14.10.11

Why Looking For a Job Sucks

I've had three jobs in my life. One was at Starbucks (where I like to remember the fun times, although most of my diaries from the time seem to aggressively disagree), one was at Replay (where I met some of my dearest friends) and one was at Travel Zone, a small travel agency, where I wrote promotional articles for their website. (I would link you, but I have self-esteem.)

While a student, it was easy to find a job, because I knew what to expect. I couldn't get a proper, full-time job; all I wanted was something to pay those £40 I'd spend on Friday night to go out with my mates. Something to fill up the time.

Now that I've graduated, however, I'm discovering that job-hunting is one of the most painful experiences in the world.


I've been looking for a job for nearly three weeks now, and I've applied to about 30-40 different places, both casual jobs and jobs I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. And these three weeks have taught me that looking for a job sucks. Here's why:

#1: Because It Takes Up All Your Time. (But You're Not Getting Paid.)

There's a reason most career websites out there call job-hunting a full-time job by itself: it's because it is. You wake up in the morning, you take a shower, you get dressed, you have a quick bite and off you go, handing off your CV to numerous employers. Then you return home, go online, check the popular websites (Reed, Milkround, totaljobs) for recent listings, find three, four, five new jobs you haven't applied for and you spend hours and hours, adjusting your CV to each company, tweaking your covering letter to make you look better than the rest of the applicants, spell-checking and hoping you haven't missed anything.

Then evening comes, and you're exhausted. You feel accomplished for a tiny bit, but what's it going to get you? No money, of course.

(This pound note is so obnoxious, it speaks in Comic Sans MS.)

No, money is for those who have an actual job. You know those people, right? They're the ones who applied, and persevered, and pursued and insisted and are where you want to be right now.

Applying for a job is just like a job, except where it matters: (a) bringing you money and (b) bringing you satisfaction. Speaking of satisfaction...

#2: Because It Makes You Feel Stupid and Worthless.

Have you ever re-checked CVs after you've sent them? You know, after you've read them through about a hundred times to make sure they're perfect and your eyes have popped out of their sockets due to staring at the computer screen for so long?

(This guy clearly re-checked his CV one time too many.)

I have. And you know what I discovered? This:

"As an young individual with a three–year experience in costumer service and a demonstrable passion for literature, I believe I am suitable for the position."

I like to think I'm moderately smart. I got my BA and my MA with 2:1 Honours, my high-school grades were all A or B and I can move my right ear. (Yes, that is a talent only moderately smart people possess.) So how could I have made such a ridiculous, painfully idiotic mistake?

My flatmate handed out 50 CVs the other day. She had asked a friend to look it over before she did, but he hadn't responded and she really needed a job so she went ahead. When she returned home, she got an e-mail from that friend, saying: "You might want to add an L to 'dipoma'."

Yes, you can spell-check better. Yes, you can try harder. But even if your CV looks amazing, there'll always be something during the process that will make you feel completely worthless. A bad interview answer, a rejection, anything.

Mistakes like this don't help, either:

Interviewer at Starbucks: "Are you always on the look-out for something to fix?"
Me: "Depends on the situation. If it's a slow day, I will definitely look for something to do: clean up, restock, check that everything's all right. But if customers are waiting to be serviced -- errr... served... that's what I'll focus on first."

(Customers.)

#3: Because Apparently Job-Seekers and Employers Come From Different Planets.

That's the conclusion I've reached. There's no other explanation for employers asking for applicants with "at least one year of experience" for a graduate job, or "significant experience" for an internship. In the planet that employers come from, people are born with experience. Babies are sliding out of their mothers' wombs with a CV in their hands, and it's half-full already.

("It took a while to clean it up and dry it, but it was worth it. Now I work as [job Noel wants].")

They want you to be friendly, but not too much. They want you to be confident, but not too cocky. They want you to know everything about the company, but have inquisitive and impressive questions as well. They want you to work hard, but be cheery as well. They want you to know what you're worth, but not discuss salary.

In the planet that employers come from, days last 32 hours, people can freeze time and memorise 100 paragraphs without breaking a sweat and stress is an unknown concept.

#4: Because It's The Economic Crisis. (Or So I Heard.)

Every day is gloom and doom. "Greece is bringing Europe down" -- "Youth unemployment in the U.K. has reached an all-time high" -- "We need to cut down on public costs" -- "No more hiring in the public sector" -- "You're all going to be unemployed, poor and depressed and there is nothing you can do about it".

I wish I had been in my 20s back in the 1970s, or '80s. I'm pretty sure young adults had crosses to bear back then as well, but it would have been nice to get a chance at a job before everything got screwed up.

(One of the crosses they had to bear in the '80s: watching people walk around dressed like this.)

But no. I had to be born in that era, and grow up to find that, while I did nothing wrong, I have to pay for older generations' mistakes by never getting a real job, or compromising my expectations. I would, except I'm "overqualified" for those jobs.

And finally...

#5: Because A Job Interview is Like a First Date.



(This girl had to have 50 of them. With the same guy. And that guy was Adam Sandler.
It's like hell on earth.)

Got any job-hunting experiences to share?

2 comments:

  1. It really does suck to be young & just starting out in this economy. Older people that are established in a career can’t fathom just how much more difficult it is to be new today. The older crowd had opportunities to get ahead that your generation never will. Job hunting today sucks worse than it ever has.

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  2. SG, I'm trying to stay positive and hope that things will improve soon. (Things usually improve the second I'm about to run out of options -- in this case, that probably means I'll get a job the moment I'm about to go broke.) But you're right: people of previous generations got chances we will never get. We have to try twice as hard for jobs half as good.

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