Dear Job Market: Please stop penetrating me there

Okay, I haven’t made a pit thread before, so I apologize if the whine-to-vitriol ratio is wrong. Just to get things started off on the right track: fuckballs crapsack.

I’ve been trying to find a job for the past eight months and I’ve got fuckall to show for it. I graduated from the University of Georgia this past May with my degree in Sociology (I know, I know – I really was interested in it, but damnation) and my hopes of finding a job I actually like are gone gone gone. I’ve been looking, like I said, pretty much full-time since last October. I have applied to over four hundred jobs. I have more damn cover letters than China has noodles.

I’m not picky, at least I don’t think so. The only factors I’m using to limit the scope of my search are: full time, salaried, and within commuting distance (read: within a one and a half hour drive from) my home. I cared at one point about what the actual job was, but no longer. I don’t give a shit, I’ll do anything. And I just plain can’t find a job. I’ve used, HotJobs, the classifieds, made phone calls, gone out and just handed out resumes in person – I feel like there’s some secret that everyone else knows about how to find a job that I’m just missing out on.

Sorry – FUCK POOP RACIAL SLUR. That’ll hold it for a few more sentences.

Maybe I had a little bit of a sense of entitlement when I graduated, but that’s gone now. This job hunting is fucking god damn killing me, I have no ego left, and I’ve waded through so many motherfucking ads that I can’t figure out what’s legitimate and what isn’t anymore.

And you know what fucking pisses me off more than anything else? The monotony of it was getting to me, so I decided to keep a log of how much time I spend looking for a job. The average of the last three weeks: 65 hours a week. Monkey balls on a crap stick, I’m working more than full time not working.

Anyone else out there unemployed and having trouble getting into the workforce? Anyone have any advice? Anyone want to pile it on further? Applicants for that last slot should get in line – I’ve got myself booked for a few hours yet, and after that I’m going to go look at rejection letters some more. Maybe there’s a clue as to what I’m doing to be such a fuckup hidden in them.


Edited to add: By the way, if you’re in the Duluth, Georgia area and you’re hiring, I promise I’m charming. Pleeeease?

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You’re not the only one. My mom is looking for a job to replace her part time one. I have a friend who is trying desperately to find something Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of experience (three years in a grocery store) and only an AA. And most everything he’s applied for is stuff all the high schoolers do. The job market is CRAP right now.

But not Dice?

That could very well be. If you’ve been working at it that hard and have not had a single nibble, there may be something glaringly obvious to everyone but you about your resume. Could you maybe post it here?

Get rid of the line “But you fuck one goat…”

It’s not what you know, it’s who you do.

Good point.

Where are all of your friends working?

Hi Soul,

I’ve spent the last few months looking for a job. What is your degree in? Is this your first job you’re looking for, or do you have experience in a certain industry?

Perhaps you’re being too broad. Sometimes it hurts you if it’s clear that you’re applying to anything- no one will hire someone who seems needy and desperate and willing to take anything, as ironic as that may seem, at times. You need to establish a particular interest in every job in your cover letter, and there has to be a reason you want their specific job other than “I want a job”.

Most of my friends are still in college. Two of my close friends with whom I graduated are in the same situation as me, and another was just fired from waitressing (I feel bad for her – not that she didn’t deserve it, but still). The friends I have that are working are doing service type stuff – one is in Teach For America, one is getting a stipend at a youth summer camp in Nevada, that type of thing. The only friend I have that’s managed to find full-time employment post-graduation has been good to me, putting me in touch with a few people, but that’s drying up rapidly.

I’ve tried Dice, but while I consider myself pretty computer literate I’m no programmer or IT guy. There have been a couple of jobs on there that caught my eye, mostly HR stuff in tech places, but nothing has come of them so far.

I’ll happily post my resume here – I’m really glad you asked, tdn. I wanted to, but I couldn’t decide if that would be too demanding (“I can’t find a job, you people go get me one!”). Here it is, in plaintext below:

I need more experience, that much is obvious. I should have worked more in college, and I kick myself now for not having done so. Looking back, the thought that my only two responsibilities in college were to get good grades and squeeze as much fun as possible out of my four years were childish. Damn that hindsight.

Also, I’m worried that people reading my resume might think I just have an Associates Degree since UGA, for whatever reason, formats the lettering for sociology as A.B., not B.A. Should I just switch the letters?

Also, if you’re interested, here’s a sample cover letter of mine. This one was for an administrative assistant position that turned out to be a scam, but whatever.

Thanks for having a look at these, I sincerely appreciate it. And I know we’re in the Pit so it’s not necessary to say this, but still: be brutally honest. I know something must be wrong, and I’ve had my friends and one professor look over my resume. The likely scenario: I’ve missed something and they were too nice to point it out. While kind to spare my feelings, it’s ultimately less than helpful.

Having an error in the same sentence you’re touting your proofreading skills doesn’t bode well.

Sounds choppy, I would say, “If there are any other materials I can provide you with…” Same with “bring to the table”.

I don’t think – is an accepted form of punctuation, but I could be wrong.

Sorry to hear about your struggles, good luck!

ETA: When you describe what you do, don’t say “Became comfortable”. It’s not an action word, and it kinda makes it sound like you were complacent and lazy. Became is not an “action word”, make the verb you start with more descriptive.

If you’re going to punctuate one of the lines to make it a sentence, make all of them into sentences.

The cynic in me (never far from the surface in matters concerning the work world) says that the command of the English language you so prize is no longer a valuable skill. Business communication today consists of numbers, buzzwords, and gobbledegook, and you may have to embrace those values if you want to be seen as a team player.

I remember research papers in sociology that were so dependent on shoptalk and statistics as to be pretty damn impenetrable. Perhaps you should consider redoing your self-presentation along those lines.

I think you might be screwing yourself with two of your requirements- the “full time” and “salaried” ones. There are part time jobs that can get you in the door at places you might want to work, and exempt positions where you are payed hourly but have access to delicious overtime dollars. Basically, If I was looking at resumes, I’d pick someone with a bit more of a focused work history, even if that history is part-time gigs, for a full time position. And, if you get a part time job doing something you can build on, you can still spend 10-20 hours a week looking for a better one.

Also, there’s something off-putting about your letter- like you’re trying to make up qualifications without lying- the bit about how a bachelor’s degree “doesn’t come without hard work” in particular. Sure, you worked hard and got the most out of it, but unless you went to Ideal University, lots of your classmates coasted through and got the very same degree as you- and the prospective employer doesn’t know which type you are.

For similar reasons, I’d refine the “what I studied” bit on the resume- right no it just looks like you listed out the classes you took. Maybe pick 3 of those headings that you did more in-depth work on and would be willing to expand on in the letter and in an interview.

More later.

A couple of things pop out at me right off the bat.

For one, you list your education first, then your work experience. And your work experience is in chronological order. This is exactly the opposite of what I’ve learned to be correct. Flip it all upside down

For another, I have no idea what you can do for me. (If I were a prospective employer – which I’m not.) If I was looking for a green widget inspector, I’d want to see the words “green widget inspector” right at the top. If I don’t, and I have 100 resumes to look at, yours would go to the bottom of the pile right away.

Figure out what your value is to an employer, and put it at the top of your resume, preferably in big bold letters.

If that’s the resume in the order it’s actually written, it’s strange; I’ve never seen a professional resume that did not place work experience BEFORE education, and always with the most recent job first. All resumes I see go in this order:


Marketing statement

Last job

Job before that

Job before that

Most recent education of significance

Technical skills

Unless you’re looking for a job in academia, I’d list work experience first, then education. I’d also either spell out “Bachelor of Arts” or switch to B.A., since it does read at first glance like a two-year degree.

When you decided on sociology as a major, what jobs did you picture obtaining?

Pretty much what I said, but with one exception: When looking for my last job, I put my technical skills up at the top. This might not apply to Soul’s situation, but as I was seeking a job in technology, I knew that that was the first thing that an employer would look for. It didn’t matter where I went to school. Do I know HTML, JavaScript, VBScript, and SQL? That was the important thing.

OK - here are some tips and good luck.

Spell out “Bachelor of Arts, Sociology” - no one is charging you by the letter.

Take this out unless it relates to the job “Educated in the study of work groups and occupations, complex organizations, the family, race and ethnic relations, gender roles, deviance, the urban community, education, health and medicine, social movements, and demographic analysis.” If you are applying for a job in community development, social activism, etc. it’s OK, but not for corporate America.

Take this out “Became comfortable working within a large bureaucracy.” It sounds like you will be complaining about their bureaucracy.

Change all of the “learned, develop, became” action verbs to things you did. You don’t get paid to learn, you get paid to do. Not: learned to manage multiple priorities, managed multiple priorities. (I pit your professors who didn’t give you this feedback, because they shouldn’t be that clueless, but aargh!)

Add a list of software you are proficient in. Devote 10 hours per week to increasing office software proficiency until it gets you a job. Maybe another 10 hours to volunteering in a way that helps you network. At least it will break up the monotony of the search, and statistically more people find jobs through networking than online ads.

Did you ever win awards, earn raises, get promoted in any of your jobs? Did you hold any leadership positions in student organizations?

I would keep the cover letter brief. Don’t repeat anything from the resume. Add detail only if you have something meaningful to say about how your experience is relevant to what they are looking for.

I second the advice to do temp work. That is how I got into the workforce after college. Your school may offer some short-term health insurance to new grads, if that’s a issue.

Not majoring in sociology?

That was a mean-spirited. Sorry. But there just isn’t much demand for the study of work groups, social movements and demographic analysis. I second the idea to register with a temp agency or three. Many companies that hire temps do it as a way of reducing the risk of hiring someone full-time without a test-run. If you can hack it (and it sounds like you can), then you shouldn’t have a problem turning a temp position into a full time one in 6 months or a year. It might not be what you really want to do forever, but it’ll be a start.

Other, potentially random, thoughts:
[ul][li]Are you interested in social work? Get your resume on file at all the government offices in your area that do that sort of thing. You may have to reapply to every opening, but there are often very specific notice/applicant guidelines involved that you could check daily.[/li][li]Are you really tied down to your location? You mentioned commuting range, but would you be able to relocate for a good job?[/li][li]Are you good at math? One industry that really is interested in demographic changes and such things is the insurance industry. You could try to get a foot in the door at an insurance company and work toward being an actuary.[/li][li]Could you be a cop? I don’t know about Georgia, but police departments throughout California are practically begging for applicants. It’s not a cakewalk; there are fairly rigorous physical standards and higher risk, but the pay is generally quite good and the benefits are usually stellar. Your degree might be helpful here.[/ul][/li]
It’s fairly common for just-out-of-college applicants to place their education before work experience, unless there’s particularly applicable work experience to list. When I was looking for a job at the end of school, I listed my education first, because my degree was a lot more applicable to my abilities than the part time tutoring and summer-time odd jobs that I took to keep myself housed and (usually) in beer money.

I agree that work experience should be in reverse chronological order.

Good luck.

I hope the best for you and I don’t want to sound harsh.

I think you might just have to take your ass back to school. A BA in sociology just won’t do anything for you but get in the way. There’s no demand for it and anyone looking to hire a non-degreed or general studies job may just consider you to be overqualified.

My last kid is entering college this fall. I told all of them that I would pay their way through college if they wanted a “working” degree. My definition of a working degree was a degree in business, teaching, health fields and engineering.

I told them that if they wanted a degree in art, music, psychology, sociology, history etc that they were welcome to pay their own way.

I was incredibly interested in European history when I was an engineering student . I managed to take two classes on the subject as electives and would have loved to pursue a more thorough education. But I also needed to pay the bills once I got out so I finished up the engineering degree and walked into a market that had 135 jobs for every 100 graduates (1977).

One of my kids will complete his engineering degree next December and the job headhunters are already after him because the expectations are that engineering jobs will out pace new grads for the next ten years.

There are tons of jobs out there in the right fields. Go ahead and beat yourself up for a while and then find a way to get back to school and train for one of them.

Try volunteer work at a charity or something like that. Red Cross, a food shelf, a political campaign or an advocacy group. Pick a place you believe in.

It helps you network and shows that you are interested in being a productive member of society.

Plus, when a paid position opens up at a place where you are volunteering, you might just get first crack at it.

I suggest you cut back from 65 hours a week of lookign for a job to 45 hours, and spend 20 hours a week volunteering.

The networking thing cannot be understated. Almost every job I’ve gotten was through word of mouth. Companies that post ads almost never hire from those ads, unless the jobs are true shit. Get your foot in the door via a temp job, then work your way from there.

Also look at placement/headhunter services. Sign up at a bunch of them. Those places get paid – sometimes a hefty chunk – for doing the search for you. And they’ll give you far better advice on your resume than we can.