I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I’ve been searching for a job this summer, and this is my first time job hunting ever. It’s harder than I thought and there’s an entire process to it that I had no idea existed! I thought my CV was pretty strong before I started filling out applications, but then I realised that it was actually really horrible. I’ll get to that in part 2 of this blog post, so stay tuned!
When I was old enough to do so, I became an assistant lifeguard/swim instructor, or as the City of Toronto calls them, Aquatic Program Assistants, which in my day used to be called Deck Attendants, but that was back in 2009. Two years later, when I was 16, I became a full-fledged lifeguard and swim instructor. During the school year, I would work on Friday evenings 3 seasons a year; in Summer, I would work on Sunday mornings. In 2012, I went away for uni, so I would only work in the summers when I was home, and I worked almost 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday.
Now it’s 2017 and I need a change, so I decided not to work at the pool this summer. Instead, I decided I’d challenge myself by looking for a new job. After a few days of researching and applying, my search inevitably led to looking at opportunities for after graduation. These are some things I’ve learned from application forms, reading application tips, and reading job postings.
There are a lot more jobs out there than I realised
When we think of real people jobs, we think of doctors and nurses, lawyers, businesspeople, engineers, etc. What we don’t think about are all the jobs in between. Looking for jobs in the business and corporate sectors have really opened my eyes to the types of jobs that are out there. There are marketing agencies who do all the marketing for big companies, and even they have to market themselves, so they (the marketing agencies) have marketing teams. Those niche jobs are the ones that no one ever talks about, and that’s where all the ‘hidden’ opportunities lie.
There are doors everywhere, but it’s up to you to forge the key to open the door you want to go through
I noticed that I was unqualified for a lot of graduate jobs, just missing the mark by one or two qualifications. But I also noticed that there are a lot of companies willing to train their new recruits if they have the foundational knowledge and experience. These opportunities will have to sit on the back burner as long-term goals, so that I can figure out how to gain the experience and qualifications I’ll need to apply for the job or jobs like it (i.e. forging that key).
Recruitment is a two-way street
As much as the company/firm/organisation is looking for you to fit into their mould, you also have to make sure that they’re a good fit for you. What’s the company culture like? How do they measure success and does it/do they align with your personal values? Do you believe in their cause? These are all questions to think about when researching the company. If you feel like you don’t want to work there, then don’t waste your/their time applying.
Make an impact
You should make an impact wherever you work and whatever you do; employers are looking for how you’ve made a difference in any position of responsibility that you’ve held. Do you regularly go above and beyond? How? Has your work ethic led to meaningful results? Have you made improvements to the company system or culture? Make every position you hold your own; go above and beyond your job description. Those little things don’t go unnoticed and they’ll pay off when your referee writes you a reference letter, or is contacted by a recruiter.
Don’t be afraid to say good things about yourself
When it comes to applications, it’s absolutely okay to say good things about yourself, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel. You can even puff your chest a little when you’re writing them, but don’t cross the line into arrogance. You need to sell yourself, so explicitly tell them what results you’ve brought. For example, as Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review last year, I secured the largest amount of sponsorships amongst the Law Society committee! That’s something I’m really proud of and I make sure to write that in my CV and cover letter, if I feel it’s necessary. Talk about actions you took to create those results; you can then elaborate on the entire process in the interview. But, above all, make sure you back up everything you say with concrete examples of your experiences.
All in all, even though I still haven’t found a job, looking for one has proved to be very valuable for the future. Naturally, I’m not an expert at this, that’s what the Careers Development team is for! These are just some realisations I’ve come to in the past few weeks. I hope this is helpful to your job search!