You might not like this advice, but this is how I have found work successfully:
Less is More
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that if you apply for 10 jobs a week you are more likely to be hired. The reality is: if you simply pick one a week, you have a much better chance.
Are You Crazy?
…is what you’re probably thinking right now. No, I’m not crazy. I just know that there is such a thing as what I like to call ‘application burnout’. When you apply for jobs frantically because you desperately need one, the process of applying becomes exceptionally draining. You’re going through the motions, you’re spitting out Resumes left, right and centre, but much of your time is wasted.
Because when you tackle job-hunting like a meat-packer working on an assembly line, you are in the zombie zone. This means that you tend to just send out the same Resume for every job, with little to no interest in the specifics. It is a myth to assume that you will get called for an interview simply because you meet the essential job criteria. You must remember that there is an actual person in the Human Resources department who sifts through hundreds (perhaps thousands) of applications for only a few positions. Do you honestly think they find this process fun? Not at all. Thus, even though you might have the right skills/education/experience, they might just find your application exceptionally boring. Moreover, a person who spends all their time sifting through job applications can spot an assembly line Resume from a mile off.
What’s an Assembly Line CV?
An assembly line Resume connects back to the zombie zone. When you’re in this mode, you are more preoccupied with sending out as many Resumes as possible than actually tailoring your Resume for every job you apply for. In order to actually find a decent job, you need to be in tune with what the prospective employer wants. Let’s be frank: they don’t care that you’re struggling to pay the bills — they care about the future of their company. A hiring manager or whoever makes the decision about new employees doesn’t lie awake at night worrying about all of the unemployed people they turn down. No — instead, their main prerogative is to ensure the future financial stability of the company. In order to do this, they must hire someone who genuinely wants the job.
Needing the Job and Wanting the Job Are Two Very Different Things
Anyone who is unemployed needs a job. This doesn’t mean you actually want the job.
Only Apply For the Jobs You Actually Want
I know it’s hard to do this when the mortgage needs paid and you’re struggling to makes ends meet on benefits. However, my best advice to you, if you actually want to find a decent job, is to only apply for the jobs you actually want. It’s tempting to apply for everything out of desperation, but you should never underestimate the insight of the people looking for new staff. They can tell the difference between someone who just applied because they need a job, and someone who applied because they really want this particular job.
Who Are They Going to Hire?
The company are always going to hire the enthusiastic person.
For a few reasons. First, an enthusiastic applicant will make it their business to carry out exceptional work. A desperate-for-money applicant, on the other hand, will often only do the bare minimum. In a world where profit margins and staff turnarounds dictate the hiring process, a desperate-for-money applicant is simply not a good investment for the company.
Secondly, staff training costs money. Hiring managers do not want to spend money every few months having to train new staff. If you just apply because you need to pay your bills, you probably do not envision a life-long career at this particular company. They can sense this. Thus, they would much prefer to hire the person who seems to exhibit more excitement, as this improves the chances of a long-term staff member.
Finally, they might just not hire you out of spite. Think about it: if you’re applying for a job, it’s obvious that the people doing the hiring already work there. These people are humans with emotions. When they gloss over your rushed Resume that is humdrum and indifferent, they will likely say a big ‘stuff you’. Applications that scream ‘I just need a job, any job’ are not going to do down well with someone who has been working there for years. At the end of the day, they will want colleagues who will make their working day easier and more enjoyable. Do you really think they will want to work with someone who can’t be bothered to even pretend to be enthusiastic about working there? The daily routine of working life is difficult enough.
What Does This Have to Do With My Resume?
This has everything to do with your Resume. You need to ensure it is carefully crafted for every application you send.
How to Actually Find a Decent Job
Here are some tips that will almost certainly help you find a decent job in the next six months to a year:
- If you go ‘hmmmm, not sure if I like the sound of that’ when you read a job description, don’t apply.
- If you don’t meet even one of the essential criteria, don’t apply. If you meet them all and don’t meet one or some of the optional ones, it’s perfectly fine.
- Don’t assess your job-hunting progress by quantity of applications sent.
- Only apply for jobs that you really want.
- Assess your job-hunting process by quality: one application that you spent hours crafting is better than ten rushed applications.
- Ask for Resume feedback: we all know someone who is good at writing/spelling/editing. Email them your Resume and ask for feedback. A second opinion is always worthwhile.
- If you really want the job, try to find a method of submitting your application in person. This is much more effective than online applications because the face-to-face encounter will make you memorable.
- Moreover, try to get your Resume directly to the person who makes the final decision. If you come across as friendly and polite, you will leave a lasting impression. Make sure you look neat and professional when you do this, of course.
- Finally, make sure your cover letter addresses everything in their essential job requirements. Don’t just say ‘I can do this’ or ‘I am hardworking’. Every point you make in a covering letter should provide a persuasive example that proves the point.
While You’re Waiting
Here are some things you can do to help keep yourself afloat while you are trying to get yourself the job you really want:
- Freelancing online
- Placing an ad for menial jobs like cleaning, cutting grass, or cleaning windows (just examples)
- Sell things you don’t need
- Dip into your savings (if you have any)
- Make sure you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to
- Customize payment plans on your bills to help you meet them
- Only pay the minimum payments on credit cards (if you have any)
by Gillian Rixey
(Gillian is a PhD qualified freelance writer and scholar born in Ireland but currently residing in the United States.)