I was recently asked to comment on how I went about job-hunting and securing employment following the end of my MA. Whilst the questions provided for me to answer resulted in what I fear to be an overly chirpy set of responses, it left me thinking about the harsher realities of securing employment.
Job hunting at the moment is tough. It has been for several years now. Whilst I have been fortunate enough to land employment following both my undergrad and postgrad courses, I know many that have had a much harder struggle. We seem to be living in an age of austerity, which sounds to me something like the title of an Eric Hobsbawm text. What I do not think I conveyed whilst talking about employment is that is it is extremely difficult not to become disheartened when an application is rejected (that is if you ever hear back at all), and this can be doubly hard to face following an interview. It can leave one feeling dejected, devoid of energy and down heartened. Generally full of words that begin with ‘D’ (I’d not noticed that before).
Unfortunately, I do not have a remedy for this, or a great revelation at the end of the post that will ensure that this malaise can be overcome, other than to keep going. There are jobs out there to apply for, and if you work hard to make yourself right for the job then that can go a long way in keeping up your spirits and increasing your chances at selection stage.
I wanted to write this post as a general “keep going” to those looking for employment. Hopefully it comes across as a positive message of goodwill. I have also summarised my tips for job hunting from my recent short section in CILIP Update:
- Constantly amend and critique your CV. It may seem like a bore, but even small things such as amending words to tie in with those used in job descriptions can make a difference. Keeping it up to date even whilst you are in employment or not specifically looking for a job can ensure that you capture and note down all of those skills that you have and projects undertaken that may be forgotten about when scrambling together an application at the last minute.
- Make use of recruitment agencies, but do not rely upon them. Imagine them to be like a walking stick, not a full set of crutches.
- Use RSS feeds to keep an eye on a range of sites that you are interested in without having to check them constantly
- Identify skills that you think may be useful for your ideal position, and then work to develop them before that perfect post arises so you are in a better position to apply.
- Don’t always worry about completing all of the desirable criteria perfectly, if something doesn’t quite match, explain any deficiencies and offer something else instead – demonstrate that you really want that job and have something special to bring to it.
- Apply for opportunities that present themselves through professional bodies and apply for bursaries to keep costs down! Use the JISC mailing lists to keep and eye out for things.
- Build a network, either via Twitter, LinkedIn or in person. You can then use your connections to help you job spot and suggest ways you could spruce up your CV. Don’t be shy in asking for help!