Finding a job in Chile – Take 2

mommy_watch_this_medI have mad respect for those moms that choose to stay home with their kids. I’m about six weeks into my unemployment and being at home with little human is a job that requires some tough skin. After about two hours with her inside I need to set her free or she turns into a Tasmanian devil that just rips through our apartment, leaving remnants of what used to be a cozy place to live. Where does all this energy come from, I ask you?

In any case, it’s not so bad. She’s mine and when I think back to the reasons why I actively chose to be in this unemployment scenario, even on the worst days I sit back and think “would I take it all back just to be working there again?” Then I immediately find myself in my “ooooom” place and realize that the best decisions have already been made.

BUT (of course there’s a but … hello – don’t you know me at all by now?)

There are women who choose to be stay-at-home moms (or as I like to say, moms who work inside the home) and there are moms who choose to be moms and work jobs outside the home. I’m one of those moms. See, my career has always been part of who I am and how I project myself. I worked to put myself through college, then did a post-grad degree in a totally different country (NO EASY FEAT) and in between all that, worked my ass off to do the best I could in each and every company I’ve ever had the privilege to belong to. My identity is very linked to who I work for, what I do and what I’ve accomplished in that part of my life. No, it’s no my entire identity, but it’s a good part of who I am and I like that. After all, how can I justify working so hard for something only to regard it as a necessary evil?

So you can understand why I’m about to go apeshit on the fact that I’ve been unemployed this long!

In my head (obviously) I consider the appropriate amount of time to be unemployed to be three weeks. After that you begin to get antsy and it really does a number on your self worth. Finding a job in Chile isn’t easy. This is something I mentioned a few years ago but wanted to write a blog entry about this because things have changed SO MUCH in the past few years! Don’t get too excited because the psychological tests are still a headhunter’s (or HR Manager’s) favorite tool, though I’ve noticed that in the past few years the weight these carry on determining if you’ll be a fit for a certain position has lessened. Kind of like when colleges stopped focusing so much on your grades and SAT scores for admission and started wondering what else you were about. See, they matter, but not as much as they once did.

There are a couple of standard go-to options for job searches here in Chile. The two main sites are Trabajando.cl and Laborum.cl. LinkedIn has also turned out to be a good resource for job postings though they tend to be jobs that require at least 2-3 years of work experience. Also, something I realize now that I didn’t know then is how prevalent headhunters have become for mid-to-senior positions. Most of my experience with these headhunters has come from their searches on LinkedIn and my profile popping up as an answer to all their human resources needs. Of course there is the traditional option of submitting resumes directly via each company’s website but to be honest, I’ve yet to hear about anyone landing a job – even an interview – via that apparently antiquated method so if you’re going to choose that route, do us a favor, don’t hold your breath.

Finally, the most effective way to land an interview here in Chile, or anywhere else for that matter, is the famous “pituto.” How can I describe a pituto, you ask? Listen, you want a job in social media? My good friend’s cousin is CEO at this company and all you need to do is email me your resume and I’ll pass it on to my friend. She’ll then send it on to her cousin, the CEO, who’ll send it on to the HR Manager and – viola!!! – an email summoning you for an interview will magically appear in your inbox before 9 am tomorrow morning. No problem!

Are you The One?
Are you The One?

Notice that I said that’s the most effective way to land an interview. Actually getting to the offer letter part is something you still have to do all by yourself. Interviewing is an art, really, and one you need to be prepared to do over and over and over, then over, again here in Chile. If you’re using a headhunter (and most well-known, and even lesser known, companies do use them) you need to charm him/her. They’re all business and, in my experience, range from the kind who know the client (your future company) and the position like the back of their hand to the waaaaaaaay other extreme –> kind of making it up along the way as the interview progresses. Whatever the case may be, the important thing to remember is that this mastermind who single-handedly picked you as a possible candidate is the very first person you need to charm. If you’re able to do that then you’re more likely to be pimped out to the client as “the one” they just “have to meet.” This is good. You want this to happen. The fact of the matter is that to the headhunter, you’re their meal ticket if all goes well. Unless you’re a total bonehead, chances are you can convince the headhunter that you can get the job done. After all, that´s their calling – selecting talent from a pool of equally talented people.

Otherwise known as "what won't get you a job in Chile!"
Otherwise known as “what won’t get you a job in Chile!”

One thing I’ll never get use to however is how slow the process can be. Even if you’ve interviewed and they’ve decided that you’re simply NOT the chosen one, it seems to be standard operating procedure to just not fill you in on that useful piece of information. You’re left thinking you totally nailed it and are pretty confident the next interview will occur within the week. But that week passes, then another one and another one. At this point you’ve pretty much given up all hope that you’ve been selected but decide to give it one more shot and email the headhunter just to see “how the process is going.” And still – NOTHING. Not even an awkwardly worded email apologizing for the delay in response due to a sick distant cousin that took a turn for the worst and prompted an unscheduled flight to the south of Chile. Just nothing. SO UNPROFESSIONAL and in fact, totally insulting! What the hell do they think I’m going to do?? Freak out about their lack of response on my own personal blog??? I mean … c’mon… I’m not that kind of working woman…. what?

Ah… but in all seriousness, looking for a job in Chile is not for the faint of heart. The Chilean market is fierce and it’s demanding. It’s better now, especially for expats. It used to be that if you weren’t an “ingeniero” this or that, your resume would be tossed aside. It also used to be that you absolutely 100% had to have work experience in the exact same way, shape and form as the position the potential company is looking to fill – no deviations, no excuses, stop asking! I think that with the globalization that Chile has experienced, the economic boom that’s been assisted by external investors and the sought-after companies that are looking to expand into LatAm and seeing Santiago as a fresh and viable option, Chile has had no choice but to open up to outsiders. I’m sorry Chilean workforce, but I refuse to believe you’re another Core Club.

Swinging RopeWhat’s the secret to landing a job in Chile? I don’t know. I’m gliding along the usual ropes in this wild jungle. I’m looking at the websites mentioned above, checking out what’s on tap on LinkedIn, networking and literally making myself available. I think I have a lot to offer (and so do my ex bosses, as all of them serve as professional references – how ya like them apples?) and I’m trying not to limit myself. I think the main thing to keep in mind is that you’ll win some and you’ll lose some. There are some things you’re definitely not qualified to do (hi, spleen doctor, anyone?) but in general, you just have to let go of the inhibitions and send resumes for positions you really believe you can do and do well. If the other side doesn’t think so, meh … let them keep looking for their miracle cure. Meanwhile you’ll be growing hair on your chest and becoming a total pro at this job market search in Chile. I totally feel it!

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