Job hunting can be frustrating for many reasons. Trying to get your CV just right, brushing up on interview techniques and never-ending application forms that seem to want to know everything up to and including your dad’s cousin’s husband’s mother’s maiden name. However, nothing can be more frustrating or disheartening than trying, without success, to be a unicorn.
A unicorn. You heard us correctly. Flowing white mane, glittery horn – the works. So, what does this mythical (yet undeniably fabulous creature) have to do with looking for a job? Well, have you ever felt like you can’t win when it comes to finding a new job? You’re experienced, but you don’t have the right experience. You’re under-experienced and then the next minute you’re over-experienced. You’re a great candidate, but you’re just not quite right for the role. Argh!
This leads us back to unicorns. Employers are getting picky and sometimes, when recruiting, their expectations can be a little unrealistic. In the careers world, a unicorn is the perfect candidate; they have the ideal personality, the optimum level of experience and a very specific skill-set. Just like unicorns (sadly), this perfect candidate simply does not exist. Yet employers still look for them tirelessly.
This is why you may find yourself struggling to understand why you keep being rejected. However, this doesn’t mean that all is lost. In a world of unicorn hunters, you need to get as close to being that unicorn as possible. The key to doing this is completely outshining the competition.
It sounds like a pretty impressive feat, but it’s entirely doable. Here’s how to look like a unicorn in a field full of stallions:
Rejection after rejection can leave anyone feeling a little disenchanted. Especially when you think you tick all the boxes and then you still don’t get the job. Don’t lose sight of things; it’s tempting to give up and stay put in your current job. Remember, you wanted to leave, don’t settle simply because of a few knock-backs.
When the rejections come, don’t beat yourself up. What would a unicorn candidate do? Stay positive, keep firing out those applications and believe in yourself. That way, you can keep your confidence levels up, and employers will be able to see this.
Don’t underplay your hand – this isn’t a poker game, keeping your cards close to your chest will do you no favours in the job hunt. Nor will modesty. We’re not saying you need to turn into a cocky ego-monster. Ask yourself: How are you selling your skills and experience? Being successful in finding a new job is all about how you market yourself.
Every box on an application form, every section of your CV and every interview question response you give is an opportunity to show why you are the one for the role. If you’re talking about your skills, don’t just reel off a list that every recruiter on earth has heard before. If you’re talking about your education, showcase what transferable skills you learned. When talking about your professional achievements and skills, prove it; giving examples will back up everything you’re saying.
Really shout about all the great things you can offer an employer.
If a unicorn was trotting about in your back garden, it’d be pretty hard to ignore. Embrace your inner unicorn and make sure that employers can’t ignore you. As per the previous section, you need to sell and really show off what you’re capable of.
However, to leave the competition in the dust, you need to stand out at every possible stage of the job hunt. Is your CV just like everyone else’s? Avoiding cliché ‘go-to’ lines in your CV and letting your personality shine through (without compromising your professionalism) can make all the difference. Try to think outside of the box when filling in applications and attending interviews. What does every other ‘non-unicorn’ candidate do and what can YOU do to be a little different? It’s time to get creative!
Rejections are rubbish. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. However, you’re not every other candidate, you’re a unicorn in training. So, instead of graciously (or not so graciously) accepting your rejections, use them as an opportunity to smooth out any kinks in your armour.
Ask for feedback from the employer as to why you weren’t successful. Yes, this is something a lot of candidates will do, but make sure that you really take this feedback on board and use it to improve for your next attempts. That way, every ‘no’ brings you closer to ‘yes’.
Additionally, once you have your feedback, you may realise that a recruiter has overlooked something about you. If this is the case, thank them for their feedback, politely offer evidence that you meet the requirements but be clear that you respect their decision. You never know, sometimes persistence pays off. (Be careful not to come across as arrogant, pushy or even bitter, though!)
To really stand out and shine during your job hunt, you need to pull everything together and strut your unicorn stuff!
To make sure that you get the right job for you, be persistent, be consistent and remember all of the above points. Remember that job hunting is a learning curve and mastering every stage is something that you can train yourself to do. It might not happen overnight, but keep trying, and improving yourself along the way, until you become the unicorn you want to be!
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