Job hunting is such a mentally tasking exercise especially in a new environment. From my first week in Sydney, I had done my research on what site to search for jobs and discovered Indeed and Seek were my best bet given the type of job I was looking for. I browsed through these sites and found a lot of writing, communication and media jobs that I was fairly certain I had the relevant skills and experience required by the companies recruiting. I put my resume together and started sending out my applications. After sending out a number of resumes and not getting any positive response, my confidence slowly burned out and I began to worry. My friend Karan already got a job as a shop attendant in a cafe and was slowly saving up for his fees. I was hellbent on trying to get a corporate job so I kept sending out resumes. I spoke to some friends in the church I attend, Partakers Sanctuary, and my resume was reviewed. Apparently, there is a CV format for applying for jobs in Australia and it was very different from the Nigerian CV.
- Nobody cares what gender you are until they see or speak to you – remove “(fe)male” from that CV
- Nobody wants to know your date of birth
- Modify your name so employers can easily pronounce; then you at least get a call
- List out your skills and work experience
- Your education is great but work experience trumps it
So I modified my CV and began sending out applications again. This time I got to the interview stage. One of the fist interviews I went for was a fundraising job. I was excited to be going for an interview at this point. My invitation email contained two pitches for different causes and we were advised to “learn one of the attached scripts by heart and be ready to perform it with your examiner during the interview.” The interview was on a Saturday and the venue was in Surry Hills, close to central. It was a bit difficult to navigate to the building because there was construction going on in one of the main streets that gave pedestrians access to the building. I had my umbrella with me because it was drizzling that morning as I made my way towards the venue. The email had indicated that it would mostly be a group interview except the recitals, so I wasn’t too surprised to see about nine more people. The examiner said one person didn’t show up. The venue was an office for a fundraising company. They had a conference room that was separate from the main offices and a kitchen and we were encourage to help ourselves to coffee and some biscuits. Eventually the interview began.
The examiner was a tall, lanky guy. He smiled a lot and seemed very charismatic. He started by giving us a brief overview of the company and what they did. This went on for about 30 minutes after which we were told to prepare go give our speeches. The was a room off the conference area and we were each to go ing once you are called in. Two people went before me then I was called in. I was asked to recreate a would be scene where I was knocking on someone’s door and pitch my cause for them to donate to. I went through the whole scenario with the examiner acting as the individual I was pitching to. After pitching my cause, the examiner told me it was a great pitch but I was smiling a lot and the cause I was asking people to donate to was a serious one so my demeanour should match what I was saying. In all honesty, I wasn’t even aware I was smiling that hard and I would chalk it down to being nervous and smiling was my default expression.
Between the smiles and my rigid availability, there was a slim to none chance of me getting the job. I went to school four days a week and this really affected my job search. Even if I did get a job, my availability wasn’t very flexible and this made a difficult situation even more difficult. Needless to say, I didn’t get this job. I went for a series of other job interviews; a public relations internship job where the interviewer asked if English was the language spoken in my previous job. Although I probably didn’t get this job because I wasn’t articulate enough. I learnt from this process that I had to be upfront about what I could offer my employer. How I could contribute meaningfully to the company and how my skills fit in to the requirements for the job. However, This realisation happened a bit too late. At this point, I was fast running out of money and how I would keep up with my rent payment weighed heavily on my mind. I resolved to getting any type of job I could get so I went looking for jobs on gumtree.
I applied for any and every job I could do; from cleaning to pick packing (warehouse); I submitted my resume to several recruitment agencies and contacted some of the employers on gumtree directly. My mantra during this period was even when you don’t think you’ll get the job, you have to keep applying because that’s the only way to get what you want. At this point, searching and applying for jobs was almost a mechanical process, a kind of survival measure and I was hanging on by a thread, barely.