A series of posts from the point of view of Careermind’s intern Meredith, a millennial just trying to figure out what’s next for her career… and how she’s going to get there! Join her millennial job search journey.
Even though I know this is just the first of many trying situations I’m going to face in the work world, the job hunt has been a serious challenge. Actually landing a job has always been tricky, regardless of when you are looking. What seems to be the biggest obstacle for me in today’s world is just getting through the initial steps of finding and applying for something. There are challenges that I think my generation has to deal with when applying for jobs right out of school that my friends from previous generations didn’t face. Millennials have student loan debts that are dramatically larger than other generations. And so many millennials are graduating from colleges and universities that, unlike in the past, my degree is no longer a guarantee for a job once I’m out of school. We are actually the first generation in U.S. history to enter adulthood in worse economic shape than our parents. In a survey for The Atlantic, 80% of non-millennials even agreed that it is much harder to get started in life today than it was for them. And so, the pressure is on. My crucial millennial job search begins to find something that pays the bills and is something I actually want to do.
I know tech has made it easier to find and apply for jobs, but it has also added in some serious complications. The world wide web has provided a lot of possibilities for what the millennial job search can look like, and that in itself makes the the whole process incredibly overwhelming. When I’m going through the application process, the questions that go through my head essentially look like this:
1. Where do I even find job openings?
If only we could go back to the days of skimming through the classified ads in the local paper. This type of employment research is When I’m looking for an opportunity (almost always online), there’s no one place to search. LinkedIn has a lot listed for a variety of companies, and the site does try to forward along openings that fit your profile or are in your industry. Most of the time, though, these recommendations don’t fit the bill of what I’m looking for. So how do I find other possibilities? My university’s job board and alumni databases are helpful, but they’re limited too. They’re not as easy to navigate as LinkedIn or another social media site; I have to really dig to find something I’m even remotely interested in or qualified for. After looking at those sites, it’s a matter of Googling. I check out articles telling me the “Best Places for Twenty-Somethings to Work” or “Awesome Companies That’ll Help You Launch Your Career.” I start making my list of companies that draw interest. I make a list of jobs that I think I could do. And then, I go company by company, looking at their websites to try to gauge where I’d fit in and what role I could play. Then I check out their job postings and if, miraculously, there’s a position that fits, I’m off to a decent start. There are so many different types of jobs, and different ways to get jobs, that the millennial job search may not all start the same for everyone.
2. How does this application work?
No two application methods are exactly the same. Or at least it feels that way. I applied for a job the other day for a company that receives thousands of applications for any given position and all they asked for was a letter of recommendation. No resume, no cover letter, just the letter. Another job at a different company that I recently applied for involved a nine page form that, in addition my resume, wanted to know details about my experience working in a certain field, working with certain tools, etc. The application even asked me to give specific examples to justify what was listed in my “Skills” section. When I click on the “Apply Now” button next to a job description, I never have a clue what I’m getting myself into. I just buckle down, take a deep breath, and have a resume, cover letter, and letter of rec at the ready. The millennial job search can be unpredictable at times.
3. So I submitted my app… now what do I do?
For some jobs, it’s just a matter of waiting. For most, I just assume I’ll never hear back. That is typical for a millennial job search. Which, then, makes the one’s that do answer back stand out. It’s amazing to feel noticed, especially by a company you’re trying to reach, so even a “Sorry, try again!” is better than no answer and no recognition whatsoever. So many applications are sent into these massive portals that feel more like black holes, sucking in resumes and cover letters from naive applicants everywhere. It normally feels like there’s no way my resume, with so little experience on it to begin with, will jump out among the digital mass, but occasionally it does and I get a response. Most of the time, if I can, I use whatever resources I have to get that app noticed. And by resources, I mean people. I contact people in my network. I use my university’s alumni board to find possible connections. Sometimes, if I have an email for a recruiter or feel like it could be worthwhile to reach out on LinkedIn, I’ll send a prospective message. I never want to feel like I’m using people or like I’m cheating the system in some way, so I’m always conscious of how this sort of networking could be perceived. It’s a fine line to balance, but in today’s application world, I know I have to do what I can to be more than just another PDF file sitting in some company’s cloud.
And after all this is said and done, maybe, just maybe, I get asked for an interview. But interviews? That’s a topic for another day! Stay tuned to learn more about how my millennial job search is going!