The Lost Girl and finding a job in London

August 31, 2015 § Leave a comment

For all of July and much of August, D.H. Lawrence’s The Lost Girl kept me company as I traipsed around London in attempts to settle myself within the city. I brandished the aged, orange Penguin almost like a shield as I rode the tube back and forth between appointments. I met with recruiters, all promising the world, or at the very least, a place where I could be productive and my skills be put to use, where my mind wouldn’t continue to congeal and my confidence disintegrate. In the meantime, I carried The Lost Girl as a symbolic gesture — I am not of this place, it announced, and I am completely out of my depth.

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The first month of job-hunting was nerve-racking, but I expected that. I’d heard horror stories about the two-year visa I was on making me illegible for just about all positions that weren’t short-term, because no one wants to hire someone who’s guaranteed to leave within 24 months. With each passing week, I became more aware of my numbered days depleting, making me less and less appealing to employers. And those recruiters who’d promised the world? They went quiet. I was still receiving daily calls from new recruiters, who’d stumbled across my CV on recruitment website, reed.co.uk, but the majority of these were for technical positions that I wasn’t interested in. Discovering this, they would promise to pass my details on to a team member who could help, but, as far as I can tell, this was never done. I was, for all purposes, on my own.

In the meantime, I continued sending off job applications for positions I found advertised on reed.co.uk and LinkedIn. When possible, I went direct, having found I had just as much success getting interviews this way as when recruiters did the groundwork for me. And I continued to travel around London, The Lost Girl wedged between my mother’s travel wallet and my pair of £2.50 Primark sunnies in the one black handbag I brought with me, working on perfecting my spiel about who I was, where I’d come from and what skills I had.

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In one job interview, after hearing that I’d been in London for little more than one month, the woman I was meeting suggested that I was only at the beginning of my job search. As someone who had developed cabin-fever of the worst kind from too many days housebound to keep costs down, this wasn’t what I wanted to hear. How many months would signal the middle of my job search, how many until the end? Moving to London wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Well, despair was no good, and being miserable was no good either. She got no satisfaction out of either mood. The only thing to do was to act: seize hold of life and wring its neck. – D.H. Lawrence, The Lost Girl

In the end, I was contacted by a company directly, who had found my CV on reed.co.uk and thought I could be a good fit for a position they had available. It wasn’t this, but another role, I ended up interviewing for with them. After a couple of meetings, the offer came through and the rest is history. Insert big sigh of relief. Really, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect belated birthday present.

Now, for the lessons: if I could do it all over again, rewind back to the beginning of July and start afresh, how would I recommend my past self approach the job hunt?

  1. Alter your CV to comply with the standard UK format, making an effort to include key achievements for each position held and mention of all necessary technical competencies and skills within the CV itself. Do not reserve these for the cover letter.
  2. Do not under any circumstances include tables in your CV — some software used by recruiters cannot properly trawl your CV for keywords if your CV is presented in this format.
  3. Register with reed.co.uk, complete your profile and upload the updated CV there. Many recruiters and internal HR departments regularly search on Reed for candidates. Likewise with LinkedIn, so ensure that your profile is up to date.
  4. Don’t spend hours labouring over creating the perfect cover letter for each application sent out. Many UK recruiters, by their own admission, do not read the cover letter you submit, many preferring to create their own on your behalf or put your CV forward without a cover letter. If you know the job ad has been posted by a recruiter, a slightly tweaked, generic cover letter should do it.
  5. Of course, if you are applying to a company directly, do take care to tailor your letter and CV to the job specifications outlined in the description.
  6. Rehearse your spiel detailing your own experience aloud ,many times. Be confident in articulating what it is you did every day and how that relates to the position you’re currently interviewing for.
  7. Don’t be timid.

I finished The Lost Girl a while ago now and no longer have a need to carry it around. However, its lessons I will take with me, to go out on your own, take chances and rest assured that you will be found in the end, even if that end doesn’t quite look like what you anticipated.

Have you ever tried to find work overseas — what was your experience? Was there something you did or referred to to keep yourself motivated?

Summer ditties

August 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

The sunshine is yellow here.

Gold paints the fences, the trees and parked cars. Shadows stretch themselves long and drag their feet with the changing of the light.

When I close my eyes, I’m a thousand miles away, far from the halting traffic, impatience and rushing bodies.

The sand is beneath me, the sound of waves on the cusp of my consciousness, and I ride the warmth like a current.

How can I be sad in this glow?

 

Two weeks into London — and I’m doing way too much thinking

July 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

For some reason, I thought that moving to London would be a new beginning. I would leave behind everything familiar in Melbourne and start afresh. I would be forged in this move, forced to assert myself and step well outside my comfort zone with none of the familiarities of home and none of the support.IMG_4316_edited

In fact, the opposite has been true. Melbourne is a band-aid that I can’t remove. London has revealed people from my past that I’d been without for years because the distance seemed too great, our experiences too divergent. Now that we’re in the same hemisphere, it’s become clear that — though uprooted and displaced — we are all essentially as we were. The time that’s passed means nothing.

Moving away can be freeing because it provides you the space to become your truest self. You’re not tied to the expectations of people that knew you when. You can evolve as you wish, on a whim and as the wind changes — until something sticks. But what I’ve really enjoyed about the reunions I’ve had is realising that, despite this freedom, changes are subtle and small. We still relate to each other, just as slightly older versions of ourselves.
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This is the first time that I’ve felt confident that I can accept the two parts of my life, where I am now and where I’ve left. Being here does not mean that I need to neatly divide one from the other; it was foolish to believe that I could.

Of course, admitting that, also means giving up on the idea that London is going to be altering in a way that home never could be. Maybe it was too much to ask that this move would bring with it great clarity and direction. I had few answers at home and I have no more here. That’s not to say that they won’t come, but I think that where I am may be inconsequential. There’s still a lot of grappling to be done.

 

Get Lost!

July 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

Places I want to see with my own eyes:

  • Rue de l’Abreuvoir, Paris

    © Serge Jodra, 2013.

  • Rue Crémieux, Paris

    rue-crémieux

  • Faroe Islands, Denmark
    Faroe
  • Baskerville Hall, Hay-on-Wye, Wales

Done with the lasts

April 9, 2015 § 3 Comments

I’m hitting the road! I’m off to see the world! – Genie, ‘Aladdin’

So this is an official thing now. In sight are Costa Coffee and Hard Rock Cafe; it’s safe to say that I’m not in Kansas anymore. Rather, I’m set up at Changi Airport, Singapore, en route to London, where I’m moving. For two years.

An overseas move is a big thing regardless of your circumstance, but making this my first move ever is probably a bit over the top. Thankfully I’m quite sleep deprived so haven’t had the capacity to comprehend exactly what I’ve done yet. It all feels very unreal. The muggy heat in Singapore doesn’t help when it comes to imagining my new life in London either – though it’ll be 20 degrees on Friday, apparently. That’s promising!

As expected, the last few days were pretty chaotic, a lot of running into rooms and forgetting what I’d gone in there for, way too many trips to my local shopping centre and endless poring over and over my mega to-do list. I’m happy to say all the important things got crossed off: travel insurance bought, phone plan cancelled, and plane ticket acquired, albeit quite last minute. The thing I’m most proud of? Fitting all my stuff into 30kgs of checked baggage. Just.

The days leading up to my departure were made up of a series of lasts: last trudge up the hill from the bus stop, last lie-in with the cat, last wander up to the local shops, last home-cooked meal. It’s going to take a bit of a mental back flip for me to start thinking about firsts now, because the next few days will be full of them. We’re in exciting times!

Now, just another 13 hours on a plane. But if Singapore Airlines have that fried rice again, all will be fine.

Favourite reads in 2014

January 18, 2015 § Leave a comment

In terms of pages read, it was a below average year for me. I’m not quite sure what happened, but it did (or didn’t) and there’s no going back now. Despite the smaller number of books read, there are a few gems worth recommending:

The Woman who Dived into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman

Translated from Spanish, this story about tuna fishing as told from the perspective of Karen, a young woman with autism, is completely engrossing. Written in a truly unique voice that casts light on high-functioning autism, as well as the fish industry, The Woman who Dived into the Heart of the World is clever, insightful and hits all the right emotional notes, despite its protagonist’s apparent apathy.

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

Maugham has a beautiful way with words that, while concise, effortlessly transports his reader to far off places. This time, it is 1920s Hong Kong, where English ex-pats have forged their own rules. It is in amongst this exotic and unfamiliar hustle and bustle, almost unreal in its liberties, that Kitty loses touch with herself and her marriage. When her husband insists she escort him to the heart of a cholera epidemic, Kitty is forced to consider the decisions that led her there, as well as her future.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

This Australian debut novel from Graeme Simsion has been a runaway hit since its release in January last year and it’s clear to see why. Eccentric academic, Don Tillman has developed the perfect plan to find himself a wife. Dubbed ‘The Wife Project’, the survey is a surefire way for Don to separate the worthwhile candidates from the rest, but it’s hit a snag: Rosie. A laugh-out-loud page turner.

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

Convinced my travel adventures would be few this year, de Botton offered the perfect alternative with his 2002 collection of essays. De Botton’s thoughtful musings on the nature of travel and why it sometimes falls short of our expectations have inspired me to look with fresh eyes at the places I find myself in.

 

What were your favourite reads in 2014?

A kaleidoscope of 2014

December 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

2015sumup

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