As a follow up to my previous post, now some thoughts on my job hunt.
It’s over two years since my last job search, this time self-inflicted rather than redundancy driven. I had gone very ‘eggs in one basket’ for a role in an organisation I am really keen on (but have heard today they do not want me for a second interview). That said I have a couple of other applications ‘out there’ that would also be fantastic.
So let’s think about roles in a bit more detail…
Like when in that career gap last time (see Why I Work in ‘Learning’) it is a time of reflection and consideration. The challenge is that my primary driver remains the same – I enjoy help[ing] people better themselves in the context of their organisation/environment. This should, you would you think, leave plenty of room for opportunities aligned to my past experience and education – traditional L&D, digital learning, research, libraries and information management, operational support, etc. However, I worry this is perhaps too vague a driver? I suspect being ‘generalist’ (working across the ‘lifecycle’ of ADDIE-esque work for example rather than just instructional design or digital development) and keen to continue to adapt my sector expertise (having worked in FE, HE, professional services and healthcare) goes against what employers (myself included in that first post) look for, i.e.:
Someone to hit the ground running.
Rather than consider experience from other sectors and that it probably demonstrates adaptability in combination with the correct knowledge and skills too many recruiters, it seems, have an inflexible idea of what they want. This is primarily articulated in my personal bugbear, the bloody “10 years of experience” line, when you could do nothing for 10 years or so and (in that model) be a better candidate just because you are in the correct industry. I would argue, and it is the case with my experience, you could have experience across sectors/industries where you have achieved consistently – moving your organisations’ learning approaches forward every time – which is far more valuable than sitting on your hands in industry x for 10 years or more.
Yes, this is in some ways contradictory to my first post – I’m more than aware I’m not drinking my own champagne here in the balance of looking for a capable, experienced and reliable candidate.
Inevitably you also start to worry if personality is the issue. I remember being given a talk ‘to one side’, when others were on a coffee break, in my post redundancy outplacement support that I didn’t seem enthused by the mock-interviews and doing our ‘elevator pitch’ type prep.
This is because I wasn’t, I feel the process tired and out of date. I generally don’t like the introvert/extrovert dichotomy as I think it all depends on context but it is incredibly difficult to portray a personality in an interview and, as a person applying and a recruiter, I need to keep that in mind.
Part of my rather fuzzy ethos is that opportunities should be open to all. However, there are many reasons why people have traditionally got by with ‘who you know not what you know’. This is where I feel we can all improve upon this now – there is a very real opportunity to express an interest and allow that organisation to say “okay, let’s take a look” – online portfolios, twitter, LinkedIn, etc, etc. will give you a picture of their expertise and personality. This is far greater than what can be perceived in an interview, although I would agree that the face-to-face or virtual meeting skills should still come across that way.
I wanted to give a shoutout here to https://www.smartrecruiters.com/ which seems by far the smoothest application process I have come across – express an interest backed up by your social links and ask for a call/email back if they are interested in you. A great idea. This also keeps things personal, unlike some of the recruitment systems out there, certainly when I was applying for this a couple of years back many of these just seemed to be tests of patience/willing.
Sure, if you get 100s of applications you probably need some automatic filtering but keep things personal to some level. Please! For example, one role I applied for in late July still has my application status as “application received” two months later. I’ve tried following up via a contact at that company (no reply, so okay, bad sign) but there is not even a generic ‘careers’ email, never mind a bot of live chat for me to say “hey, I’m still interested – what’s going on?”.
Dear Hiring Organisations,
look, I know you are looking to fill quickly and easily but remember many of your applicants (like me) will have been in that position too. Think about how your recruitment makes you seem in terms of personality, transparency, etc. I’d also say this may well be hidden away from most hiring managers so, hey, Recruitment teams – sort it out!
One thing I have looked at in detail this time is remote work. This would be my preference just due to locations and personal circumstances (I am splitting my time between countries and due another house move in a few months). However, whilst the business press, L&D (via webinars and collaboration), etc. all talk a lot about this there are virtually zero roles. Some learning designers are home based but many will include that all important “regular visit to Brighton, London, Nottingham, etc” in the text. We seem to lack a truly global approach to recruitment even in big organisations – again, you wonder why when organisations say they have multiple unfilled vacancies and are stymied by skills shortages they remained locked to physical locations. Talent is everywhere, businesses remain locked to location with Brexit, GDPR and other trends just seemingly reinforcing old mindsets.
At the conference I presented at last year, there was a discussion where the room considered future talent needs. I made the point that employers can’t continue to complain about skills gaps when they remain so inflexible.
It is in this research on virtual/remote work that I’ve come across Rodolphe Dutel who has some excellent resources and advice. He is also, possibly, the first person I’ve come across who genuinely replies to emails from people subscribed to his newsletters so kudos to him too.
I continue to support my old team and will keep my eyes open for that next new role!