Tales of a Disgruntled Graduate: A View from the Front Lines of the Post-College Job Hunt

Career Advice: Grin and Bear It

It’s clear from the start of George Blomgren’s advice on job-hunting that he doesn’t have a clue what it’s like out there.  “My articles often elicit frustrated email messages sent by job hunters,” Blomgren writes.  I wondered why they were not writing to thank him for his wisdom, since advice is supposed to be helpful, not rile people up and incite aggravated replies.

And then I read on.

Blomgren describes the hardships of job-searching—the disappointments, frustrations and injustices of the system—and ends up constructing a list depressing enough to begin a small ulcer in the stomach of each unemployed, struggling reader.  After all that, you’d expect an enlightened or inspiring piece of advice to follow, a strong arm to pull you out of your jobless abyss.

But no: “Ouch” is the closest Blomgren gets to commiserating with his readers. 

It’s as if you’ve skinned your knee on the doorstep of opportunity and all you need is a band-aid and a clap on the shoulder to make it all better.  Now that you know job-hunting is unfair, Blomgren says, you should simply “accept [it] and make the most of a painful situation.”  I’m all for looking on the bright side, but the turnaround here is just too quick.  Blomgren comes off more patronizing than encouraging, suggesting you get over your troubles—just like that.

What’s more, he advises you to “make a mental game of it” to give yourself an edge over your peers.  Why are people are always telling you to make games out of unpleasant situations?  As if pretending it’s all fun and games will actually turn it into fun and games.  When you were in a high chair, Mommy may have made airplane noises and drawn spirals in the air with the spoon, but it didn’t change the fact that she was feeding you pureed peas, cream of turkey dinner and other baby food horrors.

According to Blomgren, you define your attitude, and your attitude defines your chances of winning gainful employment…so get out there and smile, dammit!  (And make some airplane noises while you’re at it.  That’ll be sure to throw the competition off.)  But life isn’t always fun for a reason: You are meant to struggle, learn, and grow, not pretend it’s all ok.  That way, you can look back and be grateful you don’t have to eat mashed-up peas anymore.

After that sage bit of advice, Blomgren leaves his readers with one more thought to chew on (or gum): “Remember that sometimes you can learn from the ‘no’s’ you face, but often you can’t.  Just move ahead…and keep a positive attitude.”  Swell.  In other words, jobs are for happy people.  You don’t have to learn anything through your trials as long as you know how to fake people out by smiling real big, skinned knees and all.

Boy, that really is fun.  Pass the peas, please.

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