Job hunting and Rejection come hand in hand. Unless you’re truly blessed, everyone experiences rejection during the process at some point or another. I couldn’t possibly write about the graduate job hunting experience without addressing how unrelenting and hilarious the process can be. Job hunting becomes a job in itself, and it turns out, I might not have always been Employee of the Month…
Any job hunt starts with the obvious – identifying what types of roles you’re going for. Except, most of us have a slight panic somewhere in between and decide to apply for absolutely any job, before it flips back to hunting for a specific role or focusing on a key industry. It’s easy to get carried away reading job descriptions (“I can do that! I can totally do that!”) and glossing over the fact it asks for an Economics degree or fluent Russian…
The best advice I received was from a tutor at University, who I visited post-results for a final gossip. “If you want a year out, by all means take it”, he advised. “But if you want that graduate role in a specific industry, try and be patient instead of panicking and taking what you’re offered”. It’s a privileged position to be in, but armed with a village rent-free existence with my parents, and lots of snacks, I dived into the job hunting experience.
Recruiter? I actually had a very positive experience with a recruitment company, but of the two final offers I received, one of the jobs I initially found myself… via Twitter. An important lesson I learned in this hunt is not to disregard an opportunity, regardless of how unrealistic it may seem at first glance.
Applications you never hear back from
In a sweet conversation with my Dad the other day, it turned out he was completely unaware of all the job applications I had sent off, only to never hear back. I had forgotten how many times, as the person job hunting, you simply have to accept the rejection and move on. I’d only told him about the positive results of my process. No one advertises their rejections or disappointment, so it’s easy to forget when someone posts a happy ‘new job!’ status that there may have been a whole period of drama, frustration and comfort eating beforehand.
I started off by taking rejection very personally. As my job hunting initially progressed, I started to value myself and view my achievements based on my CV and whether I had received a response that day. Of course, I’m a Pisces, and naturally lean towards a dramatic reaction anyway, but it’s definitely a process that taught me to have slightly more patience and optimism.
I found companies that simply never responded very frustrating. To be fair, I’m not in HR, and have no clue the scale of responses from equally enthusiastic graduates they may have received. And if we’re being petty, there’s a whole range of companies I could decide to boycott, based on their generic rejection emails to me, but that would probably severely limit my everyday life choices, so I’ve decided to be the bigger person. But it has to be said – people aren’t exaggerating when they talk of the scores of jobs you simply never hear back from.
I wouldn’t describe myself as an overly superstitious person. And yet, during my graduate job hunt, I found myself terrified I would ‘jinx’ something. I didn’t like to tell anyone when I had an interview. I couldn’t bear to name the company in case it went drastically wrong. Once, I bumped into friendly neighbours on a dog walk and nearly fainted when my Mum proceeded to merrily tell them I was waiting back to hear from the final stage of one application, sharing the company name and everything.
Even when I had accepted my job offer, there was a two week period between accepting and starting my position. I didn’t dare post about it on LinkedIn. I half expected to turn up the first day and be told they had changed their minds (even though I had received a contract). It turns out maybe I am a little superstitious, after all. I’ve now been employed for over four months and I still have the odd nightmare that they will decide it was a mistake…
Negotiation is the one part of the Great Graduate Job Hunt that I was totally unprepared for. Forgive me if this is smug, but I ended up with two offers. It turned out, juggling offers and negotiating pay was slightly more stressful than I had anticipated. It came down to my choice, and it suddenly felt like that one decision would determine the rest of my life. Ok, perhaps I was a tad dramatic throughout this process.
I found job hunting frustrating because with every application, it’s easy to imagine your life working there. After working out my hypothetical commute and if it’s a role worth applying for, I tended to spiral a little. Researching the company for interview prep turned into becoming overly involved, emotionally invested, in each opportunity. I still look back on roles I nearly got – or offers I couldn’t accept – with a fond curiosity. Just what would my life be like if I had taken that path? Job hunting felt like creating hundreds of versions of myself, for each application, and not knowing where I would end up.
Let’s not pretend a job hunt is a fun experience. I drove everyone mad, myself included, and I spent days frantically refreshing my emails. I become one of those people that thinks LinkedIn is the greatest social media platform. I still have no idea how to pass a psychometric test. I raged at every online form that didn’t allow me to input my degree as ‘joint honours’, or at every advertised position that simply said ‘salary – paid’. I ate far too many snacks and drank too many coffees with each application.
The Great Graduate Job Hunt series has been rewarding to write, an uplifting way of discussing a period I found incredibly stressful. Surreal experiences. Terror-inducing interviews. It involved post-grad blues and a bloody rollercoaster of emotions. The blessing to this story is I’m now the cat that got the cream, completely smug with my graduate role, and determined not to subject myself to the job hunt for a very long time.