I don’t currently have a bad life. I’m married to a wonderful man who provides the majority of our household income because he has a better job than I.
I have an okay job. It’s full-time, 40 hours a week during business hours only, easy, great coworkers, and I don’t take my work home with me. It doesn’t require a college degree, though I have one. The downsides of this job are that the pay is pretty low ( a few dollars over federal minimum wage) and no health insurance is offered. I’ve been at this job about 1.5 years and it’s been suggested to me that I dip my toes in the job hunting water and see what else is out there.
In theory, I would love to do this. I would love to see what else is out there. I’m certain I am well-qualified for other jobs that would pay better and offer health insurance. However, my job-hunting experience after graduating from college has essentially killed my ambition and drive to be successful and try to get a better job.
I graduated from high school in 2009 and from college in 2013. Luckily I was not applying for full-time jobs at the height of the Great Recession when I graduated from high school. The recession had long ended when I graduated from college, but the job market had not caught up. It was still an employer’s market. People older and more experienced than I were applying for the same entry-level jobs I was. How could I compete with real adults who had been laid off from mid-tier jobs with 10+ years more of experience than me? It was brutal out there for me and for many of my friends and peers who had graduated in 2013. Some went to grad school to stave off job searching for a couple more years or who knew what they wanted to do and needed a Masters for it. Others, like me, tried for months to get a good job in their field that paid enough to share an apartment with a couple roommates, only to get desperate and take whatever they could get.
From May 2013 until September 2015, I strung together fast food and retail work with random part-time office jobs to make some money and get some experience while applying for dozens of jobs each week in an effort to get something better that suck. Draining customer service jobs that didn’t require a high school degree combined with rejection after rejection really took its toll on me. I was rarely called for an interview for jobs that required a bachelors. I signed up with three different temp agencies, only one of which placed me in a position, and that position was cut from the client company after I had worked there a week. In a four-month period where I kept records of my job-hunting activities, I applied for 150 jobs, had a couple dozen interviews (including phone, in-person, and second interviews), and received no job offers. It truly crushed my spirit and made me feel like I would always be a failure and live with my parents working a part-time minimum wage job.
Finally, in September 2015, I was offered a full-time office job. I breathed a colossal sigh of relief and was overjoyed that I would not have to think about job-hunting for a while. I’m in a pretty good place in my life right now and as much as I’d like to continue to grow in my career, I just don’t think I can take the rejection, resume retooling, cover letter writing, and tedious online applications again. I know I can do better than where I am right now, and I know that I should, because I know that I have talents and skills that the world needs and I just plain old need more money to live a comfortable life. I know that in another economic climate I would have a better job and maybe a better life, but it still stings that I’m where I am right now.