The new hunter/gatherers.

10 Apr

In the past few years, I have been unfortunate enough to have to partake on numerous occasions in the grand old tradition of hunting. For a job that is. It is almost as though, as the human race has evolved over the eons, we have transferred our hunter/gatherer instincts from the basic search f0r food, to you know, provide oneself with energy and sustenance, blah blah, to the far more fraught task of finding a job. That will result in being able to buy food. And a house. And pretty shiny things. Oh and what a hunt it is! Welcome, to the new face of the hunter/gatherer.

The modern day job hunt, is far more tedious task then the daily gathering rituals of our prehistoric ancestors. The job hunt I fear, has become a bit of an art form. As I, and many of my friends finish school, university, Tafe or the like, they seem to find themselves with a common denominator – unemployment. Or more specifically, undesirable employment, that was just about bearable whilst studying, which now needs (it has moved beyond a want) to be replaced with a better job in their area of qualification. But as they try to do this, they increasingly find that their degree or diploma is fairly worthless in the real world. What employers want today, and thus what we should have been gathering all along, other the skills and knowledge that we foolishly thought would be enough, is a mystical little thing known as experience.

Ahh, experience. The stuff of recent graduates nightmares. A little catch cry you may hear them weep, ‘how do I get experience for this job, if no one will employ me without any experience, so I get some experience?!’ It is the ultimate Catch 22. For an entry level position, not only should you have completed tertiary studies, but you should also, magically have racked up two to three years of paid experience in the industry of your choice. Despite the fact that seemingly no one will give you the opportunity to gain said experience in the first place. And the work placements, you faithfully attended? Pft. Whatever. It turns out it means next to nothing. So you get to wondering, what was the point of all those years of hard work? When really,  you are still stuck in your crumby dead end job, that got you through Uni – just; and that you are now (and probably always were) majorly over-qualified for, and that is possibly the cause of all aggravation, frustration and hate in your life. Why, you wail?

Another lovely aspect of The Hunt, is the old adage – it’s all about who you know. I have to say, there is something in it. As much as it dismays me, and fills me with outrage at the inequity of it all, I do think it is true. You know someone working for the company you are applying for, and you are a shoe in. They even possibly are the only reason you heard about the job opening at all. Friends in high places and all that. Wink wink. And again, I wonder, how do you get to know lots of useful people in the myriads of companies you are applying for jobs at? Obviously you must not only be studious in Uni, but also very industrious as a social butterfly, hunting, then gathering nectar and friends and influential people into your repertoire. Or else pick a field from the beginning, that all your family already work in. Much simpler in the end really.

This is all without mentioning, where the real perseverance is: the actual job hunting. Seek.com and I are very close now. We go way back, and while I wouldn’t always say that we get along, we understand that we are mutually necessary to one another, and thus we have come to an agreement. It is not only easy, but possibly also necessary to spend hours online hunting for jobs. For once you have found a job that you are qualified for, you then try to suss out – who is the company? Where are they based? Do I want to work for them? Should I worry whether I don’t, because it’s a foot in the door, stop being fussy! After you decide to apply, knowing full well that it is unlikely that you will be contacted at all, even for a reference, you then go to the trouble of doing some research on the prospective employer, so you can make some educated sounding, sweeping statements in your cover letter. All of this takes time, so get comfortable. You may wish to invest the funds you don’t yet have on a laptop. And some nice PJ’s. Then this process can be repeated again and again, 20, 30, 40 jobs later, 2 rejections 3 cups of coffee, and a whole lot of silence.

While I am not entirely sure what the trick is, to getting a job you actually want, or even just a foot in the door, I do know that there is hope, and that you just have to keep at it. And in the meantime, all this applying, and spinning of cover letters and resumes makes you much better at knowing and selling your attributes (in a completely non-prostitute kind of way). You get good a working buzz words, dropping lines about team players, having the ability to work independently, your exceptional computer skills (which if you didn’t before, all this job hunting and CV writing should have got you pretty much up to scratch) and being prompt and reliable. You tell them what sets you apart, why you are good for the job, and why you really feel like you can make a difference. And you sort of start to believe your own hype. Which is good, because by the time you actually get an interview, and the nerves hit, it all would have been like a fabulously drawn out, self-enforced study session, prepping you, my hunter/gatherer friend, for the grilling!

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