Speaking as a 20-something graduate with big aspirations but limited experience, I think I represent a huge demographic of people searching for their “big break”, or even for their first step onto the career ladder. There is nothing romantic about trawling through reams of job adverts, filling out countless application forms, or the terror-inducing sound of your alarm clock on an interview day. In fact, it can seem like the world is out to get you, or at least have a good laugh at you, when applying for a (usually unpaid) placement in order to land your first job, you discover the last line of your local sandwich shop’s junior staff advert: “Must have at least 2 years of office experience.” Seriously? Thus the graduate Catch 22. Maybe if those advertising these cryptic work experience/entry level roles demanding previous work experience in an entry level role would lend their ear to our frustration, we may be provided an answer to the ever-mysterious question of “which came first; the job or the experience?”
It is undeniable that there are similarities between the hiring and dating processes. We hear that employers’ reviewing of CVs has been “Tinderised” due to an inundation of applications. We are completely aware that the person sitting opposite us at the dinner or interview table may have “visited” any given social media site we have put our name on (causing mass homefeed edits and, for the brave-hearted who scroll back further than 2011, the cringe-worthy reminder of what we judged as #banter in sixth form). We even fret on the journey that the nail we just accidentally chipped will betray us as a mess of frantic disorganisation. But gone are the days of women taking a passive role in either sphere; getting more women into the boardroom is a widely discussed issue and, though we hold a secret soft spot for a fairy-tale Ross to our Rachel, a Zac to our Kelly, a Mr Darcy to our Bridget or even a Kanye to our Kim, it must be said that women have shaken off their roles as “chasees” and are taking on the world, “Carpe Diem!” emblazoned on our superwoman leotards that we hide under our work clothes. We need only to look to Hermione, sorry, Emma Watson, as a bastion of the progressive attitude of young jobseekers. However, it must be said that rejection from a potential employer or a potential Mr Darcy can be tough. Though it might leave us wanting to spend the rest of our days in a windowless room smothered in cats, we must always remember one stock truth: It is better to have been interviewed and rejected than never to have been interviewed at all.
One way of taking greater control of the jobseeking experience is to reach out and speak to people. I can’t emphasise enough how valuable that is! Whether it’s your University careers department, friends who are also interviewing, your parents, your grandparents, the most industrious of your last Rejection Cats or even your houseplant, talk. Practise interview answers, ask questions about others’ experiences, and find out what is expected of you, what works on a CV and what doesn’t hook an employer in a cover note. One invaluable approach to job-hunting is to go through a recruitment agency. Just as being set up on a date by your best friend gives you the opportunity to prepare more for what you’re about to encounter, recruitment companies can do the same – they are an unbiased voice who can offer advice and collate information about vacancies. Conveniently, you save time and can then stay for an extra drink with your best friend’s roommate who was totally your type but threw your social media editing skills into disarray when he questioned why you were so devastated that Blue disbanded in 2005 (note to self: be more thorough.)
So this Valentine’s Day, why not take a shot at a great job as well as love and spend some time researching recruitment agencies that are especially tailored to graduates, such as our client Non-Stop Recruitment? The path to your “happily ever after” might be long and you will almost definitely be interviewed by a few frogs along the way, but keep your heart set on finding your Prince Charming of jobs, it is out there waiting!