Moving Away From Rejection: The Post-College Job Hunt

If Professional Student was an occupation, that’s what I would have chosen to be -- behind Super Model and Winner of the Great British Baking Show. But as my dad oh-so-kindly pointed out when I informed him I wanted to study Art History in college, Starving Artist was not a desirable profession upon graduation.

Even after taking his advice and selecting a more business-oriented career path, taking 3.5 years of Honors courses and working semester-long internships, I still struggled to find a job right out of college. It was December 2014, and the advertising and marketing industries were stuffed with competition, oversaturation, and really, really low pay.

My fiance and I had a plan for 2015: find a cute & reasonably-priced starter home in Austin (ha!), get my dream job (double ha!), live happily ever after (this one’s going alright so far <3). Let’s just say things didn’t really go according to plan. Imagine that.

Filling out application after application that required 3 years experience for a position with a starting salary that an intern would grimace at - only to never hear back from the HR department for an interview - had me feeling frustrated and ill-qualified. And walking out of an interview feeling like I aced it only to hear they’d gone in another direction had me disheartened. I don’t like to wallow for long (let me have my one glass of wine and time to re-watch Pride and Prejudice!); I like to take action.

But it can be hard to jump into a job search after graduation, even if you may be a go-getter normally! The repetitive rejection and searching are physically and emotionally exhausting. Knowing what you’re actually looking for is confusing and can take some soul-searching. Setting goals may make you freeze up instead of excite you. Your expectations -- and the expectations of your parents and friends, may make you feel anxious instead of supported.

So I did what any stressed out and rejected college grad does -- I phoned a friend. My choice for this lifeline? My mom, the recruiter.

What she asked surprised me: Are you willing to move? The job that you want -- and that wants you! -- is out there somewhere. Are you willing to go and get it?

Can’t find a job that pays what you’re worth? Move.

Can’t find a job in the career field you want? Move.

Can’t afford to live in your current city with the job that you have? Move.

Be willing to be flexible! I was so focused on finding my dream job in the city I loved, that I hadn’t even wanted to consider looking at my market in other cities. I learned pretty quickly if a year or two in a smaller city gets you the experience you need for the job you really want, it’s worth the hassle of moving.

And because moms really do know best, here are a few more of her recruiter-approved tips and tactics for your own job hunt:

  • Remember, you’re also interviewing the company and you are allowed to be selective. Yes, you may need a job, any job because #adulting, but if it isn’t a good fit, then you’ll be miserable. No paycheck is worth your mental and emotional health! 
  • Request feedback. In addition to your handwritten thank you note -- which you will write after each and every interview! -- request feedback from your interviewer. Attitude is as important as ability, so display your teachable personality and commitment to self-development.
  • Read and apply the principles in this book, Killing the Cover Letter. It’s written for advertising students and graduates, but the big ideas can easily expand to fit other industries. You may even learn something new about yourself!
  • Ask your circle of friends & supporters to pray over your circumstances and keep their ears open for opportunities that you would be a good fit for. A broad net has a higher probability of catching the most fish. You can choose what you want to catch and release.
  • In between applying, practicing for interviews and working on your material, make sure you’re taking time for yourself so you don’t burn out. Burnout creates bad feelings and won't help you produce good material for your applications or keep you positive and excited in your interviews.

And always, always, always remember to take time for a healthy comparison check-in. Who you are and what you are capable of is amazing and unique and qualified for the right position. Your job does not define you! The job application process can be discouraging, but everyone has gone through it. Having done your research and put in all that time and effort in the face of rejection and the unknown, you'll come out the other side with a career step of which you can be proud.

Are you in a job-search stage of life? How's it going? How can I support you?

Also shared on

Like this Post? Save it on Pinterest for Later!

Post a Comment