The 5 Stages of Job Applications for New Graduates


For those of you graduating this time, firstly congrats! You did it! Secondly, welcome to the world of debt, despair and degradation. I’m joking, it’s not that bad. Unless, like me, it takes you 3 days to fill in a job application form and you’ve got a mother who helpfully emails you links from indeed.com every half hour (sorry mum. I’m just not sure the physics department at Sussex uni are looking for a researcher with an English Lit degree).

It can, at times, feel self-defeating. Hours spent sending off your polished CV just to be told you won’t hear back if you haven’t been successful (but often they will give feedback upon request. Good of them). And I’m saying this a mere couple of weeks into the process. However, these weeks have taught me a lot, namely that there seems to be five main stages to being a job hunter (there could have been six but I skipped crying into a mug of tea because I realise that’s probably more subjective).

1. Optimism

You’re off! It’s the beginning of your job-seeking journey. Scrolling through job finder sites, telling friends and family about all of the exciting prospects you’re faced with each and every day. I mean, who knew you wanted to be a Researcher and Runner for The Jeremy Kyle Show?! It wasn’t especially topping your dream job list, but now you think about it you’re absolutely perfect for the role. Hard-working, good people skills, analytical, 2 years’ experience working with the public (well not really but y’know. Student accommodation). Not to mention Jeremy Kyle is your fave daytime TV. Maybe second to Come Dine with Me. And Escape to the Country. But still, massive fan! Yep, this job is the one. You could meet actual Jeremy Kyle. He’ll be so bowled over by your ability, wit and personal charm he’ll probs make you co-host! Do it. Apply. They need you.

2. Disdain

Right, okay. It’s a no from Jezza. But still! Wait on hearing back from that job as an AO Analyser. You know the theme tune and everything (A! O! Let’s go!). Again, not necessarily what you imagined yourself doing but no less a perfectly suited choice. You fit the person description down to a T. Excellent attention to detail? Check! Excellent interpersonal skills? Helloooo. And they advertise room to ‘flourish’. You’ll probs get a promotion by the end of your first week. CEO in five years. Easy.

3. Frustration

You’ve ticked every box for 90% of the applications you’ve sent off. You’ve proofread, analysed, torn apart your answers. So why on EARTH are you still jobless?! The truth of the matter is, you just don’t know who you’re up against. I recently applied for a job with an *unspecified* local council. As soon as I told my mum – a woman who has worked for councils throughout her life – she pointed out that often the reality is, there’s someone already lined up for the job. This is in no way a dig at councils – just an example of how the system isn’t always working in your favour, and that can be pretty exhausting. Equally you could be submitting your CV as ‘an English Graduate seeking work in marketing and PR’ against someone who’s worked in that very sector for the past ten years. Being a graduate with little to no work experience – no matter how impressive the degree – isn’t an easy position to be in.

4. Panic

So of course, the panic kicks in. It gets to a stage where you honestly feel like you’re going to spend the rest of your life giving examples of a time you worked in a high pressure environment/well as part of a team/in a creative and dynamic way. I’ve already had a few moments waking up in the middle of the night, panicking about deadlines and whether I made any typos.

5. Determination

But we all know, you haven’t come this far to fall at the final hurdle. If you’re getting stressed, take a couple of days off. Do some nice things with your friends and come back to it. Maybe reassess your personal criteria. Is it essential that your job is in media for now? Could you broaden the search to media, journalism, arts and advertising? Keep your options open: maybe view the first year or two of work as more of an experience than a definite career path. Use it to pad out your CV, bank up a couple of years actually working with the public, so next time you’re asked, you’ve got it right there on paper. It’s a stressful process and it’s often pretty defeating. But if you don’t bag that Assistant Journalist position at the BBC, I can almost guarantee that in five years’ time you’ll look back with a smile on your face and think, well, it wasn’t meant to be. Everyone who’s stuck in the rut right now, keep at it! We will get there in the end.


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