9 Circles of the Job Hunt Hell

danteIt 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.

Smile and dial: My first telephone interview

Smile and dialIf I would have to choose between going to a job interview and going to see my dentist I would just open my mouth and say: “Do what you need to do”. Interviews make me nervous. They make me very nervous. My hands start to shake, my voice follows, and my heart is beating like it does when I start working out after another lazy year has passed.

I really, really, really don’t like job interviews. In the end most go very well, but the amount of stress I experience each time is overwhelming.

Last week I was invited to 5 different job interviews. Just receiving those invitations and envisioning what is in front of me gave me 5 grey hairs on my head. On top of everything – 2 were telephone interviews.

I am not a phone person. I don’t like spending hours on the phone. My phone conversations are short. My phone conversation are also very rare. I just don’t know what to talk about over the phone. My topics easily run out and then there is that silence that is rarely a good one. Sure, it depends on who you are talking to, but if there are two kinds of people in this world then I am not in that “phone people” group.

Strangely enough, I was not as nervous before my phone interviews as I usually am before the face-2-face interview. I printed my CV, cover letter, the job ad, basic stuff about the company and waited for the call. And I had a secret plan – to smile and dial. OK, they were dialling, but I was smiling.

The call came in, I answered and smiled while talking. Smiling while talking on the phone is a trick I wanted to try. I knew they can’t see me so they don’t see how fake my smile may seem. I’ve recently read an article on the power of a smile on the phone. 84% of the message over a phone is supposedly your tone of voice. This was the perfect opportunity to use it.

Both phone interviews resulted in going to the second round, but even before that – I felt better during those interviews and also after than after my face-2-face interviews. It was like the smile stuck on my face even when the interview was over. Maybe it sounds a bit strange to force yourself to smile even when talking some serious stuff, but for me it kind of worked.

Just a pretty smile may not be enough, but it might help.

Smile on people!

Articles on the power of a smile:

Smiling On The Phone: Does It Really Work?

The Science of Smiling: A Guide to a Human’s Most Powerful Gesture

Scam alert: Job Vacancy at The Milestone Hotel UK

SCAMTwo, maybe three weeks ago I saw this ad on LinkedIn and applied by sending my CV:

 

 

 

Job Vacancy at The Milestone Hotel UK
The Milestone Hotel UK – Croatia

About this job
Job description

Careers:

If you’re looking for a career rather than a job, and want to bring
your enthusiasm and skills to a dynamic and award-winning company who
can offer you long-term prospects coupled with first class training
and development, then we’d like to hear from you.

The Milestone Hotel UK is currently hiring job seekers worldwide!

If we are not currently advertising a position of interest to you we
invite you to contact us directly by email to career@rchmails.com,
attaching your CV with your full contact details.

We’d love to hear from you.

Iva Simoes
Human Resources Manager

About this company
There’s nowhere else in London quite like The Milestone. This is the luxury, Grade II listed, boutique hotel with 24-hour butler service that readers of Condé Nast Traveler voted best in London.

The only check I have done before sending my CV was going to the Milestone Hotel website. It seemed nice. Sending the CV was easy as it was an “open application” so no special cover letter was needed. This was one of the low effort applications I have done, usually I invest more time into it.

Two weeks after sending my CV I received an email saying:

Dear Applicant,
We appreciate your interest in working with us and we have open an
application file with reference number 2015/UK/MAR/MSH/7171.

We have gone through your CV and We found the post of <here they wrote the exact title of my current job> for you with salary amount of 10,500 GB Pounds per month. our
head Office is in London in (IMO Number: 2857730).

Benefit:
The company will provide free accommodation ,Insurance (NIN) ,Flight
Ticket,Tax Free and many more benefit you will see in your Appointment
Letter.

Working Schedule:
Working Days & time: Monday to Friday: 9:00 AM – 4:00PM (GMT)

And we offer 2 Month paid vacation to all Staffs in each year, for you
to visit your love ones and family back home or for your preffered
holiday location.

Shift Time: Morning and Night. This is also available but not
applicable to all staffs.

As a notice of acceptance of job offer , we shall send you appointment
and invitation letter for you to sign and return the sign copy back to
us for record purpose . so therefore kindly let us know if you are
satisfy with the salary rate above in order for us to proceed further.

We await to hear from you ASAP.

Regards

Iva Simoes
Human Resources Manager

That raised some questions like:

1. They are offering me 10.500 GBP per month without even interviewing me?

2. Why is this lady from London having so much trouble with English?

Googling “Milestone Hotel job scam” gave some answers. Googling just a little bit deeper made it very clear it is a scam.

Iva Simoes actually works for Milestone Hotel, but her email address is a bit different.

Fake email: career@rchmails.com

Real email: hr@rchmail.com

I wondered how much money will they ask from me, so I replied to the fake Iva Simoes saying:

Dear Ms Simoes,

thank you for your kind offer. It sounds very reasonable. Please send me more details.

Thank you in advance.

Kindest regards,
— —–

Here is the second email I received from them:

Dear Applicant,

We want to use this opportunity in congratulating you in
advance for accepting to join our company. How soon do you want to
come or can you make it down here within the next three week as we are
urgently in need of you to arrive here as soon as possible .If you
know it is possible for you to arrive here within the next couples
weeks , kindly re-confirm the following details for the processing of
your appointment and invitation letter.

*Full Name:…………………….
*Contact Address:…………………………
*Passport Photo face:…………………
*Date of Birth :………………………..
*Phone Number:……………………….
*Nationality:……………………………
*New Job Reference Number:…………………….
*New Job Position:………………………………….

Kindly provide us the details listed above for us to proceed further
and kindly keep record of your application reference number and we
hope you are not attached to any company presently so that you will
focus on your job application as we are highly in need of your
service, and you are require to arrive here soon, if not kindly let us
know now before you sign any contract agreement with us. So that you
can pay more attention to your newly job ,if only you are really
serious about this job offer.
We await your immediate response to this mail, this email contain the
company Job Information Data Form please fill and send it back for
record purpose as well.

Regards

Iva Simoes
Human Resources Manager
Milestone Hotel UK
(+44)7035913883

They also attached 2 extensive forms for me to fill out. I still didn’t find the time and will to do it, so I guess they are winning the game at the moment.

 

Being a downer

dont likeLinkedIn is not much different from Facebook. Many likes, very few publicly shown dislikes. Criticism is not welcome there. If you don’t like it, keep your mouth shut or be tagged as a downer.

Sooner or later someone from your network will like a post that will then appear in your feed. If employers spend 8,8 seconds reviewing one CV then spending one second deciding whether to read an article on LinkedIn or not seems reasonable.

It took me much less than a second to decide one article was written by a complete -beep- and that I have to read it. It was just like car accident. It hurts to look, but you just can’t turn away.

Let me just say it right away and save you some time: I will not link the article I am about to talk about. No links here. No matter how much you beg. Yes, I know that is not fair, but deal with it. This is not a fair post. I am not a fair person today.

Yesterday I was writing about my English. In each post I write I hope I don’t sound like a complete moron (content aside, talking about language now). This blog is created to let steam off and I probably shouldn’t care about syntax, grammar and spelling so much, but I kind of do. I believe it’s important to put some effort into it. I believe it is a matter of some basic respect for readers not to serve them complete bullshit. Making mistakes is normal, but there is a line and mentioned article keeps crossing it from row to row.

The person who wrote the mentioned article is – I quote: a writer. That is what makes the difference. If you are writing a letter to a friend it is not the same as if you are writing an article and you call yourself a writer. Writers don’t accidentally start with phrases like:

Often time i love to…

The author of the mentioned article also says he is a programmer, an entrepreneur and a founder of a company. I am now seriously reconsidering my decision not to link the article. It’s not like I actually have some audience here, but I do have the need to stop being silent when I see an article like that. An article written by a writer. Biting my tongue at work and fingers at LinkedIn may be useful. Doing it here not so much. Should I do it?

Here it is: the LinkedIn post that made me bite my tongue.

I wanted to write the following comment on LinkedIn:

Writing blog posts is part of marketing and there is no reason why you shouldn’t use it, but I will dare to say that you probably should pay more attention to details when writing. Here you are presenting your company. If you come across as a person that is sloppy and doesn’t care about details (in your case syntax, spelling, grammar etc.) then it reads as your company is sloppy and also doesn’t care about details. As I am sure that is not true I would suggest to pay more attention to syntax, spelling and grammar in your future posts. You don’t want the world thinking your programming is as bad as your writing, do you?

Before hitting the publish button, being chicken that I am, I asked a person dear to me if that is a smart thing to do. “No, don’t be a downer. Nobody likes a downer” – dear person said. I didn’t hit the publish button. I am hitting it now. And I will do it with a bonus.

Bonus – or, what I would write if I didn’t care what people in my network will think and how that might influence my current job hunt:

You say you are a writer and a programmer. Now I will take a good look at companies you are working for just to make sure I never ever make the mistake of doing any kind of business with them.

Or, in other words:

IF (unlettered) THEN
(don’t call yourself writer)
ELSE
(-beeeeep-)
END IF

Maybe I will never be a writer. Maybe I will never a programmer. Maybe I will never be an entrepreneur and founder of a company. But I am happy to be a downer this very second!

Writing in English

Correct textI started writing this blog in English even though English is not my native language (off topic: I would like to hear from English native speakers if they ever used the “mother tongue” phrase and if yes is it a common phrase).

 

Why I do it in English?

  1. To practice.

Getting rusty is all too easy. My first job helped me become a very good German speaker. Today, not using it for years, I am too embarrassed to open my mouth when ordering Bräzel in a street market so I rather do it in English. If you don’t use a language you can easily start inventing some new phrases that make perfect sense to you. To you only. That started happening to me with English now. I don’t like it. First my German has gone bad, now English too! The best way to improve would be to go to a place on earth where only English is spoken. Internet is closest I can afford at the moment.

  1. To enjoy anonymity.

Being fired is not all that nice. I would like to have a place where I can freely let steam off. Anonymity is only an illusion, I know, but it feels kind of good.

3. I don’t have no. 3 really.

I am sure I would not be getting those 3 visitors from US (Hi there! Thank you for stopping by! ) that make 75% of my total audience every time I publish a post if I would be writing in my native language.

Bottom line: please feel free to comment and correct any post you find here. I would really appreciate it. If I am not told when I do it wrong I will not be able to correct it.

I would say I will give away candy for every correction I receive, but shipping it would cost more than candy itself, so… no candy.

(Confession: there are no 3 visitors from US per post. Just one. I made the other two up so that one wouldn’t feel lonely.)

Job interview: Are you married?

orgasmI am sorry, but I have to ask this: Are you married? Do you have children?

– No, you don’t have to ask that.

Sorry? What do you mean? Sure I have to ask that.

– No, you don’t HAVE TO ask that.

That is how my day started today. I stood up and walked away from that interview saying I don’t like where it is going. The complete conversation didn’t last more than five minutes. It started with similar questions about my ongoing additional education. The interviewer lady was very concerned that my education will interfere with my work. I explained that I go to evening classes. Some people do yoga, I was too lazy. She was very persistent in claiming I will not be able to focus on work if I still study in the evening.

She didn’t introduce herself. The only thing I know about her is that she is a native English speaker.

She didn’t ask me about my work experience, my skills, my knowledge. Nothing. My free time, my marital status and my unborn children were most important. When standing up and walking away I was not sure if those questions are illegal. I knew they are inappropriate, but I was not sure if they are illegal. I checked now and yes, those are illegal questions in a job interview even in my country.

Will I do something about it? Yes. I have 3 options:
1. file a formal complaint
2. publish the employers name here
3. all of the above

I am choosing no. 2 for time being. The employer breaking the law in Croatia is:
Klinimed d.o.o., Zagreb, MAC’s MEDICAL Group

Unfortunately, they are not the only ones asking tricky questions. If you want to apply to UNICEF you will need to fill out a P11 form. Not only your marital status, they will also ask you about your height and weight. Your physical height and weight. Questions about gross and net salaries per annum for your last or present post are there too.

Don’t believe me? Form is available online. Don’t forget to read the instructions: Please answer each question clearly and completely.

Why don’t they ask about my eye color? My eyes are feeling very discriminated. And why don’t they ask about my sex life? I am sure it has some effect on my work performance.

Excerpt from UNICEF job ad:

If you have the required education, skills and experience and want to make an active contribution to build a better world for children, please apply through WEB portal with the following documents (all documents are mandatory):
– P11 form (http://www.unicef.org/about/employ/files/P11.doc)
– Motivation letter – in English
– Resume – in English

But hey, it’s all for a good cause. For building a better world for the children.

Saving money

BrakeGlassA while ago I decided to save some money just in case I get fired one day. It was too often that I was hearing stories of people losing their jobs and then spending months looking for a new job. As I was (and still am) living alone and renting my apartment I knew that in the moment I lose my job I need to have some savings or I will soon be homeless. Or back at my parents’ house. Not sure which would be worse.

I was never a big spender, but I was also never a big saver. Most of my life I was spending just as much as I was earning. If I would compare myself with people around me I would say I was doing well because at least I didn’t have any debts most of the time.

I came up with the plan to create emergency unemployment fund that will keep me safe for at least 6 months. Six months seemed like a reasonable time.

It all started very well. Saving 20% of my salary and sometimes even more every month was easy at first. I was kind of proud of myself and feeling all grown up. It was a good plan.

No matter how good every plan has a flaw. Unexpected costs are the most likely flaw in any emergency fund plan. For me it was for a good thing, but that didn’t make it less expensive. I took the money from my emergency unemployment fund to invest in my education. Later on I also decided to buy a car and the total of monthly expenses went up.

By the time I actually got fired I almost managed to go half way – I saved enough money to be able to pay for all cost for 2-3 months without getting a salary in that period. Two if I keep the living standard I have now, 3 if I am very careful when buying food.

Looking at how I feel today I believe the decision to create this unemployment emergency fund was one of the better ones I ever made.  Even with this half emergency fund in my pocket I am panicking and hyperventilating from time to time. The thought of not having anything saved and being fired is just paralyzing.

Being paralyzed is not the best condition to be in when looking for a job. Don’t be an extreme cheapskate, but try to build at least some kind of emergency fund. The worst thing that can happen is that you never use it.