Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best

Well, now that you have started in your quest to find a job, I’m going to let you in on a little secret that’s going to hopefully make the process a bit easier and not turn you insane: it’s going to be rough. It is better you know now what things are likely going to be like than discovering it mid job search and almost suffering a nervous breakdown from the stress. Lisa over at Savvy Career has a great post about it here.

In this economy, employers hold all the power. There are hundreds of applicants for most jobs. Most companies will do the right thing when you apply for a job and tell you relatively soon via email that you were unsuccessful. Some, however, won’t, and you’ll be left wondering if they even read your application. If you’re after feedback to improve your chances for next time, don’t count on it. Part of being the one holding all the power is that you get to do the bare minimum while the job seekers work their ass off. Not only that, with hundreds of people applying for a job, if a lot ask for feedback it’s just too much work for the employer to do. This means that you’re going to have to try and figure out yourself why you didn’t get the job after each attempt. If you didn’t make interview, you’ll have to cast your own critical eye over your resume and be as objective as possible. Ask yourself the following questions:

Did my resume really match the job description, and was it tailored for the job or just a generic resume you use for all applications?

Did I have enough experience and skills to be competitive, or was it a long shot?

Is my resume up to date and looking like it should?

The second thing is, don’t expect the process to be quick. If you have a skill in high demand, you’re likely to find employment quickly. It’s a sliding scale really – the more generic your skills are the more difficult it’s going to be to stand out from everyone else that’s trying to land a job. Odds are , it is going to take months, not weeks. The private sector will generally come back to you within a couple of weeks of an application, while the public sector, the fastest I’ve experienced was 3 months just for a rejection. So if you have limited finances, you’re going to have to either plan for them to last you for up to 6 months, or you’ll have to look at moving in with your parents, friends etc. You might get lucky and land a job in a few weeks, but to plan around such a possibility is very shortsighted and a recipe for disaster.

Another important thing to know is that this is going to be one of the toughest times of your life. Friends and family are going to constantly ask if you have a job, to the point you want to scream at them. They’ll tell you “don’t take it personally” when you don’t get a job. When that happens tens, or hundreds of times, it’s impossible not to take it personally. You’ll question everything about yourself, and whether you are even useful to society. You’ll have days where you feel utterly helpless, and days where you feel enraged. You’ve just got to keep chipping away at it as though it’s a big ass brick wall, knowing that one day you’ll hit the weak spot and break through.

I’m sure by now you’re absolutely terrified of looking for work for the first time, or if you’re already working, of being laid off and having to try and find work again. Knowing that things aren’t going to be rosy, however, is what will keep you on the path to actually getting work. So whatever happens, keep your chin up and keep chipping away. To give a personal perspective, I planned ahead for my discharge from the army. I was very good at my job, I had experience and achievements that were unmatched in my area. The year before discharge I began looking for jobs, and after a couple falling through due to plain bad luck, I ended up working retail for 3 months while I continued to look for work. All up, I applied for jobs for almost 18 months before I got an offer. I didn’t expect it to take even half that long, and neither did any of my colleagues. They began saying “if you can’t get a job, what the hell hope do I have?” Let me tell you, it was the worst time of my life, because I didn’t expect it. I’ll tell more of my story another time, but for now, just know that you aren’t alone if you’re having trouble finding work. As I said, keep your chin up and just keep chipping away.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.


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