This year was incredibly difficult for me. I spent eight of twelve months actively searching for a job. Only four of those months did I have employment, the other four I was supported by Centrelink and my dwindling (and now non-existent) savings.
This isn’t a unique experience. I know many people who are highly educated and have years of experience, and yet they’re fighting and losing the battle for jobs. Each job posting can get hundreds of applications, and even if you think you’re perfect for the job, somehow there’s always someone who is more perfect. It’s a frustrating and soul-destroying process.
I almost cried when I got my current offer of employment, which is full-time and ongoing (even rarer than a unicorn). Not only is it a fantastic opportunity, but my new workplace has the same educational beliefs as me (e.g. the importance of constructive and positive feedback) and they seem genuinely invested in my future with the company.
While it feels like pure luck that I managed to get this job, I thought I’d list a few things I learnt from my pain-ridden 2019 of job searching in the hope that it may help someone else.
- Your networks are invaluable. The only reason I was able to survive this year was because I have amazing friends who campaigned to get me on their team at RMIT. They saw that I was struggling and they made an effort to help me. I understand that not everyone is in this position, but if you are, please do everything you can to help your friends get a job. One recommendation can cut through hundreds of applications.
- Update your LinkedIn. I actually had recruiters reach out to be on LinkedIn this year. It didn’t work out, but it was a massive boost to my confidence. One of there recruiters even gave me really positive feedback on my LinkedIn profile, stating that my photo captured my personality, and I’d listed a great amount of skills which allowed him to check them off his list. Updating your LinkedIn is a really simple way to make your professional presence known.
- Never give up. I wanted to so many times. I fantasised about going to prison because I could survive there without the need for a job. If I didn’t have a family in Melbourne, I would’ve moved to Japan and given up on my future dreams. When you can’t even get retail jobs (with 2.5 university degrees and 13 years of experience) you can feel pretty shitty about yourself. There is hope. There is always hope. And there will always be people to support you. Please never give up.
- Do everything you can to find a job. Update your resume, tailor it to the job if you need to. Make a genuine effort to write a cover letter that suits the position description. Make phonecalls. Follow up your applications with emails. Prepare for your interview. Research the company. Dress to impress. You’ve heard these all before but the instant you start getting lazy and taking shortcuts, that’s when companies don’t even look at your application.
- If you have a job, please do everything you can to support your friends who don’t. This doesn’t always mean recommending people for jobs or telling your friends when a job opens up at your workplace (though this is super helpful). It can also mean buying your friend coffee/lunch/a much needed drink. It can be as simple as endorsing their skills on LinkedIn (this is genuinely helpful) or actually writing them a LinkedIn endorsement. You could even offer to look over their resume and provide tips. Anything you can do could mean the world to your friend.
Please feel free to add tips in the comments. If you’re struggling and need support, reach out to your friends and/or a counselling service. Anyone reading this, I’m always here if you need someone to listen and I always keep my eye out for jobs, so please let me know if you are looking.