It’s funny how everybody says “Congratulations” to you when you graduate and you are soon puzzled in front of an employment form. At university, they said proudly when they wanted you to decide for their course that it would help you get a job on the market. They don’t teach people how to be freelancers or entrepreneurs. They train you to get a job.
So here I am in front of an employment form after all the excitement of graduation has gone. The form asks if I am working. The form has two options: employed or unemployed. Unemployed is a word a bit harsh, knowing how it is socially perceived. I wish they had a third option: ‘recent graduate’.
Job adverts describe a stereotype of the ‘perfect’ candidate followed by sentences like “You will do this and that task” and “You should/will be experienced, happy to work under pressure, etc.” How strange. It looks unattainable and non-negotiable. And then you go there and see how people work there. They are humans that do not have a clue on what to do at times, forget to finish their tasks andsmell like bacon because they just had a sandwich and didn’t wash their hands. So I write down the common sense attributes they ask for in the advert for and work with that.
At first, I did not see the point of writing a cover letter, as in other countries people just send their CV’s and go to interviews. I saw it as a time consuming extra. Now, I am a pro in cover letter writing, after reading an article where someone said: “It is like a love letter.” So I assume it is a love letter to an employer you don’t know well but assume is friendly, likes to keep their staff happy and will appreciate your personal qualities.
Soon there a question in my mind in regards to my CV: Should I put the voluntary work as work, or in a special volunteering section that makes it obvious that I was not paid? Many forms force you to put what your salary was. Even when it was paid I do not feel like letting them know. They are strangers. I could complete the form saying “Let’s see if we like each other first, we are not there yet.” After all, all they said they offered was “a competitive salary.” If they allow for text, I give them back their words: “A competitive salary in the current market.” If not, I type an entry-level salary. Like or not I do not dictate how much people earn when they start.
Finally, the form says that to be fair to everyone, the employer wants to know my age, my nationality, my ethnicity, my sexual orientation, my religion and if I have any disabilities. I always wish there was the option “I prefer not to say.” Before I give all this information, I want to research if the equality law and the monitoring are being implemented, especially after Brexit. It could be also a dangerous tool for those who don’t like to include under represented minorities. But I have to submit this form, so I complete it.
For my next search, I look at a website someone told me about. It is called Student Jobs. After a look, I decide a more accurate name would be Unpaid Jobs.
I receive e-mails from people who put adverts in job websites only because they want to steal people’s details. They want to know all about you (personal and bank details) and they want proof of identity and address before they invite you to an interview.
I also receive e-mails from people who offer to check my CV for free. After I try it, they send an automated lengthy letter to me saying that my CV needs a lot of improvement and they can make any CV stand out from the crowd for only £200! I wonder who uses this kind of service. Isn’t it obvious that you are searching for a job and you have no money to spare?
I know my CV is fine, but I start asking myself if I could need some proofreading, as English is not my first language. When I go to a website that does this, it asks if you are a native speaker. If you are not they charge 50% more for proofreading it. They are assuming you will make 50% more mistakes just because you were born somewhere else.
In the end, it all comes to confidence. After all, the ‘perfect candidate’ ‘should/will’ be confident. People say is tough after you graduate, so I will also be patient, even if patience is not listed in the attributes a ‘perfect candidate’ ‘should’ or ‘will’ have.