Congratulations! You just graduated college. The pictures your parents took are on Facebook and your diploma is in the mail. Now it’s time to use that diploma to get a real person job. I graduated in December and I am still on the job hunt. As the rejection emails piled up and revised copies of my resume went into the double digits, I realized that the stages of job hunting and the stages of grief are almost one in the same.
Start applying now, I imagine some of your professors told you. Keep working on that resume, Join extracurricular activities, show up to class, among other things.
Psh. You said. How hard can it be? I’m qualified. I’m sure I know someone who can give me the hookup for fat stacks. Graduation came and went and you make yourself a LinkedIn account and sign up for email alerts at Indeed, Monster and CareerBuilder. You’re blown away at these jobs you can apply for and actually have potential to be considered. But here’s the kicker. Most of these jobs want experience outside of school, and your part-time job as a grocery store stocker or shopping cart collector doesn’t translate into relevant experience. And the entry-level positions have a horde of fresh faces with internship experience that you ultimately passed on.
You’re still hunting for your dream job. In between tailoring your resume through a resume sifter site like taleo, you jump on Facebook where people you graduated with are posting their first status from their work computer or a picture of them in a suit with the caption first day of real life!! And whether or not you despise these people or they’re your best friend, you find yourself pissed.
How did they get a job?
Why can’t I get one?
You try to rationalize it, forgetting that humans are inherently irrational. You chalk it up to luck. They said everything right. They had someone help them get an interview. They got a shit job anyway. Meanwhile your first generated email response comes in, reading like:
Thank you for your application for [job] at [company]. We have found someone more qualified for the job. We will keep your resume on file.
We will keep your resume on file being the “We could still be friends” of job hunting. It’s a hollow phrase that keeps you hanging on.
You check your email every ten minutes during the day, hoping and praying that you will receive a response from an actual person. You’ve stopped applying for jobs you’re vastly under-qualified for, focusing on entry-level jobs and jobs that are tangentially relevant to your major and experience.
Please! You yell at your computer like a crazy person. I’ll take anything at this point.
It’s a miracle! You get your first reply from a real person. You read the email and don’t recall applying to this company. You then realize that it’s yet another gig to be an insurance salesman. You kick yourself for thinking that Google would pluck your resume off Monster. You know, Franz Kafka was an insurance man. You think. Alas, you’re not ready to take just any job, so you neglect to reply to the nice man/woman who wants to give you a chance.
You started off applying to at least three jobs a day but continuous rejection is taking its toll. You’re now applying to maybe three jobs per week, if that. Soon, another group of graduates will be entering the real world, a world you scoffed at from the comfort of a pool table in the common lounge.
What’s the point? The market is oversaturated. My degree has the same worth of a high school diploma. Someday the sun will engulf this planet and cook it like a grape in the microwave. Your thoughts are becoming darker by the day. Your first loan payment is coming up and you wonder if you’ll ever get out of your parents’ house on your own volition. Friends and relatives are coming up to you, saying “When will you get out of that grocery store and do something with your life?” “You need a real job. My [son, grandson, some young person I befriended] just got a [modest paying job for someone out of college].” Every day seems to be the same thing on repeat. You’re going to break.
But you won’t.
You’ll keep applying because you have nothing to lose by trying to get yourself out there. Maybe you’ll do some freelance work or take some night classes to better hone the skills you have. Maybe you’ll find a slightly better job to gain the relevant experience you lack. Maybe you’ll even reply to one of those insurance salesman gigs. The one thing you shouldn’t do is give up.
It sucks now, but I will do better. Things will get better. You say, smiling.