In January 2014, I made the move from Toronto, Canada to London, England without a job. I know, I know…moving countries without a job?! Oh, the horror! Well rest assured, it’s been almost a year and a half since I’ve taken the plunge and my current status is happily employed with a full-time job that I love. The question I always get is, “How did you go about your job hunt?” and in response, I give my 3 R’s:
There are a lot of pretty neat jobs out there, but the trick is finding them! For instance, I found my current job on Twitter and prior to that I found a lot of fun creative positions using university job boards. The key is figuring out what area you want to apply in – Arts? Finance? Policy? – and then reading up on it! Scour the Internet and track organizations, events, blogs, schools, and people! It’s an ongoing process, but eventually you will be able to generate a set of sites that you can check regularly to get the latest and most relevant opportunities.
Moving to a big city like London means you’re not only competing with more people for a job, but you also have to work harder to prove your background because suddenly a school or company well known in Toronto draws blanks in your new city. One thing I found particularly helpful was references. Throughout all of my work experiences, I have made it a point to collect reference letters to keep on file. I would attach these references with my applications and I found that potential employers felt more confident bringing me in for an interview because of this. It’s one thing if you’re telling someone you’re awesome, but it’s something more to have someone relevant and credible to vouch for it. On top of this, consider providing links to your work and samples of projects you’ve been involved with so that, once again, you can provide proof to all the claims you’re making in your application.
The hard truth of the matter is you can apply for jobs and do all the “right” things and still get rejected. Quite early on, I had an interview in London for a marketing role with a financial investment firm. One of the interviewers said something to me that I will never forget. He said, “Look. Clearly you’re qualified for the role so you can have the job if you want it, but if you want my advice – and I’ve been doing this for over 30 years – don’t take it. You’ll be unhappy. You seem far too creative to waste your time here.” I was stunned, but his words were exactly what I needed to hear at the time. You don’t always get feedback in this way, but I highly advise making a solid effort to ask for feedback as much as you can, especially from rejections. By putting your ego aside and reaching out for that feedback from interviewers, it can really help clarify and guide you through future job hunts and interviews.
The job-hunting process in general is not a fun one. Especially in London, I went through dozens of job applications, a handful of interviews and rejections, and temporary jobs here and there. It took patience and persistence, and the adjustment of my attitude to see that every experience, whether positive or negative, is one step closer to figuring out what you want, what you’re capable of, and how you can get closer to where you want to be.
This blog post was originally written for and published on Ten Thousand Coffees.