A reader writes:
I'm a recent college graduate. I apply to countless job postings per day. Most of these are through online job boards (monster and craigslist). In recent months I have gotten crafty and researched (via google and linked in) those in the department I would like to work for and emailed them directly in tandem with applying online through the proper HR channels.
I have networked my life away for the past year, only to get a small response. I even tried to join a networking group in Philadelphia, only to have emails unanswered and I seem to have been removed from the email blast list (now THAT'S depressing). When it comes to networking I thought being outgoing and professional was key. I arrived on-time, dressed professionally (J Crew always) and even had business cards with my info and qualifications printed on them. I was always quick to respond (within 48 hours) and courteous in exchanges. I even attended a SHRM event and actually met some really inspiring, seasoned professionals.
I have gone up and down the street in 90 degree heat wearing a suit and handed out resumes to anyone and any business that would take them.
I have gone to jobs fairs with a stack of resumes and tried my best to coax people into giving me a business card. Followed up with them and out of all the times ONLY ONE has ever responded. She was quite helpful but it was for a position with the IRS that I was not qualified for.
All the while, I worked retail just to bring in some money and gain experience.
I completed several internships during college so the thought of working for free again is cringe-inducing.
I also created my own fashion blog. I have learned content editing, some html, and lot about journalism. I often do boutique write ups, comment on current events in media, design and fashion, and I also now write for the local paper.
I have had to relocated back home with parents (the ultimate nail in the coffin) and am unable to find employment here.
I am a courageous, intelligent and resourceful person who feels completely lost and like I have exhausted many avenues. I am capable, articulate and assertive. I do not fear interviews because who better to market myself than me. Sooooooo .. Please please please tell me what I am doing wrong? I network, I apply day in and day out and I have exhausted family connections. I have even started a blog to hone my skills and utilize my time off wisely. I am willing to work but no one seems to want to hire college students. Every job says I need 3-5 years of experience. How will I ever get experience if no one gives me a chance?
I'm sorry. This sucks.
You're doing everything right -- seriously, your list is ridiculously impressive. I don't think it's you. (I looked at your resume too, so I'm even more sure that it's not you.) It's the job market; it's abysmal. There are more great candidates than there are jobs right now, so it's just simple math. You are being screwed by math.
And recent grads are being especially hard hit, because you're competing with people who have more experience than you do. You're in an incredibly hard situation.
The good news: It's not going to stay like this forever. The job market will recover. You will get a job. But not in anything approaching a normal time frame. You just need to hunker down and know that this will pass.
Something I'd suggest meanwhile: Volunteer. Volunteer anywhere and everywhere that interests you and has a use for your skills. This has the potential to open a lot of doors; not only will you meet people and expand your network, but you'll become a known quantity to them, which counts for a lot. And if it doesn't lead to a job, you're adding to your resume, which will help you with paid employers. (Plus, you'll be doing something good.)
Hang in there. You're not alone, not by a long shot. Focus on positioning yourself to be an even stronger candidate when the job market picks up, and something will come together for you.
Related: Sometimes it's not about you.