A modern job seeker’s odyssey (Part 1!)

Written by Simon Rutter

Simon is an experienced HR, employer brand, change communications and employee experience specialist, accredited coach, facilitator, trainer and mentor, and award-winning editor and writer. He has delivered strategic employer brand and change communications solutions in large, global FTSE 100 organisations across a range of industries to improve business performance. He coaches and counsels senior leaders on how to build compelling employer brands and communicate them strategically and effectively to achieve business objectives.

Job seeking sucks. There, I’ve said it. I feel better already :o)

Let’s nail some myths right now. Looking for a new job is not fun, exciting or straightforward.  It’s a full-time job in its own right, a lot of your time and energy is drained fruitlessly and at times it’s unbelievably frustrating.

Candidate experience – still loading

On top of this, many organisations are bleating on about candidate experience without knowing the first thing about it. I wrote about this already here and I’m personally experiencing poor examples of this every day. Little wonder candidates (not me – though lord knows I’ve been tempted) are behaving the same in return (ghosting employers etc). If you treat people like s**t then guess how they behave?

Top 5 things I’ve learnt (so far!)

BUT, the light always finds a way in. Some days you just have to look harder than others. With that in mind, I wanted to share the top five things I’ve learnt in the first few weeks of my job search:

  1. The best employers understand that interviewing is a two-way process. They are open, honest and empathetic. They want you to go into the job with your eyes open, they encourage questions and welcome feedback. Go with these type of organisations, and step away from any who aren’t prepared to engage on these terms.
  2. You won’t get feedback. Ever. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for it. From a personal branding perspective it sends a powerful message that you want to get insights on how you come across so you can improve for next time. It shows companies and recruitment agencies that you’re serious about understanding your blind spots. And when you don’t get feedback, you can always reflect yourself on where you could have done better.
  3. Resilience. Yes I know it’s a buzzword. But this isn’t about silently putting up with any old crap (and there will be a lot of it). I mean taking each setback at face value, learning from it and moving on. Quickly. Do not dwell on that awkward interview or phone screen. I’m a keen runner and Steve Scott, the American athlete who has run the sub-4-minute mile more than any other runner in history, said this about a bad performance: “Get over it. If you have a bad workout or run a bad race, allow yourself exactly 1 hour to stew about it – then move on.”Sound advice that works in all contexts.
  4. People want to help you. Use your network and always make sure you’re offering something back. When people can see you’re genuine about this they are far more likely to reciprocate. And offers often come in from the most unlikely of places, so don’t write any one, or any opportunity, off.
  5. Do your homework. There are so many data points available on companies now that it is much easier to get a reading on crucial elements such as culture (I wrote about this here and here. Organisations are still lagging in understanding how to express their employer brand in consistent and compelling ways, but as candidates we can uncover much of this through the company website, social media, Glassdoor etc… If companies aren’t going to help us filter them out, we have to do it for ourselves. This can save a lot of wasted effort further down the line.

Share your tips

So that’s it for Part 1 of the odyssey. More to come next time, but for now I’d love to hear your feedback and tips for the modern job seeker.

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