The dark sides of applying for jobs with proper experience
Applying for jobs ain’t an easy task; it is a dreadful activity, mostly accompanied by an unending series of rejections that put you on a roller coaster of doubt and sucks all of your motivation.
If you’re someone who never had to do this before because your actions spoke for yourself, and you got offered jobs and various opportunities, then, multiply those feelings and increase the questioning and the intensity of the imposter syndrome by at least 100.
The past 10 years were not just you being lucky. That was work. It means you did something well, right?
That something pushed you to challenge yourself more and get once more out of your comfort zone. After going on those international programs in college, after interning for as many NGOs and the coolest projects that didn’t pay you but helped with learnings, after having proved yourself in a corporation for enough years to weigh on your CV, and after trying remote work as well, you decide to move and become an expat in a country you’ve never been to before.
Congrats! You have what to write on the 2nd page of your CV, especially since you’re really passionate about what you’re doing, it matches your studies and proves that much-desired consistency.
Getting the dream job
You finally feel that all that hard work can help you get your dream job. All those books, all that networking, the curiosity, the thinking outside the box, and your age should all qualify you for at least a middle management position.
Of course, you also had a management position, you had to hire interns, train juniors, was a project manager without ever having the title.
Oh, and when it comes to titles, we all know you actually did way more than that soulless title you had in your signature.
If you’ve also been part of a start-up, kudos again! Hopefully it didn’t go out of biz before you left, and you managed to take a few days of holiday.
But, now you have to craft a CV, resume your endless activities into keywords with active verbs, many quantifiable accomplishments, and start applying.
ATS friendly CVs
After careful consideration we are sorry to inform you that, for this specific position, we will not be progressing with your application.
They missed a comma there, right?
Unfortunately, we have decided to move forward with other candidates who more closely match the job requirements.
These are messages that you might expect and might not even hurt you that much. If they come at 8 AM or on the beautiful day of Friday, well, that does show some lack of empathy while ruining your day or your weekend.
Sending CVs to job postings on LinkedIn, or other websites, has the tiniest chance to actually be read by a human being. No matter how much time you spend rewriting the CV with the exact keywords of the job postings, you might still not be able to trick those evil ATS systems.
Cover letters are something that should help you stand out when applying for jobs.
IF someone actually reads them. If that someone read your CV and wants to know more. Already too many IFs. Most probably you just wasted another 1 to 2 hours to tailor it and address ways in which you would actually help them.
No, it doesn’t matter if you actually found something wrong on their website and suggested how to fix it. Even if you stalked people in the departments that could fix it, you still got an automated rejection message and no one bothered to reply. No, they still didn’t fix their website, and if you search for them on Google, you find out that it was created with Sketch and uses Shutterstock images.
Filling out tests, recording vocal messages, filming yourself are such great activities and make you actually appreciate the people from that company more. You even try to reach out to some employees, get recommendations to all 3 co-founders and still get an automated rejection message.
Is it worse when you actually pass everything and have to prepare more tasks for the interview? Or when you see how their eyes lit up during the interview and tell you only good things to then forget to get back to you, and you have to remind them you’re waiting for an update?
They hired someone who had the same role at a competing company, while they were praising the importance of having different backgrounds in the team, and the role and job title was exactly on “diversity and inclusivity” …
Networking and recommendations
All your energy might have been already drained and if you keep all your applications in an Excel file where you update the status with rejection, it starts to feel like applying for jobs is an impossible journey.
Applied for 300 jobs and no reply.
Applied for more than 200 and got only 2 interviews.
Applied continuously in the past year and no reply from anyone.
It can take you 1 to 2 years in this country to get a job.
These are only some of the messages I read on groups or in endless comments on LinkedIn in which people usually complain about HR.
Trying harder with recommendations and networking with key people have most of the time a similar outcome. Unfortunately, these stories get even sadder when heard first hand from friends and when experienced by yourself.
The details are the juicy ones, the ones that will rob you of any left spark of hope.
After being internally recommended, and they read your CV you get a positive reply that you really have the experience they need, and they look forward to meeting you in an interview. The next morning, instead of getting a calendar invite you actually get an email which says that unfortunately, you do not have the experience they need, and they need something you have clearly stated on your CV in bold and the languages that were "nice to haves" were actually needed at a native level…
No, there was no interview in which you could explain that you have the experience, nor that you can handle the language on a native level.
The prize for the best HR failure goes to…
Bias, the powerful hidden bastard in our deepest subconscious.
It is what makes us grab irrational choices, makes us not be able to argue for logics and helps HR come up with the best excuses.
I’m also biased and equally hurt by both of these situations, and can’t imagine why and how this could have happened?!
1. You get invited to an initial interview scheduled and everyone accepted to join at 3PM.
Sometimes after 1PM someone calls you to tell you that the interview won’t take place at 3PM, and no, they are not rescheduling it, they just wanted to inform you that they already hired someone.
2. You apply, do all the formalities and get 2 internal recommendations. The result is as expected, an automated message telling you to pick a date and time for the interview. It feels like all the networking paid off, and it really is a job where you tick more than 80% of the requirements, you actually tick 100%. After a few hours, you get another message: “There was an unlucky mistake in our system, and you got the wrong automated message. You should have received this message instead” you guessed...the message of rejection you already know and read too many times...