Ahead of the Christmas flight back to Dublin, I bumped into two other Irish girls at the airport. We sat talking about how difficult the job search in NYC is. The truth? It’s one of the most competitive cities in the world, and being on a visa makes you less employable than most. I have been in two different jobs in NYC and I can safely say, both searches have been the most head-banging experiences I’ve been through.
Ok cool, I have a college degree and spent three years working as a Marketing Manager for an international beauty brand. By NYC standards, they couldn’t care less. My friend has two masters degree’s and has published a book you can buy on Amazon. Yet she was on the verge of leaving New York after 5 months of job hunting with no promising luck.
Why is it so tough?
Since jobs are evolving so quickly, with so many new tools, a bachelor’s degree is no longer considered an adequate proxy by employers for your ability to do a particular job. They manage their own measurement of skills and don’t care how those skills were acquired. They just want to know one thing: Can you add value? Maybe you can or maybe you can’t. Either way, the tricky part is the ability to prove yourself in a 20-minute interview.
How the application goes
- Apply for 82,020,210 jobs
- Get a call or email back for 9
- Go to an in-person interview for 1
- Go to a second, third and fourth interview
- Never hear from them again
- Repeat 17,100 times
… REALLY THOUGH
There has been 10 hour long interviews with companies that I never heard from ever again. Offers of many contracts that were pulled out from under me. Interviews for jobs I was overqualified for, for which I never even heard a call-back for. Follow-ups after follow-ups, with no leads to go on.
My tips/What I learned
The first job I had, I secured from Ireland so money was not running out. It took me a year to get a job. My second search was here in NYC and that was tough, even though I had New York City experience behind me. Here are the tips I learned throughout countless interviews:
- Always make yourself available. If they ask you to meet at a certain place and time, tell them you’ll make it work. Show up early.
- Always, always, always have your CV printed. This can be tricky in NYC since no one has a printer but go to your local FedEx to print copies easily and cheaply.
- Share examples of your work to show you can already do the job before you’re actually hired. This is almost a psychological trick because it puts you in the position you’re interviewing for while still at the interview stage. This stretches their mind past the CV stage and shows you’ve already accomplished what they need.
- They will always ask you questions about your previous experience so prepare to be able to share as many real-life examples as you can. The “what would you do in this type of situation…” type of question is a popular one.
- Ask loads of questions (Flow of work, company ethos, staff turnover, staff incentives, etc) A good question is “how do you see this position in 6 months time?” They love to know you’re interested in the company and want to become part of a team.
- Always know your faults. They will ask you what areas you feel you lack skills in and be honest, but always say you’re working on getting better. For example, say you have made a mistake or two with communication in the past but you’re eager to become more direct and clear in communication with your team. (Or something like that)
- Be factual about the visa situation, if you have one. Say straight out that you do not need any monetary sponsorship (applicable to graduate and trainee visa’s) and that it will last until X date.
Where to find the jobs
- Networking: There are many events across the city that will put you in front of potential employers. Digital Irish always host great events in various industries. I always keep an eye on Eventbrite to see if there are any events in my industry. The Consulate General of Ireland have a great networking event every 1st Friday of every month too.
What if nothing works?
The truth is, many people support themselves temporarily by getting a restaurant or bar job despite what you may see on social media. So don’t be afraid to go back to basics. Another smart move is to always have additional backup funds in your account because you’ll always need it to pay the next months rent.
But sometimes, it doesn’t work. I have had so many friends come to NYC on a visa and just simply can’t get work. Some stay until their money runs out and leave. It’s a harsh feeling but that’s why not everyone does it. You just have to keep going until you run out of money and/or stamina.
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