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Job hunting: Nobody else was you before

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The summer is over, and so is the hunt for a perfect holiday destination. But isn’t there another hunt on the horizon?! Well, it seems that once September starts and really sets in, many students are, either for the first time or yet again, looking for their dream jobs.

After hearing about this from a couple of friends and getting all the promotional emails about job fairs, I started to think about the most important learnings I gained through all my job-hunting seasons. And while it is true that my last experience with the job market is slightly history now, as I have held a student position since December last year, I still believe these three ideas I’ll mention below are relevant, and easy to apply to different times and different job fields.

Not all job-hunting advice is for YOU, dear job hunter

The internet is a source of infinite advice and uninterrupted wisdom when it comes to… really anything, so of course job hunting is not an uncovered subject. From the opinions of LinkedIn influencers, to TED Talks and successful career advisers who vlog, you can always find a new piece of advice to implement in your job search.

But do these bits of advice really do the trick?! They might. But it’s truly exhausting to follow them all – and don’t even get me started on those who contradict one another…

My view of the multitude of job-hunting advice on the internet?! Well, just take whatever suits you and whatever really speaks to you. Yes, it’s always good to learn from other’s experience and it’s definitely great to start the job-hunting season with some sort of inspiration: but don’t prolong the season by two weeks just to read huge amounts of job-hunting techniques from the internet.

After all, nobody else was you before, so they can’t know for sure what works for you.

Maybe for you, it makes sense to simply write to someone on LinkedIn and get a connection to the company of your dreams in that way, but maybe it simply doesn’t. Maybe you are better off preparing an astounding motivational letter and sending it unsolicited to an HR department, or maybe you are just the kind of person who would rather have a first introduction at a job fair.

And maybe… there are many other maybes. But the point is that you, and only you, know what type of job hunter you are, and how you feel most comfortable when finding a job.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the position you apply for should make you feel comfortable. I am definitely not saying that! What I am trying to say is that you want to put yourself in the most comfortable position from which you can pitch your value, and sometimes following step-by-step internet advice or tips from someone else gets you further and further from that comfortable state.

Does a job ad really itch your interest?! Start from scratch

Let’s face it, there are jobs you just apply for and there are jobs you apply for and think about for days. And that’s fine. At least, for me it is. I take each job application as practice, but I always save my job applications for ads that occupy a space in my heart as a project – one that can take a good couple of days sometimes.

Yes, you read that right: however that doesn’t mean I spend one week on writing an application. That simply means each day of the week is another step in the journey of my application, from the first line written until the submission.

What does that mean? Well, let’s say I’d find a great ad at a really cool company that implies amazing tasks (just like the ones I envision myself doing for career growth), and the ad language just seems so welcoming – then I get that old tired CV and remove 60% of it: I only leave the dates and the relevant education and previous experience. The rest will be completely new. I reassess my motivation, my skills and try my best to write the most relevant and customized CV for that position.

If I apply for a position where stakeholder relationships are key, I will probably not add my video editing skills anywhere but in the hobby section.

And the concept of starting from scratch does not end there. My motivational letter will also be a brand new one, never read before and never sent before. One that is read, adjusted and read again for days, until I am completely confident in it.

And while it sounds just like a process driven by one of those inspirational quotes about work such as ‘if you work hard enough for something you will get it’ I can confidently say I was fortunately offered an interview for all those positions where I put the effort into starting a completely new application. The others simply got replies in the form of auto-generated emails at best.

There is no such thing as a one-sided interview

Now that we have got to the last point, it’s only appropriate to reach the last fence standing between a job hunter and that special job: the interview.

While taking the unfair road of generalizing based on what I came across, I will say that from my experience so far (which I admit, at the age of 25 can’t be that vast), there are two types of people when it comes to interviews: those who find them awkward, hard to go through and not easy; and those who have no problem with interviews and even enjoy the journey of one or two down the road to a job.

Also, I have to admit, I am most of the times part of the second group: I find an interview great, interesting and exciting.

But why? What makes me enjoy interviews?!

Probably somewhere after the second or third interview in my life, I understood that an interview is not about the candidate: it really is about the candidate, the team behind the position and really about the match with the available role advertised. I’d rather know as the result of an interview that I do not fit in with a team within a company, than finding out that is the case three months into a job where I would be stressed, demotivated, or underperforming.

The job interview is therefore not one sided. It is not only the recruiter who finds out more about you, but you are also finding out more about both the organization and the vacant role. If seen from this perspective, interviews suddenly become less stressful and instead take the shape of a knowledge-filled space. A space where you can see if you would really like to work in that position, and a space where you can also learn what skills or prerequisites for the job you may be missing.

If you apply for a job in a very interesting field for you, the above-mentioned learnings from the interview are really key: they enable you to learn more about that field, to meet someone who is already active in that field, and to also learn what type of organization you would like to join.

I understand that this is all happening in a very short time (with interviews often lasting less than one hour), but sneak peeks like this really make a difference in the long run. So, try to view interviews as an opportunity instead of pressuring yourself with thoughts of the outcome.Now that we have reached the end of my contribution to all the advice on the internet, I can only thank you for reading this and wish the best to all the students searching for a job right now! I know you will rock this, and I am sure that the right opportunities will eventually come along if you work on your development ahead of everything else 🙂


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