Friends! Enemies! People who feel meh! Readers (ah ha! There’s the noun I’m looking for)!
Hello! It has been a very strange week! That is why I am overdoing the exclamations marks right now!!!
As long-time followers of this blog will know, I have been on the UX job hunt for a while. We’re talking since the end of 2019, approximately. Now though, for the first time ever, I feel like I’m close to achieving my goal!
I had an informal chat with a UX research company founder today and, within the space of about 15 minutes, it sounded like he wanted to hire me (if only all interviews were that straightforward!). I’ve given up trying to temper my hopes on this point because they’ve shot through the roof. To be frank, I have fallen in love with the potential of the flexible role he’s offered me, and I will be upset if I don’t get it. Caring so much feels a little terrifying, but I can’t stop myself!
I have options now. Multiple freaking options. There’s the role I’ve fallen in love with, I’m at the aptitude test stage for a graduate UX role at a huge company, and I’m at the digital interview stage for a graduate UX role at a different huge company. It won’t be the end of the world if things don’t work out with the role I’ve fallen in love with, but it is my favourite option out of those three right now. Not only is it within my niche area of interest, but the fact that the guy literally found me and set up our informal intro chat via LinkedIn suggests a huge level of flexibility in the role itself. I reckon I’d have a lot of freedom to be useful in the ways I want to be there, especially when I compare it to more regimented graduate roles.
I keep applying to graduate roles at huge companies because of the clear in-built support system that these roles have, and the fact that the sheer volume of applications such companies receive (especially in the current climate) forces them to make the application process relatively straightforward. To be clear, when I say straightforward, I mean that I don’t usually have to write a cover letter for the application.
Cover letters are the bane of my job seeking life, though I have grown used to writing them. I can easily introduce myself and my relevant skills now, the difficult part is writing what I call the Bullshit Paragraph (more politely known as the Flattery Paragraph). This is the paragraph I stick at the end of my cover letter to point out a specific thing I like about the company that isn’t how much they’ll pay me to work for them. The Bullshit Paragraph shows that I’ve done my research into the organisation and that I know how I’ll contribute towards their culture/ethos.
The Bullshit Paragraph is often a good test of whether I should be applying for a position at that company or not. I’ve found that it’s harder to write the paragraph for positions at big companies instead of small ones. SMEs are small enough that they have to know who their customers and niche are. These organisations do a clear thing and make it obvious on their website/LinkedIn page. Big companies, on the other hand, don’t do this so much. In fact, it can be very difficult to figure out what some big companies actually do beyond a too-vague-to-be-inspiring marketing quote.
I’ve been applying to big companies because it’s “easy” and helps me meet the Universal Credit criteria of spending 5 hours on job hunt activities. But, if I’m honest with myself, what I really want is the nerdy creativeness that comes from working in a small company or team, minus the worst of the higher-up bureacracy. It’s what I’ve done so far, and I like it. This UX research company seems like just that sort of thing. Also, the company founder wanted to talk to me one-on-one, and it was really nice to have that personal touch, to feel like he actually cared about me as a person and wanted to match his company to my desires (vice versa on my side, of course!). That is hugely appealing to me.
After so many months of rejections and being ghosted, it feels surreal for so many potential employers and recruiters to show an interest now. I’m exactly the same person as I was at the start of my job hunt. My determination to do a good job (should anyone give me the chance) has always been there, but I guess it’s not about that. This is about my experience. I have more of it now and, because of that, people are finally starting to notice me.
Half of me is excited by the attention and the other half of me is aggravated by it. That other half is sitting here staring at the messages I’ve been getting, thinking “Where were you x months ago?”, which is probably a silly, unfair thing to think when I didn’t necessarily have the experience to back up my personality however many months ago. My hard work is finally paying off and I should dwell on the euphoria instead. Everything that’s happening right now feels a bit overwhelming but it is, undoubtedly, good.
Who knows what will happen by the end of next week? The only thing I know for sure is that I need to sort out my freelance “schedule” a bit better so I can strictly say when I am and am’nt free the next time someone asks. Here goes nothing!