If you want an idea of just how tough the job market is right now, ask Hannah Webb. She was made redundant during lockdown and it took her 280 attempts to get a new job.
Latest figures show UK unemployment reached its highest level for two years, with those aged 16 to 24 suffering the biggest drop in employment.
“I was pretty much waking up every day to a rejection email. It was devastating,” 23-year-old Hannah tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
“But I knew the tough time would end, and I would find work within six months.”
‘Applying for everything and anything’
Hannah’s previous job was in careers advice – a situation that felt bitterly ironic.
“Having been working in careers, I was then questioning my ability to support people into work when I was struggling to find work.”
She naturally started applying for roles within that area.
“But I realised the market was so tough and I was just getting rejection after rejection.”
That’s when she decided to “broaden the search, applying for everything and anything”.
“From retail sales and warehouse roles, to delivery driving, you name it and I was applying for it,” she says.
‘I cried myself to sleep worrying’
Hannah’s “devastation” at the constant rejections was made worse knowing she had two young kids to support.
“I can’t count the amount of times I cried myself to sleep worrying about how I would do next week’s food shop.”
But that desperation “to provide” made her believe she would eventually find work.
“There is nothing I would have said no to at that point in time, so I knew deep down I was doing everything I could for them.”
“The only thing I could do was reassure myself that I would find work, and stay consistent with my applications,” she adds.
Learning from rejection
You might be wondering what changed for Hannah to finally get a job more than 280 applications later.
After asking for feedback – which she recommends everyone do – Hannah realised she was underselling herself.
“At the start, I was anxious and uptight, trying to portray myself as this super professional. I wasn’t letting my personality shine through.
“And they wouldn’t have bought into me because I didn’t believe what I was saying in the interview.”
To build her confidence, she started listing five things she was good at and why she was good at them.
“I was kind to myself and that made sure I knew what I was good at.”
It’s fair to say the change worked for her. She’s finally got a job, back in careers advice.
Hannah’s job search has been a positive in her new role – giving ideas she regularly draws on.
“It gave me a hands-on experience of how our mental health drops, the self-doubt that creeps in.”
What advice does she now give to people that come to her?
“I know what it feels like to be rejected. So it’s about pushing on and knowing you can do it.”
“Be kind to yourself that you’ve got the skills and abilities for the roles you’re applying for,” she adds.