Oh the job market, what a fascinating world. I feel like the past months of job applications have been tremendously informative, and anything but a waste of time. So here's a positive note of being unemployed and on the job hunt. While many do not enjoy job hunting (to put it mildly), perhaps today's blog serves as a helpful, uplifting perspective.
For one, I have gotten a much clearer view of where the job market is at today. Below I will share my observations. For someone who likes to be up-to-date on societal developments and trends in the job market, this is an interesting insight. And second, the months of searching, writing and doing interviews, has helped me to gain a better understanding of my qualities, and what I look for in a job. By doing this work (yes, job hunting is almost a fulltime job), there is a lot to discover.
Here are some questions that help you reflect on your job hunting period:
In your application, do you stick to responding to the asked requirements or are you someone who looks at the broader context? What is your writing style, and how do you present yourself? How do you search for a job, and does networking play a role in this? What type of interviews felt fitting and which felt off, and why? Do you show up authentically, or do you notice you are hiding parts of yourself (and which parts and why?)? What questions have been asked that made you learn something new about yourself? How do you approach an interview? Do you extensively prepare or are you more a person who taps into her wisdom and experiences in the moment? And so on. What a fountain of wisdom to be found in the act of job hunting.
The fact that I've taken a 'non-traditional path' in the past 2 years is rarely a concern – thankfully!
Here are my observations of the job market (mostly in the area of government, science and foundations):
The advertised job descriptions sometimes significantly differ from what is truly needed in practice.
The fact that I've taken a 'non-traditional path' in the past 2 years is rarely a concern – thankfully! That wasn't the case about 10 years ago.
In my opinion, too much emphasis is placed on 'experience' and not enough on 'capabilities'. Often, you may possess the right skills even if you don't have the exact experiences that are requested. Hence, sometimes a resume is dismissed a bit too quickly.
Every job posting includes a standard statement about the importance of diversity and inclusion. However, the specified requirements often indicate a preference for candidates within the organization's familiar framework. The strict requirements that sometimes lead to rejection ('must be familiar with environment x' and 'must be familiar with method y') seem to contradict the genuine intention for diversity. I have also experienced multiple occasions where diversity, in reality, was just a facade. Ironically, at an organization claiming to pursue an 'inclusive, sustainable society' in its vision, diversity was considered 'too time-consuming and complicated' and 'something we need to address someday'. Not surprising, yet incredibly disappointing.
Receiving clear feedback on why you were rejected is incredibly valuable. Unfortunately, most organizations beat around the bush.
As a generalist, I wonder why larger organisations like the Dutch government or the Municipality of Amsterdam, where numerous generalist positions such as project managers and policy officers are available, do not set up "exploratory conversations" with generalists like me to explore potential matches. Currently, you have to apply separately for each position, and there seems to be no willingness from a manager's end to forward your CV (with your consent) to colleagues where a potential match might exist. It would streamline the process for both parties, in my opinion.
Finally, I want to share this random but very important fact, that I came across in a vacancy: "Research shows that women and people from minority groups only apply for a position if they meet all the requirements. Men apply if they can meet (only) 60% of the requirements. That's why we also want to hear from you if you're not sure whether you're 100% qualified." This is such a helpful important note!
With all this being said, I do hope and believe there's an end to my job hunting period soon.
Keep you posted!