To All Hard-Working Job-Seekers – Keep Going!
With over 40 years of recruitment experience, we’ve seen all sorts of changes in the employment market – the good, the bad and the ugly. But take it from us – it always gets better!
Whether you’re currently unemployed due to the pandemic, looking for a job change or trying to kick start your career as a fresh graduate, we know the current job market is not holding the same opportunities it did some months ago in many sectors. It can be difficult to stay positive amidst all the negativity we hear on the news, and our inner voice may be reflecting this pessimism too, but the team would like to encourage you to stay focused and optimistic. Not only will doing so improve the quality of your daily life, but it can also be the crucial differentiator between you and another job applicant!
As many become discouraged by the lack of activity in the employment market and absentmindedly reduce their job hunting efforts until a better time, this may be your opportunity to stand out from the crowd and get noticed by employers through persistence, productivity, and most importantly, resilience, throughout your job search. Below we provide some tips for how you can boost your employability by using your time wisely and staying focused on your career goals despite the uncertain times we currently find ourselves in.
Be Active in Your Search
While it may certainly be tempting, this is not a time to sit back and put your career ambitions on hold. Even if the opportunities are slimmer, some are still there for the taking, but you must be actively searching for them through the efficient use of various tools. Applying to positions advertised on job boards may be your primary activity, but don’t forget about your social media presence, particularly in professional networking sites like LinkedIn. Engage with your existing connections and expand your network through them. As a general rule - good people, know other good people, and you may be just one new connection away from your next break!
As you apply for new jobs, keep active on LinkedIn, let people know you are “open to new opportunities”, ask your colleagues for skill endorsements and recommendations to display on your profile, follow companies you take interest in, comment, share and post content that is relevant to your field. LinkedIn rewards activity, therefore the more you engage with the type of content that is linked to your career goals, the more you will appear in relevant searches conducted by people you want to connect with! So use the platform strategically and make it as easy as possible for your target audience to find you. Remember to also share content that is beneficial to your connections, to endorse their skills and offer them carefully crafted recommendations. As stated by LinkedIn expert Brenda Bernstein the art of networking requires a careful balance between being a “net giver” and a “net taker”.
When it comes to being active in your job search, remember to work hard, but also to work smart. You may be applying to hundreds of job positions, but if you’re not tailoring your CV to the requirements of the job, you will not even pass the initial CV screening software that many companies use today, let alone be called in for an interview. Your CV and Cover Letter must contain the key words and competencies the company is looking for, so you should not send out a standardised version of these documents to every employer. Taking the time to craft a few strategic CVs and Cover Letters can be much more effective and efficient than sending out hundreds of generic applications.
Finally, don’t take rejections or a lack of response from employers personally – these sorts of things happen all the time, and not just to you but to everyone. Keep swimming against the tide and remain active on the relevant mediums as you look for new possibilities. As the saying goes - “out of sight, out of mind”, and you want to make sure you’re not overlooked when the next opportunity comes around, so stay active!
Focus on Skills, not Titles
View your work experience from the perspective of your duties, responsibilities and competencies, not your job title. Identify your transferrable skills and use them to your advantage – skills learned in one industry can be very appealing to employers in others. For example, experience in customer service provides you with a vast array of skills in areas such as communication, active listening, problem-solving, multitasking and conflict management, which are highly valued in many fields of work.
Job titles and positions change often, so employers are looking for candidates who are flexible and able to adapt their skills to a range of tasks. Sometimes, it’s good to let go of your previous title and industry and give the companies and fields you haven’t considered before a fresh look. Career advice writer, Mark Anthony Dyson says that candidates should ask for “informational interviews”, the purpose of which is to receive more information about the company and the job. Approaching job applications and interviews with an open mind may open much broader possibilities for someone with your skills and may lead you down a rewarding career you had never considered before now.
Commit to Self – Development
If you’re currently going through a period of unemployment, the best thing you can do in between job searching and networking, is improving yourself! This is an opportunity to dedicate time to learning a new skill or a new language. Look for tips on writing CVs and preparing for interviews in advance to ensure you’re fully prepared when the time comes. Read that book you never had time for or take an online course to improve your qualification. Develop new positive habits and find a routine that will keep you busy, engaged and continuously improving. Rest, exercise and eat well to stay healthy and energised, because looking for a job can often be a full time job in itself!
Your future self will thank you for keeping your mind and body active during this slow-down as it will allow you to account for your time in an impressive way to future employers. When asked about the gap in your employment, you can explain how you used your time wisely to grow on a personal, academic or professional level in between seeking new opportunities. Making the best out of a bad situation communicates a lot about your ability to handle fall-backs in a workplace setting too.
Redefine Success in Your Life
Whether you are currently unemployed or simply seeking to progress in your career, this is likely a very unusual time in your working life. You may feel stuck in a place you hoped you would never find yourself in and for a longer period of time than anticipated. You might be comparing yourself to your idea of a successful individual and wishing you were somewhere else in your professional life by now. But looking at success from the perspective of what you haven’t achieved yet often creates pressure, disappointment and discouragement, which are barriers to creativity and growth. Michael Neill , an internationally renowned author, speaker and thought leader, says that we must find a way to overcome the “by now” understanding of success and redefine it to reflect the person we are right now.
Your attitude is everything, and employers pay close attention to the level of optimism and success that you display during interviews, because the candidate’s mindset often determines their ability to learn new skills, develop their job knowledge and overcome future challenges. As Henry Ford has famously said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you are right”. It is therefore important to remember that where you are is not who you are – it’s a step on your way to better things and it doesn’t define your level of success, unless you let it!
Start where you are
Do what you can
Never give up!
- Arthur Ashe
We hope the above pointers have not only given you some useful and practical advice, but have also fuelled your motivation to keep going, even if you find yourself struggling against the tide. We also urge you to keep an eye out for the many opportunities available on returnbackhome.com - you never know what you may find. We believe in you, Good Luck!