I was tweeting with fellow blogger Mara Eastern, who commented on the grimness that can be job-hunting, and I was inspired to write about it. It can be soul-crushing to keep getting rejections, to knock on a door only to have someone peer out at you and then slam the door in your face, kicking it shut for good measure.
And it is painful.
You feel that pain as though you are the kicked door, for me it was a bit of sadness located somewhere at the base of my throat. Maybe you kick the door back, spiteful, before turning and slouching away. On to the next identical door, one in a long long line of doors. This is what I did for several months during the slow-hunt, when I was with the first work-training agency.
Still, you want a job, or you need it. Sometimes both. At some point you go from the job to a job, differentiating from This One Really Cool Job to This One Pays Money. So, you keep on. As people have told me, more than once, you keep on keepin’ on. If those doors close, kick in a window.*
Eventually, I moved to a different work-training place. I started applying to agencies. I reasoned that I’d at least be on their books, and maybe they’d call me if something matching my skill set came up. Also, with this place, I estimate that I sent out over a hundred applications in about a month – we’re allowing for all the days I wasn’t there in person, because I had an interview. A rough estimate tells me that those hundred-plus applications brought me a dozen interviews. Several of those were with recruitment agencies – in fact my current work placement came about through a recruitment agency.
Clearly, this is a numbers game.
If you send out lots of applications, you are bound to get calls. Calls lead to interviews. This was a thing I knew in the back of my mind, but only really put into practice with the second work-training place. The first one, while nice, was a bit lax – there were no compulsory attendance days, or job logs. One memorable week, I had four interviews. I was (almost) literally running around the city, getting buses and declaring Google Maps a liar. Twice, I came thisclose to employment, only to have it slip through my fingers. I clung so hard, and they still slipped away. I think that’s the most hurtful of the lot.
I suggest creating a spreadsheet, or table on Word. Use this as a daily template, fill it in with every job you apply for. It does help you keep track, and it also has the advantage of being a satisfying thing: imagine you have a table with a couple dozen blank lines. Now imagine you have those dozen lines filled in with names and companies.
Also, I recommend widening your search. Don’t just cling to the same things. It’s tempting (and comforting) to cling, but my first job – my current one – is in something I hadn’t considered working before. Broaden your horizons. You never know what will happen. Temping is your friend: I hear good things about how it’s a good way to get your foot in the employment door**.
Rejections suck, but I do think over time you become desensitized. For me, it went from hurty-sadness to OK, goodbye, delete. Boom. Easy. I don’t think it’s ever personal; they simply want more experience. You mightn’t be able to give them your awesomeness, but that means you take your awesome self elsewhere to someone who does want to take you on. Remember that they’re not rejecting you as a person, but you as a work-inexperienced soul. While you lose out on the experience and money the job could have given you, they lose out on whatever else you might have brought to the table.
Lastly, try not to put too much pressure upon yourself. That makes it worse – I know that when I was at my most stressed, I got sloppy. I’d get super-fussy, checking and double-checking that I had the correct cover letter and CV in place. It slowed me down, made me inefficient. You don’t want to be so rushed on quantity that you forget to attach important details.
Breathe. And again. Step away from your computer, have a drink, or do a quick dance routine. Clear the cobwebs every so often, and keep positive.
It will happen. Honest.
*don’t actually do this, I don’t want you to be in trouble for property damage/injured.
**if you do jam your foot in the door, wear solid boots. No flimsy shoes.