Looking for a job is rarely fun; however, being honest with yourself about which jobs you have a shot at getting and which jobs you don’t will make the process much less of a time-suck. Honesty will also limit the heartbreak that comes from rejection emails because you won’t be getting as many.
I hadn’t considered this until right now, but I think a major reason I went to graduate school was because of the trauma the post-undergraduate job market caused me. I spent 7-8 hours a day for weeks applying to jobs before eventually landing a job selling cars. But I was fired after two weeks because I basically gave a Ford F150 away for free and I was back job searching. And just like before, it was demoralizing.
As I see it now, it didn’t need to be.
For those of you applying to jobs, whether as recent graduates or those in career transitions, you need to ask yourself whether or not you are qualified for each job you are interested in. If a job call says 8-10 years of experience are required, there is not a lot of give there, especially if you have 0 years of experience. If a job requires a graduate degree, your BA or BS will most likely not be enough, especially if you do not have an immense amount of experience to make up for the extra education.
Simply put, prior to tweaking your résumé or spending an hour or two writing a cover letter, make sure you have a real chance at getting through the first round of application reviews. If you still think you are qualified, go for it; if you don’t, keep searching and invest your time applying to a job you can actually get.