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How to get a job in Dublin in a time of recession? My thoughts so far..

21 October 2012

I’m sat on the ferry (Jacob is very excited about being on a “big boat”) heading back to the UK to celebrate my parents ruby wedding after being in Dublin for nearly one month. Leanne and I were saying last night as we sat in our local pub drinking Guinness that although we’re looking forward to the seeing the family we don’t feel massively excited about going back to the UK. Dublin really has become our home extraordinarily quickly. We love the city, we love the people, we love the culture and we love the new start. Do check out this blog for some initial reasons why.

However my first month has been predominantly spend job hunting. I spend 9am-1pm looking for, researching about and applying for jobs and then 1-5pm networking with anyone who is willing to drink coffee with me (normally in the city centre).

Many people thought (think!) we were crazy in coming to a country that was still suffering the hangover of the Celtic Tiger crash in 2008 and as of September 2012 had 14.8% unemployment (compared to 0-3% unemployment during the boom). Yes times are hard. Yes listening to the radio every morning isn’t very pleasant. However as my last post shared, optimism is in the air once again… amidst the misery, the Irish fighting spirit is shining through. I may eat my words but I feel that there are lots of jobs and feel confident that the right job will come along at the right time.

Up until now I have managed to have four jobs without ever handing in a CV or attending an interview so it has been a steep learning curve as I have come into Dublin and I wanted to share the main lessons I am learning in applying for jobs. There is probably more that could be said but here are my 3 key tips

(1) Specific preparation is vital.

Having your CV up-to-date and as clear, well presented and compelling as possible is a good start, but it is only a good start (my CV has undergone about 5 rigorous refinements by different friends of mine which has been hugely helpful). What really matters is to ensure that your CV (and covering letter) answers the following questions

  1. What problem does my potential employer have that I can solve?
  2. Who am I the ‘go to’ person for?
  3. Whose language do I speak?
  4. What exactly are they looking for?

Matching my skills, experience, personality and passions PRECISELY with the company, job/person specification and my potential boss is much better than a well polished generic CV. One business man told me that since recruiters have 100s of CVs in front them for any one job they will probably make a judgment about your CV within 10 seconds of seeing it so making sure they read all the key details on that first look is vital.

In order to be specific you need a ‘plan of attack’ (be a “Career Detective” as I heard from Brian McIvor yesterday) in terms of

  1. Companies/bosses you’d like to work for?
  2. Specific jobs you’d like to do (everyone keeps telling me to be more specific)?
  3. What passions do you have (someone recently said “who is Steve?” to help me get specific. Also doing personality and leadership type tests is helpful).
  4. Areas in town you’d like to work in?
  5. Hours you’d like to work?
  6. Work-Life-Family balance you are looking for?
  7. What salary you are looking for (and would settle for)?

So you have to do the hardwork, spend time on the internet and (in my case at least) talk lots to people in order to help you process and get specific. Also, people repeatedly keep saying “look for a career not a job” as that will help you get specific and be far more attractive to future employers.

(2) Networking is (nearly) everything.

Ireland is a super relational culture (that is one of the reasons we love it so much) and the old adage of “who you know not what you know” holds true much of the time. So using my existing network of family and friends and other contacts I have tried to meet with everyone with 2 basic questions (1) what would you suggest I do to settle quickly and find the right job in Dublin and (2) can you recommend someone else I can speak to?

A great tool for networking and applying for jobs is using LinkedIn and making sure that your profile is up-to-date and as grabbing as possible (talk about achievements more than experience and skills). Often ‘less is more’ when it comes to LinkedIn and CVs.

When you actually get to sit down for coffee with someone to talk about jobs you have to be a salesman in that (a) you have to sell yourself but, more importantly, (b) you have to ask questions and find out their problems, needs, passions and dreams. Once you have found out (b) you do (a). Any good salesman knows that he should speak about 20% of the time and get the other person to speak for 80% of the time. Once you have found out their problem you’ll be able to ‘scratch where they itch’ and sell yourself as the solution.

(3) Motivation and morale is everything.

Whilst points (1) and (2) are necessary, I would say they are not sufficient and they are not the most important thing. From personal experience and from chatting to others in my position one’s motivation and morale is everything. Boredom, doubt, guilt, financial challenges/debt, lack of structure/productivity and most obviously rejection can very easily get you down in dumps making you feel that you have nothing to offer, no experience, nothing of value and doomed to unemployment for the rest of your life. Panic can easily set in and your home relationships can become tense.

Part of my job-hunting has been to attend a course called JobNet with Jobcare which I have run out of adjectives to describe. It is brilliant at doing points (1) and (2) but listening to the two dozen people that completed and graduated from the course yesterday the key message I heard was

“It has raised my confidence again”

“It has given my great comfort to know other people are in the same boat with me”

“It has given me the discipline and structure I needed”

“I don’t feel guilty anymore”

“It’s help me see that I do have skills that are useful and experience that is valuable”

“It has helped me sell myself better and be more confident in talking about my ability”

And so on and so forth.

To remain motivated when you face regular rejections you do need others around you and you do need to keep some sort of structure in your life.

Motivation is doubly important because, as Brian McIvor was urging us all yesterday, our passion, our enthusiasm, our attitude and our energy are what employers want to see. If you look and sound like you have got something about you then you are more likely to get a job. So keeping your motivation and confidence high is, I think, everything!

Anyway, they are my 3 top three tips and I am very new to job hunting. We’re soon to get off our ‘big boat’ so I’ll hand this over to you

What do other people think? How do you get a job in Dublin in a time of recession?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Richie permalink
    30 October 2012 11:09 am

    Interesting stuff Steve, I think positivity will always pay off because people want positive creative forces in their organisation. My three tips would be ‘Network, network, network’ but I can’t argue with the points you make.

    To adapt a wholly inappropriate quote from a great movie called ‘A fistful of dollars’ (watch it for the soundtrack alone) “sometime’s a man’s life can depend on a mere scrap of information” and quite often that’s what you get from networking.

    Best of luck to you and the family on your Irish odyssey!

    Richie

    • 30 October 2012 12:15 pm

      Hi Richie,

      Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog.

      It was great to meet up last week and from meeting with you and hearing your story one thing I found particularly helpful regarding Networking is that you said “you have to be genuine and interested in the other person” and “you have to try and do something for them.” True networking works both ways.

      And Brian McIvor was all about Positivity too and the energy we bring to a company.

      I’ll check out the movie (or at least the soundtrack).

      Thanks again
      Steve

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