The Fresh Grads’ Frustrations with Job Hunting

Graduating from college always results in a mixed bag of emotions. You are relieved to be finally free of the requirements that you spent countless sleepless nights trying to complete, but at the same time, you miss those moments when you were cramming an assignment with your friends at the study hall. You feel a sense of excitement to start a new chapter in your life, and yet you also feel like you’re not ready to be an adult yet. You find yourself imagining all the possible career paths you can pursue, only to be overcome with a sense of existential dread as you think of all the things you want to achieve under such limited time. And of course, these mixed emotions are further complicated by the stress of the job hunting process.

Job hunting is arguably the hardest part about being a fresh graduate. There are a lucky few who already have offers waiting for them even before they finish their degree, but for most people, they have to go through the long and arduous process of sending their resumes to various companies and hoping that one of them takes interest. There are many aspects in the job market that need to be improved, but upon speaking with fellow fresh grads, these are the recurring problems that frustrated them the most. 

Entry-level jobs that require years of work experience

Photo from The Daily Texan

There’s a running joke that Chinoy kids have years worth of work experience under their belts because of Ko Tiam (i.e. helping out with their family businesses), but kidding aside, many companies seem to use the term “entry-level” arbitrarily. By definition, an entry-level job should not require prior experience, and yet there are companies that require 3-5 years of experience for a candidate to apply. Realistically, there is no way for a fresh grad to gain this experience unless they spend the majority of their college lives working internships when they really should be prioritizing their studies. Some would argue that candidates don’t have to meet all the qualifications to apply, but listing 3-5 years of work experience would raise the bar high and deter candidates from even trying.

Long application process and lack of response

Photo from VisualCV

The most anxiety-inducing part about job-hunting is the waiting time between sending your resume and hearing back from the employer. The waiting time usually varies between 2 weeks to a month, and although some companies allow you to track the progress of your application through their website, most of them will just leave you in the dark. There are many instances where you would never hear back from the employer at all, and the worst part is that they don’t even send rejection letters.

It’s understandable for large companies to filter out the candidates to contact based on their qualifications, since they likely receive an influx of resumes every day. However, a candidate mentioned that they had already passed the initial interview, and yet the company never sent a rejection letter and simply stopped replying to their follow up emails. If an employer has allowed a candidate to advance to a considerable stage in the application process, the least they could do is take a few minutes of their time to send a simple rejection email. But even if the candidate’s resume was filtered out before they reached the interview stage, employers could always send an automated email to let them know they weren’t qualified. 

Course and school discrimination

Photo from Diyaryo Milenyo

Employers in the Philippines tend to value college degrees before skills, which is why many people aren’t able to find jobs despite graduating from senior high school. Unfortunately, getting a college degree isn’t enough to secure a job either because employers may also evaluate you based on which university and course you graduated from. It’s understandable for employers to look for course-specific qualifications when it comes to technical or high-level jobs, however, many entry level jobs often list preferred courses as part of their qualifications. A person’s course should not limit their career options in the future, and it also isn’t fair for employers to only pick applicants who come from prestigious universities.

Low starting salary and non-disclosure of salary range

In 2021, a graduate of one of the big four universities turned down a starting salary amounting to P37k because they were expecting the offer to be around P60k. The recruiter took to social media to express his disappointment, implying that the candidate was too entitled for expecting so much because of their educational background. However, while P37k is already high compared to the average entry level salary of P12-20k, it is barely enough to match the high cost of living in the Philippines, especially if your family is dependent on you. In fact, the Philippines is one of the countries with the lowest average salary in the world, so the lower than expected starting salary isn’t something recruiters should be defensive about.

It is therefore reasonable for a “big four” university graduate to expect a higher salary after investing so much money and effort into their education, but it is also important to emphasize that everyone, including graduates from other universities and non-degree holders, should be offered higher salaries based on their skills rather than on a standard entry-level metric. 

Aside from the average salary, another issue is the non-disclosure of salary range in job posting. More often than not, the salary is only shared during the job offer stage, which makes it difficult for the candidate to benchmark how much they should expect or should be paid. It could lead to them accepting an offer that is lower than what they are worth, since they wouldn’t know how much other companies are paying for the same position.

Back then, a college degree was already enough to guarantee a good job, but now, even as students stretch themselves thin to juggle leadership positions and internships with their studies, they are still left obsessively checking their emails while wondering if they are good enough. 

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