Job seekers: why hard work trumps talent

Job seekers: why hard work trumps talent

If there’s one thing I know that you guys hate, it’s when some smug, employed bastard gives you some vague, motivational advice, without any substance or actual examples of how to get the job. So while I’m definitely still a smug, vaguely employed bastard, let me give you a real world example of how someone wormed their way into a job.

Make no mistake, I am going to tell you their actual secret. Not some vague, feel-good strategy. But the trick they used to land a job with our company.

And it was this: They worked for someone else for free for a ridiculously long time for a ridiculously low amount of money. And that’s why I employed her.

Why hard work trumps talent

Not because she was the most talented person who applied — she wasn’t. Or because her design portfolio was sexier than everyone else’s — it wasn’t. Or because she was a snappy dresser — to be fair, she dressed nice enough, but that wasn’t the reason either.

The reason was because her actions proved she was a ridiculously hard worker. She didn’t tell me that. She didn’t pay lip service to the notion. She actually did it.

To be specific, she worked for four months for less than a seven year old kid in a Nike sweat shop would earn. Then, when she still didn’t find a job, she took on more study — along with the work she was already doing — to bolster her credentials. That’s some serious commitment.

I often talk about proving things, not just saying them, but for those of who thought that sort of advice doesn’t cut the mustard, this is an actual example where it did.

Alex got a job by doing this. You can too.

Alex, as we’ll call her here (because that’s her name), probably hoped her slave labour would be enough to impress that company and land a job. And it was. Just not with them. They were too dishonest and unethical to pay her a reasonable amount for her efforts. And too stupid to employ her as well. And considering the amount they paid her was basically illegal, she’s probably better off that she didn’t end up working with that bunch of unethical so and so’s anyway.

But rather than have a big sook about those ‘wasted’ four months, she used them to her advantage.

How to use your No’s to your advantage

She leveraged that experience at the interview she had with me. I’d previously met Alex when she organised her design graduation event — another big tick of someone willing to do a little extra. She stayed in touch since that event a few years back. Even friended me on Facebook to stay in touch. Then applied when we had a position come up. So straight away I knew who she was and she then went on to impress the hell out of me with her work ethic.

In hindsight, her whole “Oh, I worked for this long for this much” story could have been an elaborate ruse, because I didn’t reference check her with that particular company. And if it was, it was a damn good one.

Don’t keep your efforts a secret

Point being is, don’t be frustrated when you get nowhere with a particular company. And don’t keep it a secret either. Let people know how hard you’re working to land a job. It proves character. And I seriously doubt I’m the only person to be impressed by such things. Do the hard yards. Then use them to land your next job.

More reading:

Job seekers: How to make it easy for your next boss to hire you
Job seekers: you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to get a job

What jobs should you take on the way to your dream job?
Why lazy job applications get ignored


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Award-winning Australian recruitment agency, Firebrand Talent, ignites the careers of digital, marketing, creative, communications, advertising, & media talent. If you are looking for your next career move, check out the jobs we currently have on in Sydney & Melbourne.


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