My university sends me a daily email about preparing for graduation. They are clearly very scared that I will not find a job. This fear is probably warranted.
By Marlena Litchfield
In less than three months, I will graduate university with a fairly useless degree in a very under-funded field. Right now, I should probably be applying online for graduate jobs but instead I am writing this. There are approximately 14,793,873 jobs on Seek.com that I could be eligible for, but I grew up with a Power Mum and I know that’s not how employment really works.
My mum is an executive-level communications expert, she is very well-respected in her field and is highly sought-after for her experience. She has climbed the ladder and smashed a few glass ceilings on the way to get where she is.
My mum regularly sits on interview panels and I reckon she could probably find anyone a job. She will definitely be swamped by recent graduates at my 21st birthday party. I’ve learnt a lot about what it takes to have a successful career – especially as a woman.
Networking versus skills
Queensland’s Minister for Women recently remarked that sexism still runs rife in politics, despite there being a record number of women sitting in cabinet. That discrimination is still a major workplace issue isn’t really news to any of us, is it?
We know from the John Vs. Jennifer study that men are much more likely to be picked from a pool of resumes, so when it comes to finding a job, women need to rely more on networking (and their actual skills!)
Women can’t afford to burn bridges, we can’t have bad reputations and we must support each other.
I believe Mum’s social skills and friendships have gotten her equally as far as her technical competence. Her closest group of friends and colleagues consist almost entirely of loud, funny and passionate women. She has procured and collected them like works of art. She goes out in search of women with “chutzpah” and “a lil’ bitta umph” to mentor and employ. After all, who needs a resume when you have pizzazz?
I am extremely privileged to have been raised with this inside intelligence into hiring and firing. Having a corporate professional for a mother has exposed me to some pretty harsh truths about workplace relations.
Unlike a lot of my friends, I don’t believe the myth that if you get good enough grades and write a good enough cover letter, you’ll get a job. There are just too many graduates.
My tips and what I will be doing to get a job …
- Network early, network often;
- Be known for your diligence and quality of work; and,
- Surround yourself with other vibrant women.
Mum’s career has taught me so much about the realities of employment and promotion. With graduation looming, I’m less and less confident that I am cut out for the rough and tumble of a corporate career.
Nevertheless, I still need to go and finish up my resume. For the most part I hope that this A4 document can speak volumes about my ambition, my feminist values (thanks Mum!) and my friendships.
SheSociety is a site for the women of Australia to share our stories, our experiences, shared learnings and opportunities to connect.