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Job searching is like a marathon

It’s not about who can sprint the fastest, but who can maintain a steady pace and keep going, no matter the obstacles.

Coming from a healthcare background where you only have to go through a single interview to secure a job, it was quite shocking for me to experience the extended hiring process in the tech industry. Even getting past the resume screening stage to the call with a recruiter is a process in itself. So, one day I woke up to yet another day with a self-assigned goal: apply to at least five jobs every day.

The thought crossed my mind – hey, this job search is not a sprint. It’s not about how many applications you send but how quality they are. With the rise of ATS, it's not enough to merely apply to job postings; you need to stand out from the crowd of hundreds of applicants somehow. You might say, "Just network with people." Okay, that's an option, but not everyone is outgoing. Not to mention tailoring your resume and cover letter for every single job application, and maybe even finding the hiring manager on LinkedIn and sending them a personalized message or scraping their email. Wait, I'm not done – you also have to keep up to date with new technologies, frameworks, revise what you've already learned, build your portfolio projects, and on top of that, do mock interviews to stay on top of the game. Sigh… okay, if this doesn't sound like a marathon to you, then you've probably run a marathon before. Jokes aside.

Even if you've never run a marathon, let’s make an analogy here. Before a marathon, runners need to prepare. They practice running every day, buy proper shoes, eat nutritional food, practice correct running technique, research competitors… Same goes for a job hunt. You have to prepare before you start applying. Your laptop is your running shoes, your competitors are the companies you wish to work for, your running technique is your coding language of choice, and of course, healthy food and hydration are the same – you need fuel to get this machine running, right? Oh, and let's not forget that you need to optimize your portfolio, LinkedIn, and resume in this preparation period too.

"But Alja, that’s so much work! I want to start applying!" Hey, champions don't become champions on the day they win; they're champions because of the hours they put in preparing for the race.

Now that we are prepared, we can start job hunting. Now, our best friends LinkedIn and ChatGPT come to cheer for us during the race. LinkedIn gives us isotonic drinks, and ChatGPT provides us with protein bars because the distance is unknown. The first day of the race, we're full of hope, anticipating a response from the recruiter we messaged on LinkedIn. The second and third day, we're full of energy. The first week goes by, the second week… one month… we've sent almost 100 applications. No answer. Our motivation starts to drop, there are rocks in our running shoes, it hurts.

It’s Monday, we get an invitation to the first round of an interview – finally, a ray of hope. The interview goes well. Nevertheless, we keep applying for jobs while waiting for the response from the interviewer. We get a rejection email. We trip, and we fall – our knees are bleeding. A fellow runner helps us get up; they also have bloody knees. They share their story of how they failed in the interview because they were so anxious they forgot everything they knew. That gives us hope – we're not the only ones failing.

We begin applying again and improving our portfolio projects. We find a volunteering opportunity for a nonprofit. We need real-life experience to stand out in the job market, so we apply. We're happy; we feel like our knowledge gets used to solve real-world problems. We keep applying. Months go by. We're exhausted, feeling like we can't do it anymore.

Every day feels like the same grind. At last, we have an interview, it goes well. We're selected for the next round. The technical interview goes well too. Yes, we're almost there. We can see the finish line – friends cheering, family cheering for us. And we get the job.

To sum it up, job hunting is like a marathon, not a sprint. LinkedIn and ChatGPT step in as trusty companions, providing support along the way. Setbacks, such as rejection emails, are inevitable, but the real deal is resilience.

Sharing failures with fellow job seekers becomes a wellspring of hope during challenging moments. Volunteering and real-world experiences serve as vital checkpoints in this journey. It's not just about shaping a career; it's about building resilience for what lies ahead. Just as in a marathon, the job search is a test of endurance, and the victory tastes even sweeter with the effort put in.


Guest Writer: Alja (Alya) Čekada

A Fullstack Developer with ability for turning ideas into functional web applications.



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