Scouring the internet for work? Frantically filtering through emailed job alerts? Scanning the fine print on the odd (now quite rare) newspaper entry in any business section you can lay your hands on? You aren’t alone. So am I. So are hundreds and thousands of other people. I agree, it can be a thoroughly exhausting and soul destroying process. I have experienced some difficult Christmases in my life but I think 2015 took the cake.
In retrospect, and if I look at my reasons for resigning my previous tenure, I don’t feel as convinced as I was then that I had made the right decision. In fact if I could turn back the clock……
Nevertheless, the situation is what it is.
There are many entries on the internet about this particular subject ranging from realistic encouragement to a cheerleader ra ra type ‘you can do it!’ There are tips on how to interview, how to get ahead of the pack, on what to write in your CV (I have always inclined towards the truth – but hey, I am very old fashioned!). However, these are written by gainfully employed people with beaming smiles, in shiny corporate gear. Somehow I just can’t help but feel that they could never truly empathise with the person I currently am, this person who is in a nil income position.
I imagine that this post may be a little different …
(Tokai forest serves as my makeshift office from time to time)
Please don’t for a minute think that I am at peace with my unemployment status. I need to work, to work hard – it is intrinsic to who I am. I am a single mother and have obligations which I could never begin to enumerate but in a bid to survive the inevitable negative thinking, panic and lack of motivation which at times can be more than overwhelming, I am devising a couple of tips of my own.
The nature of the beast
Finding work in my forties and in today’s era is very different to the way it was for me in my twenties. Now, most of the recruitment entries are listed online and while the net is informative, it can be very impersonal as well. In the past hiring companies used a couple of lines of news copy followed by a telephone number in order to feature the job. The brief was succinct. Within the first couple of minutes of voice contact you could pitch your character and at best establish a rapport and both parties could form good idea of the client/employee match.
These days, the shortlist is established quite early on. The volumes of applicants are also significantly higher. The pool larger. The filtering is undertaken by a recruitment agency.
The power of your first impression therefore, lies in your CV and portfolio, if applicable. Even better, in your covering letter. Keep this brief unless instructed to do otherwise. For example, companies requiring the services of a copywriter often need to get a feel for how you would promote their product by the way in which you endorse your own skills. Alternatively financial institutions seek and appreciate brevity – stick to the facts.
If at all possible try to research the vision and mission objectives of the client. In a final, original and powerful sentence do your best to emulate their approach. Companies hire based on psychometric evaluations and import is placed on the corporate culture. It helps to be in sync with a potential employer.
Rejection or no word at all….
The cold hard fact is that rejection is a part of life. Then again developing a hard skinned, dismissive attitude is a form of denial.
Of course this is difficult!
I have learnt to apply a “learning curve” approach to negative responses but I am still at a loss as to how to deal with the indifference. I suppose there are only so many ways that a recruiter can phrase “you are not a suitable candidate”. It is also helpful to be a little fatalist. If you are not the right person for the job, the recruiter is doing you a favour in letting you know and not stinging you along, or unrealistically building your hopes. Perceptions endure and if for some or other reason you are awarded a contract which does not match your skill-set or personality, it could be very difficult to prove otherwise.
If you are fortunate enough to receive a little more feedback, don’t take it personally – rather take it to heart in a character building way. Remember the platitude – What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Well I say what doesn’t kill you…..doesn’t kill you. It is as simple as that.
If you do not receive word sometime after application do not be afraid to follow up. I have found that a once a week follow up is a reminder – anything more than that constitutes annoyance.
If the position is closed move on. Move on swiftly. In fact, the upside of the frenetic activity in the web is that you should have submitted enough applications to keep your expectations intact. After all you still need to manage these. Convince yourself that you are creating your own stock of possibilities.
This is a tough one. People are just not aware of the pending nature of a financial plight or burden – that you are sweating bullets. A recruiter is always busy. A job hunter experiences a lot of down time and I do intend the double meaning in this expression. Try to not be idle. Hone your skills in your free time. I read a lot about copywriting. I also try and follow the trends in media. By the same token, I keep up to date with finance conventions and learn how to do weird and wonderful things with Microsoft word and Excel. I open the dictionary every day and collect five new words (yeah, I know a little bizarre) I am having a go at mastering Photoshop 2015 – don’t you love free trials? I am still trying to grasp web code and statistics. Try and learn a new language. At the end of the day any current knowledge will stand you in good stead – emotionally and in your job hunting endeavours. Learning bolsters confidence and self-esteem.
Don’t think too much! I need to emphasise that negative thinking eats away at confidence. Just prior to Christmas, I was still trying to source temporary work just to buy my child a Christmas present. The days went by, the 25th drew closer and on Christmas Eve, I was in such a state because I had spent so much time dwelling upon the desperation of our situation that I could barely breathe. This is when the youngsters show a lot more maturity than we do, and faith. My son reassured me that the time would come when I would be able to spoil him again. He accepted the circumstances with grace and hope.
To try to earn a little cash I have worded legal contracts, designed invoice templates, painted houses, drawn logos and taught swimming. In today’s economy these earnings rapidly dissolve into nothingness but they helped a little. ( On that note, reduce incidental and non vital expenses as quickly as possible)
I still needed to keep myself occupied. To this end, I have redesigned brochures and devised my own ads, short- and body copy, digital artwork and straplines. I have even invented my own press releases. It may seem silly now but one day I will be able to draw on what I have mastered! I have put it all down to experience.
So, in short be as busy as you can be. Remind yourself that when you are working, there will be less time for the whimsical things. While old fashioned, Neural Linguistic Programming is quite a powerful tool. Try it now….stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself how capable you are – how valuable as a human being. If you do it enough times you will believe it. If you believe it, a recruiter will too.
Adopt a healthy and productive routine in the week. Accounting for each hour in the day with an absorbing and affirmative activity is really helpful. I have read many articles relating to the emotional benefits of routine and I stand by them, for children, for unemployed mothers.
In the morning, I log into the Job sites and place my CV on record. I note the name and reference number of the position. In the afternoons, I undertake my follow up calls. In the evenings, I hone my skills and I write a couple of pages of my book (another story for another day)
Weekends can be particularly depressing. If you are lucky enough to have some form of savings, schedule a coffee hour treat time. Involve yourself in charity work. If you enjoy exercise or have a hobby fill your quiet hours with this form of activity. For example come hell or high water, I wash the car on Sundays – it may seem trivial but it makes me feel better.
Hang in there
Something will turn up. I have to believe this and if you are in my position so do you! We have no alternative.
I hope these tips are helpful.
My thoughts are with you!