It has been 3 months since I started looking for a job. Excited, scared, confident, terrified, feeling smart, and feeling stupid, optimistic, then extremely pessimistic, happy, and sad – there isn’t a feeling or a state of mind I haven’t experienced in that period. Overall it is pretty much nerve-wracking.
Recently, after finishing the third round interview and after sending the follow-up letter, I felt like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was completely exhausted. That is when my potential employer told me they would just like me to do one more thing. Just an itsy-bitsy performance analyses that takes about 3 hours. That is when I started crying and I guess some would call that state a nervous breakdown. To me that was the eighth circle of hell.
Here are all nine:
1. Circle (Limbo) – CV and Resume
This is where you need throw your old CV and Resume to trash and write a new one. One that will look different from 500+ others your targeted employer will receive. When I say different I mean better. You might even pay for a design. I purchased mine on GraphicRiver (actually, someone else purchased it for me – thank you ❤ ).
Nice design is necessary, but pick one that fits you and don’t forget to fill it with words that describe who you are, what you did and what you can do. This is also where it pays off to have some literate friends to ask them to proof read it for you. It will take some time and energy to find the right look, feel and wording. You can find tons of advice and do’s and don’ts, but what they all sum up to is using your common sense. You just cannot send a dull Europass 3 pager resume to a creative agency. OK, you can, but it is not good for the forest.
2. Circle (Lust) – Finding ads
Finding the job ad or company you want to apply to will probably take more time than you had imagined. It can happen that among 100-300 ads you have read you will find just one (1) that is both appealing and suitable for you, and trust me – you are lucky to find that one. There’ll be periods when you won’t be able find a single ad that matches both your criteria and qualifications. Soon you’ll become a googling expert (e.g. Google Alerts). Let your friends know you are looking for a job. They too spend some time on social networks and yes, jobs are posted there too.
3. Circle (Gluttony) – Cover letter
Once you found the ad or the company you want to apply to you will need to write a Cover Letter or Application letter. Yes, there supposedly is a difference between those two. What I do is write a specific letter referencing the job and company I am applying to. I just try to explain why I believe I would be perfect for that job (and yes, they will ask you this each time) and it was much easier to write it when I believed it myself. In cases I believed it my cover letters were original, a bit cocky, but believable. The less I believed in what I was writing the more generic my letters got.
4. Circle (Greed) – Telephone interview
Say you really believe you are perfect for that job and you manage to write a cover letter that made the employer put your CV and cover letter to the “no trash” pile. There is a big chance they will first set up a telephone interview just to see if someone else wrote that CV and cover letter for you. If you wrote it yourself then have no worries. Prepare by reading about the company, have your CV printed out in front of you, have some question prepared and don’t forget to dress up and smile. Don’t do it in your pajamas!
5. Circle (Anger) – First round interview
This is where you are seated in your job roller-coaster all buckled up being pulled to that high point. Nerve-wracking and definitely not something I would like to wait in line for. You know you need to explain all you did and learned in the past decade and you only have like half an hour to do it. You better be really good because you will not get a second chance. Not your day? Though luck! But hey, no pressure.
6. Circle (Heresy) – Second round
This is something you should be happy about. You made it to the second round! This is very close to the touchdown. This means they like you, and this is good. Still, don’t think this one will not be nerve-wracking.
I just hate job interviews. No matter how much I prepare, no matter how positive I try to think, each time I just die a little. To be forced to sell myself, to show all that I was building for these 30+ years, in just a few minutes is just freaking me out. Never have I experienced such feelings and stress at work, only at job interviews. My hands started to shake more than once and every time after an interview is over I feel a little bit older. Not wiser, just older.
7. Circle (Violence) – Follow up
So, let’s say you survived the second round and they told they’ll contact you. Follow-up is something I was not aware of a few years ago, but apparently they all expect you to send a follow-up letter. Just saying “thank you for inviting me, I am interested, I am the best” may seem like spam to you, and you should avoid it if you can. Try to write 2-3 sentences that make some sense and refer to something from the interview. Start with thank you, finish with “I am the best”. If you can’t think of anything special then go ahead and write that spam e-mail. A friend of mine told me not sending a follow-up letter is like sending a CV without a cover letter, and you don’t want to do that.
In one of my follow-ups I did something that I was told not to do. I admitted my performance at the interview was poor. Why I was advised against this is because it highlights the negatives. Avoid it if you can. In my case the potential employer replied to it with “thank you for your honesty – appreciated!”
8. Circle (Fraud) – Performance analysis
The “thank you” note was not the only thing I received after my follow-up. In one case I received an invitation for an additional interview. Being someone who hates interviews I just cried again. I should have been happy, but I was devastated. Yes, it was a positive thing, a step forward, but it just felt like I am walking through hell and there is no end. In a second case my follow-up didn’t result in an additional interview but something that was probably even worse at the time – I was asked to fill out tests they call “performance analysis”. That would not be so bad if it weren’t so damn extensive. More than 3 full hours of clicking and guess what the final test was – the concentration test. Again, I just felt old when I finished it.
9. Circle (Treachery) – Final decision
Let’s say you made it and they want you. After everything, are you still sure you want them? Going through all previous circles is not something you want to do again in two months so you better be sure.
Guess what happens at the end of the ninth circle: you don’t get to go on a vacation. You just get to go to work.
Hell, I tell you.