13 Lessons I Learned From The Job Hunting Process

Being a job seeker is nothing new to me, however, I have never been one outside Latvia. Looking for a job in the UK brings the job hunt to a whole new level, as I have to work hard to prove that my skills and experience is comparable and valid. As much as I prepared myself for this challenge in advance, there are things you can only learn in the process.

1. Your CV Will Never Be Perfect

I’m not saying you’re bad at putting your CV together, not at all! But what I mean is that the whole job hunting process is such a big learning lesson, and you will learn a lot about yourself along the way. Including – how to best present yourself via your CV. I always take notes and make instant changes to my CV whenever I get any useful comments or just come to a conclusion that something might not be put the right way. Don’t treat your CV as complete, and you will improve a lot.

2. You Have To Know What You Want

Sure, you want to get the job! But it’s not that simple. Sometimes you’re so desperate to land a job as soon as possible, that you even lie to yourself to convince that this is what you want. Sometimes you don’t really know what you want and may come across confused and your our answers to some questions might give it away. Good thing is – the more interviews you will have, the easier it will be to answer this question, and the more convincing you will sound.

3. You Don’t Have To Jump For The First Offer That Comes Along

This was one of the things I repeated myself over and over since the first day I started looking for a job in Manchester. However, when that first offer came, I was so excited and happy that I wasn’t really thinking straight. I even subconsciously convinced myself that this is what I wanted and downplayed the minuses. But then the full details came in and I was quite disappointed. It wasn’t really what I was told it’s gonna be, so I was seriously rethinking it all. I did feel guilty, but I made the decision to turn the offer down.

The same goes for interviews. You’re not obliged to sign up for every single job interview your recruiters are offering you, and you’re also not forced to go on that second round interview if the first one didn’t feel right. I have turned down both, and haven’t regretted my choices. I rather enjoy this process (as much as it’s possible) than doing things I am not enjoying.

4. Know Your Worth And Let Them Know It

To be able to turn down a bad offer, you have to know your value (and your true wishes). If you have prepared well for this process, you should know what kind of job you are able to do and how much you should earn. If you are having doubts, talk to recruiters to reassure this, but once you set your goals, stick to them. Be prepared as you might meet someone who could try to diminish your value – that’s part of the process, unfortunately.

At one of the interviews I was told that the fact that I haven’t worked with a specific system means that I will need a lot of training and input on their side, and it was a reason good enough to pay me less than other candidates. However, lack of the very same knowledge was never brought up at other interviews or was overlooked with no worries.

5. Preparing For The Worst Questions Is Useless

I did a lot of research on all the possible questions you might get at job interviews and how you should answer them. I even made my own list of the most tricky ones, wrote my perfect answers, and read them, again and again, to be prepared. Maybe that increased my confidence, however, all in all, that was a complete waste of time. I don’t think I even came across any of these questions, but I sure spent a lot of time on them. The worst question wasn’t the one I expected…

6. The Hardest Question Is Not The Supposedly Trickiest One

One of the first interviews I went to in Manchester was led by the agency owners, and they seemingly didn’t have any training on recruiting. Therefore the interview was quite awkward, and to make it worse – I hadn’t even caught my breath after arriving when they asked me the toughest question. And before you read any further – I treat it as the toughest as it might leave you giving a breathless monologue for 10 minutes. That is – if you’re not prepared.

Tell us about yourself and your professional experience!” This question basically asks you to retell the most important things of your career. And if you’re not prepared for this one, you might end up in a chaotic attempt to retell your CV all the while trying to include all the important details about your experience, skills, projects you’ve worked on, clients you’ve dealt with etc. Therefore, prepare for just one question…

7. You Have To Have And Know Your Story

That’s right! You have to be able to answer to such a question, and in my opinion, it requires a story. After that awkward interview, I took a good look at my CV and tried to figure out how to make a story with all the “props” that I had in front of me. Luckily, I quickly came up with one that made sense and included all the various skills I had, the experience I have gained, and how I ended up where I am now.

I have been telling this story ever since, changing the plot where necessary. And rest assured – that question gets asked in so many forms in every single interview.

8. Be Honest

I guess this is not something I have learned over the past couple of months, rather – I have made sure that you really have to be honest. And that is also the way to answer those “tricky” questions I mentioned above. If you try to answer in a way people would want you to answer, you might end up with a job you don’t really like or working for/with people you can’t get along with… If you even get the job, that is.

9. Ask Questions

Yes, interviewers love when you come with questions and ask them with pure curiosity, but that is not the only reason to do so. It is your chance to get to know more about the company, about the position and daily tasks it involves. When you prepare for the interview, jot down everything that comes to your mind. It’s not a bad thing to take this list with you to the interview – it will just show that you take it all seriously.

10. Prepare Thoroughly

I have spent hours or even days to get myself ready for a job interview (to be fair – days are needed when you have a task or presentation to prepare), and I have never felt sorry for that time. It is important that you understand what the company is, what it does, every single detail about the role etc. Make sure you know the job description and their website from A to Z, but don’t just stop there – Google it, read their social media feeds, find their employees on LinkedIn, explore it all!

Yes, you might not need all this and you might hear some of it during the interview, but you might as well surprise them with your knowledge. I managed to leave a really good impression when I let them know that I have read their blog… on two occasions! And it is always good to know what the company actually makes/creates. So don’t be lazy on this one!

11. Let Them Know You Want The Job

(If you don’t want the job, you shouldn’t go to the interview!) Recruiting is never a one-way process. Employers are looking for new employees, but you are looking for a new employer and a job you could love and enjoy doing! Therefore it is important that you like them, you like the job and you want to work there. More importantly – you have to let them know all that.

I have experienced a couple of interviews when I truly sensed that my possible future employer is concerned if I would be excited enough for the job. The reasons might vary (they think you’re looking for something else with your experience, they don’t feel your enthusiasm, something you have said etc.), but there’s one simple way to dispel the doubt. Tell them why you like the company, what you like about the job, how you see yourself at this job, and why you prefer it over others.

12. Be Persistent And Patient

I get it – recruiters have loads of clients and candidates to focus on, and things might get a little crazy once in a while. However, if someone has forgotten about you, this is not the time to be all shy (and this is written by the shyest person in Manchester). Don’t hesitate to remind about your existence, repeat your questions etc. We’re all just humans!

This process also requires you to be patient – waiting on that reply to your application, recruiter’s call, job interview confirmation, feedback after the interview, the final decision from the employer… This process takes time, but only with persistence and patience, you can eventually reach your goals.

13. Try Alternative Routes

Do you have that one company you would love to work for? They might not have open and publicly available vacancies, however, it won’t do you (nor them) harm to try. I have sent my CV directly over to a couple of digital agencies and got them interested just because they were impressed by my skills and experience. It’s always worth to give it a shot!

If you find this useful, keep an eye on this blog as I will share other stories from my job hunting experience in Manchester. If you have your own valuable lessons to share – don’t be shy and leave a comment!

Note: This post originally appeared on Expat in MCR (expatinmcr.com) blog which has since been renamed to Dream Chaser (dreamchaserwrites.com).

8 thoughts on “13 Lessons I Learned From The Job Hunting Process

    1. Here they ask me why I left Latvia, why I chose Manchester (and not London instead)… some are worried I might leave one day to return home.

      Other than that – here people seem more interested in your career goals to see if you can fulfill them at their company. Back in Latvia you mostly feel like the employer is the only one who has to choose, while here they actually try to *sell* you the company and what an amazing place it would be to work.

      I’ve also had 2nd round interviews like I’ve never had back in Latvia, while some are pretty much the same. I think it also depends on the company, not all the differences can be referred to Latvia vs. UK.


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