Some tips from my job hunt!

TL;DR This is a rant about looking for a job with some tips for recruiters and job seekers!

Everyone knows the pain of looking for paid work. Buzzfeed curated 25 reasons why job hunting sucks along with cat gifs (to keep you calm) and (now) having been thinking of this for a while, I can think of hundreds myself! Compare it to the pain of dating, the stress of house hunting or choosing where to eat dinner. The reality is the process of looking for a job is as painful as hiring people. 

Many people have told me in the last few months “You’re a recruiter, finding a job will be easy for you!”. The reality is that it’s a nerve-wracking, painful and slow process for me, just as it is for everyone else. Having learned some lessons along the way, I thought I would share some tips for recruiters and job seekers.  

It’s not as easy as they told you!

As a recruiter, you may think that I should be good at finding a new job. I have a big network, a pretty good online presence and lots of friends in the industry. Indeed, people ask me often: “Can you help me find a job Tris?” and I’m often able to offer some advice and pointers… I am a recruiter after all and I am supposed to be good at this! It has been a few weeks now and I don’t have a new job yet (although I am closer than you may think) and even though I think I have followed my own advice there are definitely things that I have got wrong during this search.

If you’re looking for a job, the truth of the matter is:

  • It’s not quick or an easy process to find a great job
  • Looking takes as much work as work does
  • You have to fill out application forms and go to interviews
  • You will get ignored, forgotten and lied to
  • There are other people looking for jobs that are better than you
  • The jobs you want are harder to get
  • Expect to wait for stuff to happen

I get the impression that 90% of my fellow recruiters and HR professionals have completely forgotten the pain of looking for a new role and the reality of work. As experts in employer branding in a quest to attract top talent, we have become experts developing employee value props, content marketing, sourcing and pitching candidates. We kinda forgot what it really feels like to look for a job and that when you are a job seeker… life really sucks! Job seeking is just as competitive as hiring if you are looking to advance your career or get a good job. We have made the lives of candidates harder and moved away from what got us into helping people look for jobs and hire people.

If you’re recruiting, Focus on the reality and honesty of the experience. Every job seeker, every person you interview and every part of the process puts emotional stress on all those involved. Please try and treat every person like a VIP. Try and offer great career advice. Try and remember that last time that you were looking for a job. *This is probably going to become my mantra*

If you are looking for a job, be ready to be competitive. Looking for a job you enjoy is a tough and often life long journey. Work hard at it because the cool jobs are hard to get! The way you look for a job will affect the job you get. Find the advice that suits you and stick to it. There are no silver bullets here and finally be prepared for people to say NO!

Finding jobs is tough!

When Monster came along in 1994 and revolutionised the job advertising space by putting job ads online, everyone thought that it would make the experience of looking for a job and hiring people easier. 22 years later and there are now hundreds of online job boards for every niche and vertical, jobs are posted on company websites, LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, reddit threads and twitter hashtags. Every platform has its audience, all have a role to play but this is a very confusing candidate experience. I haven’t logged into to monster recently or made a list of job boards for you yet!

If I type “in-house recruiter” job London into google you get just under 50k results. That’s loads of jobs to apply for you may think. But in reality, it’s not. I’m not moaning but having spent a while looking at these job ads, the reality is that the job boards all have the same job ads on them and thousands of these jobs are out of date, filled or not even the thing I searched for anywhere. It’s sooo frustrating!

Have we become lazy as recruiters? Do we not care or think about where we are posting our jobs anymore? Does doubling up on content detract from our brand? Does it really lead to success?

I feel I might be guilty of this, my ATS sprays out job ads across all the free job advertising platform.My approach has always been get more views – get more applicants! But now I’ve had some time to reflect on this I can’t be sure that I am really capturing the audience I am looking for! Someone searching for a the job I’m looking to fill is the easy way out, instead of spraying and praying. Why am I not ensuring that every single person who types the specific search phrase that tells me they are a potential candidate?

If you’re recruiting, be careful with your job ads. Make sure you get them seen by the right people. In my opinion, SEM campaigns have to be the way forward on this one. In fact, specific job search traffic is so low that it must be a cheap exercise, right? Recently, I have been followed across twitter by their own job ads and I was super impressed with the targeting of the campaign. OK, the job ad was for someone with 5 years more experience with me. They had obviously gauged my intent (not sure how) and then dynamically served job ads at me until I broke and got in touch.

If you are looking for a job, try not to get bogged down by all these job ads! The advice I have given to many job seekers has been to automate as much of the job hunting process as possible. Indeed (which aggregates all the other job boards) allows you to write some simple queries and set up a job alert as does every other job board. It is far easier to see the new jobs come into your inbox every morning than to search through the hundreds of job boards.

Applying for jobs is painful

Looking at the application process of most companies, you’d think no recruiter ever has actually bothered to actually apply to one of their own job ads. Seriously it’s 2016 and I think about 80% of application forms for job ads that I have come across are archaic and have actively put me off working for that company…  the other 20% were just a pain to fill out.

Yes, I went to apply to your company but the form put me off… for life! I understand that you are burdened with an archaic ATS and HR processes dating from the dark ages but did you not realise that you are actively putting people off? Why did you do that? Why have you not bothered to look at what that experience is like?

I understand the argument that if you’re a recruiter you only want the people that are really interested in working with you to apply, but really how hard is it to look at 10 CV’s every morning and dismiss the ones that don’t look right? One click applies are easy to set up and a pleasant experience for me as a candidate as are two clicks for a dismissal email.

If you’re recruiting, Wouldn’t you prefer to have 10 CV’s to look every day (even if only one of which is good) than pay extortionate agency fees, RPO fees or deal with people skipping around your recruitment process?

Every online job/career platform has an API that means you can make the apply button super simple and the process. If all you need is a CV and a cover letter to begin with…. Why are you making this process so complicated? Apply for your own jobs and think, would I enjoy this application process?

If you are looking for a job, be prepared with all the details you need! I keep a google doc with links etc and copied in the details of my answers every time a new question comes up. Keep it short. I found that the most effective cover notes and answers to forms are short. You just need to grab the recruiter’s attention. At the end of the day, you are going to have to fill out some form to get them to call you an interview you. There is no need to write a life story if you are convinced you can grab their attention.

Keeping track of it all is difficult

So after a few weeks of looking for a job you find yourself with an inbox of leads and things start to get confusing. Making mistakes at this stage make you look very foolish and can be hugely detrimental to all that effort you put in!

With all of these different job boards, platforms and solutions not offering anything that actually helps you manage your job hunt how can you keep on top of everything?

I don’t think I am the first person to admit I’m not as organised as I should be. To keep on everything that has been going on I have built a spreadsheet to do this! I wanted to do everything from keeping track of the best sources of jobs for me to being reminded of the cool jobs that haven’t gotten back to me.

If you are looking for a job, get yourself organised. A trello board, this spreadsheet or just a piece of paper will help you look and find something suitable. Treat your job search as work and make life as easy as possible. You can make a copy of my spreadsheet here. 

This blog post got quite epic and I haven’t even touched on how Interviewing is scary or that waiting for offer documentation is long! Obviously, I will have plenty of time to re-visit this topic until I get hired. My rant is over for now but I wanted to leave you with a few points.

As recruiters, we need to remember that a reassuring hiring process makes you look like a great employer and helps you hire amazing people.

  • Don’t lose sight that your job is here to help others get hired and hire.
  • Think about the process you are putting people through.
  • Act as a conduit of information to hiring managers, your leadership team and  your candidates.
  • Be a guide through the scary thing of looking for a job.

As job seekers understand that every company wants to hire the best and the right people for their company.

  • Getting a great job is a challenge.
  • Be prepared and organised!
  • Understand that everyone you meet is a potential employer.
  • Be honest with yourself and your potential employer.

Enjoy the process. You will learn about yourself and your industry. Enjoying the challenge will help you get a better job without a doubt.

Feel free to get in touch if I can help!




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