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I’ve Applied For 52 Jobs, Here’s What I’ve Learned


I’m what my friends call “unlucky in livelihood”. There was the time my then-dream job called me after three extensive assignments and two gruelling interviews to say they were drafting my offer letter, only to ghost me, save for an email on Christmas Eve assuring they’d “be in touch ASAP”. It took until March to accept that the letter was never coming. Then there was the company that kept scheduling interviews before asking for just one more copy task – three in total and no interview. 
This last year, however, has been an altogether next level experience. The House of Commons recently posted the Youth Unemployment Statistics – it paints a bleak picture. In the months following the start of the pandemic there was a large fall in employment levels for young people aged 16-24, and a large rise in the number of economic inactive young people. This was followed by a smaller rise in unemployment. ONS reports employment for all people (ages 16-64) dropped by 1.8% compared to pre-pandemic after redundancy hit a record high in 2020. Like 14.2% of employees, I went through a lengthy restructure narrowly avoiding redundancy and at 30, I’m also a “boomerang millennial”, one of 3.5 million between 20-34 living with parents. I know my experiences are common but when facing what feels like endless rejection, logic and reason are often the first to leave. 
Back in March, when I started getting rejection emails for jobs I’d forgotten I’d applied to, a friend suggested I start an application tracker. What began as a list of roles and companies quickly evolved into an elaborate spreadsheet detailing the hours spent on applications – rare was the role that simply wanted a CV and cover letter -interview prep and run times. Combined, I spent 73 hours applying for jobs, 11 in interviews and 39 on assignments; usually a mix of market and competitor research, content strategy and sample projects. Often I wouldn’t hear back after submitting or presenting the final assignment. I stopped tracking the random 20 minutes here and there of “job admin”–the tedious but time-consuming work of following up after interviews and “reaching out” to people. Obsessively consuming career advice also went unaccounted.
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