I’ve jotted down some helpful tips and advice for everyone that is currently looking for a new job.
While I’m typing this blog, thousands of recently graduated individuals are updating their LinkedIn profiles, scouring the web for job vacancies and writing the cover letters to accompany their résumés. In addition, many people with temporary contracts lost their jobs as a result of #COVID19. The proverbial rugs that once lay serenely under certain sectors have been pulled out from under them with such force that these sectors were left bruised and broken. As a result, finding a job in these times of uncertainty is no easy task. You might even compare it to climbing the Kilimanjaro or doing the #ChubbyBunnyChallenge. Or you might not, I don’t know.
Either way, I’ve jotted down some helpful tips and advice for everyone that is currently looking for a new job. And I do actually mean useful tips and advice, not those dime a dozen, run-of-the-mill tips you’ll find on every job website and blog for entrepreneurs.
And as the sprinkles on your soft serve (which I think sounds even more joyful than a cherry on a cake, but that’s just my personal opinion), I’ll let you in on the application process here at Ludejo. Oh yes, you read that correctly. I asked Malon a few questions about how she handles posting a vacancy and assessing candidates.
But I’ll start with the practical part: the tips and advice. 3, 2, 1, go!
Tip 1. Be selective.
Now the number of vacancies has decreased significantly due to COVID-19, you may be tempted to apply for as many jobs as possible. It never hurts to try, right? Wrong. Of course, having a job is important in terms of getting food on the table, but it’s also something you’ll have to devote a lot of time and energy to, five days a week. That’s why it’s so important to do something that truly fits who you are: not just your educational background, but your personality.
Take the time to write down what exactly you’re looking for in a job. Do you want to work for a large company, or would you rather be part of a smaller team? Do you do your best work when working alone, or when you work with others? Are you looking for a full-time job, or maybe a 24- or 32-hour working week? And what about the commute? Is an hour-long journey by car or train something you’re willing to deal with, or do you want to work closer to home?
In short, it’s all about defining what you want. That way, you know you won’t be wasting your time on applying for jobs you won’t want in the end because they don’t actually suit you and your wishes.
Tip 2. Show what you can do.
Showing people what you can do is preferable to announcing what you can do. A list of your diplomas, work experience and abilities is great, but what does it actually mean? I could easily share how great my apple turnovers are under ‘skills’ on my LinkedIn page, but you know what they say: ‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’ (well, in this case we aren’t talking about pudding, but about apple turnovers, but you get the gist). It would be better if I’d upload a picture of my famous apple turnovers, or maybe a tutorial on how to make them. (Hypothetically speaking, of course. I’d never actually dare to boast about my on baking abilities.)
Malon also had a nice tip aimed specifically at those over 50: look into which software programs companies are using to support internal processes. That’ll give you an edge when you’re being compared to your competition. You could also follow some online tutorials, so you can acquire new skills that could be useful for the job you’re applying for. Additionally, this is a great way to show an employer how motivated you are. This newly acquired knowledge may even amp up your confidence when it’s time for your interview.
Tip 3. Use LinkedIn.
Updating your LinkedIn page once every six months isn’t going to cut it. Be active. Respond to posts. Share what’s on your mind. It may feel a little odd at first, but don’t let that stop you. Your first Instagram post probably felt a little awkward too, but by now, sharing pictures and posts on social media has become as normal as brushing your teeth. Make sure your profile isn’t just a boring list of competencies and diplomas, and use it as a marketing tool instead: a platform where you can show the world who you are (note how I used the word ‘show’, not ‘tell’).
The application process
And now, for the moment we’ve all been waiting for: an outline of how Malon proceeds after posting a vacancy online. What does she pay specific attention to when reading through the applications that have been submitted?
“I always appreciate it if someone includes a cover letter in their application. Only a résumé isn’t enough. I want to know more about the applicant, not just ‘this is my educational background, see ya’. When I receive multiple letters and résumés, I’ll always read through each one of them. I’ll check their résumé to see whether their background somewhat fits what we’re looking for. It may well be that someone’s educational background isn’t a perfect match, but that’s fine, too. It’s about whether or not that individual’s skills and abilities are a good match. For instance, a project manager needs to have great organisational skills and must be able to respond to changes with ease and swiftness, which are skills that are not linked to a certain education. As a result, an applicant’s educational background isn’t what is most important to me.”
The initial selection
“I hardly ever make the initial selection by myself. The same goes for job interviews. This is partly because I want to ensure I don’t base my decisions on personal preferences or biases, but also because I think it is important to involve team members in the application process. Their feedback is very valuable to me. I usually ask someone from the department the applicant will (possibly) end up in to look through the résumés and letters and to pick a few candidates they think may be a good fit. After I add my own selection to the mix, we know which people we will be inviting for an interview.”
The interview (don’t fret, it’s not that bad)
“I always try to take into account that the applicant may be a little nervous. Nevertheless, someone’s ability to put into words what is important to them and why they are interested in this job is always appreciated. And so, the tip I’d like to give to future applicants is to practice your story in advance, so you know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it. Besides all that, I see a first job interview as a sort of familiarisation process, where we get to know you and you get to know us. In the end, it’s just a conversation, so I don’t think we need to make an unnecessarily big thing out of it.”
A job that suits you
“Another tip I’d like to share is taking the time to find out what you want and what kind of work suits you. Ask yourself the question: ‘What do I want to do with my life?’ Your work takes up a significant part of your life. Based on my own experience I’d say it’s practically impossible to keep your work life and private life completely separate and as a result, if you structure your life in a way that works for you, you’ll reap the rewards in both parts of your life. I’ve noticed that many people don’t really know themselves all too well, which makes me think: this is 40 hours a week we’re talking about here, so make sure those 40 hours are a useful addition to your life.”