Will Work For Self-Worth

Since Craigslist is blacked out in protest of SOPA and PIPA, I’m taking a break from job hunting to rant about, well, job hunting. Every day I apply for at least 1, usually more like 5, jobs. I have applied for hundreds of jobs, had a handful of interviews, but I’m still searching. These are the lessons I’ve learned from the past 7 months of being a recent college graduate in the job market. 

Lesson #1: There is no such thing as an entry-level position. Every interview I’ve had has come down to some variation of this response: “You had a really great interview, but we decided to go with someone with more experience.” Since everyone is looking for jobs right now, people with 3, 5, or even 10 years of experience are applying for so-called entry-level jobs, which effectively boxes out anyone who is actually an entry-level candidate. This lesson has been beyond frustrating. How am I under-qualified for a job that is supposed to require almost no qualifications? And how can I get experience without being able to get a job? It’s a major Catch-22, one that currently has come to define my daily life.

Lesson #2: For every ONE open position, there are at least 100 applicants. Usually more. I have had job interviews for positions that have received 90, 250, and 400 applications. The range is huge, and intimidating. How do you find the balance between making your resume and cover letter, and if you’re lucky, your interview, stand out, without coming across as being too edgy or independent? And let’s not forget Lesson #1, which means that most of the other applicants are massively over-qualified. This brings us to…

Lesson #3: Only about 10% of companies will ever contact you regarding your application in any capacity. This includes even acknowledging that they received anything at all. Which means that 90% of those resumes and painstaking cover letters just get sent out into space, and nobody knows whether they are ever seen, let alone read, again. I have found that if you don’t respond to a job posting within the first few hours, the likelihood of getting a response decreases to almost zero. Those poor HR people can only read so many emails titled “Marketing Assistant Application.”

Lesson #4: Like finding an entry-level position, getting a job “in the meantime” is also not a real thing in this economy. I have applied at Whole Foods, Starbucks, REI, Sunflower Market, Vitamin Cottage, bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants… I even applied to be a Pedi-Cab driver in downtown Denver. None of them are hiring, either.

Lesson #5: Being unemployed is not even a little bit fun. Sure, you have tons of freedom, but you have no money, and for every job that you apply for and are subsequently rejected by, your self-worth drops. I had no idea how emotionally difficult it would be to be caught in what feels like a never-ending job search, where I am suddenly forced to recognize that I’m not actually good at anything in particular and I have very little real experience doing anything except delivering flowers and packing coolers. When you finally land an interview, you start thinking, “This is it! This is the one that’s going to work out!” Until it doesn’t, and you are left feeling stupid for getting your hopes up (again). There are few feelings worse than feeling like you’re just treading water, and after months of diligent work always ending up back where you started, but with less energy or self-esteem. 

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