CV, your LinkedIn profile, your Twitter account. Practice with friends before an interview. Do not dismiss this, because it actually is very useful, especially if you lack a lot of interview practice, and confidence, like me.
3. Improve yourself
The next step, after asking for, and receiving feedback, is to implement it, work on yourself and improve your employment prospects. Take one step at a time, and you will realise how much you have improved in a few weeks.
I started off, barely knowing anything about the job market, or having any practice of applying for jobs, interviewing, etc. Feedback and research, however, have allowed me to come a long way, I dare say.
Write a new CV, practice for interviews, and work on your applications. However, go even further and explore novel ways of job hunting through social media, for example. Creating a LinkedIn profile, a professional Twitter account, will not only help you practice and promote your selling points, but it will also open a whole new world of opportunities and networking for you.
This is the simple strategy, that I have found, of dealing with various job rejections. I am still unemployed – in the sense of a full time job – but I have started a voluntary position as a blog editor. Moreover, I have developed a whole new outlook in terms of job hunting. I am constantly on the lookout for improvements I can make to myself and my strategy, and when I get rejected, I know it’s because as much as I am not right for the job, the job is not right for me.