To apply or not to apply?!

Posted by Jen van Heerden

With a world full of opportunities, why do graduates not apply for jobs that they are eligible for? We’ve listed some of the common excuses that graduates come up with when deciding whether to apply for a job, and some tips for getting over them.

I’m not going to apply because...

I’m not sure that I’m a 100% fit for the job or the company and I don’t want a job I don’t like.

A job application is just that: an application, a way for a candidate to tell an employer, “I’m interested.” A job application is not an acceptance of a job offer, that comes much later on! The application and recruitment process provides an opportunity for graduates to find out more about the job, the company and the graduate development programme. Without going through the process, an informed decision cannot be reached. So, don’t make assumptions and write-off a job based on what you think it entails, apply first, and engage at least once with the company before deciding on whether the job meets your expectations.

I’m not good enough, qualified enough, smart enough etc etc.

Let’s clear one thing up right away: graduate positions are, by their very nature, learning positions. Companies don’t expect graduates to come in with all of the answers. They know that they’ll need to train you and teach you. What you know already isn’t as important as how hungry you are to learn, and how open you are to receive feedback and grow in the company. In your application, emphasize your learning agility, appetite for new knowledge, and your commitment to mastering new skills.

I’m busy with essays and tests, and job applications take hours.

Yes, job applications can take time, and when you have academic pressures it’s difficult to prioritise something that’s happening so far in the future. But, all the grafting and the studying is going to go to waste if you miss application deadlines. And companies aren’t like university lecturers: you can’t apply for an extension - it’s a case of now or never. Carve out a piece of time in your diary to work on job applications, and be disciplined! Don’t let that time be reassigned to anything else; it’s not just an application - it’s the start of your future and you can’t miss it.

I’m not sure if I want to study further next year, or find a job, or just take some time out.

The future is uncertain, particularly as a graduate exiting formal education. The world is full of opportunities, and it’s difficult to know which path to choose. However, the very last thing that you want to be left with, is no options. You might think you want to do your Honours, but when the time comes, you don’t meet the academic requirements, or you aren’t sure where funding will come from. You might be so exhausted by your studies that you think you deserve some time off. You probably do, but can you afford it? Remember, a job application doesn’t sign you up for anything, but it does, very firmly, place that option on the table. If you’re uncertain of your future, all the more reason to apply for as many jobs as possible!

Whatever excuse you come up with, whatever reason you have for not applying, there are even more reasons why you should apply. You have nothing to lose, and you have a meaningful future to gain. So get on it and apply!


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