A month after leaving University it was evident that the days of receiving cushioned feedback for each piece of work were in the past. Employers are brutal; they hold expectations higher than conservative grandparents, yet lack the politeness to go with them.
At present, the majority of job applications are ignored in an evasive and cowardly form of rejection that leaves applicants with low morale, decreased self-worth, and with an underrated value for their time. Considering the fact that mental health among British millennials is at one of the lowest points in history, this disheartening blow is something that young people just don't need.
I blame the invention of the cover letter for multiplying the stakes that this demoralising ballgame necessitates. Gone are the days when you could stroll to the post office, send out a CV to 50 employees and open the mail the next day to find a high paid job, a corner office and an expense account. Each application is now a time-consuming endeavour requiring a detailed letter entailing why applicants warrant consideration, why they covet the job and how, exactly, their experience is relevant - seemingly valid questions that rapidly lose clout after five hundred unarticulated rejections.
The pain of unanswered applications would be easier to stomach if a time-saving 'one size fits all' approach could be applied to the cover letter. Unfortunately, employers don't let us off that easy. Each job post now includes an exhaustive description of what the role entails, supplemented by an insight into the companies 'unique' ethos - both of which are expected to be seamlessly weaved into each cover letter.
However, unlike in school or the workplace when a piece of work of the same volition is acknowledged and assessed, job applications are greeted with nothing but an anxiety-inducing silence that signals another month of unemployment. Although on the rare occasion that a company actually bothers to articulate their response, it is with little more than a generic two lines, a lot can be said for the simple knowledge that throughout the application process your blood, sweat and tears were not spilling into an empty void.
Employers may argue that their lack of response cushions the blow of rejection - I find this difficult to believe. My cousin (BA and Masters in Music Production and Management) became so tired of being overlooked by employers in her industry that she applied for a job as a forklift digger. Even though she didn't get the job (she doesn't obtain even a standard driving licence), she was delivered an appreciative and considerate letter thanking her for her application. Although she was, (once again), left to resume worrying about next month's rent, she took solace in the fact that the time and energy spent on her application was duly considered and appreciated.
All in all, employers need to up their game. Many of these companies are moneyed, multi-national corporations. The hiring of an extra person in HR to send out a few hundred emails a day thanking applicants for their efforts (maybe even a brief two lines explaining why they weren't hired?), wouldn't monetarily amount to a drop in the ocean. It could, however make it significantly easier for applicants to continue their job search sans the dispiriting sense of invisibility. Step up, employers, you were in our position once.