It’s been a little over a month since I initially wrote about my frustrations with obtaining a post-graduation job, but I thought I would write about it again because I am still frustrated and I am still without a future job.
Had I known that employers wouldn’t simply be lining up to hand me a job prior to graduation, I don’t know if I would have returned to school. Granted, if I hadn’t gone back when I did, I’d probably be in the same boat anyway, because the writing was on the wall and I was probably going to lose my job writing for The Motley Fool anyway. But I really thought that going back to school would make me an attractive potential hire for almost every finance-type job out there. Little did I know that this was not the case.
The longer that I look for a job, the more I realize that the value of education has been severely reduced in the eyes of future employers, and experience and a robust work history seems to matter even less. There really is not delineation between getting a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree, unless, of course, you have an MBA. I even had a classmate tell me that if I really wanted to find a job, maybe I should just go on and get my MBA after this. As I told him, if I wanted to get an MBA, I would have started one of those last year, instead of seeking what is advertised as the terminal “professional” degree for someone that wants to work in finance. So, beyond the cost associated with it, an MBA has never really been on my agenda, especially not now.
As for the experience aspect, it seems that every position out there requires specific experience on certain systems and procedures, which doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me. If I had never been hired for a job that I didn’t have experience, I would have never had a job, except maybe the military. The Army trained me how to be a paralegal, yet in my attempts to get a job as a paralegal back in the day, this didn’t matter because I didn’t have specific experience working on “civilian” matters. Of course I didn’t! The Army deals with Army things! But don’t you think that learning how to be a paralegal, how to do those individual job functions couldn’t translate into learning how to do something in the civilian sector? This persists to the jobs that I am looking for today.
Attention employers out there: I may not have specific experience in whatever accounting software you use in your office, but I do have experience using an accounting software, which makes me think that after a few hours or days, I would be able to use your very similar accounting system. They can’t be so different that you need to find a person that knows how to use your system but can’t do anything else for you and think outside the box when the occasion calls for it. I have worked with technicians before that prided themselves on being experts on “x software,” and while they were, they usually sucked in every other role in their job.
One more thing about skills: If you want to use something like passing a CPA exam as a screening requirement, that’s fine, but make it a required thing, not just something that is preferred or recommended. Do you want a CPA or not? If you do, make it abundantly clear. If you don’t, then don’t even mention it. If a CPA applies for your shitty entry-level job, good for you! But don’t arbitrarily close the door to people who may be just as qualified short of have three special letters at the end of their name. The CPA exam and everything surrounding it is not cheap, and I don’t think I should have to get a CPA just to get a job that won’t require me to use it from all appearances.
If anything, this experience has taught me a couple things. First, if I ever am in the position of hiring people for fancy jobs in my organization, I will be look at their ability to actually perform what I will need them to do, instead of making up some arbitrary checklist that every possible candidate needs to fit.It’s kind of like finding a potential mate. If you have a list of nine things that you absolutely have to have before you marry someone, finding someone with exactly those nine things shrinks the pool from which you can choose from. It’s no wonder that jobs I applied for and was rejected for three months ago are still looking to fill the position. That “perfect” candidate isn’t always out there.
Second, though I’ve always been a proponent of seeking more education, sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. In the end, most college programs are simply looking to cash your tuition checks. Sure, they’ll set up an office to help you find a job, but when you tell said office that they need to look beyond accounting jobs for the finance program and they don’t listen, it seems like a waste of time to even look at anything they do. I’m sure you are very happy with your U.S. News and World Report ranking every year, but if you aren’t helping students get employed after graduation, you are failing them, especially when they are putting out the effort.
I try not to stress about not having a job lined up in four months, and part of the reason could well be my desire to move back to Utah and the fact that I am not available until June at the earliest. A lot of other things in my life are going really well or getting better, and I really shouldn’t complain. But this is the thing that keeps me up at night.
My last semester of college, probably ever unless I lose my mind and want to get a Ph.D or something, is nearly halfway over. I really thought I would have a job by now. But I don’t and I’m trying to be okay with it. I’ll give myself until I return from spring break at the end of March to worry about every day, to apply for a new job each time I’m rejected for another one. After that, I’ll just move on with my life, work towards making myself more employable, or simply work towards working for myself like I want to do anyway. I have a supportive girlfriend who is willing to follow me wherever I may end up, and she is truly the best thing in my life right now. She has more faith in me than I do myself sometimes, and that’s exactly what I need.
P.S. If you happen to know anyone in the Salt Lake City Metro area that is looking for someone in their finance department, feel free to direct them to my LinkedIn profile, or drop me a note on Twitter and let me know where I can send a resume. Sometimes it’s about who you know, even if that person is just a kind internet stranger.
Until next time…
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