Graduate job hunting: expectation vs reality

I thought I did everything right. I got an unconditional offer from my firm university choice, began my course straight out of sixth form and now I’m a graduate with a first-class honours degree. I even used some of my credits to learn a new language (stage 1, albeit). I threw myself into university life, worked alongside my studies and blogged about everything and anything.

Yet here I am, working part time, moving back in with my parents, and relentlessly applying for jobs, just waiting to start my ‘proper’ career.

The dream

My plan was to transition into a job straight out of university that would allow me to proofread and write to my heart’s content, perhaps even one with training and progression opportunities. I thought I’d go straight into that 9-5 lifestyle and be renting somewhere with my partner, who would also find the perfect graduate job, making us into some sort of power couple. I’ve been picking out pencil skirts and smart office wear for years, preparing myself for the life I aspire to one day have.

The reality

Graduate life is hard. There’s no instruction manual on how many jobs to apply for a day, or how to make it so that you get considered for the role, and absolutely nothing gets handed to you on a platter. You can be proactive, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get a response. You can make your CV stand out, but that doesn’t guarantee anyone will read it word for word. You can meet all the candidate specification criteria, or even go beyond it, and still not even get an interview. You can smash a phone interview and never hear from the company again. You can even get positive feedback from the recruiting department, but no job.

Then there are the jobs that want you, but you don’t remember applying for. You get excited about finally having some good news – you applied for that many jobs that one was bound to slip through the net. Turns out, they found your CV on Total Jobs and sent you an email to invite you for an interview. You dig a little deeper and find out that the company is a start-up and all the reviews on Glassdoor are saying they’re a little dodgy. Cue you wording a polite reply about how you’ve conveniently just found a full-time job and are no longer looking for work…

I check my emails religiously because I’m scared I’ll miss the notification and a potential job. Sometimes they give you false hope though. For instance, every time I get correspondence from a company that rejected me, I think they’ve reconsidered. In reality, they’re usually just asking me to answer a survey about their recruitment process and I bitterly mark them down for not giving me a chance. Also, whenever I get a LinkedIn email asking me to congratulate my connection on their new position, I scream, quickly lookup the company to see if there are any more vacancies and curse myself for not noticing that they were hiring.

It’s even got to the stage where I’m beginning to think that maybe I should have applied to do a masters course instead, and let a future, more academic version of me deal with job hunting. Then again, is procrastination ever the answer? I must keep reminding myself that right now, everyone is in the same boat, competing for that perfect job and signing up to every job website known to man. We’re all losing motivation, but I’ve heard many a time that persistence is key and that you shouldn’t let the endless sea of rejections get you down.

My reality of graduate job hunting is that I’m not going to settle for anything less than perfect, and I expect that means I might be waiting a while for it. I have an interview lined up for next week, so hopefully my luck is changing. In the meantime, I’m going to keep applying for the jobs that catch my eye, blog as much as I can, do some travelling, save up some money and binge watch every series I can. I know there are worse things in life than having free time, but I’m ready for a job.


Let me know if you’re in the same position or have any funny graduate job hunting stories – I’d love to hear from you!

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