Three months after being retrenched, I check in to share my insights and experiences from the inside – or rather, the outside.
More than salary, more than a job
The pain of unemployment goes further than lack of income and security. It’s about the lack of meaning, self-realisation, self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect by others. All ranking as important according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. I miss more than my salary. I really miss the business interaction and engagement. For someone like me who thrives on communication and people relationships, collaboration, synergising, mentoring, motivating and leading – having lost that is a deep hurt. I miss being in a boardroom contributing my ideas towards problem solving. I miss making a difference in people’s lives. I miss being the responsible, reliable person who goes above and beyond to deliver. I miss performing with my high work ethic. I miss exceeding expectations. Most of all I miss doing all this driven by passion and enthusiasm.
In my job search, I am looking for more than a position to earn a salary. I want more than to go to work and just get through my tasks until it’s time to go home again. I want once again to wake up and be excited to go to work, to give my best and feel that I am contributing my unique carousel of skills and attributes towards helping the company achieve its objectives.
Putting myself out there
It’s been three months of looking for vacancies, applying for positions and going for some interviews. In that time I have updated and refreshed my CV many times and tried different ways of presenting myself. I have written a vast amount of motivation letters, always customising them to the particular position I am applying for. For the interviews I’ve been invited to, I have done research beforehand in order to be well prepared. I’m grateful for those interview opportunities, because they tell me that my profiles and CV are being noticed and getting the attention of recruiters. Even if I haven’t been hired, I have had the chance to meet interesting panels of people. I have mostly enjoyed the interviews, and have grown in confidence and feel more confident about talking about my experience and how I see myself adding value to the company in that role. I don’t feel intimidated as one might if one hasn’t been to an interview in a long time. I have networked and reached out and made new contacts. I have done some work as a test and hope that it will lead to more paid work in future. Many conversations have led to possibilities which may materialise in the future. I stay positive and keep hoping that my efforts will eventually pay off. I keep on relentlessly doing everything I can. Over and over again. Every single day. Even on weekends and even late at night. And even when I wake up at 02:00. Mostly it’s been a huge amount of effort with just about no result. But I persevere. I know I can keep going. Resilience is one of my personal attributes.
Mostly though, I have been ignored. I understand that it’s the industry norm to not respond to all applicants, and so I’m actually grateful for those companies who actually reply to let me know that I have been unsuccessful. It’s some response. I’m even grateful for the companies that have an automated response to let me know that they have received my application, and if I don’t hear anything by a certain period of time that I should consider my application unsuccessful.
More difficult to understand are the times when I’ve been to an interview, and although it seemed to go well, I didn’t hear back to let me know I was unsuccessful. And then there are the times when I’ve corresponded with a hiring manager or recruiter via email, where they made contact to ask me certain questions or asked me to perform some test assignment or asked other questions regarding availability or expected salary. I’ve sent my response but never heard back. In other cases, they have actually said they’ll get back to me, but don’t. This I find rude, unprofessional and impolite. It’s not the same as not responding to unsuccessful applicants who have submitted a CV, but it’s ignoring the response they solicited. I feel rather violated when I’ve been open regarding personal details, only to be met with silence. The times when I’ve performed either a test assignment or answered some questions regarding the position, I have put in effort and time. I have wanted to do so in an impressive turnaround time, so often have worked late at night on a weekend, and made sure to send the response first thing in the morning or even the same day. It’s disappointing, but it’s the reality.
Dishonesty and privacy concerns
Another concern is the amount of data mining and dishonest posts encountered. Let me explain. At first glance it appears that there are many vacancies available. But I have encountered some which when I click on ‘apply’ take me to another site for selling courses or even offering loans! How ruthless to target unemployed people as possible customers for loans, because you figure they may need the money. Others appear to be recruitment agencies building their databases, and using ‘fake’ vacancies to get people to add their details and create portfolios on their own sites. I realised this because I noticed positions being advertised at certain companies, and sometimes months later saw the same position being advertised as ‘new’. Upon further investigation, I found out that the position is in fact no longer available at the hiring company. This actually happened to a friend of mine, who was surprised to see his own position being advertised, long after he was appointed. So, of the many apparent positions advertised, few are actually real, relevant and current!
I have become a lot more discerning. I no longer create a new profile on different recruitment websites when I’ve been linked to from an advertised position where I’ve pressed ‘apply’. I limit myself to searching on only a couple of reputable job sites. I have updated my CV to exclude my ID number and address, rather listing only my suburb. If I click on ‘apply’ for a position I see advertised on a recruitment site, but it takes me to another site which requires a new profile being set up, I leave. If that position advertised was for a large national or multinational company, I go to their own website and search under their career page. Often that job does not exist on their own site! – which probably means it was another fake posting.
I would like to encourage anyone else who is in a similar situation to keep on trying and applying and keep yourself positive. You never know when you will receive that interview request, and you need to not have fallen into a hole. Be strong.
If you are fortunate enough to be employed, I’d like to ask you to consider my story as perspective for the next time you drag yourself to work like the schoolboy in Shakespeare’s All the World’s a Stage and before you say things like ‘unfortunately I have to work, so I can’t….’ – perhaps you could rather feel that you are fortunate enough to have a job and reschedule that outing…
My Retrenchment Survival Guide