When economic downturns hit, the number of jobs decrease, and to make matters worse, the number of applicants increase. Most people experience a longer amount of time, and a larger amount of rejections during these times.
I asked some candidates, as well as a hiring manager to ask what strategies and advice that can help you to stay “up!” in your search efforts, when all signs are pointing “down.”
Claire was made redundant back when Covid first hit in March/April 2020. She’s in the more ‘mature’ category, and has found the period of time to find a new role much longer than she’s ever experienced. I asked her some questions.
JB: Hi Claire, how many roles have you applied for in the last 6 months? C: Over 300 JB: How many first round interviews have you made? How about final round? C: Out of about every 10 applications, I got a phone interview. No final rounds - a couple face-to-face 2nd round interviews. JB: How have you handled rejection throughout this time? What positives have come out the difficulty of finding work in 2020? C: After each unsuccessful interview, initially I would have a gutful. Then you rationalise. You give yourself time and licence to go through the feelings. In the end, it is important to to dwell on it. You're ultimately responsible for your own feelings. JB: Wise words - what other advice can you give? C: Have a couple of people you can talk to. Sound out the recruiters you've been dealing with. Keep a small circle of recruiters, they need to get to know you better so they can genuinely recommend you. I only had 4. Also - don't hesitate to apply for things slightly outside your comfort zone - to keep you sharp & challenged. And always follow up with a phone call. JB: Apart from not landing a role, what have been the other negative aspects? C: Simply lack of response to applications. Even an automated 'You were unsuccessful' email is better than nothing. JB: What ways have you kept yourself motivated? Any tips for new job seekers? C: Positive self-talk is important. Tell yourself 'I am a worthwhile employee!' Don't get too needy or despondent. A job will come along eventually. Things change - they always do. Don't compromise totally on what work you will apply for - that is, don't take any job - you'll be unhappy.
From my experience on the recruiting side of the table, a mature candidate like Claire can often talk themselves out of applying as they’re convinced that they’ll be judged as too old. DON’T DO THIS!
I’ve had plenty of clients in my time ask for a more mature candidate due to previous successes. This goes for genders, ethnicities etc. We’ll always consider all aspects of any candidate of course – but the message is – Don’t write yourself off.