A-huntin’ for jobs on the wide open plains of the interweb

Career Tips
Jun 12, 2014

You push back the rough wool blanket and reach for your gun as the sun creeps over the ridge. Sleep came late on the stony ground and left early when the horses stirred. Standing, stretching, shivering, you look out to the still-dim west. They say that’s where the jobs are, thousands of jobs, filling the plains as far as the eye can see. You want to catch just one. You kick the ashes and pile on some twigs to brew the billy-can coffee for the long day ahead. You’ve spent years practicing your aim, strengthening your arm, listening to the firelight stories of the old-timers about how people used to get jobs who couldn’t tell up from down. Now you’ve made it to the frontier and it’s time to go a-huntin’, a-huntin’ for jobs.

Where the jobs are

Just like the buffalo on the plains, there are thousands of jobs and the important thing in job-hunting is to narrow your search. The interweb will show you links to millions of them, including loads that are entirely unsuitable for you. Obviously [ahem], jobs sites targeted at particular fields will help if you want to work in that field, especially sites like StatsJobs.com and EconomistJobs.com. It’s easy to waste a lot of time trawling through lists, hoping to spot one but your time might be better spent elsewhere.

Jobs websites and recruitment companies do essentially the same things for job-hunters so can be considered together for the most part. One service they often offer is to add your CV to a database which they, and potential employers, can search as new vacancies arise. The other thing to do is sign up for email alerts or mailing lists. Once you’ve identified your criteria, you’ll see jobs that might actually suit you. It’s a good idea to revise your profile every now and then as the level of your expectations is inversely proportional to your level of desperation. Recruitment companies with offices are usually keen to bring in potential candidates to evaluate them before putting them forward for jobs, and these meetings are a good opportunity to make an impression on the recruiters so you’re the first person they think of when the next job comes in.

Another strategy is to identify a company you’d like to work for and send them your CV. There are a couple of possible outcomes, that they’ll put it in on file in the recycling bin, that they’ll actually put it on file and contact you when a vacancy arises, or they’ll be just about to advertise a vacancy and will marvel at the serendipity of the timing. For the people looking to fill jobs, the whole recruitment thing is a bit tiresome. Unless they employ some HR heads, all that bothersome advertising, reading CVs, and interviewing takes up time they’d rather spend doing their actual work. As well as that, even companies are susceptible to flattery and they’ll love the idea that you want to work for them, especially if you’re brilliant.

Recruitment fairs come in two forms: the ones where you stay and the ones where you emigrate. International recruitment fairs are a sign that a country has too few people with particular skills, and if you’ve got those skills they’ll be selling you a lifestyle of short hours, fine weather, and big bucks. If you get one of those, don’t forget and send us a postcard. The local ones tend to involve throngs of people pushing their CVs into the hands of recruiters. If it all looks a bit haphazard, there can be some good opportunities with whoever’s hand got your CV after the dust settles.

Work your networks

Frustrating as it might be, there are some vacancies that simply don’t make it to the mailing lists and websites because they are advertised by word-of-mouth and filled without any messy, expense publicity. Some categories of jobs, usually anything involving tax-payers’ money, has to be advertised, but there are plenty that don’t. In order to be in with a chance of hearing about jobs, you have to talk to people. That might mean getting in touch with your classmates from college, talking to your friend’s mother who has a big fancy job, joining professional societies, or going to conferences and meet-ups.

Yes, job-hunting is a solitary pursuit, a competition, winner-takes-all. Just like the buffalo hunters in the Wild West, it’s a matter of survival. Job-hunting means getting on your horse and going after the jobs. No matter how wonderful you think you are, it’s no use if no one knows you exist so get your CV out there. Hopefully you’ll soon be home on the range telling your new colleagues about the joys of job-hunting and secretly wishing for the day when your contract ends and you get to experience the thrill of the hunt all over again…

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