Why I fail to find a Job outside the box

This year I have graduated one of the most alternative, critical and sustainability oriented business school in Germany — Karls. It was a great 2 years with outstanding profs and crazy mix of international peers blended with re-thinking and re-discovering marketing, new media and creativity.

I basically learned and practiced “outside the box living” for 2 last years. For my master thesis I have transformed the university space into the experiential playground and organized design thinking workshops. In Karls I started to understand that I can do whatever I want and there are no real limitations and borders.

And here I am with my brand new master certificate, best marks and super powers! HERE I AM THE WORLD! Hey!!! Halloooo… No answer follows…

After few month job searching I am writing this lines and re-thinking why European job market has no interest in a highly qualified professional with 4 years marketing experience, 4 languages, business school master degree and super powers.

Reasons why candidate is not right

1. Nice try, NO fit.

Finding ideally fitting position is not easy, there will be always few things you don’t have. Most of the time I would apply for the company with the values I share; for the position, which more or less 90% fits my qualifications. This means that the reason to reject my candidature lies in those 10%. Or not? I might have other unique qualifications that can be the reason to hire or reject me. If the company is really checking my CV, do they see me as a complete personality with a set of skills, experience, desires, advantages and disadvantages? Does my cover letter give HR a reason to invite me for the interview or it is a boring cliche? I really hope that breaking through the clutter is hard, but not impossible.

The problematic point here is the amount of effort you need to put for a good application. It is highly time consuming, emotional work that requires thoughtfulness and accuracy. It takes me usually about 2–3 day to develop a proper application. After few days of intensive deep dive into the company’s life you start feeling very much attached and take things emotionally. It is really hard to stay resilient after receiving rejection. It feels like a unhappy love story. What happens next? I try to keep a distance while applying for the next potential “best job of my life”, and my application become less emotional and less personal.

2. That’s too much man!

Sending 100 applications per day; applying for the jobs, which are too simple for you; sending too many certificates, conformations and endless cover letter; trying to reach everyone in the company through the personal contacts or via facebook/linkedin. It is hard to draw a border what is still ok and what is already too much. Considering intercultural difference this task becomes mission impossible.

Not long time ago I was applying for a really interesting job in Patagonia, and I really had a feeling this is a company I can work and be proud of it. I had an idea to make a video application, giving them more than they expect. I have even made a video… then I watched it and decided not to send. I got a panic, that they will consider it inappropriate, to personal or even creepy. I have applied just with a cover letter and CV, and Patagonia was not very interested in me at the end. Now I keep on asking myself if they would have invited me for the interview with a video application…

3. I wanna be a manager… no actually a superman… or… I DO NOT KNOW WHAT I WANT!

This is probably the mile stone of all the problems. I choose the wrong jobs, because I am not too sure what I want to do. I like to try new, I am a quick starter and can make everyone around excited about new project. I am not ready to do routine looking alike work everyday without having a chance to go outside the box. Actually, I want to have a job outside the box! Constantly test my comfort zone, transform, extend and expand.

The disappointment comes together with understanding that most of jobs offered are really boring, routine and demotivating. However those few, which fit my “outside the box” requirements are also available. The question is if the description reflect the reality or it is just another green washing.

Reasons why company is not always right

1. Best job. Worst description.

Most of the times companies fail to present the position in an adequate way. Big corporations are using standard text for most of their positions, often without even checking the formating after the ad is published. It looks more like a technical instruction for a vacuum cleaner, rather than an invitation for investing your time into the application, interview and work for such a company.

What happens? The job might be really great, people awesome, atmosphere creative and diverse… but I am not applying for this job because the job posting was made by a tiered HR intern, who has no clue about the business.

2. Standard procedure to cut outstanding candidates.

Often the staffing is outsourced and automated process. Companies have no resources to check through every application, therefore they just keep sending you links for online surveys. Cultural fit, logic, math, verbal reasoning, etc. And there is no way you can get to the next level if you can’t solve all that basic math problems in 30 seconds! And if you can, you are probably a geek and they will reject you after the interview.

Probably it is not that dramatic and from the perspective of the HR the system brings a dramatic relief automatically cutting all candidates that stand outside your criteria. And this works both ways — weak underperforming candidates will be thrown at the same bin with brilliant ones, who are not fitting the standard criteria. You have graduated school at 14 and have a doctorate degree in biochemistry? No fit! You know 7 languages and play a violin? No! You have built a drone to help you at the kitchen and write poems at your free time? Hahah NO!

3. You are so good, but…

No surprise that HRs and hiring managers are humans and have their personal agenda, preferences and prejudices. No one can force a manager to hire a candidate, if he/she does not like it. Even more, the job is already promised to someone internally and publishing the ad if just a formality. Therefore, candidates are often receive fake feedbacks, like “Your leadership skills are too strong” or “Our corporate culture is too slow for you”.

What did I learn from this reflection? World is unfair and I have to deal with it if I want to live over here:) If serious, I see few possible ways to boost my job search:

  • Use networking as a key to find the job
  • Get a feedback regarding my applications from an HR professional
  • Consider SME, start ups and NGOs as a possible employer
  • Keep on rocking! Never give up!
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