In September 2020 I returned to Ireland, having lived and worked in Spain for the previous six years. I came home full of optimism that I would find a job in HR/Recruitment quickly. My thoughts at the time went along the lines of “I have a Masters in HR from a well ranked European University, I speak Spanish, I have international experience, surely I’ll be able to find something in no time.” It took me another five months before I found a job here.
Flash back six months previously to February 2020, I was living a very happy and comfortable life in Madrid. Sure, living away from home can be tough sometimes, especially in a country which doesn’t speak your native language, but I had forged out a nice life for myself in Spain’s capital. This all began to come crumbling down on the 13th of March when Spain’s Prime Minister called for a State of Alarm, in response to the rapidly rising cases of Coronavirus.
Two weeks later my former boss called me to the office and told me that they would have to end my contract with the firm due to covid. I remember walking home that day feeling utterly dejected in what felt like a dystopian world in which the streets were empty bar armed police. After a lot of back and forth I decided to move home as I felt that my chances of getting re-employed would be much better in Dublin – the tech hub of Europe.
It wasn’t easy moving back home in the midst of the pandemic and my job search was exceedingly difficult and frustrating at times. There were many things I learned during this period, which I think could prove insightful for those currently feeling job hunt fatigue.
1. Put in time – Treat looking for a job as a job within itself i.e., be strict with the hours you look for work and take evenings/weekends off. If you already have a job and are looking to change, use a couple of evenings per week to take a look at LinkedIn after work.
2. Tweak your CV to the job specs – A lot of the time people’s CVs go through an ATS (Applicant Tracker System) before they get seen (if ever) by a person. Having the right buzz words on your CV is going to increase your chances of getting an interview tenfold.
3. Ask for help – If you aren’t sure if your CV is good enough, ask a friend, or the next recruiter you speak to about a job you applied for.
4. Don’t expect things to come to you – That last point comes with a caveat, as although you may ask people for help, it does not necessarily mean you will get it. Learn to be self-reliant and if you aren’t getting the answers from those sources, just Google it!
5. Take a break – There are going to be days in which you want to take a break from the job hunt, and that is absolutely fine. You have to protect your mental well-being during this time as well, as a constant stream of rejections can hit your self-esteem hard.
6. Mindset v Allowing yourself to feel your emotions – It’s completely fine to feel low because you didn’t get the job you thought you were a perfect fit for. It does not mean you have a negative mindset; it means you have emotions that you are allowed to feel, which are neither positive nor negative, they are just emotions. Basically, don’t be too hard on yourself 😊
7. Strategise – If something isn’t working, figure it out and make a plan to fix it. My issue in December 2020 was that I was applying for a lot of jobs with the same CV and getting a generic “thanks but no” email in response. I decided to tweak my CV depending on the job, made an excel sheet of the jobs I applied for with the date and status and within 1 month I had 6 interviews lined up in a week and within 6 weeks I was made a job offer.
8. Ask for Feedback – The famous F word which is oh so lacking within the majority of interview processes. If you didn’t get the dream role you were looking for, follow up and ask for feedback. I always strive to give my candidates feedback and push clients for it, it really benefits both parties.
9. Don’t take things personally – There may be times when you do follow up and ask for feedback and you’ll find that none is forthcoming. In that case it’s best to follow up once more and then move on. It most likely wasn’t the right job for you in the first place.
10. Be selective – The last thing and I still say this to candidates now, be selective when you get an offer. If you are in several processes, you do not have to choose the first offer that comes your way just because it is the first offer. The ball is firmly in your court once an offer is in, don’t forget that.
“Things will work out” was something that sympathetic friends and family would say to me when they could see I was getting down about the job hunt. I used to hate when I heard that expression, it just seemed so futile and felt like one of those things people say when they don’t know what to say. But do you know what? Things do have a way of working themselves out. And why’s that you may be thinking? It’s because our problems are temporary, including the job hunt, which can seem endless at times.
When you work on solving an issue, you are likely to find a solution at some point in time. It took me a total of five months when I came home. Despite this I would not change anything as in the long run it made me better at my job and dare I say, a more compassionate person in general.
Senior Recruitment Consultant