How I Learned To Get A Job The Hard Way
“Awesome news! I got the job! I am smiling from ear to ear.”
Writing a resume is hard. CV Saviour makes it easy.
Now that’s the kind of news I love to hear. I just heard from a client who I’ve been working with over the past few weeks, and I have tell you, hearing things like this is what gets me out of bed each day.
When James contacted CV Saviour three weeks ago, he’d been unemployed for 18 months. By the time he found us, he’d applied for over 150 jobs and hadn’t had one single interview. His story gets worse, as he’d spent close to $1000 on 2 other resume writers before we met – so I was honoured and humbled that he was prepared to give it another try with me. Speaking to and working with James served as a very strong reminder to me about why I do what I do. And why I’m on a crusade to educate every job seeker out there about the forces at play when it comes to job hunting and resumes. But before I do that, I need to fill you in on how I came to be in this position in the first place.
Everyone has a story. Here’s mine.
18 years ago, like many Australians, I moved to London, with the savings of a couple of years in my pocket and a dream to work in a big name company while I spent my weekends and holidays travelling Europe. Plan A was to get a job that would allow me to fund my new lifestyle, allowing me to implement Plan B – a return to Australia a couple of years later where I would pick up where I left off.
Only thing is, Plan A didn’t quite work out like that immediately. Come to think of it, Plan B didn’t really come to fruition either, but that’s another story.
Despite being armed with 2 top-notch qualifications and a healthy dose of pessimism and a relentless and persistent job 6-month search, meetings with over 50 recruitment agents and over 120 job applications yielded me no results whatsoever. And this was in the very early days of email and the internet so much of this was done face-to-face and by posting application after application via Royal Mail.
I was pretty much close to broke, and emotionally I was in pieces. If I’d had a return plane ticket, I would have been on that flight back without a second thought, knocking on the door of my previous employer asking for my old job back.
It was soul destroying – for so many reasons. I was homesick, lonely, socially isolated and had arrived in the UK with a total of 4 contacts. No cash coming in meant travel was out of the question, and I hadn’t realised until that point how much of ‘me’ was wrapped up in what I ‘did’ (or had done). My self-esteem was at all all-time low, and as newcomer to the English job market, I was greeted with scepticism at best (that I’d stay in the UK long enough for an employer to bother bringing me on board) and it a tough sell-in convincing recruiters that I wasn’t just there to play harder than I’d work. One of the things that kept my spirits up was knowing that there were others worse off than me – at least I had English as my first language. Nonetheless, I kept up my search, and set about trying to work out where I was going wrong.
During that process, I contacted every recruiter to ask their advice, and I got every book I could on job hunting, resume writing and careers from the local library and applied everything I learnt to my ongoing job search, fine-tuning it as I went along and tailoring every application to specific employers over the coming month.
All I needed was a break, and I was desperate for someone – anyone – to give me one.
Obviously it worked, because 7 months in, I finally got that break. But I had really learnt the hard way about how to get a job. Fast forward 4 years and I was on the job market again, but this time by choice and a lot wiser for my previous experience and a lot more strategic in my outlook.
I’d left my job to focus on a post-grad marketing qualification while intending to use that to orchestrate a career change. I chose to take a contract role covering a maternity leave vacancy in the large marketing department of an international recruitment firm, and set about learning as much as I could about what they did, how they did it, and why (while brushing up on my marketing skills), and about recruitment from the recruiters as well as the employers perspective.
As the end of my contract neared, I created my list of target employers and learnt everything I could about them. A career change at any stage is tricky, but mine seemed even stretch for me at that point, but I clearly worked that one OK because having sent out 3 job applications within a month, I was called up for an interview with one of my target employers. The upshot of that interview was a job offer (like … THE job offer of a lifetime), and it was while I was working with that employer that I got the opportunity to do pro bono work with a wide range of people for whom the common thread was unemployment, and many of them were also newcomers to the UK job market with English as their second language. Along the way, I got some great training in recruitment and staff selection, interview techniques, onboarding staff, and of course, resume writing.
And so CV Saviour was established as a side-project while I worked full-time marketing professional services.
While initially a side-project on a pro bono basis that I managed outside of work, CV Saviour grew rather rapidly through word of mouth, and I quickly acquired a lot of clients who were in the same predicament as I has been some years earlier. Others were those I worked with – many of whom had got to a point in their careers where they were questioning if there wasn’t more out there for them, or they were seeking career changes, doing post grad study or they had become ‘stuck’ in a role, unable to find the words to explain how good they were at their jobs and therefore possibly missing out on tens of thousands in their pay packets.
It wasn’t until a return to Australia some years ago, after 13 years in London, that once again, I found myself in a foreign job market with few contacts and limited job options. It was while I was searching for a full-time role, that one of my pro bono clients (who had a life-changing outcome as a result of a career move I orchestrated), asked me why I didn’t offer my service on a wider scale and get people to pay for it, and if I was so passionate about this, why wasn’t I doing what I really wanted to do as my full-time job?
It was my big ‘Aha!’ moment. CV Saviour became my full-time job.
Since then, I’ve been applying my marketing skills to marketing people for their next career moves, and helping brand and position them by giving them the tools (and access to tools) that they need to get the jobs that they want.
Having walked in the shoes of many of my clients, I know exactly what it means to get a break.
I get how so much of ‘us’ is linked to what we ‘do’. I know how soul-destroying it is saying ‘unemployed’ when someone asks you what you ‘do’.
I also know that a brilliant resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter is just one small part of a wider career marketing strategy. I understand from first-hand experience that well-written, professionally presented career marketing documents can make a difference of tens of thousands of dollars in a pay packet, and transform someone’s self-esteem when they see who they are on paper when viewed through some else’s eyes. And it’s knowing that we can treble someone’s chances of getting to interview and halving the length of their job searches that keeps the spring in my step.
So back to James … what do we do differently? We didn’t just write a resume and LinkedIn profile and send him on his way. We worked with him to make sure he got the result the wanted, and we did so until he did.
The bottom line is that his livelihood was on the line here. He made an investment in us to do a great job and get the result he needed and we took the management of this investment and its outcome very seriously, because he desperately need a break, and he needed a return on that investment, and because that’s just what we do.
It was a timely reminder of what I do and why. You can read more about James’ story here. This is what gets me out of bed every day so I can make sure others don’t have to go through what I (and James) did.
Oh, and well done James, I knew you could do it.
When people ask me what I do today, I tell them that I give people who need a break the tools they need to land their dream job. I treble their chances of interview and halve the length of their job search, and in doing so, help improve their confidence and self-esteem so they can go out there and get the job they want.
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