Feather & Flint

Dear Unemployed Recent Grad: You’re Not Alone

· Written for The Token Millennial (http://bit.ly/2mvDBep) & featured on Thrive Global (http://bit.ly/2nafhln) ·

February 27, 2017 66 Comments 5 Photos

Dear Unemployed Recent Grad: You're Not Alone | Feather & Flint

It was the summer of 2012 when I drove away from my college campus for the last time. I recall the sense of endlessly expanding opportunity that swelled in my chest as I looked out over the bay. I thought about how far I had come in just a few years—so far from where I had thought I’d be when I moved to Boston in 2008. But for the first time, I was proud of what I’d achieved, and I couldn’t wait to see where the future would take me.

It had taken me a while to find my stride. I was overjoyed to be accepted to a top music school when I was seventeen; but after five difficult semesters that extinguished my passion for performing, it was clear that it was time to close the door on that chapter of my life. Once I had transferred to a public university, I quickly nailed down two new majors: psychology and sociology. I found myself eagerly raising my hand for question after question, falling in love with the feeling of being good at something without having to exhaust all of my energy just to scrape by, as I had felt in my music program. (You can read more about this piece of my story in this post.)

I raced through a double major’s worth of credits in just two years, determined not to waste any more time; and after just a year, graduation was already on the horizon. I was afraid to lose my momentum. I couldn’t even picture what life would be like outside of school. I wanted to spend just a little more time in this safe, predictable, fascinating space.

I began the process of applying to graduate programs, certain that no matter what kind of career I decided to pursue, a master’s degree in a widely relevant field like psychology would aid my success. I was accepted to five programs, and I chose one that packed an entire degree into just two semesters. I assumed that future employers would see how quickly I had completed two degrees as proof of my work ethic and potential for success. I was impatient to get on the right career path and achieve as much as I could at the youngest possible age.

However, as it turned out, the program was perilously stressful, sucking my reserve of passion dry and jeopardizing my health. It was my unwavering belief that a master’s degree would help my career immensely that got me through that deeply challenging year. In between attending classes and composing my thesis, applying to jobs helped me to stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. The first careers that made me feel invigorated were in college admissions and academic advising, where I could use the insights I’d gained from my challenging academic tenure to help younger students to find the right outlet for their talents.

My applications were met with radio silence, however. With no direct experience and a superfluous master’s degree, I was beaten out by the recent grads who had always known what they wanted to do—whose resumes were a straight line of accomplishments, not a circuitous trajectory. I networked like crazy in the academic world; and though I found a handful of kind mentors who extended a hand to me, nothing could make up for the fact that I was over-educated and under-experienced. A personal letter of recommendation from a college admissions director couldn’t even get me a “no thanks”—just the silence that I would come to know well over the next year. Unless I had demonstrated a steadily growing passion for the same career from the time that I was in college, they weren’t interested.

As I walked across the stage to accept my diploma with no job prospects waiting for me on the other side, I didn’t know that I was entering a period of unemployment that would last an entire year. However, I was far from alone: In June 2013, 1 in 10 Millennials was an unemployed recent grad.

Millennials were told a story about higher education that was no longer true by the time that we graduated. To gain acceptance to good colleges, we packed our schedules with high-level classes and extracurricular activities from the earliest possible age. Any college degree would be worth the hard work; jobs were waiting on the other side of the most expensive four years of our lives. Not just jobs, but jobs in the field we majored in, making use of the knowledge that we’d worked so hard and paid so much to learn, with an upward trajectory and a living wage.

After the pomp and circumstance of graduation had faded, what did we find?

When we applied for entry-level jobs, we discovered that “entry-level” was a clear misnomer. These positions were entry-level in salary and responsibility, but hiring managers sought 2-3 years of experience on top of a relevant college degree. This was particularly true in cities like Boston, where the market was oversaturated with unemployed recent grads, all desperately competing for the same mediocre jobs. Our competition for these open roles also included the not-so-recent grads, who already had the required 2-3 years of experience under their belts, but also couldn’t find roles that would give them the titles and salaries that they deserved. How was it, I often wondered, that I couldn’t get a job without work experience; but I couldn’t get work experience without a job?

“When there are many more applicants than jobs, employers tend to impose overexacting criteria and then wait for the perfect match.”
The New York Times

I considered a number of career paths that year. I’d identify a job where it seemed like a master’s in psychology would be an asset, then throw all of my resources into getting any open role—because what else could I do? College admissions. Academic advising. Market research. Human resources. Teaching. I had a handful of interviews, but I hit the same wall every time: An unnecessary master’s degree was no substitute for work experience.

My degree had become a liability, giving hiring managers the impression that I wanted a better title and salary than applicants with a bachelor’s degree, but qualifying me for absolutely nothing. Racing through school hadn’t helped me one bit. While I had been taking summer classes to graduate as quickly as possible (and for what? This?), other students had been getting internships. They racked up work experience, transferrable skills, and glowing recommendations, all of which resulted in real job offers. Where I had believed that a master’s degree in a subject like psychology would help me wherever I wanted to go, nothing could replace actual work experience.

Unemployed Recent Grad

There’s nothing like protracted unemployment to make you realize that your identity is completely up for grabs, changing at the whim of the circumstances swirling around you. The longer that you go without a job to anchor your identity upon—as dangerous as it is to let a job to define who you are—the more that you lose sight of the unique spark that separates you from the competition. As an unemployed recent grad, it’s incredibly easy to fall victim to the belief that you don’t have any noteworthy strengths or valuable qualities. If you were extraordinary in any way, you inevitably wonder, wouldn’t you have found a job by now?

As the months crept by, I began to forget what I was trying to prove to hiring managers in the first place. Everything that I had ever achieved had lost its meaning. Did I have any tangible proof that I was particularly good at anything? What differentiated me from the anonymous people that were getting jobs over me? Was I somehow broadcasting, “I AM UNQUALIFIED AND SLOWLY LOSING MY SANITY” to every hiring manager that I interacted with? If I was the person that I had always believed I was, why was opportunity after opportunity slipping through my fingers as I desperately tried to hold on?

“The longer you’re without a job, the less likely it is that you’ll get called back for an interview—by the eighth month of unemployment, the callback rate falls by about 45%.”
Forbes

I had always been able to rely on my intuition. I always knew when I had done a good job, or when I had left an impression on someone. I’ve never been one to overestimate my own abilities—if anything, I’ve always been too hard on myself, reluctant to internalize a positive view of myself without a great deal of unbiased, unprompted feedback. However, this was an unusual circumstance, where mixed signals were coming from every direction. Nearly every hiring manager candidly expressed that they thought very highly of me, and that I stood out from every other candidate in recent memory. Their comments seemed entirely genuine—if they didn’t sincerely feel that way, after all, they needn’t have said anything. However, when this was inevitably followed by rejection, it was impossible not to call my own perception into question.

What I came to realize was that each of us needs to do two things during the hiring process. The first is to leave a lasting impression. Take every opportunity to make a personal connection and give a coherent sense of who you are, why you’re there, and what working with you would be like. The second is to convince them that hiring you is not a risk. Display that you’re fully qualified and committed. Visualize yourself from the hiring manager’s perspective, figuring out how to market your most attractive qualities to them, while reassuring them that any gaps in your resume should not concern them. Articulate why this is the position that you want—this job title, at this company, over any other. Reassure them that if they make you a job offer, that you’ll accept it, give it your all, and stick around for a while. Convince them that hiring you benefits them as much as it benefits you—otherwise, why would they hire you, and why would you accept the job?

I feel certain now that none of the rejection that I endured as an unemployed recent grad had anything to do with me as a person. When it came down to it, hiring me seemed risky.

I’d had interview after interview where I’d been given every reason to believe that the job was all but mine. I’m sure that I walked into those interviews with the same insightful, determined, enthusiastic demeanor that has gotten me every job that I’ve wanted since then. But there was no clear narrative tying together each of the entries on my resume into a cohesive picture. With no real work experience to vouch for my skills or reliability, I was a risk. As they brought in other candidates, their tangible qualifications held more weight than my ability to connect with each person that I spoke to, or to tell a convincing story about my passion and potential.

When it came time to make a decision, I can picture each hiring manager holding my resume in their hands and thinking, “I genuinely liked her; I believe in her as a person; and I wish her all the best. But we need someone who’s a sure bet, and there’s just too much uncertainty here—we’d better keep looking.” After weeks of speaking with me, however, they should have had the courtesy to turn me down. They shouldn’t have strung me along, wanting to keep me as an option in case they didn’t find anyone less risky, until they forgot that no one had actually told me that I hadn’t gotten the job. Even being blindsided with a rejection would have hurt less than waiting weeks and weeks for job offers that never came, my daydreams of what my life would be like at each job slowly fading as the time passed and all I heard was silence.

Unemployed Recent Grad

It was this pattern that kept me in a constant state of purgatory. I had always just interviewed at a promising job or had applied to a position that I was certain would lead somewhere. I was perpetually killing time, avoiding getting tied up in anything long-term so I would be available to start working the moment that a job offer came through. As irrational as it might seem, the more time that went by, the more terrified I became of getting an offer and having it rescinded in the blink of an eye because I did something wrong.

I largely couldn’t tell you how I spent that year, and it infuriates me how much time was wasted. In that open expanse of time, I could have traveled; I could have recorded an album; I could have turned my love for writing or photography into an impressive side project. But instead, I slept too late; I watched TV; I planned my wedding; I scoured job boards. My day-to-day life was too grim to confront in conversation, so I rarely made plans with friends or answered the phone. I argued with my fiancé over what, exactly, I did all day—could I be applying to more jobs? Were there any connections that I should be leveraging to find a lead or two? I couldn’t handle having to answer to someone else about the menial ways that I wasted my days, just wanting the entire period of time to be over. Were our roles reversed, I know that I would have asked the same questions and gotten equally frustrated when nothing seemed to progress.

It’s undeniable: Unemployment is miserable, and you should do everything in your power to bring it to an end as quickly as possible. However, you have to accept that you’re stuck here for an undetermined amount of time—so you might as well pass the days in a way that makes you happy. You can’t be applying to jobs every second, so compromise by finding a productive way to relax. Take advantage of the fact that you don’t have daily obligations filling a majority of your schedule—that may not be the case again until you retire. Create a blog, volunteer, take an online class, start a business—anything to pass the time in an enjoyable way, get you out of the house, and add new skills to your resume. When you do score an interview, you’ll be able to say that you’ve been doing something to better yourself, with the secondary benefit of making a gap on your resume less suspicious.

You should also listen to me when I say that you must develop a routine. It will keep you sane. Even though there’s nowhere that you need to be, don’t sleep until 2 in the afternoon. Don’t stay in your pajamas all day. You will literally begin to feel like a ghost. Set an alarm, get out of bed, get dressed, and go to a library or café with free Wi-Fi. Treat your job search like a job in itself, completing all necessary tasks as efficiently as you can between certain hours each day. This limits the stress of the job search to a set time and place. You don’t want to associate your home with the misery of doggedly applying to jobs that you never hear back from. You also want to keep your job search from taking over your free time. You need a break, even if it feels like you don’t deserve it, because every second that you’re not actively searching for jobs feels like wasted time.

If the opportunity arises, get to know the people that you see every day, whether it’s a barista or someone working on a laptop next to you. Make plans with friends, and talk honestly about what you’re going through—you’ve got the time, and they likely have some useful leads. You may not want to talk to other people because your reality is too depressing, but trust me on this one—you need human contact, as small as these interactions may seem. You need to remember who you are in society. You are not a ghost in pajamas with nowhere to go all day while everyone else is at work. You may be an unemployed recent grad right now, but that does not define you. You are who you’ve always been—smart, capable, friendly, and filled with potential.

Unemployed Recent Grad

After the longest year of my life, what finally got me out of the “unemployed recent grad” bucket and into the work force? It was a call from a recruiter who had seen my resume on a job board, and who got me into the temporary position that jumpstarted my career.

Here’s where I divulge my secret to finding a job, no matter who you are: Do not spend a majority of your time applying to jobs online.

It might sound counterintuitive, but bear with me. HR programs have taken the human element out of looking through resumes, since online job postings made it possible for hundreds of applicants to apply directly to a single open role. When you submit your resume, the software quickly scans it for very specific keywords—and if it doesn’t find them (or simply can’t read the font or format that you’ve chosen), a human being will never see your resume. There are theories on how to tailor your resume to be more easily read by these programs; but trust me, there’s a better way.

Ready? Here’s the solution: Apply. Through. Recruiters.

Do this in two ways: First, post your resume to Monster and Indeed, and update your LinkedIn profile with keywords that are relevant to the type of job that you’re looking for. Next, answer the calls and messages that you get from recruiters. If you don’t like the initial job that they’re calling about, don’t hang up! Tell them what you are looking for, from your ideal title and salary to the location and type of company. Second, if you have a company in mind that you’d love to work for, or have found a job posting that sounds promising, search LinkedIn for the company’s internal recruiters or HR personnel and contact them directly. Send them a message explaining your relevant qualifications and strong interest in the open role.

The key is to bypass the step of sending your resume into the ether and hoping that someone eventually looks at it; rather, you’re sending it straight to a human being who will actually review your qualifications and consider you for the role. You’ve displayed your strong interest in the position, which will always work in your favor. Meanwhile, it’s in the recruiter’s best interest to find a match for the role; so if you’re qualified, they’ll do whatever they can to help you to get the job. Always have a handful of recruiters that you contact as soon as you’re looking for work so that they can start rustling up new opportunities to run past you. If you’re interested in any of the jobs that they send (many of which haven’t made it to the job boards yet), they already have a working relationship with the company, so they can submit your resume directly to them and start talking you up. In addition, they have good intel on what it’s actually like to work there based on past clients they’ve placed. Your chances of getting an interview are so much higher, it’ll seem like a miracle. (Here’s the best article I’ve found explaining the entire process of working with a recruiter.)

Next, if you’ve been out of work for a few months, it’s imperative that you start temping or freelancing for the time being. I say this for several reasons: One, it is ALWAYS easier to find a job when you have a job, no matter what it is. Two, you’ll develop transferrable skills that you can keep on your resume for years to come. Three, it’ll keep you sane and bring in some money while you continue your job search. Four, it’s entirely possible that your temp job will turn into a permanent job offer. Many companies start their future employees off as temps when they’re having trouble filling an open role and need to get someone in right away, but they want to test them out first. As an unemployed recent grad, you should absolutely take advantage of these opportunities. It could change the entire trajectory of your career—it did for me.

Unemployed Recent Grad

My first job began in June 2014, after a full year of unemployment and a year-and-a-half-long job search. I answered the phone one day and was honest with the recruiter about my complete lack of interest in the job that he was calling about (answering customer calls at a health insurance company—yikes). However, after this, I stayed on the phone and told him what I would be interested in. He would run new roles past me almost every day, submitting my resume for a handful before we found a match. It was a writing job in the marketing department of a tech publisher. He submitted my resume, the hiring manager expressed interest, I took a writing test, and I started work a week later.

I temped on the copywriting team for three months before being hired on a permanent basis, and was then promoted to team lead just seven months later. This not only jumpstarted my career in exactly the way that I had hoped my first job would; it also completely restored my self-worth. Less than three years later, I’m now the senior writer and editor at my third company. (Read more about how I came to be a writer in this post.)

What would my advice be to an unemployed recent grad? If you can’t find a job, or if your first job isn’t what you expected, don’t blame yourself. You’re not alone. We were all told that going to college was the necessary precursor to a successful career, but there was no plan to accommodate millions of new graduates entering the workforce every year. It’s not your fault—but I am certain that our generation will be the one to fix it.

Moreover, we need to take the shame out of unemployment. When good, smart people can’t find jobs, there may be steps that you can take to increase your chances of getting hired; but it’s socioeconomic forces beyond your control that are truly to blame. When unemployment is seen as a personal problem rather than a societal one, it drives us to wallow in isolation rather than making connections with other people—which is so often the key to both career success and happiness.

So if you’re an unemployed recent grad, try not to beat yourself up. Every day, strive to let it fuel your determination to succeed rather than eroding your self-worth. In addition to polishing your resume, searching job boards, and getting in touch with recruiters, spend time doing the things that you love. Don’t let this process obscure your identity, renegotiate your self-worth, or turn your life upside-down. Remember that rejection is rarely personal, even when it comes in unrelenting waves. Someday, you’ll look back on this as a difficult but ultimately finite portion of your journey. Though it may feel as though the world has dropped out from beneath your feet, you are the person that you’ve always been. Don’t wait for a job to define your value.

Dear Unemployed Recent Grad: You're Not Alone | Feather & Flint

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66 Comments

  1. Reply

    Laura

    February 27, 2017

    Experience is so important. Grades are important too, but students have to find a balance between the two. It’s hard to maintain the right balance.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 1, 2017

      It really is hard! You’re trained all your life to get perfect grades so that you get a great job once you graduate, but now it’s becoming essential to find a way to get work experience AND do well in school. There are only so many hours in a day!

  2. Reply

    Nadalie

    February 27, 2017

    Hi Robin,

    Girl, you are not alone! This could easily be my story.

    *gasp*

    I am a statistic, I think I literally am every single one of those stats you shared. They almost have my exact student loan amount too.

    It’s a rough experience and we have to not let it get to us. It’s not us, it’s the system. An education system built around feeding the industrial revolution, which we are well pasted as a society.

    The best we can do is take work where we can, but work on our passion projects and develop our entrepreneurial skills. Greater than any generation, millennial have the potential to do something great with the crappy hand we’ve been dealt.

    That’s my approach anyways. I too have a master’s degree with zero employment prospects, so after I went to college got a post-grad diploma in public relations and communications. Then I worked for a few years, just to realize what I knew all along that I want to work for myself.

    Here’s a link to my story: The Miseducation & Misemployment of Nadalie.

    Thanks for sharing and letting others like us know they aren’t alone. History will remember us as a tough, badass generation. We can get through this!

    Best,

    Nadalie, It’s All You Boo

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 2, 2017

      Nadalie, your comment alone made writing this post worth it! You’re so right about it being the system, not us – that was my major realization in researching this piece. I have continued to feel insecure about this period of my life because there was no proof that it wasn’t me – but dammit, these numbers prove it! I hope that helps you feel better about it, too. We’re part of a generation that was dealt a crappy, expensive hand (I wrote this and then looked at your post and realized you said the exact same thing, hahah!), but we’re making the best of it with ambition and spirit and passion, whether we’re entrepreneurs, corporate-ladder-climbers, or both. I just feel lucky to be on the other side of it, in a job that I love and that gives me the time and energy to have my own passion project on the side – and to have the megaphone (through this blog) from which to get the word out to others that they’re not alone.
      I’m off to read every word of your story now!! You rock!
      <3

  3. Reply

    Anonymous

    February 28, 2017

    Girl, your point about how a job defines you nailed me right in the heart. I’ve been struggling with that through a few different career changes, and it’s so hard to let your identity naturally change with it. Thank you for sharing your story, I know it will resonate with many.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 1, 2017

      Thank you so much – I truly hope this post finds its way to someone who really needs it. That’s what makes it worth it to speak so openly about a very dark time in my life from which I still have some leftover insecurities. I totally get what you’re saying about struggling with your evolving identity as you change jobs – I’m in the middle of that transition too, and there are always some real growing pains as you figure out who you are in a new setting, even if you’re extremely happy about the change!

  4. Reply

    Victoria

    February 28, 2017

    What an amazing post. This was much needed. You wait your whole life to finish school and get into your profession only for there to be no work. The PLUS side about this is the enormous increase of young Entrepreneurs. Many of us are no longer waiting to be hired and are becoming our own boss! Keep up the great work!!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 1, 2017

      Thank you so much, Victoria – that really means a lot! It’s so true – I’m extremely lucky to have found a job that I love at a company that feels strongly about work-life balance and flexibility. It gives me the time and energy to work on my own passions on the side. I’m so happy to have met so many thriving entrepreneurs through this blog – it really does make me feel better to know that our generation is striking it out on our own and creating solutions where there were none before. I’m all about empowering people to do what they’re passionate about, whether it’s for an existing company, for themselves, or both!

  5. Reply

    Rose

    February 28, 2017

    I really appreciate your candid perspective on this topic! Far too many millennials are over-educated and under-experienced and have been misled if not outright lied to about their job prospects.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 1, 2017

      Thank you, Rose! It’s so true – I think a large part of it is the fact that the academic world has strayed too far from the business world. What you’re learning in school is so disconnected from what you’ll be doing in your career – you’re picking up content knowledge that’s outdated by the time it’s being taught in schools, when what you need are hard skills to help you to compete in the real world. At the same time, hiring managers can afford to be picky because there’s such a surplus of graduates to choose from. It’s going to be a difficult problem to solve!

  6. Reply

    Amanda

    February 28, 2017

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was also unemployed after graduating with my accounting degree. I had chosen accounting because I thought it would guarantee me a job. The few months I was unemployed was AWFUL. But in the end it helped my figure out that I didn’t truly love accounting.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 1, 2017

      Ugh, Amanda, that’s so frustrating to study something that you didn’t love throughout college because you thought it would guarantee you a job – and then to not be able to find a job when you graduate! I sympathize with that so much – I hope you found something you love in the time since!

  7. Reply

    Alice

    March 1, 2017

    That was a very interesting read, with great insight and advice. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 1, 2017

      Thank you so much for reading, Alice! So glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Reply

    Danielle

    March 2, 2017

    Oh man yes. Although it was a little while ago (10 years) after I finished my student teaching (a year of paying to teach) I had a tough time finding a job, as did most of my friends who stayed in MI. It took almost 3 years of subbing before I finally found a job.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 2, 2017

      That must have been INCREDIBLY frustrating! Honestly, there are so many ways in which we mistreat teachers in this country – the phrase “paying to teach” should not even be in our vernacular. You have to really love it in order to stick it out, that’s for sure!

  9. Reply

    Kaycee

    March 2, 2017

    I can totally relate to this! I graduated in 2012 and it was so difficult and frustrating finding a job! I was finally able to get a job at my alma mater so that I would at least have that 2-3 year professional experience that employers are always looking for. I agree with your entire post…especially applying through a recruiter instead of online. So so so true!!!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 2, 2017

      I am SO happy that this was true to your experience – although I’m so sorry that you had to go through this crappy process, too! I hope you’re doing something you love now!

  10. Reply

    Daria

    March 2, 2017

    I will definitely share this post with my daughter who is a freshman in the BFA acting program at Boston University. Bet you understand her life right now! It’s tough out there and you took a circuitous road to get to your first job but I hope someday you’ll look back and realize all those experiences made you who you are and gave you invaluable experience as a person. Best of luck to you in your career!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 2, 2017

      Thank you so much, Daria!! I would love it if you would share this post with her – I do understand her life so well, just from a one-sentence description! It’s so important to get this message – both the solidarity and the advice – out there to students before they’re trying to find jobs. I want to save younger people from going through what I went through wherever possible!

  11. Reply

    Divya

    March 2, 2017

    I wish, wish, wish that I had this post – in my hand – back in 2009. When I, like you, was a recent grad with nowhere to go.
    Eventually, in June 2010 – I went back to school and, fortunately for me, special education teachers are high in demand. But, I did end up moving back in with my parents until I was accepted to school. This was a particularly hard time for me. Not that I don’t love my parents oh-so-much and I adored the free room and board (and delicious home-cooked meals). But I was capable and smart and driven and I had just spent a crap ton of money graduating from a top public university and it felt like it was all for naught.

    Love this post. Thank you so much for sharing and reminding us that, despite how we may feel, we are absolutely not alone in this. Your tips and suggestions will help so many!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 2, 2017

      Oh my gosh, I had no idea that you had been through so much to get to where you are now! And things were even worse in 2009 because of the economy – I can’t even imagine how tough it must have been. I would have gone back to school, too – and thank god you were interested in something that had job openings! I honestly would have moved back in with my parents too, had I not been in a serious relationship and living 7 hours away from home. I really think it’s such a smart decision for so many people – we’re all starting out our lives with immense debt, and it makes it so hard (and stressful) to succeed.
      Thanks so much for your kind words – it was comments like yours that I was hoping to get when I set out to write this manifesto! It’s hard owning up to the dark times that you’ve been through, filled with depression and anxiety and insecurity and struggle, but it’s so worth it to connect with other people who have been through the same thing. Thanks for sharing your story. <3

  12. Reply

    Laura

    March 2, 2017

    I hate that these statistics are true, but they are! I think you leave college feeling so hopeful, but then you kind of get knocked down! You WILL find jobs, it just takes a lot of time nowadays!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 2, 2017

      That’s so true – thank you, Laura! Colleges should do a better job of preparing us all for the real world, both the skills that we’ll need to get hired and the attitude that we’ll need to survive the tough times… but hiring managers need to figure out how to work with schools and students better to make sure that the degrees that we all fought so hard to earn are actually worth something!

  13. Reply

    Kristin

    March 2, 2017

    I love love love this!!! I graduated and did not have a job. In the end I wound up in a totally different field than I planned on and I love it. Hang in there everyone!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 2, 2017

      Thank you so much, Kristin!! Honestly, (sadly,) I think it’s more common anymore to end up in a field other than what you studied in school than it is to end up in the exact career you intended when you were 19. I read an article while I was researching this post about how rare it is for hiring managers to pay attention to what your degree was in – they just care that you have one. It’s both good and bad!

  14. Reply

    colleen wool

    March 2, 2017

    It’s tough out there. My daughter has her masters. She still had a hard time finding a job.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 2, 2017

      It’s so counterintuitive, but apparently so common! Best of luck to her, it’s not easy but it’ll be worth it someday!

  15. Reply

    Erica @ Coming Up Roses

    March 2, 2017

    These stats are nuts…but so true. Especially as a recent grad myself, from my own and from my friends’ perspectives, it’s all true!

    Coming Up Roses

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 2, 2017

      Isn’t it sad when you find yourself wishing that stats weren’t true because you don’t want to live in that reality?!

  16. Reply

    Leah

    March 2, 2017

    It seems some things never change. I went through a similar experience when I got my Master’s Degree…in 1993. I was over-qualified, but under experienced. I took some terrible temp jobs to get by. So frustrating.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 2, 2017

      Ugh, I can’t believe this was a problem two decades before I went through it – that’s incredibly frustrating! I hope you found something you loved in spite of a rough start!

  17. Reply

    Jewels

    March 2, 2017

    It also took me a year to find a permanent position that would pay me a decent salary and provide me with benefits. I graduated with a masters degree and thought getting a job would be easy. I wrong so wrong. But I learn a lot about myself during that time and it helped me define myself beyond my career and pushed me to explore other interests… which ultimately led me to creating a blog!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 2, 2017

      Wow, you went through exactly what I did – so sorry that you had the same difficulties, although it does make me feel so much better to know I wasn’t the only one! (Which is exactly what I hoped for when putting together this post – to read others’ similar stories, and to let them know that they’re not the only one, either!) And same here – if being unable to find jobs that let us do what we love is what pushes us to start our own creative projects, then years down the road, you might just realize it was worth it!

  18. Reply

    Sam

    March 3, 2017

    This resounds with me. Looking for my first job out of college was the most frustrating, stressful experience of my life. Thank you for your encouragement.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 3, 2017

      Thank you so much for reading, Sam!! I honestly was not expecting this to be such a common experience – it’s reinforced my belief that our generation will be the one to fix this!

  19. Reply

    Tricia

    March 3, 2017

    Thank you for sharing your story. I know lots of recent (and even not-so-recent) graduates that have been in your same shoes. I’m sure your words will be inspiring to many!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 3, 2017

      Thank you so much, Tricia! I really do hope so – it’s what gave me the motivation to share my not-so-fun story!

  20. Reply

    Anonymous

    March 3, 2017

    I loved this post. As I am almost a college graduate and have no idea what my employment situation is going to look like yet. Thank you for sharing your story!!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 3, 2017

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!! I’m glad that my message could reach you at such a critical time – I honestly wish that someone had prepared me for what I was about to go through, if not to make finding a job easier, then at least to get me in the right state of mind.

  21. Reply

    Brittany

    March 3, 2017

    I definitely feel like there has to be a balance education and experience when landing that first job. I’m glad that you found something that you love now.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 3, 2017

      That’s very true – thank you so much, Brittany!

  22. Reply

    Anuradha Manjul

    March 4, 2017

    I can understand. But getting a job which you got because of your qualifications and then no one giving a damn about them is more painful

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 6, 2017

      I think there are frustrations to every aspect of the job search, honestly! There are so many parts of this system that are broken, sadly.

  23. Reply

    Julia

    March 4, 2017

    Being unemployed after college is the worst! I applied to over 200 jobs and no one would hire me because I didn’t have the standard 2 years of experience in the workforce (even though I had countless jobs and internships in college). I finally landed an low paid internship right before I needed to start paying back my loans and accepted it because I was desperate, but it made it really unhappy and wasn’t what I wanted to be doing AT ALL.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 8, 2017

      Omg, I’m so sorry you went through that–that sounds incredibly frustrating and stressful! So glad you’re doing something you love now!

  24. Reply

    Umberta

    March 4, 2017

    It’s true that experience is becoming more & more important. And job market can be a difficult one. But as you said having a routine & invest free time on activities you enjoy can help a lot!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 8, 2017

      It can! It’s all about finding a balance between applying to jobs and staying sane by doing something you enjoy in the mean time!

  25. Reply

    Marcie

    March 4, 2017

    I was in that same boat when I graduated in 2005. It took forever to find a job that didn’t require 2-3 years of experience in my field. And salaries were slashed and the competition for each job was so fierce.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 8, 2017

      Ugh, I’m so sorry you went through that–and I can imagine that it didn’t get much better over the next few years because of where the economy was at that point. Hope you’re doing much better now!

  26. Reply

    Casey

    March 4, 2017

    Wow – loved this post! For starters, you’re an excellent writer. Kuddos! Secondly, I loved how honest you were about the struggles of unemployment. Will definitely share this post. Oh and PS – I’m your newest facebook follower:)

    Casey | http://www.frenchblissme.com

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 8, 2017

      Thank you so much, Casey–you made my morning! 🙂

  27. Reply

    Cassidy's Adventures

    March 4, 2017

    Oh wow, I so needed this post today. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m graduating from university in May and I’m freaking out. It’s like nobody wants a recent grad. “10 years experience please.”
    Impossible!! Ugh!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 8, 2017

      Ahhh, I wish you the best of luck! Things seem to be a lot better than they were a few years ago–the 2016 grads that I know have done very well! At least you’re thinking about it beforehand so it won’t be a huge slap in the face once you graduate.

  28. Reply

    cindy ladage

    March 4, 2017

    It has been a long time since I was job hunting, but this information is valuable whether you are a recent grad, or a freelancer seeking writing gigs. Your article should be a must read for every new graduate. If you haven’t, you should submit it to your college publication for students to read.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 8, 2017

      Thank you SO much, Cindy–that’s an awesome idea!

  29. Reply

    Amanda

    March 5, 2017

    I think so often the pressure we put on ourselves is more than society and this article really reminded me of that. You talk about shame and I SO SO SO agree with that and I also would throw in that often times when one is fired there is a stigma behind that as well. Great article and I appreciate that you were personal and it’s a gentle reminder that we are not alone. xxx

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 8, 2017

      Thank you so much, Amanda – that means a lot! It’s so true, dealing with being unemployed on top of the shame of being laid off must be the WORST.

  30. Reply

    Joscelyn

    March 6, 2017

    Ah, I totally wish I had this knowledge before going to college! Fast-forward several years and still paying on student loans, I’m not even working in my field of study. This has definitely changed my perspective for my children’s future. So glad I stumbled upon your blog!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 8, 2017

      Thank you so much, Joscelyn!! So sorry you had to go through that 🙁

  31. Reply

    Rachel Ritlop

    March 6, 2017

    This is awesome Robin!!! So on point! I earned my master’s degree in counseling and one of the reasons I was quickly hired/successful while in school and post grad is because I had experience in the field going back five years! You cant just have the degree, you need the experience. Also love that you gave some tips for using recruiters! It makes a huge difference!

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 8, 2017

      Thanks so much for reading, Rachel! And I feel like we both ended up in a really great place, even if we don’t directly use our degrees, so it’s hard to say if it was all worth it… but it does resolve with time and hard work!

  32. Reply

    Anonymous

    March 6, 2017

    YES. I especially appreciate how you address the need to take out the negative stigma surrounding unemployment.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 8, 2017

      Thank you!! That’s actually what motivated me to write this article in the first place–I felt like it was something that has never been talked about, but is SO important and universally felt!

  33. Reply

    Evi Figgat

    March 6, 2017

    YES. My husband has had two six-month periods of unemployment. It happens, and it is not abnormal.

    • Reply

      Robin

      March 8, 2017

      Ugh, so sorry you guys are dealing with that!! It SHOULD be abnormal–but not a source of shame!

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