You are looking for a job, but there is a lot to deal with: COVID-19, working from home, difficult unusual period, 250'000 job seekers in Switzerland, French-speaking cantons at the top. If all of this is not enough, it is raining! So, as it happens, I have also been looking for work for a few months. I am a freelance without clients and unemployed without unemployment benefits, but I am entitled to one benefit, i.e., group courses given by job coaches. Lucky me — participants are friendly. Unlucky me — all the courses are by videoconference. I do not have the miracle solution for finding a job, but here are my findings and suggestions.
Work from home
Work from home is not going to stop there. Some companies, which were opposed to remote working at the beginning of 2020, have closed their offices since the first lockdown and offer alternatives by providing coworking spaces. Not surprisingly the sale of laptops and solutions for working from home is also expanding significantly. So, we have to put up with it, or even better - get organized accordingly.
Some people suggest that having a dedicated workspace at home is the best solution, but I prefer just to work at my dining table – and to ‘clear my desk’ just before the evening meal. Since I do not have to commute, the storage of my papers and my computer acts as a transition between my working day and the end of work.
We have mixed messages about professional recruiters or head-hunters. There are two types of head-hunters: those with exclusive mandates, they are the most interesting for the search of specific positions or in a specific industry. These recruiters will be interested in your career path and your profile. It is important to create a real relationship with them as they have the right contacts and their network becomes yours.
Others agencies have several mandates, which are not necessarily exclusive. Generally, they are interested in finding skills that correspond to what their client is asking of them, often when that client’s company has a position to fill. In the case of required soft skills, they will often leave that to the client (see my article “How to promote your soft skills on your CV and in an interview”).
There are several types of recruitment agency, but ultimately one of their main objectives is to be profitable. A job seeker can also be considered as a client for a recruiter, in the sense that our skills are the product that we offer and that they may be looking for. This is why it is important to develop and review our list of skills on an ongoing basis. (See also “How to make your skills' assessment”).
We must keep in mind the law of supply and demand. Check out what is available on the Internet.
how is the job offer written?
what do employers ask for?
what do they need?
The more we are aware of this, the better we are able to present our own skills. For each CV and cover letter, match the words you use to describe your professional skills with the terminology in the recruitment advert. The same goes for your soft skills, be aware of what the employer is looking for, read the advert aloud, and understand the company's values. For each skill or soft skill, find examples in your previous jobs that demonstrate that you are proactive, discreet, curious, attentive, etc. Write them down, so you do not forget them. You can reuse them later. They can also provide you with examples of these skills to use in an interview.
Improve your network
This is my first advice, in any situation and to be truthful I used it when my daughter was born – ‘do not be a lonely mother with her new-born child.’ I told that to my pregnant hairdresser, who thanked me warmly: she is going to take classes with an independent midwife. Hopefully she will create links with other pregnant women and that they will enjoy taking their babies for walks together.
The same advice applies if you are unemployed, waiting for a new challenge, rebuilding, or reorienting your career. Do not stay alone as it is always possible to create links. For example, through the measures offered by the unemployment agency (courses, training etc.), you will meet people in the same situation as yourself - possibly by video, but you can still ask them to have coffee together. You can interface with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, WhatsApp - or of course in real life with that real coffee, it doesn't matter.
A little support is always welcome.
Ask them how they apply for jobs, exchange ideas with them. A job coach tells us that out of 100 positions filled, 60 are filled through the network, 20-25 through advertisements and 20-25 through professional recruiters. But then, why only respond to advertisements? A job search is much more than that. Tell your friends, former colleagues, relatives, shopkeepers in your city or neighbourhood about your search. A job coach found an opportunity by talking with his baker: yes, it can happen! Read articles, look for ideas, look for names of companies with which you could make spontaneous offers. Be curious and get informed.
Be active on LinkedIn, like, comment, but stay relevant. Everyone can have their own opinion, but you do not have to spread it everywhere. It is more useful to comment on articles or publications that are related to your job, than to give a negative opinion on the COVID-19 vaccine. Looking for a job may not take 8 hours a day, but 8 minutes is definitely too short.
We are more and more often reading posts and articles saying that non-linear paths and atypical profiles are in vogue.
Ah... OK, possibly, but I have not yet understood how to highlight it? how to get noticed? who is looking for it? and who might be interested in it?
Maybe it is easier when you have a job already?
For example an HR Manager became a translator in her company after obtaining a translation certificate
Employees can become freelancers
A recruiter told me on the phone that she liked my atypical career path, but I never heard from her afterwards, I can only assume that her colleagues could not have shared her opinion.
Expand your search to temporary work
Temporary work has many positive aspects:
In some cases it may make it possible to have a permanent job
It also allows you to see in which sectors you are comfortable
Allows you to diversify your experiences
Allows you to have a holiday between two mandates
To broaden your network
To become familiar with different corporate cultures, management styles, working relationships and colleagues, etc.
To better understand what you want, what you are looking for... and what you do not want
We can consider it in the short term, and continue to look for a permanent job that corresponds to our expectations, or we can consider it in the long term, why not?
In any case, looking for a permanent or temporary job, I prefer to have a good, ongoing relationship with one or two agencies. It does not make sense to spread out over many agencies. It is better to have one or two recruiters who "take care of you".
Besides, most jobs are advertised everywhere.
Be active, not just on social networks, but with former colleagues and friends, and in life in general.
People are going to remember your beautiful pictures of walks in the snow, but no one is going to find it interesting to know that you are watching TV the whole day, unless you are a journalist specializing in series.
We will remember that you swim in the lake all year round, but not that you have a drink every evening. Get out every day, fresh air is good for your health, even in the rain, and when you meet people, don’t be afraid to tell them you are looking for a job.
Define our search(es)
It is important to clearly define what you are looking for.
For yourself and for others. The search can be multiple: a temporary or permanent job, in one field or another. And if you have more than one career to your bow, then you have several directions to define and explore.
You also have to learn to talk about yourself to others, which is quite often a difficult exercise, learn to introduce yourself and explain what you are looking for. A job coach tells us that we must be able to introduce ourselves in 60 to 90 seconds. I would like to add that we should be able to imagine that we are talking to our grandmother and make it easy to understand.
We often have the impression of repeating ourselves during our job search, it is normal, but remember that the person we are talking to is hearing us for the first time and knows nothing about us. So, we polish up our presentation, we improve it, we stop repeating ourselves and we convey the key points and the main information.
In conclusion: nothing is final
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill.
Yes, we get a lot of negative and relatively terse answers. Yes, radio silence comes from recruitment agencies and certain companies. Yes, we have written, called, but nothing transpires - and still no response. Either we apply to set up an efficient recruitment process that respects job seekers... or we learn to turn the page, the pages, as we go along. We move on, we continue to explore. "If this job is not for you, there is another one waiting for you," a friend wrote to me who had a hard time and is now happy and well paid.
Take care and good luck!
Thank you to Patrice Berthon-Moine and Luca Allaria for their precious advice that landed in this article. English version reviewed by Nev Taylor. This article was published in French on joHdi. Original title: “Recherche d’emploi: mon témoignage et mes conseils”.