TLDR; it’s soul crushing but it’s worth it.
I’ve had the title of this post in my drafts for probably about 9 months as I planned to write about the graduate job search after finishing my undergrad. Fast forward a year and I’m sat in a coffee shop by London Bridge after a first stage interview for a PR agency.
I kind of let this post idea slide and thought I wouldn’t have much to say considering I went on to study for another year… But I have revised this post and boy do I have plenty to talk about.
As the title suggests, finding a job as a graduate is bloody well challenging and believe me, a masters degree under your belt means squat all to a hiring manager. I may as well be in the hunger games, with god knows how many graduates all fighting it out for the same entry level roles. Although I am another year wiser, in considerably more student debt and more experienced than before I still can’t land myself a London job.
(Also as I read this back I realise this is a bit of an odd read as I started writing this post half way through my job search but didn’t want to publish until I’d landed a job. I literally loved the agency I worked for, I just wanted to head up to London and move out of home so hopefully no hard feelings from them, but still, publishing this while still working there would have been savage to say the least. Although I’m pretty certain I didn’t keep it hidden because I was always talking about “when I move to London this, when I move to London that…” But anyway anyone that worked with me there that’s reading this – thank you for everything, I wouldn’t be where I am today without you all.)
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I started applying for graduate roles as of June this year in the hopes of landing one by September, to fit in perfectly with the end of my masters degree and Sam finishing uni. As the date now suggests, that plan did not work out so well. With one long stretch of interviews for my *dream* company (those who know will know) I found out I wasn’t selected for the role. Queue me crying in the cinema the evening I found out while watching Toy Story 4 just thinking about how I was told I wasn’t good enough for a job I so desperately wanted.
That rejection was a while ago now and well I didn’t think it would get much worse than that. Until the day I opened my inbox to see a big fat rejection email from a company I had worked for previously for roughly 4 years. The role was entry level, in the same line of work I was currently working in (alongside studying), I had matched 90% of the job spec and had 4 work experiences that all demonstrated those skills. When a company I knew inside out told me I wasn’t good enough to even warrant an interview that hit me like a ton of bricks. I fully accepted that someone was almost definitely more qualified and suited to the role than me but even just a shot to interview would have felt ok. To prove to them I could step up to the role, show them how determined I was for this job, how passionate I am about the company and hopefully showcase my personality to them. But nope, not even a chance. I stopped my search for a week.
I’d been keeping track of fairly big applications I was putting in on a very basic Excel spreadsheet, letting the odd LinkedIn easy apply slide. When I fired up my search again I realised I had applied for over 70 jobs in the last 3 months and heard back from about 3% of them in rejection emails. At this point I realised that the previous rejection email wasn’t rock bottom, this was.
Back on the band wagon after a minor (major) setback in my confidence. I head up to London to register with a recruiter who has some creative jobs that she believes suit me. I sign up in the morning and spend the afternoon wandering around London like a lost puppy. I feel like I don’t deserve to be here, I’m not good enough to have a job in the city, I can’t even get an interview without going through a recruiter. I sit in the Tate Modern doing some work emails, feeling sorry for myself because I feel too anxious to sit in a coffee shop among other workers in London- I’ve convinced myself I don’t fit in with them. The recruiter set up two interviews, one over the phone that was advertised awfully – it was basically an admin job with low pay and the other I cancel because I’ve told myself I’m not good enough and I can’t bring myself to get let down when I’m already feeling this way.
Back to the drawing board. AKA LinkedIn job board. I spice up my search a little, looking for jobs that specifically require a masters degree because well I have one so I should use it. Result: comms jobs don’t care about a postgraduate degree because you’re still technically entry level. I accept this and search for junior roles in smaller agencies and avoid in-house roles.
Hallelujah – an interview request. I email back almost scarily quickly and accept, 5 minutes later the kaching of my apple pay – my train tickets are purchased. We’re going to London. It seems a bit much for a first stage interview to go all the way to London (especially when I spent a small fortune on the train tickets back and forth for my *dream* job *sobs*) but this is the confidence boost I need. That same afternoon I get an email for a first stage telephone interview for a very similar role. They are scheduled for the same day.
Update – they both went well, I am fairly confident I came across the best I could but you just never know. As I’m waiting in London for Sam to finish work I get a LinkedIn message from the lady that interviewed me for my *dream* role about a similar job coming up and to look out for the job listing. I do a little happy dance in my head (I would do a real dance but I’m sat in Costa writing this and I’ve already spilt my coffee over the table and the nice man made me a new one so no sudden movements allowed.) Two interviews and a very very very reassuring message later and I feel like I’ve got this in the bag. It always seems to be that everything comes at once and well I am ready. Bring. It. On.
I will keep you updated…
It’s Monday November 5th, I have two second interviews for the jobs I’ve mentioned are scheduled for the afternoon. My weekend was spent preparing a 50 minute presentation for one of the interviews (exhaustive I know but you gotta do what you gotta do). Its 9am on Monday morning, I’m up early finalising my presentation and writing notes down to memorise on the train journey. An email pops up – the interview is cancelled as they’ve filled the position. I can’t decide whether to scream or cry. I ring my mum and well the decision is made for me – I am crying. Not just crying. I am sobbing (I am a bit of a drama queen so this isn’t unusual) but my confidence levels sink lower than ever before. If I hadn’t spend hours on preparing a presentation and skipped a meeting at work I don’t think I would’ve reacted this way. But anyway here we are – the lowest point in my search.
I feel so set back I consider just cancelling the other interview, I’m not in the frame of mind to interview right now. One cup of tea and a re-evaluation of my job search later I decide that’s silly and I have to go. I get myself ready, try to cover up my red eyes and grab my stuff to leave. The universe is clearly not on my side when I find out my train is cancelled 5 minutes before it’s due to pull into the station. The next train gets me to London too late and I’m too anxious to just turn up late. I ring my mum again, no answer. Here we go again I’m crying (reoccurring theme for the last 5 months). I’m back in the house and I’ve contacted the company to explain my situation and ask to reschedule. I know it looks unprofessional but I have nothing to lose and no train to get on right now. My mum rings back and I can only explain what happened as some sort of panic attack. I’ve not had one before but my mum had grounded me by encouraging me to say 4 things I could touch, 3 things I could hear, 2 thinks I could smell and 1 thing that’s great about myself. Top tip to anyone that experiences anything like it – this trick worked a charm (Thanks mum). During this call I get a response from the company – interview is rescheduled for later in the afternoon. I fix my winged liner and get on the next possible train.
I’ll cut to the chase as it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for – it went well! They offered me the job four hours later and I truly believe more than ever that everything happens for a reason.
So to summarise that absolute emotional rollercoaster of a job search, it’s absolutely savage but DO NOT GIVE UP. Take a break if it’s becoming exhausting or impacting your mental health but if you’re determined and passionate about where you want to go in life, you will get there! Trust the timing of your life and find the positives in every setback (after you’ve had a little cry because it’s completely justified).
Now any London bloggers/friendly people hit me up because now this has become a reality I’m absolutely petrified about actually having to find my feet and make friends in a new city.
I hope this helps or at least entertains anyone else going through a similar experience! Thanks for reading…