3.5 years ago I wrote a blog post on failure and job-hunting. Though it might seem like a disheartening topic, it was the foundation of this blog, which turned out to be my longest continuous project to date. So not too bad after all!
I think that now is the perfect time to revisit the subject, as a lot of people will be busy soul-searching during the UK’s second national lockdown. A post I wrote in December 2018 is suddenly getting a lot of attention because it discusses the pros and cons of taking an unconventional career path, which, until the start of this year, was all I’d done since graduating five years ago. Perhaps the unfailing changeability of the jobs market and 21st century employment is what makes these posts some of the most popular content on this blog .
These are some of the things I’ve learnt from job-hunting:
- Take one step at a time. You may be several stages away from your ideal job, even after you graduate. Think about ways to earn money while you gain experience, or if you can join an organisation at entry-level and then work your way up. If a job is just a means to an end, think of other ways to gain experience in a more relevant field, try evening classes or volunteering.
- Personality matters – this is essential for long-term suitability. If possible, try to hold out for a job that is a good match, not just the first paid position that you’re offered, although this is obviously easier said than done. After all, you don’t want to end up back on the job hunt in another 6 months’ time! You can get job recommendations based on your Myers-Briggs personality type. The job portal Indeed recently wrote a good article matching personality types to suggested careers. Note that the Myers-Briggs type is just a guide, and shouldn’t be used as a deciding factor in pursuing a chosen career.
- Save your answers to competency questions (“tell me about a time when”, “describe a situation where you…”). You might want to reuse them, reflect on them before another interview, or edit them if unsuccessful in securing a role.
- Always say yes to mentoring opportunities, even if outside of the industry you’re interested in. The same goes for accepting LinkedIn invitations.
- Bookmark the vacancy/ career pages of companies you are interested in, even if you’ve previously applied and been unsuccessful. New roles appear all the time, and if the leadership (or even the HR personnel) in your desired company change, you might be in with a better chance. Perseverance is everything!
- Constantly save and review career resources from your university or college website, national careers service and Prospects.
- Twitter is actually a great way to find resources and opportunities, try using hashtags to broadcast what type of role you’re looking for as companies often advertise roles using the industry and role name. You might also find other hashtags or people already in your desired industry to follow.
- Don’t underestimate the power of Facebook groups, many local areas have ones which advertise casual work, but there are also career-related groups based on universities or by industry.
- LinkedIn isn’t just a jobs portal, it’s a way of learning about someone’s background. You can see the companies and people that people who already work in your chosen industry have worked for, before they landed their current role. You might also be able to see what skills you lack before applying for a more senior role.
- Remember to “tune back in” to previous opportunities. A scholarship I received in 2016 has continued to offer initiatives to get involved in. I also undertook an internship in 2014 which was part of a wider foundation which has allowed me to join online sessions, discussions and contribute to an international newsletter.
- Don’t just job hunt, complete online training courses, attend virtual talks, use Youtube, Coursera, FutureLearn, Udemy or another platform to learn something new! Don’t forget about free talks and professional events on Eventbrite.
- Go beyond your CV and really put yourself out there, whether it’s artwork on Instagram, catchy marketing phrases on Twitter, or a blogpost about what you’ve learned from this experience.
- And lastly…don’t compare yourself. As the Chinese saying goes, rivers and mountains are not the same thing. Even if you think someone has a comparable starting point to you, you’re probably flowing on a different course by now. You’ll get somewhere eventually, so you might as well enjoy the journey.
 The Advantages and Disadvantages of taking an Unconventional Career Path, posted 16th December 2018 – 632 views, perhaps most inspiringly, almost 400 of these views were from 2020, 2 years after this post was written.
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