I have recently graduated from graduate school and have been on the hunt for work. A few things about the journey: It’s terrifying, exhausting, disheartening, and stressful. It is absolutely the only thing that I can talk about and the only thing that I can think about. Most of this anxiety comes from myself, about how I feel as though I’m letting down my family and embarrassed I am about having to move back home and not knowing what the next step is in my life. Also the frustration comes from an oncoming sense of doom, with a deadline for when I have to start paying back slowly approaching. Finally, I just don’t like it, not having a job to be productive and happy.
After applying to over 100 jobs, moving back home, and failing several job interviews, I need to take a step back and see what I have learned and what I need to change.
Here are some mistakes that I can definitively say that I have made throughout the process.
1) Editing my cover letters- Due to my limited professional experience, I do not feel any real need to update my resume for each job that I apply to. But, I DO try to tailor my cover letter for each job description. I have found on several occasions, after submitting these cover letters, typos within the cover letter. This can range anywhere from misspelled words, to having the wrong position title written in part of the letter. ROOKIE MISTAKE, MEGAN. I wouldn’t even hire someone that showed this kind of sloppiness. SO, even though it’s basic, and I am practically an adult now-EDIT AND PROOFREAD EVERYTHING.
2) Even after all of the work, I have gotten very few inquiries for an in-person interview. But, for the few I have been on, I have learned some things. First of all, have the job description memorized (figuratively) and have an elevator pitch ready for how you have the skills to accomplish the job duties. I have had a panic attack when a prospective employer asked me how I would do the work, with no preamble, and I had to scramble to best answer the question with no prep. It was obvious.
3) Reach a balance between professionalism and seeming friendly and confident. I have had job interviews on both ends of the spectrum. One interview, I acted way too comfortable and friendly, and talked way too much about my boyfriend. Keep that to yourself! Nobody wants to hire an oversharer- you seem like you totally lack the social skills necessary to handle a work office environment. On the other hand, I walked into another interview where I completely didn’t click with the interviewer from the get-go. I was completely prepared to answer all the normal questions asked during an interview, but the interviewer was expecting a more informal conversation. This lead to some very awkward silences and made me look-again-like I was socially inept. Confidence, small-talk, and the ability to sell yourself are all needed to make a good impression.
4) Networking-I don’t know how to do it. There has been a statistic floating around, saying that 80% of open positions are hired through a personal contact. But every time I try and use a contact to help me out, nothing comes of it. Not a single one of my interviews occurred through a recommendation of someone I know. Maybe this is my biggest problem.
I have an interview coming up next week. I large portion of this is a written assessment, to test my skills. Throughout my entire life, I have always been something of a social butterfly, but the interviewing process makes me feel tongue-tied and unable to read social cues. I actually relish the idea of having a test to show these people that I actually have the skills to do the job well, even if I can be somewhat awkward during the interview process.
I will try and use what I have learned to make a good impression, and possibly finally land a job that I want to do!