Unemployment lesson from New Zealand

Monday, February 16th, 2009 - candidate, job search, unemployment


Danger! Kiwis!
Creative Commons License photo credit: Steve & Jemma Copley

Under the title Stuck on the CV shelf the New Zealand Herald reports on Derek Schoemaker, who:

“blames himself for being made redundant. He lost his job just before Christmas and despite applying through agencies for 38 roles, he has had just one interview and no offers.”

Is this untypical of the current experience anywhere in the world of being unemployed? No, those statistics are typical – if like Derek Schoemaker you have been out of work for a while and are not used to the job application process.

Like many, Schoemaker in part questions himself:

“I can’t help feeling that if I was any good at my job I wouldn’t be out of work. When I got the call on December 19, my gut reaction was that if I had done my job differently, my employer may have kept me on. I see it as a personal failure, even though what I sold was a niche product.”

One of the things I notice as both a recruiter and a CV writer,and it is always true, is that the first thing those who have been made redundant is to accept the situation and move forward, not look back at the ifs, buts and may be’s.

Schoemaker says job hunters can’t sit back and hope a job will come along that fits them. “You have to look at other skills you might have picked up on the way.”

Many job hunters don’t know what skills they have or what skills are required in the market – and it is a reason that recruitment companies will exist into the future, because they do know what their customers want. All job seekers should have a skills-audit with a third party, with anyone else from a friend to a recruiter or HR professional.

“I am looking at job vacancies – I check them online three or four times a day – and deciding if I can turn my hand to doing the advertised role. I consider all my skills and look to see where and how I can apply them.”

That’s a good tactic to apply. Our five point why I was rejected test should be applied before you apply for any post.

Having applied for dozens of jobs advertised by recruitment agencies, Schoemaker now understands that recruitment consultants can only go so far in helping people like him. “I do understand that recruitment agents are not just working for me, they are working for the client company – they want to get names on their books. But that doesn’t help me.”

Yes, all agencies are paid for by the recruiting employer, so that’s where mostly their loyalty goes to. But, watch out for the false advert which is harvesting CV’s, a very common tactic by the High Street chains.

One job application led to a telephone discussion, after which Schoemaker was short-listed for a formal interview. “I waited to hear back with a date,” he says. “I left messages then on the fourth phone call I spoke with the consultant who said the job had gone. It is very frustrating because I knew the company and felt I really had something solid to offer them.”

One thing all candidates have to do is call first before sending in their CV. Why? because you will soon know if you have the right skills, and if you are likely to get an interview.

So what are the lessons of Derek Shoemacker for all job seekers?

  1. Accept the fact you are redundant, and face forwards not backwards
  2. Assess your skills, and make sure you check that with other people
  3. Apply the five point why I was rejected test before you apply
  4. Accept that recruitment agencies are paid by employers
  5. Call first to check your skills/for a better chance of an interview

These lessons are universal for all job seekers at all times, but particularly now as Shoemaker notices:

“The last time I was out of work, the queue at Work and Income was made up of 80 per cent unemployable people and 20 per cent fairly serious people. But today you see 80 per cent of those looking for work are educated, executive-type people.”

Good Luck!

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