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Job Hunting While Working In Recruitment: A True Story

By Siobhan on

This is the second week in a row – the second sunny Monday on the trot – that I’ve seen in with a job rejection email. Worse things happen at sea, but it’s probably in the bottom 50% of bad things to happen on dry land. Job hunting is, quite simply, absolutely no fun.

The most recent rejection was made that bit worse by that fact that I’d spent half the weekend drafting, rewriting, and putting the finishing touches to my application. I firmly clicked ‘submit’ – and it took them about a third of the time that I worked on the application to reject me for it.

I’m not at all upset or angry at the companies in question, though I am really disappointed. Rejections happen all the time, and you’re not going to be asked to interview for every role you apply to. Add to that the fact that most companies now seem to have a policy of ‘if you haven’t heard from us by this date then your application has been unsuccessful’; the fact that I got an email at all is impressive, let alone two. That they were so prompt is even better. Well, objectively speaking, at least.

And I can appreciate it from an objective point of view. More so, perhaps, than others, because I currently work in a recruitment agency.

Wait, What?

I finished my masters in English Literature in September 2011, and came back home to the Midlands with debt to repay and no means to do so. By what feels like sheer luck, I stumbled into a role as Admin Assistant with AF Selection; I continued in this role for about six months, before being promoted to Recruitment Consultant. I stayed with AF for almost two years before leaving to do a PhD. (Don’t ask.)

When I finished my PhD in September 2016, I came home again with no job. But, happily, I’d stayed friends with my former colleagues. Emma (one of the Directors) asked if I’d be interested in coming back on a short-term basis to help out. I, of course, jumped at the offer – I like employment as much as the next impoverished student – and have now been back for five months, working as a Content Writer and Resourcer. And I’m looking for content writing roles, not recruitment, which makes it all the trickier.

It’s a very odd combination, working in recruitment by day and job hunting by night / weekend; I feel a bit like Batman, but without the growly voice and the penchant for vigilantism. But my day job has definitely given me some insights into my job search, even though the search is for Content Writer / Copywriter roles (hello there, hiring managers!) rather than recruitment.

Job Hunting Tips From The Other Side

1. If a recruiter wants to get in touch with you, they will – and quickly. 

Recruiters want to get good candidates on board because placing good candidates in jobs is how they earn a living. So if they think they can help and place you, then they will try all means to get in touch with you – up to and including carrier pigeon. In an ideal world, we’d get an email saying that we’re not right for the role (and AF work really hard to do this); but in the absence of that, if you haven’t had a response in a few days, you almost certainly won’t. Think of this as the job equivalent of ‘he’s just not that into you’.

2. Try to be realistic about what jobs you apply for. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being ambitious and setting your sights higher than where you currently are – it worked for the current President, after all *side-eye to camera* – but it’s better to be broadly realistic. If a job title is new to you, research it and where it fits in a traditional company hierarchy; see whether you’re actually at that level. Maybe skip applying for the role that needs you to be an expert in a particular software if you’re not. If an advert asks for four years’ experience and you have one year, don’t bother; if an advert asks for one year’s experience and you have nine months’ – go for it!

3. A recruiter can’t do your whole job search for you. 

Using a recruitment agency should be a complement to your own job hunting, rather than your only hope. There are loads of companies that don’t use recruitment agencies because they can’t or don’t want to pay the fees. You’ll only have a chance with them if you apply directly, either speculatively or in response to a job. Your recruiter will do all they can for you, but they’re not all powerful; if you really want a new job, then you shouldn’t depend on them alone to find it for you.

So What Now?

Job hunting can be difficult and rubbish and exhausting at the best of times; rejections and a total lack of responses are thoroughly deflating. And when part of your job is to go through job websites, it’s the last thing you want to do once you get home!

I wish this blog could end with a bang or an answer. But there’s obviously – and unfortunately – no magic formula for getting a job, even from the point of view of a recruiter. Except to just keep going. It has to all work out eventually – so fingers crossed that it works out for all of us sooner rather than later!

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