The post-crisis economy in Iceland has changed the way we think about jobs and the simple necessity of having work. All of a sudden, we found ourselves in an economy where having a job was something for which to be grateful.
Five years later, we are still in a state of gratitude. I won’t go into figures and statistics. Numbers say less about the human condition of being unemployed or employed in a job that is nothing but a way to earn a living.
This decrepitating state of dissatisfaction in a job or the lack thereof exhausts the mind when it becomes a long-term burden. It breaks down the spirit of ambition slowly and gradually until little is left.
Unfortunately, in a market where uncertainty is the word, few of those in search of employment can permit themselves to be too picky. It’s vital to have the courage to apply for jobs in one’s profession, even though they may seem out of one’s league. Or even outside of the designated profession.
For some, the hunt for employment is the first step to new adventures, and leads to exciting results. For others, it becomes an exhausting search for something that at times seems completely unattainable. Hope fades and the gleaming sense of inadequacy conquers.
But after the sliding slope period, the rise from the ashes is a purposeful goal-oriented ascend to the peaks. One becomes focused in the search for the right job and sometimes the search ends in the most unlikely place but surprisingly so, delightful and exciting.
The road to my happy ending was long and at times it felt like fate was deliberately campaigning against me. I found my way, then lost my way and found myself traveling down a detour, or until I jumped back on my rightful path.
Every step of the way taught me something about what I love and what I want, and what I definitely don’t want. It was hard to swallow the pride and take a bite out of a super-sweet French chocolate cake when what I really wanted was the lemon sponge cake sweetened only with a bit of sweet vanilla topping. Light and fluffy instead of heavy and sugarcoated.
I learned a great deal about the navigational skills needed to ride the rough seas of unemployment and how to successfully navigate the way to a friendly port where my skills and knowledge is welcomed wholeheartedly.
For those of us on a job hunt in the post-crisis years, the experience has been frustrating, and I think it’s safe to say, that’s an understatement. But the brutality of the current market has also taught us to be better seekers with strong survival instincts and the know-how tools to succeed in finding the idyllic work.
One of the difficulties that job seekers in Iceland encounter is finding the diversity that is but simultaneously is entirely monotonous on the surface. Beneath the big companies are invisible entrepreneur-companies that are known within their industry but still new to the market. The trick is to excavate right to the core of the market.
Whether the goal is to find employment with one of the giants or with a small entrepreneur company, ambitious job seekers must become skilled in reading between the lines and adjusting each application to their individuality and literally, sell the potentials to the potential employer.
For each position advertised, the numbers of applicants varies. For some of the jobs I applied for, I was among hundreds of applicants. Most companies have the decency to let their applicants know they have not been selected, but there are companies who do not and to a keen applicant, it’s disappointing enough not to be chosen for interviews but to be ignored as well is just plain rude.
The Icelandic market is simply too small for the number of ambitious applicants. I’ve been told there are not enough jobs for the number of law students graduating in the next few years. What’s happening when even the sturdier professions are not so sturdy anymore?
I guess the message in the post-crisis millennium phase is to follow the heart, study what’s interesting (and perhaps infuse a little technical education as it never hurts to digitally enhanced in this day and age) and see where it goes.
Overall, it is safe to say the last five years have been a learning curve for Icelandic society. While re-inventing our values, we are also re-inventing the notion of professional jobs. New ’genres’ of jobs are on the horizon and the market is wide-open like never before. The market is beginning to think outside the old regulatory framework.
We have learned the value of job satisfaction from lack thereof, and when the right job comes along, it becomes the satisfying experience a job should be. And dissatisfying jobs are part of the growing experience focusing our attention on everything else in life.
I just hope the creativity born in the post-crisis era will continue to thrive and expand the genres of opportunity without all but moral and ethical limitation...
Júlíana Björnsdóttir – [email protected]