Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Job's the Thing

Getting a Job in Ireland has Never Been as Tough
...But with a Little Gumption You Still Can

I feel like I'm experiencing Deja Vue: when I came to this country 27 years ago, the Irish economy was a mess: unemployment was almost 20 percent. Interest rates were approaching that same frightening figure. And there I was, a newly-arrived Yank married to an Irish woman, our first child tucked under my arm, and with only a few hundred bucks between us and perdition.

At that point in my life, I was only 26 years old. I had no real experience. I had very little to offer - or so I thought. Having arrived here, I fully believed that we were going to starve.

Fortunately, however, things worked out. I got a job. Then another job. Then I started my own business. And while in the intervening years things occasionally grew hairy, things have also worked out fairly well. And thank God for that, let me tell you!

The Worm Turns
But back to my recent feelings of Deja Vue. As I write this, unemployment has spiked to 11 percent and is expected to go much higher. Interest rates, thank God, are on the floor. But a hairshirt budget released by the Irish government only yesterday means that many people will find their paycheques significantly reduced, which means that many of us will be living on air.

And if you're an American facing relocation to Ireland, you're going to find it mighty tough to get a job. So what do you do? You could, of course, learn to plant potatoes and hope to fend off starvation that way. You could start your own business (see my seperate article on Starting Your Own Business). Or... you could get a job. If that's your hope, then here are some suggestions.

Getting that Job - Some Resources
  • Networking - it works just like the United States in that who you know is often much more effective than what you know, and no-where is that more true than in Ireland. Because of its small size Ireland is a veritable village in which everyone seems to know each other (or knows somebody who knows somebody). If you're trying to find a job here, do what the Irish do: talk to anybody that will listen, even complete strangers, about your aspirations. Then keep it up. Bug the hell out of people. Tell them that you're a poor Yank who is simply trying to survive. The Irish, God Bless 'em, have a huge propensity to help, particularly if they think you're stuck. And if you're lucky, your pleas for help will result in an interview.

  • Your Resume - called a CV over here is your tool to success. Make certain that you construct it to emphasise your skills. If you don't have a mobile phone buy one to make certain that prospective employers can contact you. Ask Irish people that you meet for copies of their CVs so that you understand the formatting - it's different over here compared to an American resume.

  • Don't Come Across All 'American' - my country people can be - and I hate to say it - a bit full of themselves. They believe that because they come from the States, the cornerstone of capitalism, that they know it all. When you come here, do remember that the Irish know a thing or two, too. Until recently, this country has been a hotbed of entrepreneurship. So be humble! Emphasise your skills and what you can bring to the table. Remember that many Irish companies are much smaller than equivalent US businesses. That means that many of us working here are capable of providing a number of skills within different areas of expertise. Emphasise your flexibility, your willingness to learn, and how you might be able to contribute to the bottom line.

  • Then Start the Search - Ireland has many, many resources that will help you find a job. Just a couple are,,, and Also, try the major Irish newspapers including The Irish Times, the Independent, and the Irish Sunday edition of 'The Times'. Remember that Ireland is in recession right now, so it's going to take a lot of looking.

  • Now Contact Them - in my experience it is best to telephone the prospective employer to confirm that they really do have a job. If so, post in a cover letter and your CV. Then bug the hell out of them. Half the time, and if you don't follow up, you'll never receive a reply - not even a peep - to an unsolicited CV (remember that those prospective employers are receiving hundreds and hundreds of job queries). To be heard within the unemployment tumult, you'll have to make some noise. So don't be afraid to (nicely and professionally) contact them. This approach also demonstrates your enthusiasm and energy.

But Most Jobs are Never Advertised
Which also means that networking is probably the most effective method of landing a job within a market that is continuing to contract.

So if you're hell-bent on coming here, and want a job, be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time getting one. Be positive, be humble, but also be persistent!

For much more information on getting a job in Ireland, see A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland.


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