As a continuation of this post, this is second in a series of posts documenting the drudgery of job hunting in today’s job market as a new graduate.
After a temporary stint working at my alma mater, performing duties that I did not find entirely challenging nor aligned with my career goals, I’m again back in the job market and attempting to land my first “real job”. My career goal is not necessarily set in stone because, frankly, it’s kind of hard to know whether something truly is your calling if you’ve had zero experience in that industry. Nonetheless, I’ve trudged on with optimism and learned some things here and there.
Education is everything and nothing — Everyone in my life has touted the value of education. Oh, a four year degree will give you so many more opportunities in life and you can get a great, high-paying job! Blah blah blah. Well, great. But why does it feel like all this wonderful, theoretical knowledge I have gained through my very expensive liberal arts undergraduate education is obsolete in the workforce and simply not getting me anywhere in terms of employment? Don’t get me wrong, I love expanding my horizons and everything from concepts of social stratification and media democracy to critical analysis of the status quo and the works of Karl Marx has enriched my life in some form or another. At least making me all kinds of awesome at dinner parties and pseudo-intellectual discussions. Back to my point, it just seems like with a Bachelor of Arts, I actually may have been better off at a community college or working at a job straight out of high school and getting promoted through the ranks. After reaching a plateau, I could advance my technical skills through a program at the local community college. As I stated in that previous post, unless that education streamlined into a career, new graduates with no relevant job experience seem to be grouped in a pool of “undesirables”. That’s just my observation.
Data entry is the bane of my existence — Like I said earlier, I had a temporary job at my alma mater. The people were great! The work environment, I can’t complain! It was all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows everywhere! Except, it was a data entry focused position. Doing some data entry here and there, I don’t mind and especially wouldn’t mind if it’s a stepping stone to something more aligned with my skills and interests. This job made my eyes all red and tired, my wrist ache and crack, and the pure tediousness of the job made me want to fling myself out a window. It was just not for me. Unfortunately, due to my apparently strong skills in data entry type activities and this job experience, the job agencies I’ve applied to have been sending me non-stop data entry positions! In my previous job, analytical skills were required as it wasn’t straight-forward entering of data since it was working with curriculum information. Generally speaking though, in the majority of data entry jobs, you don’t need a university degree to type out or click through data. In fact, I propose that highly trained monkeys could probably do the job just as well. While I can appreciate the knowledge I gained in that data entry job, particularly in Excel and Access, I really cannot see it as a job I could do long-term nor a job that seems to really have any career growth prospect.
Less with the senior levels, more with the junior levels please — Meticulously scouring job search sites like Workopolis and Monster, it just seems like the ratio of entry level to senior level positions available is 1:15. From my understanding, companies will always prefer to hire internally than externally, particularly for the senior level with the management and supervisory positions. Yet, the type of job that most commonly pops up in my job searches in the marketing/communications/new media industries are these senior positions that I have no chance in hell of getting. Entry-level or internship positions in these industries? Very few if any. So again with the catch 22: if you want a job in said industries, but you have no related experience in that industry, and nowhere (without network ties) can you find low-level “in’s” for that industry, THEN HOW CAN YOU GET THAT JOB YOU WANT???? *facepalm*
Entry-level still means you gotta have related experience — In my job searching experience, the term “entry-level position” still doesn’t mean that it’s meant for recent grads. It STILL means there is some form of related experience required. Below is an excerpt from an unpaid internship position I came across:
* Experience writing copy for banners, websites, email, and marketing campaigns
* Experience writing detailed project proposals
* Experience writing articles, press releases, etc.
How is a person who obviously NEEDS an internship to gain related/work experience going to have all these experiences in things like writing copy for marketing campaigns, writing proposals and press releases? Unless, you know, you started working well before graduating school in a position that allowed young, inexperienced people to take care of all these important tasks.
HarperCollins Canada, I do not like you too (I’m joking, please hire me!) — Please turn your attention to Exhibit A. Exhibit A is the HarperCollins Careers website that lists only U.S. based job opportunities. Notice how wonderful it is? It has all this great information about their different career paths and even TWO different kinds of programs for students and new grads (an internship and a “rotational associate program”)! Wow, you would think that the HarperCollins Canadian equivalent of the careers section would be just as informative and thorough. You would think, huh?
Well it isn’t, not even close. Examine Exhibit B, the careers section at HarperCollins Canada. There are three links and each link leads you to a contact form that requests you to type in your full name, email and comments. That’s it. No place to upload your resume, no list of job opportunities available, no information about the HarperCollins work environment, nothing. The kicker? No one ever responds back to these contact form inquiries! I’ve sent in questions about the internship program and inquiries about new graduate opportunities, I’ve sent in my resume at least 3 different times and each time, no response whatsoever. I am not even sure if you’re supposed to copy and paste your resume in the comments section and if these inquiries/resumes even go anywhere. One time, I was so fed up about the seemingly lack of interest in applicants that I contacted someone working in the First Look program I am a member of. I emailed the person my original questions and asked how I could apply to an internship or anything I could be qualified for. I received a response about how the internship is basically it, that there is no rotational associate program as described on the U.S. site, but that pretty much ended my quest for a job at HarperCollins.
Staffing agencies really just want you in their system — Through my two separate experiences with staffing agencies, I have learned that I am better off applying directly to companies for jobs I am interested in. The problem with these agencies is that while they have listings for all these jobs, those jobs may have already been filled by the time you’ve sent in your application because they always try to fill positions sooner than later for their clients (at least that’s what one agency representative told me). Imagine seeing a listing for job XYZ and hey, it’s the perfect job for you! So you quickly send in an application thinking you’re applying for that job. The next day or so later, you get a call from that recruitment agency telling you that they want you to come in for an interview (and they may possibly mention some tests you’ll have take to assess your skills, which is part of every agency’s initial screening process). Sounds great, doesn’t it? Sounds like you’re being considered for job XYZ, that job that’s so perfect for you. Then, when you get to the agency for the “interview”, all they are doing is entering your answers to “interview type questions” into a computer and then hustling you off to do those skill tests. That job you wanted so much, it may be legit but being such an “undesirable applicant” who lacks years of professional experience, it’s simply the pork chop being waved in front of a hungry dog. After you’re done with the interview and the tests, you’re sent on your way and you may later on hear back from them with “jobs that match your profile” (those jobs NOT being the one you originally applied for, and thus interested in) or you may not for a long, long time. The irritating thing about dealing with agencies is the false hope. At least if you’re not being seriously considered for that job you applied for, a company whose listing you responded to will not still bring you in to waste two to three hours of your time. I’m not saying that this is the case with every agency and that they aren’t useful, after all, one of my friends was able to get a sweet government job through one. If you have your mind set on a certain type of job that is, say, a career builder, then it may not be the best route for success. If you want a job for the sake of having a job, then an agency can be your answer. Just from my personal experience, it has produced zero results, besides the incessant offers of those darn data entry jobs.