Over the last few weeks, we’d relaxed a bit.
We’d realised that we’d become a little stressed, and so we had actively taken the time out to do more fun stuff, outside of the must dos.
After a few weeks of this, I needed to refocus.
As much as you should have a balance of fun-and-work-time, you do still need to prioritise.
I’d become like a kid in a candy store, addicted to the good stuff – Why do the difficult things when you can eat pizza and ice cream, go for caffè walks through the city, or watch Game of Thrones?
At some point I needed to pop my happy bubble I was living in, and seriously face some of the more challenging tasks at hand. My biggest one currently: finding work.
In Italy, being an English speaker, finding professional work is pretty tough. Sure, you could look into jobs like teaching English (which is pretty competitive in itself), but I wanted to find something in my industry: Marketing & Branding,
Being in your own country, job-hunting is already tough and competitive. Being in a new country, a new continent, it gets tougher, as there are other aspects to get familiar with. You need to navigate this new landscape, to understand how people operate, where and how to look for work, what the business etiquette is and how to approach potential employees.
My fulltime job now was finding a job, something inspiring, something that I’d enjoy committing to!
One of the things I believe in wholeheartedly is that:
There is always a way. No matter what your challenge is, there is always a way to solve it.
These are the stages I went through, and some of the insights I gathered along the way:
Put together a great CV.
You’re going to need to stand out in the crowd, so make your CV as awesome as possible. I’m sure you already know this, but seriously, this is you’re tool, and you are one in a thousand, so make it count.
For this stage, before we left South Africa for Rome, I’d created an online CV website, where I showcased a brief bio, my education and training, my work experience, and my visual portfolio. It included direct links to my social media, as well as to all the places I’d worked or studied at. Along with this, I made a two-page PDF CV.
Nowadays, creating a beautiful website is more accessible than it’s ever been. There are some awesome themes online you can use (free or paid) as your website framework, and with WordPress as your platform, you can achieve pretty much anything.
Everything was well-designed, consistent – same fonts, colours, images, look & feel, tone.
I was pretty proud of it, and prepared to send it out.
I’d discovered a great website called JobsinRome, and through this site I’d discovered a couple companies I’d resonated with. While still in South Africa I’d found 2 open positions I wanted to apply for, as well as 1 company I wanted to send an unsolicited application to.
For 2 of them I even got my specific cover letters translated into Italian.
Off I sent them. Proud of my new CV and website. I was hopeful. More than hopeful.
Keep looking, no matter what – Don’t stop until you’ve signed the contract.
Three weeks later and I still hadn’t heard anything from the above 3 companies.
However, I’d just arrived in Rome, and wasn’t in job-hunt mode anyway. I was taking a little time off from work, after having just finishing work at Brand Union. I didn’t think too much of it, and thought I’d give them and myself a bit of time.
As I realised later on, those opportunities wouldn’t work out.
Months later I’d eventually here from them, only after me following up regularly, and both wanted Italian as a language. Bummer, I thought.
Sometimes, we feel so confident about a job, an application, feeling like it’s just meant to be and we almost stop looking completely after we’ve applied.
Once I figured this out, I was actively searching all the time. No matter how many great-fitting applications I applied for, I’d keep on looking as if I hadn’t applied for anything.
This is a good approach, and keeps your head in the game.
If you aren’t getting the response you are after, don’t be afraid to give your CV another hard look.
After more searching and applying, I started to think about my CV. Was it the best it could be? Was I confidently selling myself in the right way? It’s so easy to get lost in a sea of other applicants, so I decided to give it a total overhaul.
I was also on a whole new continent, and perhaps I needed to take this resume to a whole new level.
Writing our own CV is difficult, as we need to be objective, and to up-sell ourselves.
Potential employers also only taking a few seconds to glance at it, before deciding if it’s going into the potential pile. So you often only get those few seconds to grab them.
There is a lot to consider when putting a CV together, and every single part of it needs to be carefully crafted. I spent a fair amount of hours doing research, reading articles, looking at other examples, watching videos, questioning my approach to work, my skills and aspirations.
Content is everything.
Make sure you are very clear about what you want your potential employee to know about you after he/she scans your CV for 5 or so seconds. Start with a short punchy profile statement to give the reader a great first impression and make them want to know more, focus your work experience on your achievements and not your duties, only put in what is relevant to the position you’re applying for, and so it goes on. Every part of the puzzle, carefully thought out.
Keep only what’s important and ditch the rest. Be bold enough to have one strong sentence, rather than a whole paragraph made up of weaker sentences.
Don’t be afraid to edit edit edit.
It’s true what they say, Less is More.
You also don’t need to tell them everything, give them something to look forward to… In your interview 🙂
There is so much that goes into creating an effective CV, and I’m sure I’ll be forever improving it. But after taking a hard look at it, and putting a lot of time and thought into it, I gave it a complete makeover.
From a more complex content heavy two-page PDF, it was now a focused and punchy one-pager.
Take the time to get to know every place you apply to.
It takes time and it can be draining but… I don’t believe it’s an effective approach to just blast your CV out to everyone and hope for the best. Be focused, select the vacancies you want to apply for, and in order of importance go through each one carefully.
Get to know the company and the position. Customise your CV’s opening Profile Statement to make it even more relevant to the position you’re applying for. Write your cover letter and tell them honestly why you’re the best for the position. If you’re writing unsolicited emails to companies, personalise them too, it makes a big difference.
Beyond that, see what other ways you can add value to your application. Could you learn more and expand your skills so that you can offer more, specific to the job requirements? Can you perhaps engage with the company in some way on social media? Could you be creative in some way, and use the company’s brand in your application?
Think out-of-the-box, beyond just emailing them your CV. Get involved and excited about the company, show them that you are truly interested.
Above: When applying for a job, go beyond just sending them your application: Doing my HubSpot Certification, gaining valuable inbound marketing knowledge; Engaging with one of the companies on social media before applying; Customising one of my application’s profile images to fit with the company’s Brand Identity 🙂
Focus on quality versus quantity.
It’s more effective applying properly to 5 places, rather than throwing spaghetti at the ceiling and hoping something sticks.
Spend a lot of time online, and look everywhere.
From there, I looked up companies I could potentially work for, with offices in Rome. I went to each of their career pages. Some of them only advertise on their websites and through recruiters, so it’s a good thing to do.
I tried the recruiter route but got no response.
I’ve never liked the recruiter approach though, and always prefer to go direct to the source.
Also, some companies may be looking for someone and haven’t put up an advert yet – So, if you really like a company, send them a well-drafted unsolicited email along with your CV and Cover Letter, you may just answer their needs before they’ve even put them out there.
Connect with People.
Instead of spending all your time online, start meeting and networking with people in your city and industry. You never know where it may lead, or what knowledge and insight you may gain.
This was a little daunting for me, not really knowing anyone in my industry in Rome. However, through getting a contact in Rome from colleague at work back home, I spent a good amount of time working that one contact into a few. I’d get to know the one, getting a couple more contacts through them, and on it went.
This took a good amount of effort, but doing this was valuable, leading me to a wonderful connection in Rome: Someone who is a very established professional in the Marketing industry, who I now see as a bit of a mentor. We met a couple times over the following months, and he was so helpful with his insights and advice on how I could position myself in Rome. I’m still blown away by how much someone as established as himself, has been so nice and generous with his time and knowledge. One of his suggestions was to approach some of the startups in Rome. It definitely got me thinking differently, and months later… I’d end up at one!
Don’t loose heart, remember your value.
Sometimes we find the right opportunity quickly, but most of the time it takes a lot of effort and time.
Sure, it may take it out of you. You may start to loose hope, and even start lowering your standards, as you start to lose confidence and question your value.
And while you’re at it, Eat Healthy. It can only make you stronger!
This is where you dig deep.
Take that brilliant CV and read it out loud. Remember your previous training and work experience. Remember all you’ve achieved. Up-sell yourself to yourself. You can do this, you are worth it.
You may get some nos. You may even get a lot of no responses. Geepers, not sure if it’s normal in Italy or Rome, but I got a lot of no responses. I’d read up and heard that communication wasn’t the best in Rome, especially over email, and I most certainly experienced a lot of it.
At times I did feel despondent. At some points I remember even thinking of perhaps trying out a move to the Netherlands, where I felt I’d have more options. I had to pull myself up and remember why I was here, and remind myself of one of my favourite affirmations I live by:
There is always a way.
There is absolutely always a way to do anything.
You just have to keep at it, and find it.
Find a way, you can do it.
Be open to thinking differently.
Sometimes you have to be open to changing the way you’re approaching something.
I’d been looking for a while. I had a good CV and I was crafting my applications very thoughtfully, but I started to feel like I was exhausting my avenues. Perhaps I was being impatient, but I wanted to move quickly.
I took a little time out and decided not to think about this job-hunt. My uncles were in Rome over the weekend, so I decided to spend most of it with them, completely forgetting about my seemingly mission impossible. After some much needed family time, walking through the streets of Rome, watching lovely classical music performances in a pretty church, and just having a wonderful time, I started feeling a little more refreshed and inspired to keep at it.
Above: Some time out, going on lovely walks, along with my soundcloud stream.
Upon my return to the hunt a couple days later, I had fresher eyes. I decided to look at it completely differently. I decided that I wasn’t bound by Rome, and that I could work Remotely too, and decided to broaden my horizons. After a lot of research I felt like a whole new world opened up, the Remote World.
Working Remotely is huge at the moment.
With the Internet and an array of incredible digital tools, people are able to work effectively together from all over the world.
So, off I went, into the World Wide Web of Remote Working.
Exploring all sorts of websites like Working Nomads, We Work Remotely, Remote OK, FlexJobs, and many others. I was finding all sorts of interesting jobs around the world, particularly in America.
I’ve never liked being bound to an office anyway, and prefer to move around. It felt like, through determination and being open to try a totally different approach, I’d discovered a new avenue that was very well-suited to me.
If you are doing something, and it’s not working as well as you want it to: Try taking a little time off, and with fresh eyes approach your challenge a different way. There are many ways to approach things, so be open and agile.
I started applying to some remote positions. Lots of work, lots of hours. The world of work becomes an even bigger place when you start looking at Remote work. I was out beyond Rome.
Along the way I found a great startup company, based in San Francisco, Rome and Dublin. Even though they were actually founded in Rome, the position was remote. They had a couple vacancies, and the Content Marketing Manager position sounded perfect for me. Their whole brand felt right: from their cool product, brand identity, brand tone (they use cool a lot in their brand language :D). Even the actual job description just sounded like a great fit. Research – Refine CV – Write Cover Letter – Triple Check Everything – Apply – Done!
Even though this particular startup remained top of mind for many reasons, I carried on applying for other positions. Remember, don’t stop until the contract is signed.
Follow up regularly.
Once I’d applied for a position, I’d give it 2/3 weeks before following up. Then, I’d follow up every week. CVs often just get lost in emails most of the time, so you’ve got to follow up.
You can’t be shy about being annoying. You are applying for a position, and you’ve hopefully put a lot of effort into your application, so follow up every week. If you aren’t getting a response, consider contacting the company an alternative way like through LinkedIn, just to politely follow up and make sure your application has been received.
Remember, there is always a way.
No matter what, there is always a way.
It may take a lot of thought and time, but there is always a way.
I’d looked everywhere online, connected with people, spent lots of time refining my CV and cover letters, doing a lot of self-reflection on what I wanted out of my career, eating healthily and taking short breaks to refresh, trying completely new approaches, following up, keeping at it, finding the way.
And, finally, I’d get that job I was looking for.
A position at a company that excites and inspires me, that challenges me to learn and grow fast. It took a lot of energy, but eventually I found the right way, and I got here.
Above: I’d told myself that, when I got the perfect job, I’d celebrate by buying myself a whole jar of Nutella! Me with the jar; The jar finished by the next day; Me outside my new office.
No matter what challenge you’re facing, remember that, there is always a way. Seriously, there is always a way. Find a way, you can do it.
You may need to be agile and think differently, you may need to dig deep and work hard, but if you keep at it with focus, you’ll get there. And hey, your final goal may even transform along the way, but either way you’ll get there!
Go for it, whatever it is, go for it!