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Landing a job during the pandemic

Job search is a full-time job and there is no set guaranteed formula to follow to secure the job you want. The journey differs from person to person and is not comparable. In my professional life so far, I have job searched in 2 different countries outside of my country of origin and both experiences have been polar opposites. The common lesson that ran in both countries was the need to be prepared, persevere, and handle rejections with positivity.

The job markets in different countries operate differently and by no means is comparable. The following approaches were something I followed while job searching in Canada that helped in preparing myself better. In the end, landing a job mostly depends on being at the right time and the right place and being prepared for whatever may come your way.

Network and Lead With Your Story

LinkedIn is a great platform for personal branding and showcasing your professional story and journey. How you craft your story and personal brand is entirely an individual effort.

The first thing I did in my job search effort in Canada was to look up companies that interested me before diving into job sites. I reached out to a few hiring managers of these companies on LinkedIn. I took time to craft the message that would capture their attention. My strategy to craft the message was to tell their company’s story from my lens and tie my story with the mission of the company. Every time I crafted my message following this strategy, I was able to capture their attention.

I got my first 3 interviews purely from reaching out on LinkedIn with these thoughtfully crafted messages. None of these interviews turned into an offer, but it did give me confidence that I could get people’s attention. I needed to focus on how to convert them into an offer.

Understand the initial screening process

The recruitment process in every country is very different. As I started to research more into the job market in Canada, I got to know about ATS (Applicant Tracking System). The initial resume that I had was not an ATS-friendly format. I made multiple revisions to my resume to make it as concise as possible plugging in required keywords in both my resume and cover letters while retaining my original story.

I had a master resume and tailored it for every company I applied for. I highlighted areas of my experience that mattered the most as per the job description. I tried a similar approach in my cover letter as well.

Prepare thoroughly for Interviews & mindfully craft your story for the role

Preparation is key for anything in life. The harder you prepare, the luckier you get. For every interview, I had at least 1 - 2 pages long preparation. I listed down potential questions the interviewer might ask and I crafted my message as per the job description. I listed down examples from my past experiences for every role and practiced how I would communicate that during the interview.

For every company that I was interviewing with, I requested the interview to be scheduled the following week so that I had the time to research the company thoroughly. I went through their websites, familiarizing myself with their products, mapping the role to the products, and identifying any successful examples from my past experience to support that role. I wrote all of these down in my preparation file that ran more than 50 pages long at the end of my job search.

I also started to record a few videos to watch and hear how I was answering and it assisted me to make continuous improvements in my messaging.

Bring Your Authentic Self During Interviews

Once you do land an interview, as cliche as it might sound, bringing your authentic self helps to build that human connection and go past the first impression bias.

Video interviews were when I showed the real me. I didn’t attempt to overkill and I talked as if I was having a conversation rather than an interview where I was being judged. I was interviewing them as much as they were interviewing me. Every time, the interviewer and I managed to crack some jokes or have light moments, were the ones that moved ahead through the process.

Embrace Rejections and always retrospect after every interview

With landing interviews comes the rejections. How you deal with rejection is extremely important, not only to maintain your own sanity but also to critically analyze your interview to identify areas of improvement. It’s very important to depersonalize rejections and use them to refine your pitch for the next interview.

I kept an excel file of all the interviews I had and retrospected on what went well and what could be improved after every interview. As I started to document these, I identified my weak areas. I used this knowledge to refine how to answer my weak areas and also be mindful in choosing companies I applied for. I started to filter out those companies where my weak area was their primary requirement.

Compartmentalize Your Job Search Energy

Job search is a long process (for some it could be short as well) and it takes a lot of energy to prepare and requires determination to bounce back from rejection with positivity. And it is a solo journey (perhaps like everything else in life). It’s important to strategize the job search process and compartmentalize the energy.

From my point of view, the best strategy is to identify your intended industry and list down the companies in that industry rather than applying for any openings that pop up on the job site. This helps to craft your message with stories you know will resonate with the company and increase your chances of getting noticed.

The other area to compartmentalize is to limit applying to companies to max 2 in a day rather than blasting multiple companies. This helps to craft your message thoughtfully and again increase your chances of getting noticed in the pile of hundreds of applicants.

And take breaks from the grind of job search every other week to do things you enjoy to refill your energy.

Trust the journey and the Universe

I can’t speak for anyone else’s experience, but for me, landing an offer was more about being at the right place at the right time. With the right preparation and right message, I was increasing the probability of success but it did not guarantee success. The successful offer depends on a whole lot of known and unknown factors.

And considering it as a journey of discovery and chance rather than the end in mind was also helpful to maintain my sanity during the process. Of course, there was a time I hit rock bottom and fell into a mental trap. That’s when I started to compartmentalize my energy. It was also important for me to list down my Plan A, Plan B, and Plan Cs considering all worst-case scenarios. It helped me to be prepared for the unknown and also embrace the uncertainty. Sometimes things in life just don’t go the way you want them to. And it’s OK.

The universe will guide our path to the right opportunity for us to thrive or could also take us to the wrong ones to teach valuable life lessons. In the end, eventually, it all works out.

- Shreeya Shakya,

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