What I learnt from job hunting for five months

This post details the experiences and learnings from More From My Career’s founder, Roz, following a five-month period of job hunting in 2017.

Persistence doesn’t always pay off. I approached a company I’d love to work for four times: first with an inquiry via their website, second with a LinkedIn InMail, and third with a letter and bespoke photo book sent to their office, fourth with a targeted email. The answer was ‘no’.

That said, sometimes persistence does pay off. I had seen a job advertised online which looked so appealing and I sent off a cover letter, despite knowing that the closing date had passed. Several weeks went by before I received a response. The recruiter explained that although that role had been filled, another had opened up which I might be more suitable for. After sending in an application I was offered an interview.

Career maps
Career paths don’t necessarily exist today – climbing a liner ladder towards the top job isn’t suitable for everyone. Broaden your mind and consider your working life to look like a map, made up of multiple strands that meander in different directions, stop and start, linger and develop. Remind yourself that thousands of people are doing jobs today which didn’t exist 10 years ago. The same applies now: thousands more jobs don’t yet exist but will do within the next 10 years. The world of work is constantly changing and so we can’t totally anticipate, plan or predict our course.

To that end, creating a ‘career options document’ is a useful exercise to establish all the things you could do and want to do, and can provide a helpful reference point to reflect on in the future.

While doing this exercise, make time to reflect more deeply on your definition of a perfect job. Is it realistic? In exchange for your time will an employer or customers pay you a reasonable wage, do you have the required skills (or a plan for how to develop them) and is that perfect job sustainable? You may need to adjust your expectations. Alternatively, create your dream job.

Passion vs interests
‘Find your passion’ to determine what job you should do is nonsense. That suggests you need to go on a journey to work out what you’re passionate about. While some people are genuinely passionate about what they do, if you’re an adult and still haven’t worked out what your passion is, it’s unlikely you’ll suddenly uncover that passion when you wake up tomorrow. You either know or you don’t. However, while a lot of us may not be passionate about a singular thing, many of us are interested in more than one thing, and develop new interests over time.

Equally, following the advice of ‘do what you love’ could be unrealistic. I love baking, going out to eat and walking in the countryside, but combining these three things is unlikely to pay me a salary that will fund ingredients, restaurant dinners and trips around the country. Maybe part of the reason I love these things is because they’re not at all related to my work, but are sources of escapism. To make them my work might alter the positives feelings I associate with these activities.

‘Follow your interests’ might be more realistic. I’m interested in many areas of work that I’ve gained experience in and would happily continue working in these areas. Doing so probably won’t have me jumping out of bed every morning with excitement, but I’ll be doing something that engages my brain, gives me opportunity to learn and makes an impact on others; which combined equate to my definition of job satisfaction.

To hear about Roz’s job hunting experience in more detail, listen again to her podcast episode of My Career Crisis: 100 Job Applications and Counting