Carah Lockett is a recent college graduate. She’s pursuing a graduate degree in human relations, had a couple of internships and entry-level jobs. Like millions of Americans, Lockett left her recent role to pursue a better opportunity.
The job search turned out more challenging than she imagined. In a moment of frustration from all of the setbacks, she shared her feelings on the career-related social media platform, LinkedIn, writing:
“Today, I cried. The job searching process is a lot. The constant rejection. The long #interviewing processes. The take-home assignments. Making it through every round of the interview process just to be rejected at the end. It’s mentally taxing. It’s emotionally jarring…but I refuse to give up. I’m just a little tired. 😅”
The post went viral with over 1 million views. Thousands of people shared their personal stories about the horrors of trying to find a job, showed their support for Lockett and encouraged her to keep on trying to find the right fit.
Here are some of the heartfelt responses to Lockett’s post:
Bernadette B., Senior Criminal Defense Investigator
“I felt this deep in my soul ♥️ These are tough times on job seekers, despite all the holding up the contrary!”
Jordan Stewart, Program Manager
“It is definitely a mentally draining experience. Keep your head up! I’ve communicated to a few of my HR connections that they really need to be very specific about what they are looking for and to actually give people a shot at an opportunity. Some companies are looking for perfection when they aren’t perfect themselves 🤦🏽♀️. It will all work out for good in the end. You will end up exactly where you need to be!”
Josephine Freeman, MBA, Visual Artist/Curator/Communications And Marketing/ Project Management Professional
“Crazy part is I’ve been applying like crazy. Reading articles about this booming job market and lack of qualified applicants. Holding an MBA and experience, I felt confident I’d find a good position or get several offers Especially on LinkedIn. I get more offers from people offering me a service seeking new clients. Not job offers. Funny, I applied for an Amazon factory job as a last resort, just to see what would happen. I was pretty much given the job on the spot. What does that say about the job search market and professionals like myself who seek a good paying job that compliments and fits their experience and skill?”
Eden Kelsey Araza, Engineering Graduate
“I’ve been feeling this exact same dejection and tiredness. Trying so hard to land a job anywhere at all, but getting nowhere. Sometimes, I stop and think if this is just it where it ends, but we set those thoughts aside, and keep pushing and hoping with the kind of hope that doesn’t demand but allows. We’ll get through this! And the employer that sees our potential will ultimately be the perfect match as well.”
Jason Kim, Freelance Travel Copywriting
“I relate to this to an eerie degree. I’ve been searching since even before I finished my program at Miami Ad School in September, and I’m still hunting. Standing with you in solidarity.”
Nicole Chardenet, Writer
“Gee, you’d think it would be easy to get hired in an environment where employers are whining they ‘can’t find anyone’. Maybe those employers aren’t looking very hard.”
Chris Mason, Network Security Administration
“Keep at it, Carah! You are SO not alone. I read your post and, honestly, I could have written this. Verbatim. It’s soul-crushing doing this day after day, week after week. You’ll land it. It will happen.”
Christine Korda, Social Media Influencer
“I totally understand how you are feeling. It’s really frustrating especially when blatant ageism is going on for females over 40 looking for new roles.”
Rosalin Krieger, M.A., Speaker/Writer/Holistic English Tutor/Writing Instructor
“Your honesty and vulnerability are amazing and inspirational! I’m frustrated too. I’m almost 56 and my self-belief waivers at least a few times a week. I hardly apply for jobs at all because of my age.”
John Bass, Contract Sales Professional
“Why do we give hiring managers this much power? It’s time for some pushback on endless rounds of interviews, assignments that let them steal your ideas, so many quality people that are made to feel so small and under-valued? There has to be a better way. The hiring system is so dysfunctional.”
Dina Moriello, Looking For The Perfect Opportunity
“I went through the tears two weeks ago and thought I was crazy—the job search every day, sending off your CV, crossing your fingers hoping you get a call. You get the call, you think the interview went well and then you wait. If you’re lucky, you get a follow-up email saying they went with someone else. Other times, the interviewer just disappears and you wonder where did I go wrong? Self-doubt sets in, you are exhausted. But as you say, we are not alone. Covid has wreaked havoc on our lives. Getting back to work and some sense of normalcy is what we yearn for…so we KEEP GOING…I hear you…and I’m with you.”
Kali F., Clinical Social Worker
“We are hiring! Would love some passionate people (Not automated—let me know and I’d love to chat!)!”
The media keeps touting that over 10 million jobs are available and that there is a war for talent being waged to attract and retain workers. What they don’t say is that it’s incredibly difficult for people to find jobs.
This is especially problematic for young people, like Lockett. The job descriptions call for far too many requirements that are completely unreasonable. The interview process is tortuously slow and long, as managers want to find the best person for the lowest price. Job seekers are routinely ghosted and treated rudely. There is a glaring lack of empathy and compassion on the part of companies seeking to hire a person.
It is painfully difficult for Gen-Zers to land their first opportunity. Job Listings that are posted as “entry-level” require around one to three-plus years of relevant experience. Graduate degrees, mastery of certain softwares and technologies, licenses and certifications are being asked for too. A study of 4 million jobs posted on LinkedIn showed that roughly 35% of job listings for “entry-level” opportunities called for three or more years of related prior relevant work experiences.
The new first job is an internship. An internship—some paid, many not—is the new default way to gain some hands-on experience. After incurring over $100,000 of tuition debt, this outcome was not mentioned in the college brochure. As many high-quality jobs are in cities like Silicon Valley and New York, most young people can’t afford to live in these ridiculously expensive places, especially if they’re interning for experience and not a paycheck.
The unemployment rate for college graduates is higher than the average. Over 40% of recent college graduates are underemployed. According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, college graduates are working in jobs that don’t require a college degree. The Wall Street Journal reported on a study that found that “since the start of the pandemic, hiring for entry-level college graduate positions has fallen 45%, more than for any other category of education.”
It’s not just young people who are impacted. I recently wrote about Michael Conley, a middle-aged software engineer, who was searching for a management position without success. After several interviews, he was told that there would be nearly 10 interviews in total. In response, Conley, like Lockett, shared his exasperation on LinkedIn, writing,
“Today, I pulled my name for consideration for a company I was interviewing with. It was a hard decision, as I liked the company.” He added, “I decided to pull my name for consideration because they were working to schedule rounds four to nine of the interview process with me.”
He pointed out, “For the types of jobs I’ve been looking for, the number of interviews has been getting higher and higher. Companies think they are building processes that ensure picking the right candidate. I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s due to fear of picking the wrong candidate. I think it’s fear they will not find the next unicorn. I think it’s fear of wasting time that ends up wasting more time.” Conley said, “It should not take nine interviews for any role. You have trial periods. If you are still fearful, use contract-to-hire.”
His post went viral. Similar to Lockett, thousands of people told their tales of being treated rudely, asked to do work for free, write reports for the organization, take tests and contend with other hurdles and roadblocks.
Although this all sounds discouraging, please don’t give up hope. In addition to submitting résumés, consider networking. Find alumni, family, friends, neighbors and others who can offer leads to find a new job or could make a personal introduction to a target company. Get in touch with recruiters who specialize in your field. Actively participate on LinkedIn to get noticed. Keep trying, stay positive and you will eventually find the right job. Careers are marathons and not sprints. Even if you get off to a slow start, with drive and determination, you can catch up and ultimately win the race.
After receiving such wonderful universal encouragement from LinkedIn members of all walks of life, Lockett happily wrote, “Wow! The love and support that I’ve received from both #jobseekers and #employers has been overwhelming in the best of ways!“
She added, “I hate that so many of you are experiencing the same woes in your #jobsearch. I hate that the hardship of the process is what has caused us to connect.” Lockett empathetically responded to her supporters, “I hope that you are encouraged to know that you’re not alone. I hope you saw the potential of possibility from all the postings that employers put in the comments. I hope that my post sparked a small glimpse of hope for you ☺️✨”
Lockett said, “I am making my way through the messages, comments and connection requests. I love the interaction and connection! Remember, despite all the no’s, all it takes is ONE yes for your life to change. Don’t give up—your yes is coming! ✨ Please let me know if I can help in any capacity. We’ve gotta stick together! 💪🏾.”
Because of the high visibility of the post, a number of high-profiled companies and recruiters reached out to Lockett with exciting employment opportunities. The future looks bright for her and her story is sure to have a happy ending.