3.5 years out of college and I'm still looking for permanent work. I've sent out a ton of resumes, and have had a few interviews, but can't seem to get anything to stick. What am I doing wrong? What can I do better? How do I fix this?
posted by monkeyagent to Work & Money (47 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I graduated from the University of Maine in 2008 with an all-too-common BA in English and moved to the Greater Boston Area almost immediately. I love the city, but I've been working temp assignments (when I can get them) almost the entire time. I have technical skills as well: while I don't program (yet) beyond actionscript and web development via html/css, I understand code conceptually and try to learn new languages when I have the time/don't feel utterly dispirited. There are very few types of software I am *not* experienced with. I am also the type of person who likes to spend their free time learning and developing new skills.
The financial situation:
I live with my long-term girlfriend, who has permanent work but dislikes her job. She mostly supports us, since on average, I am only just barely able to cover my share of basic expenses (rent, school loans, utilities, groceries, etc). I don't have a credit card, and am very cautious about spending money. I've been on unemployment between temp gigs, but dislike it and generally hide the fact as I get subtle comments about it from people I know. I feel like a burden most of the time.
Lately, my pay ($13/hour gross) has not been able to keep up with my school loans. Every month I'm a little bit further behind on my payments. I pay as soon as I'm able and haven't been reported to a credit agency yet, but the situation is trending steadily toward unsustainability (bitter amusement).
The job situation:
I've been sending out a ton of resumes/cover letters; literally hundreds, most electronically, but many via snail mail (doesn't seem to make a difference). Since I wasn't getting many responses, I changed strategies to sending out fewer, but taking more time to craft and tailor them to the specific target. When that produced marginal results, I attempted to focus on opportunities through networking. I've gotten a few interviews, but I always get a vibe that there is only a token interest in me and am not being considered seriously. I dress well (I think), and speak articulately (I think), and always feel well-prepared, but never have any way of getting feedback (as an aside, is there a professional/appropriate way to ask an interviewer for feedback after they've decided not to hire you?)
I'm a decent writer. I'm modest, but I know I'm more capable than most English majors who got the degree because they didn't know what else to do. I know my formatting standards, and can proof and edit (everywhere I work, I end up being asked to 'fix up' co-worker's letters and e-mail for better clarity, flow, etc). I can do web development. I'm still have gaps of knowledge, but I've had paying clients who I've built websites for. I have an interest in and basic knowledge of design principals, and have doing a lot of reading in this area, especially concerning web design. I'm very good with computers, both with software and hardware. I could probably earn some of those silly Microsoft certifications with ease if I had the money and thought it would make a difference. Finally, I have a killer work-ethic. I happily do the jobs others are unwilling to do, I don't surf online at work, and I will stay late to get a project done if necessary. I am incredibly focused and don't get burned out easily.
I'm worried that my dime-a-dozen degree is all employers are seeing, if anything. I'm worried that the type of jobs I've been taking to make ends meet are pigeonholing me into more mediorce administrative work in the future. I'm worried that I need to go back to school, but can't decide what for. I'm worried that it hurts me to be more a generalist than a specialist. I'm worried that even if I decide what to go to school for, I won't get in anywhere. I'm worried that I will give up and move somewhere where I am unhappy and unchallenged.
I want work that matters and is challenging for me. I want to make around 40k/year within the next 5 years. I want to be able to tell my girlfriend to quit her job and let me support her for a change, while she pursues her passions. I want to get lost in my work and eventually, I want it to matter on some level. I want to try a leadership role in my work. I want to be able to start saving money. I want a career. I want to be able to plan my life with my girlfriend beyond the end date of my latest assignment.
Should I go back to school? Is it worth the additional debt?
How can a develop a professional network from scratch?
What can I do in interviews to stand out?
How do I know if I do something wrong in an interview?
And I know it's a common question, but what *are* employers looking for anyway?
Am I missing something? Is there some trick or method I've neglected?
How significant is my age (26) in this whole process?
What are some reliable alternative ways to make money?
Am I just being impatient and over-thinking this?
Am I being realistic, or are my expectations too high?
Is anyone out there looking to hire someone like me? PM me! ;-)