I personally started working at a very young age. Honestly, not because my family needed it, but simply because my parents always highly respected the value of work. So even before starting high school, my parents offered me a small sum of money in case I wanted to mow the lawn, instead of having the gardener do it. I remember buying my first cellphone at 13 with my own money and feeling very satisfied with it.
Apart from having a strong respect for work ingrained in my DNA, I also happened later on to be moving quite a bit. I went to study at the university in another city, Florence. Then I worked in California, Argentina, Brazil and now it’s been 7 years I am living in Madrid, Spain.
So, in every nation I moved to, I always wanted to find an interesting job as fast as I could. It wasn’t always easy or obvious, but I have to admit that after doing it so many times I picked up some tricks that might be helping you in case you are currently in the midst of a Job Hunt.
Special thanks to my dear friend Diego from Rome, that once told me: “Looking for a job already is a full-time job” and this simple sentence change my mindset forever allowing on average to find a proper job in no more than 3-4 weeks.
Ok, so the ideas I present here are quite simple, the hard part is to keep our self-boycott lazy mammal side of us at bay, so go make yourself a nice intense coffee because we are about to begin!
Define the YESs, the NOs and the MAYBEs.
It is incredibly hard to find something that you do not know what it is. Having an idea of your desired yearly salary is not enough.
Will it be for a big company or a small one? Remote work or rather go to the office? How much will you need to commute, how long is too long? What about your career, do you wish to grow in the company, or at this stage, you prefer something less demanding? What are some aspects you absolutely could not tolerate? What are your talents, will you be employing them?
So many questions, choosing a job, yes, I used the word choosing and not finding on purpose here, is something delicate and if you play your cards right, this could define your next 4-10 years of your life. We spend a lot of time around our work, so this is probably one of the most significant decisions you want to consciously make. And it all starts with one click.
Define the limits, define what you would like, and define some areas where you already can allow some room for negotiations, it is crucial that you write all of these features down, this will give you so much clarity, and then you can comment all this to a dear friend. Explaining it to someone will help you clarify it even further to yourself. Have a very clear idea of what you are looking for and consider hiring a Career Coach if you see that you don’t know where to start. Forget about your studies and experience, focus on your talents, passions, and natural attitudes, your soft skills. Everything else can be learned in the first 3 months of your future job.
2. Bear in mind that this should be short and intense.
I’m not going to lie, looking for a job is generally a rather frustrating activity. It is normally pretty repetitive, often completely one-sided, in the sense that you just apply and very seldom you receive a human positive or negative reply. So it feels very silent for some time. It is similar to looking for your car keys, you search for absolutely every place you can think of, until, of course, you find them. Then you stop.
Please remember that you are also in a very sweet position in many ways though, you can literally shape your next 3-5 years right now. We are often just very busy doing, going places, we are on the train. Well, now you are at the main train station and you can choose from a variety of sectors and jobs to pick from.
You won’t have the same enthusiasm at week 2 than at month 3 or 6. So I strongly encourage you to try to do it very intensely for the first 2 months, you will get a bit bored out of sending many CVs every day and you will be less effective. So don’t take it easy at the beginning. Do it very intensely the first 2-3 months, then it’s ok to have a short break or simply reduce a bit the number of hours spent each day searching and applying. If when you work and they pay you, you are ready to work 35-40 hours per week, well, if you are not getting paid and you would like to, I believe it’s just fair to say that you should spend at least 30-35 hours per week searching for a job.
Often this is what people fail to understand. Looking for a job is very similar to dating in the sense that humans aren’t particularly fond of being rejected, this is why both these activities are generally hard. So even if you don’t hear back from the hundreds of jobs you applied for, often no reply feels like a no. And we tend to naturally avoid this. We are geared for trying to belong, to be accepted, and support each other in a community (tribes in the past). So we don’t like to be excluded. This means that you absolutely need to get the most of your first 2-3 months of job search, the moment in which your hopes are high, you are motivated and energetic. So start having a schedule, just as if you were to go to the office. Active by 9am and off after 6-7 hours of search. Get in your work clothes and consider going to a library, a cafe, or even better a coworking. Yes, go to a coworking space just to look for a job on your computer, I promise they will be the best money invested ever. It will get you in the right work mentality mindset and you might even meet some people that could lead you in the right direction. Do it shortly and intensely, especially at the beginning.
3. Don’t narrow down your search, you can always decline a job offer.
If after 2-3 months of search you still haven’t found anything and you haven’t done at least 3-5 job interviews you might want to review your strategy.
Maybe you can widen a bit your scope, once more, don’t think that if you are a doctor then you can only work in a hospital. We are head hunters so we know this, companies look for the right level of engagement. They look for enthusiasm, openness towards learning and constructive criticism, and your capacity to learn, grow, and also if you are simply a nice person, someone who is nice to work with. Your CV helps, sure, and for some very specific positions, of course, your experience and studies definitely will play an important role, but for 80% of the other jobs, companies are looking for the right attitude.
So be open to different opportunities, if you do it intensely you should be able to gather at least 5 valuable job interviews within 2-3 months and then with all the final job offers on the table, once you know all the details you can have a long walk and decide what to pick or keep on searching of course. What I mean by this is that some companies or positions might surprise you, so apply, you can always decline a job offer after the first few interviews. Often it happens that a company or start-up will tailor adapt the position based on your experience, natural talents, and ideas. This might happen even 3-6 months after you entered the position, so be open, as a job by itself is not exactly a very rigid structure, the suit might adapt to you.
I already said this, but I will repeat it, consider hiring a good career coach that can detect your real potential and talents, and orient you. Many of them can help you redesign your Curriculum and LinkedIn profile to really display your strengths. Just a few sessions are enough and it is ALWAYS so much easier when a person from outside sees you for who you are really.
So be open and apply to new sectors and positions, once you know more about it you can always decide how to continue. You could consider also applying to some international jobs as many are remote-working now. Maybe it could also be a good time to move to a new city or country?
4. Keep your head up, it could literally be your next job application.
As I said, the main challenge here is that you might get demotivated or bored and simply start being less effective, and spend less time applying. Literally, get out there and ask some of your friends, partner, or family members to support you and keep you accountable. Commit with them to a certain number of hours per day spent searching, a number of CV sent, and a layout of what is your job hunt strategy. Remember, having clear ideas is what will help you here.
Don’t apply only to job vacancies you see online, search for lists of companies (eg: the 100 fastest growing start-ups in YOUR COUNTRY, best places to work in YOUR CITY, largest companies in Your Country or Sector). I personally always found a job applying to a company I liked directly, many companies are busy and might be having a search open but just didn’t have the time to publish the job post yet. A company might also consider hiring seeing your interest and skills, they might want to retain talent even if the position is not created yet. Many companies often have a “work with us” section on their website so the process is very easy that way.
5. You are not on holiday. Keep up the rhythm
Let’s be honest, come on, we generally work a lot. I mean, that is what we mostly all do in general. So sometimes, there is a deep and subtle part of you, subconscious often, that sort of enjoys being on this sort of holiday, while you look for another job. But you are not. I mean, either you truly enjoy some time off and consciously take some time off and decide to resume the search in some months, or you seriously actively search for a job 30 to 40 hours per week. If you do this, this means you will have sent thousands of CVs by your second month and it statistically means that you are about to be hired soon. It really narrows down to a statistic game at the end. The more you apply the higher the chances. Don’t forget the quality, of course, you should ALWAYS attach a personalized and proper Cover Letter, or at the very least write an amazing generic one that you always attach.
So be careful of not becoming too comfortable at not working. Yes, you are not making any money and the rational part of you might be starting to become anxious and worried, but the lazy neanderthal part in all of us might quite enjoy not having urgent deadlines, needing to commute, and being able to snooze indefinitely your alarm clock. We are not purely logical creatures so observe this side of you very closely.
6. Invest in yourself, learn and improve.
This is science, stress will reduce your creativity. And when you need solutions, you need new ideas. If you see you are struggling or you feel a bit lost about where to start, maybe this a good time to learn something new. There are many highly demanded jobs out there and sometimes when you do a professional course they often also guide you on how to find a job afterward. For example, Media Buyer (or Trafficker) is a very demanded position inside the Online Marketing field. A job in which you design and run ad campaigns on Google Ads or Facebook Ads network. You can learn this new job with an online course from anywhere in 3 to 6 months and you are guaranteed to find a job after it. I know, maybe this is not the job of your life, but I am using it just as an example.
After a few months, if you see that the market is slow. Try to learn something new and invest in yourself. Often doing a Master’s course can serve also to orientate you and expose you to new ideas, projects, and people.
So, to wrap up. Search very intensely for the first 2-3 months, then you can relax a bit and redesign your strategy a bit, perhaps with the help of an expert. Define clearly what you want and you cannot tolerate in a job. Be open to newer industries and positions, don’t get stuck on your past experiences and studies. Work on your motivation and ask friends to support you and keep you accountable. Don’t relax too much as a part of you might be enjoying this long break from everyday work life.