Even in the most precedented and certain times1, job hunting is a challenge. Especially when it comes to landing that first gig2.
While you’re sitting there, feeling like your life is on hold, side effects include:
1) envy at the peers racing ahead of you, succeeding at everything, all the time3
2) dejected and rejected with every generic “thank you for your time but really you suck” email
3) burning rage at the companies that just straight up GHOST YOU instead of even sending a generic reject email
So FYI, none of those things are true, (except the rightful rage at companies that ghost you). There is nothing natural or awesome about having to put yourself out there over and over again and experience rejection.
Since I don’t have a silver lining to offer you, maybe these tips for surviving job hunting will help, instead. Read on, MacDuff.
There are a lot of wonderful resources out there about doing well in an interview, so go find them. You want to specifically look for things like having confident body language, dressing appropriately for the tone of the company, and asking intelligent questions…all that jazz. Here’s my 10-point take on the whole shebang:
- I don’t care what anyone says, you DO have to use a machine gun approach to job applications. I did anywhere from 5-20 applications a day from Mon-Fri. I’d recommend aiming for somewhere in this range if you have the bandwidth. You can work your way up to it, but try for at least one application a day.
- While it can be agonizing, yes, you DO have to tweak your CL and resume to match the language of the job application. BUUUUTTTTT here is a shortcut/helper: If you save every version of your resume and CL in Google Drive, and then link to them in a Google Sheet, you can re-use ones that are in similar industries with very little editing. (Bonus points for listing the job you applied to, the date, and some key words about that industry so you can find it again easily.)
- Take every interview offered just to get into the swing of talking to strangers about why you’re awesome.
- DO NOT let rejection set you back—you have to power through it. These companies are taking what they believe is the best fit, and if that’s not you, it isn’t a reflection on you. Take the weekends to sulk about it. During the week, put your game face on and gooooo.
- ADAPT. If you’ve sent out 100 resumes and gotten 100 immediate rejections, that is a sign you need to change tactics and/or possibly overhaul your rez and CL. You might need to look at the types of jobs you’re applying to, too. My rule of thumb is that if I have about 50% of what they’re asking for, and I feel certain I can learn the rest/I know something similar, then I apply. I use the “years of experience” as a loose guide, too, especially if everything else fits decently well.
- You’re interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you, so pay attention for red flags. One question I like to ask interviewers is, “What makes you excited to come in to work.” Another one is to ask how someone would describe their office/department/company. (And then listen quietly for anything that sounds out of place.)
- If you don’t know, ask. If they don’t know, inform. Don’t know what to wear? Ask the person you set up the interview with. Don’t know where to find info about the job? Ask other professionals in that company/industry. Don’t understand some random point of etiquette? Ask A Manager (Alison Green, she’s pretty rad.) If you have hella anxiety around tests, then let them know beforehand, so you don’t have to cover up being nervous, and can focus on getting comfortable to do what you need to do.
- Always follow up. Follow up after the interview with a thank you. Follow up if you haven’t heard from them after a week (or however long they told you they needed to make a decision.)
- Do your research for the interview. If you’re doing tech interviews, for example, it’s perfectly fair to ask how they do their assessments, and whether there is some aspect they would like you to focus on while preparing. Otherwise, take advantage of the bajillion interview questions resources out there. Sometimes, you can even find folks posting about interview questions they had at the company you’re applying to.
- Trust that you will find something eventually, and don’t settle for low hanging fruit just because it was easy to grab.
If you have access to mental health resources, you might want to consider making use of them while you job hunt, too. There is only so much your friends and family can do to help you through this, and you will need to vent about the frustration of it all. If you don’t have that access, be cognizant of the fact that you’re going through something extremely difficult, and tell your people how you want them to support you through it.
It’s easy to feel frozen and frustrated during this process, especially while every industry is in a tailspin, and things are horribly uncertain. Those feelings, and all the stress that’s come with this year are valid. Be kind to yourself, and be patient. It will happen.
1 Is it just me, or does hearing people say, “these unprecedented times,” or, “these uncertain times” make one feel a bit stabby? If we can’t agree on anything else, can we at least agree that these mealymouthed platitudes have GOT to go?
2I’ve actually been away from this blog for almost year now because I landed that first gig. In these Coronatimes, no less. #owenwilsonwow
3PSA: Don’t believe their, “my perfect life, lol” Instas and status updates; it’s window dressing. Also, don’t focus on their happiness or success, wish them well and focus on you.