Photo credit: “Scrabble – Application” by Flazingo Photos from Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).
As the clock draws ever so closer for December graduates like myself to leave college, a sense of excitement of finishing your undergraduate career is becoming masked by the increasing anxiety of looking for a job during a global pandemic. Internship seekers probably feel this stress as well. Yes, there are jobs available, but the switch to mostly remote working has widely opened up the playing field of potential candidates; someone living in Florida could just as easily get a remote position at a Philadelphia company. Graduates now have to contend with candidates from all over the country, instead of just their geographic area.
Even for highly-experienced new graduates, the job market is volatile. After three successful internships, a high GPA, a year of study abroad on scholarship and an editorial position on The Quad’s newspaper, I have sent just over 100 applications out at the time of writing this article and have still not secured a position. While it most definitely could be the field I am pursuing, the pandemic has made the process of securing a job all the more difficult. Despite this fact, I have decided to fling myself headfirst into the arena of the job market, unapologetically racking up the number of applications I have sent out. By doing so, I have frustratingly identified certain “joys” of job applications. Oh, how many times have I typed furiously at my computer after losing an entire application due to a finicky application portal. Or cursed myself for attaching the wrong resume for a position. Ahh, it’s all part of the fun that will make getting that full-time position worth it… Right?
For almost every company I have applied to, I have had to create a personal account with the company’s application portal in order to submit an application(s). However, some companies have a simple form on their website that you can fill out and submit without having to create another account. When I come to these types of applications, I savor them, attentively appreciating the ease at which I can apply for a position. The downside to company accounts involves having to keep track of your sign-in info to dozens of portals, linking your email to many different sites. I dread having to make yet another account for myself to submit an application. It just makes me appreciate those simple form web applications even more.
Creating an account does allow you to access your application later and keep track of any progress made with your submission, but you really should be doing this already. Pop open a Microsoft Excel or Google Sheet document right now if you have not done so already. Before job hunting, I never truly understood the love for spreadsheets, but I do now. It has almost become a game, but who is winning? “Oh! I am at 87 applications. Let’s get me up to 90!” Or when I get a rejection from a company, “Yes! I get to mark this on my spreadsheet.” I am actually thankful to get a rejection email because the norm is not hearing back at all.
Resumes and Cover Letters
Resume, bio, CV… no matter what you call it, you are going to need a concise record of your qualifications, education and interests to show to employers with a detailed cover letter tailored to the position to pair with it. I have had family members, professors and career counselors look at my resumes and cover letters to make sure I am putting my best (digital) foot forward to employers. These documents could either lend you to the “NO” stack or bump you up to the interview stage, so you better get them right. I have made over a hundred cover letters, each tailored to the position I applied to, and dozens of versions of my resume during my job-hunting process. It’s like a stab in the heart when I notice a typo in my cover letter after I have already submitted it.
After spending so much time going through the minutiae of these documents, I am ready to scream at my computer when a company account portal forces me to disseminate my resume into their system, painstakingly going through the required sections for position description, address of company, supervisor and supervisor contact info — my beautiful, neatly-formatted resume now broken up into several digital forms. On the flip side, though, this sort of information is usually saved on file if you created an account with the company, meaning that for future applications, you only have to plug in a new cover letter. After doing the work up front, it becomes a plug-and-submit application (that is, if you remember how to log into your account).
Today’s job market is extremely volatile for both employer and potential employee, and many companies do not have time to respond to each application they receive. Out of the around 100 applications I have sent out, I have received just over 20 responses, mostly immediate no’s and some interviews. With a 20% response rate, I have had to send out a higher number of applications to secure any sort of response. Yes, this can be disappointing at times, but you are not going to get a job unless you put the work in for it. I think I have checked Google Jobs, LinkedIn and my email in the past couple months more than I ever checked my social media. Before watching “The Social Dilemma,” I never considered LinkedIn a baiting social platform, but now I hesitate briefly before inevitably typing in LinkedIn.com… though I only have to type in about two letters since I have logged on so frequently before.
My family thinks that around application 150 will be the golden number. I personally think it will be a bit higher. The application process is time-consuming and frustrating. Sometimes I spend over an hour working on just one application. After a while, you just have to laugh it off and keep working at it, just hoping that one of these dozens of opportunities works out. And, if I don’t find a full-time position right away, I could always go back to school for a graduate degree — in what, I don’t know.
Maria Marabito is a fourth-year English major with a minor in Literature and Diverse Cultures. MM883631@wcupa.edu