I'm a 22-year-old grad on the job hunt. Naively, I assumed I’d go to a university, get my degree and then get a job. I thought that was the way life happened; that this magical job I had dreamed of getting would fall into my lap maybe through an internship or a family friend. I am speaking for my generation, Millennials - maybe we’re not all on my level of naivety but I know many are close.
After graduation this year, I dove headlong into the icy waters of a job hunt. Personal qualifications and interests aside, I’ve found the entire process frustrating and disjointed. Resources are scattered all over the place and my native search tool – Google – is not particularly helpful.
The Millennial job search is almost 100% online and via college recruiting events or word-of-mouth. To add insult to injury, each prospective employer needs something different and advertises on a custom mix of platforms.
I don’t mind tailoring my application to the prospective job but it’s a lot of hard work – on both sides of the interview table -- only to find out you are “under-qualified”. From my POV, applicants in my field need to have updated LinkedIn profiles, social media presences, network activity, current resumes (both interactive and .doc / .pdf formats), cover letters, formal letters of recommendation, internship experience, familiarity with Skype/YouTube and the ability to navigate relatively obscure platforms like Take The Interview and Revl... not to mention, generally, a pleasant and outgoing public persona.
I started my search with LinkedIn and my university’s career site. My search focused on keywords: “public relations”, “PR”, “marketing”, “events” and “communication”. Plenty of internships turned up - some with potential to grow with the company – but I wanted a job with salary and benefits. I’d just have to get more specific…
So, I narrowed down the areas I’d like to live in. Atlanta is a big city – there must be plenty of “public relations jobs in Atlanta”. I combed through multiple career building sites including monster.com, careerbuilder.com, indeed.com, simplyhired.com and similar local sites. I typed the same keywords into their search engines and I thought I hit the mother load -- pages upon pages of marketing and event planning jobs all requiring two years of experience. Turns out: I’m over-qualified for the jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree and under-qualified for the jobs that do. Limbo.
So what’s an ambitious, albeit green, college graduate with appropriate internship experience to do in today’s job market?!
Are we really talking about two years of unpaid internship experience before a company considers me a viable candidate? (I’m not even going to get into the broad, socioeconomic implications). Where was this career preparation in college? Why isn't there more consistency between recruiters and college career centers? Why won’t more companies invest in training programs for today’s grads and high-potential applicants? I have a lot of questions... and my naivety is quickly falling away.
TaskRabbit.com just pulled in $13 million dollars to “revolutionize the world’s labor force”. They are connecting skilled individuals with other individuals and/or companies that have project-based jobs available... and incentivizing the entire process through a leader board. I’ve considered freelance opportunities and cobbling together a myriad of part-time jobs to get the experience I need, but it makes a move awfully hard to justify. I didn’t think this is what it would take to jump start a career.
For now, I’m focused on completing internship and doing the hard work of impressing from the bottom of the totem pole. According to Labor Department data, of 9 million people who are currently unemployed, 4.7 million graduated from college. When a lot of people my age are facing unemployment or underemployment, I should be thankful I at least have internship options within my desired industry.
I’ll start over with my job search, tailoring it more towards fields / locations with greater opportunity versus my personal preference. I understand where employers are coming from: it’s a buyer’s market. There are way more applicants than F/T jobs available and college grads come with a big question mark hanging over our heads. We’re unproven in the workplace, but we are also excited and ready to learn. And we are skilled. We have a lifetime of experience with the digital landscape. We keep up with the latest technology, we understand where communications is going, and if you give us a chance you won’t regret it.