What No One Tells You About Applying to Jobs

It’s the spring semester of my senior year, and as a Type A personality, I’m already several months deep into the job search process. Plenty of my classmates are as well, all of us perfecting our resumés and churning out more cover letters than you can count. The thing is, as graduation looms, I can see my Actual Adult Life standing across the finish line, bearing a fabulous police baton branded with the words “DEATH AND TAXES.” It’s quite the visual, to be honest. And the more I stare into the cold, dead eyes of a future me who has become a seasoned rat-racer, the more nervous I get over the prospect of applying and interviewing. There are a lot of ways you can prepare for the job search process, but there are some things that are going to take you off guard. Here are just a few things no one tells you about applying to jobs.

Rejection Hurts

Look, I’m a writer. I’ve gotten plenty of rejection before on short stories and poems that I’ve submitted to publications. And, to be frank, those rejections haven’t hurt too much. After all, they’re a statement on my writing or plot. But when you are turned down from a job, no matter how far you are in the search process, it feels like a direct attack to your personality. Job applications are supposed to show who you are to the prospective company, and rejection letters—in all their vagueness—are almost as if the firm is saying, “You aren’t good enough.” You have to remember that it’s nothing personal, even if you’ve gone the whole way through the process. They’re looking for a company fit; they may love you, but have to regretfully let you go. Maybe you were too talented for them—there’s some positive thinking.

You’re Gonna Get Ghosted

For every ten applications you send out, seven won’t even respond to you. You can email for follow-up, call the office or even show up at the office address and bang on the doors and scream, and you won’t hear anything from them. It’s frustrating beyond belief and it feels a lot like a cowardly rejection. When this happens, you just have to pull yourself up by the Casual Friday bootstraps and move on to the next application. You can also put the quiet company in your Burn Book. “Widget Co.: Do not trust this fugly slut.”

Your Dream Job is Further Down the Pipeline

My older siblings have both told me that I’m not going to get my dream job straight out of college. And trust me, I believe that, since my dream job is living in a cabin in the Poconos with twenty cats and a little vegetable garden, writing novels during the day and communing with the moon at night. You know, typical millennial stuff. I’m obviously not going to be able to do that the moment I graduate, even if I wish I could. That’s why I’m applying for jobs in the first place—I want something that will help me grow as I move into the next stages of my life. Some people absolutely despise their first job, and that’s okay. Opportunities will come, and you’ll be living in that cabin with Mr. Whiskers and Milkweed in no time.

You Can’t Give an Automatic “Yes” to the First Offer

You’ve finally received that job offer—congratulations! Now, let’s look at the apartments nearby. Can you afford them? Do you know anyone who will be living in the area with whom you can room? Do you want to live with any of those people? What amenities are nearby to benefit your physical, mental and spiritual health? How long is your commute? Do you get a 401k and full dental coverage? Accounting for taxes, is the salary a liveable wage? The reality is, no matter how happy you are to receive that congratulatory email, you may have to say no. And that can hurt, especially if it seems like the money-making light at the end of the job hunt tunnel. What you have to realize is that taking a job means starting your life over. Would you rather have a solid foundation on which to build it, or throw yourself into a dark chasm, unsure of who—or what—you’ll encounter? Some people take that risk, and it pays off. But being patient, especially if this is the first offer you’ve received, can often pay off in wonderful ways.