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Looking for work in Dublin and learning job search lessons the hard way

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The stress of hunting for a job in Ireland
The stress of hunting for a job in Ireland

Ireland is a tough place to look for a job at the moment.

But this kid is now employed! And really, really relieved. I started writing this last week, in the thick of my jobless despair (on my computer the document has been titled “unemployment rant”) – I share it with you now with a much lighter heart!

I know that every advertised vacancy in Dublin is receiving hundreds of applications at the moment, from people just as qualified (as well as more qualified than) I am, and I understand the difficulty of the economic climate…but I can’t help but get frustrated and down.

I started looking seriously for jobs a month before moving here, and have been applying to several positions per day for seven weeks now. I’ve pounded the pavement and passed out dozens of CVs. I know it’s not supposed to be easy, but I don’t hear back from things like data entry or housekeeping in hotels. It takes hours to comb through the various websites. Www.jobs.ie, www.irishjobs.ie, www.gumtree.com, www.activelink.com, www.indeed.com. I must have written over a hundred cover letters since arriving here – I can pop one out in a matter of minutes now. I have an “Ireland/Jobs” folder in my email where I keep all the employment correspondence, and it has over 80 different threads.

 Every single restaurant has the luxury of only accepting applications from people with at least three years’ experience. After graduation I worked at the counter of a bakery for five or six months, and yet didn’t get hired for the bakery counter positions I applied for here. Starbucks is actively hiring – I’ve applied twice and haven’t heard back. Four English language schools looking for accommodation assistants weren’t interested in my application despite my having run dormitories at a boarding school for two summers. Multiple “No experience? No problem!” sales jobs never responded to my e-mails.

And the thing is, I actually do have lots of experience. I’ve worked every summer since I was 14, had jobs throughout college, and worked seven days a week at three jobs this past August to January. I am qualified for at least an entry-level position in quite a few industries. And overall I’d describe myself as punctual, polite, trainable, and incredibly eager and motivated to start working. I know that this is all true for thousands of others, and I don’t think that I’m more entitled to get work than anyone else in my position…but why will no one pick me?!

It’s been scary paying rent and buying food and paying for transportation (all very expensive in Dublin!) with nothing coming in at all, knowing that it was only a matter of time before my account ran dry and I’d just have to move back home, having failed. I am so relieved knowing that these expenses are going to begin to be replaced. I won’t be getting rich, but I also won’t be getting evicted, which is, in the end, all I was really going for.

I wouldn’t dream of writing a “how to conduct a successful Irish job search” guide, but I will share these lessons that I’ve learned the hard way over the past 2 months.
  1.  Don’t apply to just anything. Only apply to jobs that you would actually be willing to accept and spend your time doing.
  2. Don’t get too confident too early. Even if you deserve the job and have a great interview and a successful trial shift and they are really encouraging and promise to get back to you immediately…don’t count on anything.
  3. Don’t ask advice from too many different sources, or at least know ahead of time whose advice you value above others. Otherwise you end up feeling like you’re letting people down whenever you make a decision, and it seems like there’s no clear right answer.
  4. Save the job descriptions when you apply to things. Otherwise you may get a phone call from a company about your application and you have no recollection of what the job was…
  5. Irish interviews are very quick – you don’t have long to make a good impression.
  6. You can’t plan luck. 99% of the time a shop with no “help wanted” sign is not hiring. But that hundredth shop may be the one that had just decided to take on someone new but hadn’t put up an ad yet, and you get a lucky first dibs. This is how I ended up with the job I just got. Just luck.

So a big thank you and an even bigger apology to all who have listened to me stress and complain and offered me sympathy and suggestions all these past weeks. And lots and lots of luck to everyone job-searching.

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