The Great British Job Hunt

Job-hunt. The most fear-inducing and agitating of all hyphenated words, and something which we all must go through at one stage or another. Job-hunting is the ultimate test of character, not only upon yourself but by many others too – are you good enough to be employed? Do you have the skills required to carry out simple tasks? How are you with working by yourself, and teamwork, and problem-solving, and leadership, and communication, and time management, and every other banal skill that everybody claims to have?

The Signature Challenge

I’m in the advantageous position of being a job-hunter while having a job, so in that respect I can afford to be much more austere in what I’m looking for. Even that has its downfalls, faced with continuous rejection and airing your annoyance about it runs the risk of you seeming to be bitter. But I’m not bitter – I’m frustrated. I really don’t know what else I can do to make employers see that I’ll be a good fit in their business. I’m not one of these people who applies for every single job that comes up, copying and pasting their cover letters and CVs into endless applications forms, and hoping for the best. No, instead I actually take an hour or so each day to look at job descriptions, learn about the company, and only if I feel passionate or excited by what I see, will I go through the application process.

When you’re a job-hunter you automatically place yourself below the employer, whether you wish to do so or not. They are the ones with the authority after all, the ones with the power to give you what you want or give you nothing at all. You, on the contrary, are the beggar – hands clasped together hoping for whatever can be given. As such, one must approach these career-giving gods with the utmost respect. To some extent, it seems that the cover letter was designed not to see what you are like as a person but to see just how good you are at billowing and falling over yourself about how great and amazing a company is – how wonderful it would be to be given, no gifted, an opportunity by such a powerful and influential organisation.

The Technical Challenge

That’s the game you play when you job hunt, I get that. I know that, sometimes, to get something you want requires taking a knock on your own esteem, biting your tongue, and going along with whatever you have to. The thing that irks me about the process, is that the respect is entirely one-sided – you should never expect to be treated with much respect from the human resources demi-god that your CV has found its way to. Having applied for around fifty jobs in the last six weeks, I’ve actually received responses from a grand total of…NINE. Of those nine, eight were copy and pasted courtesy rejections via email; one of which was addressed to an applicant named Sarah.

Let me remind you at this point, that my name is not Sarah. I love the sweet irony that the job in question required “impeccable attention to deal”, and that somebody took the time to look over my fawning cover letter, my wonderful CV, and my statement letter but didn’t even bother to look at my name. I did wonder just how far I would go in the recruitment process if I applied for a position with, let’s say Tesco, and exclaimed to them just how much I’ve always wanted to be a topless waitress on rollerblades at Hooters. Yes, to not only be rejected but also to be given a sex-change was not what I had in mind.

Yet, despite the unwanted moniker, at least those eight employers had the gratitude to tell me I’d been unsuccessful – the other forty-one showed just how little interest they have in the people who are actively wanting to join their team and be given an opportunity to shine. If they don’t want you, they likely won’t care to tell you because you mean absolutely nothing to them – you are but a number, a thorn in the side of the search for the perfect candidate. In this game, there is no consolation prize.

Now you may argue that employers receive so many applications for any one job that they simply can’t reply to everyone who applies. Whilst that may be true, technology and software creation has evolved far enough so that simply clicking a ‘no’ button on an application will automatically send out an emotionless rejection email. We’re back to that arrogance that many industries today reek of – you can look in, but you can’t come in.

If you’re wondering what the missing one response was, that miraculously evolved into a phone interview which was all going pretty well until the interviewer, intentionally or otherwise, blurted out ‘so have you actually done anything other than travel?’. While I laughed along and explained that I have a degree, have been working full-time since I was 14, and that I’m a firm believer in travel providing a great education in itself, that was the point I completely switched off and concluded that this wasn’t the place for me. Luckily enough, the interviewer had decided that while I was “very passionate, personable, and confident”, I was perhaps not right for the role. Yes, there is nothing quite like hitting rock bottom than being rejected for an unpaid, entry-level internship.

The Showstopper

On reflection, I find the whole situation to be quite a thrill. Sure, job hunting is ridiculous, ego-killing, and undeniably corrupt, but I enjoy the challenge. There are times when I sit and think “shit, I’m 26 and I should definitely have started my career by now”, and I’m not afraid to admit that it scares me. I frequently worry that I’ve missed the boat and that I’m going to be stuck in a minimum wage, sorry living wage, job for the rest of my life. But a part of me enjoys waking up and checking my phone each day to see if an employer has got in touch with me, be it for better or worse.

When my alarm goes off, my instinct tells me not to get too excited before reaching over for my phone, but I know that one day that email or voicemail proclaiming that I’ve been successful will be there. Some employers may not value my credentials and, depressingly, many of them won’t see travelling all of Europe as being of any significant importance to what I can bring. But that’s absolutely fine with me. I know that at some point, a hiring manager will look at my application and think ‘yes, this guy is different’, and that’s exactly the kind of person I’d love to work with.

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