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Admittedly, I have been extremely fortunate not to have experienced long periods of unemployment. Having said that, the experience I do have allows me to empathise somewhat with those of you that have. There are very, very few things in this life more demoralising or soul-destroying than being on the hunt for a job. You’ve more hoops to jump through than… than… than someone with lots of hoops to jump through. It seriously can be a bottomless pit of irritation and disappointment. Life quickly turns in to a hideously bleak cycle of weekly CV sprucing, lengthy application questions, the trolling of every job site imaginable, setting up endless job alert emails (ironically mostly alerting you to jobs you don’t really want), being over-qualified, being under-qualified, being too inexperienced, sweaty interview handshakes, sweaty interview rooms, general sweaty-ness, and of course, after enduring all that, let's not forget that delightful, bitter sting of rejection.
Interviews have never been a particular strong point of mine (understatement of the bloomin’ century). My voice gets slightly higher and a great deal faster. I fidget, uncontrollably. I make awkward small talk, throwing in the odd awful “Hannah joke” to dissolve the tension (FYI this does not work. Abort mission). The worst part probably being my feeble attempt to persuade the interviewer how mind-blowingly-knock-you-out amazing I am, whilst still sounding modest and humble, throwing in the fact that I’m a great team player and the usual other nonsense you would expect. The whole process is about enjoyable as a root canal (I’ve never had a root canal but I can imagine it’s not that enjoyable).
So, as you’ve possibly gathered, I’m no expert. I don’t have the answers to successfully scoring that dream job of yours. I certainly cannot tell you how to charm interviewers and breeze through the experience reasonably unscathed. However, what I will share are some pointers that will help to keep at least some fractions of your flailing sanity during these stressful periods of unemployment:
1. Get up.
Pretty self-explanatory this one. It’s easy to lay in bed when you don’t have a job to get up for but it’s not healthy or beneficial to mope around, spending half of your daylight hours in bed. Get up, take a shower and face the day (even if that day consists of completing 10 mind numbingly boring job applications). I personally hate being confined by routine. However, even I’ve realised a measure of routine is definitely needed when it comes to unemployment. Mostly to prevent the onset of cabin fever.
2. Be yourself.
OK, we all want to impress at an interview and project the best, super-duper version of ourselves. It’s true, you do have to sell yourself in the most positive light. However, trying to keep up a façade is pretty darn exhausting. Interviewers are interested in your skills and experience but they are also interested in you as a person. The personal qualities and attributes that you could bring to a role make a large impression. How can you display them if you’re trying to portray someone you’re not?
3. Don’t beat yourself up.
You’ve poured your heart and soul into an application/interview and you believe firmly that you are the perfect candidate in every possible way and yet, the answer comes and it’s still a no. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s a massive knock. Yes, it’s ok to take it out on a large jar of Nutella. But being overly hard on yourself and allowing negative thoughts to bounce furiously around in your head for too long isn’t going to help further your chances of securing your next job. FACT.
4. Learn to take constructive criticism and feedback on board.
On the other hand, in contrast with point two, sometimes little or large adjustments are very much required. Whether we like it or not, there’s always areas for us to improve in and the sooner we identify them the sooner we can work at making those improvements. Sometimes it's necessary for pride to take a back seat. (None of which is as easy to do as that was to write).
5. Be realistic.
Unfortunately, the ideal job isn’t going to fall from a sparkling cloud and land gracefully in a puff of pixie dust on the path just ahead of you. Good things tend to be the most time consuming of all and finding the correct job for you is no exception.
Five simple rules and five ways you can make things slightly more bearable for yourself. Whilst I’ve not covered anything new or particularly ground breaking, dwelling on these gave me the little nudge that we often need. Stay focused people. Better days are coming. Employed days are coming (hopefully).