So, I hesitated to write a post relating to this question. When I asked around my social group on whether I should post this or not, I got very mixed responses. I know this is a controversial topic and maybe I just took other people’s comments/questions too seriously. However, I feel that maybe there are other people out there who are facing the exact same issue.
Is there really a gap between recent graduates’ and students’ perceptions of employment? On the one hand, I feel that the answer should be no; we are from the same generation and we face the same problems of high expectations during university, unpaid internships, and more elusive entry-level opportunities . Furthermore, the majority of my friends are still completing their degrees and they have been really supportive while I am job-hunting.
On the other hand, personal experiences points to great differences between being a university student and an (un)employed (recent) graduate. Now, once again, I have friends who are still university students that they were extremely supportive. Nonetheless, I had many acquaintances/friends who really had a lot bitchassness. Yeah, I’m salty! And I want to write about this because I know I used to be one of those bitchass people when I met recent graduates.
Here are some sample bitchassery questions:
- Did you find a job yet?
- Have you applied to any jobs? Where? How many jobs have you applied to?
- What do you do all day? So you do nothing?
- I found a survival job in two weeks. What is taking you so long?
- Uhm, I don’t know. Network?
- Oh why don’t I try to talk to you about job opportunities that you have no interest in but never ask you what you actually want to do. (There is a difference between this and actually giving advice)
First, unemployment is
a purgatory an experience that one needs to live through in order to understand. The implications of not finding a job are not the same when you are in university (no money, no money for tuition, nothing to put on resume, nothing to keep me busy for this period of 4 months) and when you have graduated (really nothing to keep me busy, bills, bills, loans, parents breathing down my neck about expenses, lower self-esteem). So, unless you have witness, been through or are going through prolonged unemployment, it may be hard to make judgement calls.
- Don’t ask, “Have you found a job yet?” right before or right after “How are you?” In fact, don’t ask it at all.
- Instead ask, “What have you been up to?” or “How are you?” Finding a job is very stressful and sometimes people are getting traction in their job searches but it is not manifesting as job offers. Or the simple fact that people are not defined by their jobs. Whether or not this person is currently employed, they still have a lot to contribute to your life and others’ communities. If you are looking to catch up, it may be better to ask open-ended questions and let them volunteer the information.
- Unemployment is not equal to laziness. Some people think it is okay to ask you what you do all day– that’s rude. It is just rude. Often, people can’t find jobs not because, they are lazy or not trying hard enough; but because, their search has not yielded anything or they feel emotionally unmotivated.
- Do take them out to do something. If this person is your friend, then now is the time to go take them out to do activities. It will probably allow the two of you to release tension from life. And of course, catch up!
- Don’t give advice if you haven’t used it. Most of all, don’t be self-righteous about it. The guy who suggested that I did nothing while unemployed and that I should network, on the same night mind you, would probably struggle with networking. There are so many books written about networking and yet most people– even those, who are working– really dislike it. It is a struggle to understand how to make networking work for oneself. Don’t remind people of this lady.
- Do listen. Let the person vent and take the time to understand their perspective. You don’t want to fall in the Bitchassery #6 category.
- It is most likely that the graduate has applied to jobs online. Applying to jobs online has a low success rate and it is most of the times the first thing people do. So asking that question is, in my opinion, stupid.
- Remember, people will always remember how you make them feel.
Ok, invisible readers, I think this blogpost is getting way too long but I hope that together we can stop the bitchassness pandemic and save relationships in the way. Once again, this is not meant for everyone but rather for some people who do make people feel this way. I put plenty of links on the page, with information that will complement or contextualize the post. Hopefully, the comments don’t go crazy with hate/troll comments– but then who am I kidding? Almost no-one reads this blog. Shout out to my Japanese reader K <3.
That’s it from me. xox, S.
Edit: I wanted to add another do. Do connect people with other recent graduates or resources. Post-university life can strangely feel isolating and it is therefore, good to meet people facing the same challenges as you.