I remember leaving university – almost two years ago now. I was bright-eyed, confident, enthusiastic, and really, really naïve. Great, I thought – can’t wait to join the real world and start my career now I’ve got my decent degree from a decent university. LOL.
Cue almost two years of slowly losing my confidence, slaving away in the hospitality industry*, envying the ‘real life’ people with their ‘weekends’ and ‘holidays’, as it slowly sank in that I wasn’t going to be hired just like that.
Oh don’t worry, said so-and-so, my friend applied for 100 jobs before she got hers.
My uncle applied to 500 before he was hired, and he doesn’t even like his job!
Great guys, thanks. Try applying for 1900 jobs and being rejected from every. single. one. I’ve figured out that snazzy bit of maths by multiplying the average amount of jobs I was applying to per week (around 25), by how long I was searching for (a long time).
So, I’ve compiled my top five tips and experiences from my venture thorough the horrible, unapologetic current job market.
I’m not saying I’m an expert – after all, I was rejected from 1899 jobs, before landing the 1900th (my dream job – good things are worth waiting for, everything happens for a reason etc etc etc) but I just thought I’d share the most common scenarios I experienced whilst striving to land that job.
Some interviewers are just absolute dicks
I was once rejected from a role because I was dressed too ‘trendily’. Excuse you. I was wearing dress trousers, a blouse, flats, and a River Island fitted blazer. I was told, in a hideously patronising manner to go down to M&S and buy a nice two-piece trouser suit. Get a grip. This was a non-customer-facing role for a company describing themselves as ‘lively and fun’ on their website, for Christ’s sake.
Also, I learned to hate being interviewed by women, and would always hope for a male. This was because sometimes I was shocked with the way some of the women interviewers looked at me during the meeting, especially if there was more than one of them. We all know that some women can be absolute cows, but making someone feel uncomfortable like that is so unprofessional.
Another interview I had when I had just started out, I was woefully unprepared for – the job description had said it was a customer service role (it wasn’t). Although the fault may lie with me, the interviewer basically traumatised me, taunting me with questions filled with jargon that he knew I’d have absolutely no chance of answering. Afterwards, he said we’ll let you know in the most sarcastic manner, and I just thought – what was the point? Did you get off on that?
Just know that not all interviews/interviewers you have will be professional and straightforward. Sometimes you’ll walk out and think wow. I do NOT want to work there.
They will ask you if you have any questions for them – have some prepared
Just have a few generic ones stored in your head if you can’t think of any during the interview. Things like ‘why has this role become available?’ and ‘will any training be provided?’.
It’s so awkward when they ask you and you’re like…nope…
Don’t set yourself up to fail, but be realistic
Go on reed.co.uk, and have a look at the number of applications already submitted next to the job role. On less specific job roles, this number is generally always 100+. A HUNDRED people. That’s the first hurdle – even if you get an interview, you still have to have a second one before they will make the offer. You’re up against so much. The mistake I made in the beginning was taking it personally. But these people don’t know you personally. So don’t.
Don’t sit by the phone waiting. Something that used to really piss me off was them saying that they’d let me know by a certain day, then not calling on that day. Or worse, not getting back to you at all. Rude.
I remember every heart sinking moment when I received yet another rejection email or telephone call. I’m ashamed to admit it, but tears were shed, and wine was drunk.
After a while, I began to expect the rejection. I don’t mean by being really pessimistic and just assuming – I just became more realistic. If I applied for a job, I looked at the amount of people who’d also applied. If there was more/less people, then I assumed I had less/more of a chance. Somehow, this cushioned my disappointment each time I got another rejection.
This way of thinking made getting my current job all the sweeter. I’d really, really wanted it – and really hadn’t thought I’d even be considered let alone be brought in for interview. Again, tears were shed and wine was drunk – this time for an entirely different reason!
Think about expanding your job market ideals
I did my degree in English Language and Journalism. I began applying for journalism work non-stop. Soon, I had unpaid internships coming out of my ears, and hundreds of emails saying get back to us when you have some experience.
I decided to expand my net a little, because I was really limiting myself by what I was applying for. This is how I found and fell in love with PR. It took me a while to realise that just because I’d got the degree in journalism, didn’t mean I was bound to it for life. Realising that opened my horizons to a lot more opportunites.
Sometimes all the tricks and the tips just don’t work
You can smile all you want, bring along a pen and paper, have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the company, be dressed in the best bloody two-piece suit M&S have to offer, and you wont get the job. It’s rubbish, wah wah. Whatever. On to the next.
I really don’t mean to sound pessimistic and I’m certainly not trying to put anyone down. This was my personal experience, and whilst yes, most of it absolutely sucked, it’s made me the person I am today.
I’ve finally got my job, and I’m deliriously happy, and I really hope I’m doing well so far. It’s such a cliché, but I do agree that everything happens for a reason.
Keep at it, honestly.
*RE: the hospitality industry – I did enjoy my experience in the restaurant/bar industry because of the things it taught me. The reason I hated it so much was because it wasn’t where I wanted to be, or what I’d set out to do, and I felt like I was wasting my time, getting more and more stuck. In hindsight however, I realise that I learned so much – about communication, organisation etc that I can now transfer these skills to the career I really want.