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

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Job: Capturing the Attention of a Potential Employer

The most frustrating thing about my job search so far is not the fact that my bachelor’s degree does not carry as much weight as I’d hoped. No, what’s getting to me is that old maxim: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. When the grease is the job and the wheel is you, spinning frantically off the axle after graduation, you have to learn to make some noise. Whether you squeak, squawk, or speak in tongues, it’s the only way to capture the attention of a potential employer.

The trouble is, you can’t just waltz into a place unannounced and bandy your resume about the office. For starters, wheels do not waltz. Secondly, most places now accept e-mail applications, which remove any sort of personal touch from the process (and prevent people like us from bandying things in their offices). But, hardly anyone follows up to let you know they’ve received your e-mail.

Case in point: I received an e-mail rejection today from an office I applied to in January. It is now four days before April.

Even if you could roll in off the street and personally deliver your resume to the right desk, however, there’s still the mysterious "reviewing time" to worry about. This could last anywhere from several weeks to several months—hence the mystery—and gives the employer ample opportunity to forget which wheel you were, even if you did waltz. During this time, your resume gets to know the office: the mailbox, the desk, the inbox (if you’re lucky), and the recycle bin (if you’re not). During this time, you get to know nothing.

This is the biggest surprise and the most disheartening piece of real-world knowledge I’ve come by since graduation (besides the electric bill): You will know nothing about the status of your application unless you ask. And ask. And ask.

Squeak, squeak: Have you received my resume?

Squeak, squeak: Have you looked over my resume?

Squeak, squeak: I’m still interested in the position.

Is it obnoxious? Yes. Is it humiliating? Yes, but let’s call it “humbling” to raise our morale. Is it necessary? Oh, yes. You don’t want to be waiting around for an answer while they fill the position without bothering to tell you. You want to be up to speed on the process and know right where you stand—even if it is a little too close for their comfort.

After all, you have two choices: be unemployed or be a pest. If you can, make an effort to shine your spokes and make your presence known in person. Once there, hover.

Squeak, squeak: Can I get you a cup of coffee, sir?

Squeak, squeak: Doughnut?

Squeak, squeak: References or writing samples…?

I exaggerate, of course, but you never know unless you ask. If you want the grease, the key is to make enough noise so employers will hear you, but not so much that they’ll throw out your application.

It’s a fine line for a new wheel to tread.

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