Why is it so hard to get a job? It’s because graduates are from Mars and employers are from Venus.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Why is it so hard to get a job? It’s because graduates are from Mars and employers are from Venus.

Introduction: Bosses have different life experiences

Graduates are setup to fail. Neither graduates or employers understand how the other thinks. Also, employers have forgotten what it’s like to be a graduate looking for their first job.

The two groups have different life experiences. When I was a kid it used to be called a generation gap. That was made worse by a “respect your elders” culture. There’s a bit of generation gap going on still, but this time around it’s a life experience gap too.

Those employers who are most vocal about graduates being “entitled” probably grew up in a “tinkering” culture. Hear me out on this…

70s bosses owned flaky cars.

Any boss born in the 70s or before will remember that cars were unreliable. Even the most inept people had to be capable of making basic running repairs. Contemporary graduates have not experienced that.

80s bosses owned flaky computers.

Any boss born in the 80s or before will remember that computers were slow and flaky. When I was a graduate student in the mid-1990s, I had to configure my computer’s operating system to run different software. Contemporary graduates have not had to do that. Today’s computers and internet are thousands of times faster. And they just work!

80s bosses come from a culture of repairing stuff.

Its only in the last decade that manufacturing and design have sufficiently matured to bring costs down so that things can be replaced rather than repaired. Contemporary graduates are not used to repairing stuff.

Until recently, most professionals had to physically attend work.

Fast internet and the cloud have interrupted the tyranny of distance and professionals can now work from home if their workplace allows them to. Information is abundant. Gone are the days of library time and waiting on the postal service to deliver information that wasn’t there.

Due to covid, contemporary graduates have probably completed their degree remotely. They have not yet worked as professionals, so they have never attended a workplace. Some may not have ever been to their college library.

The education system is a meritocracy but the employment system is fickle.

The education system is a meritocracy. Graduates know that there’s a direct correlation between studying hard, high marks and good rewards. If you meet the entry requirements for a course then you get in. So, in a graduate’s mind, if they meet the requirements for a job then they should get that job.

On top of that, educational intuitions market their degrees as being useful to employers. That gives graduates the impression that their degree is a ticket to getting a job.

Unfortunately for graduates, in contrast to the education system, entrance to the workforce is whimsical and unpredictable. The assessment process is often fickle. Assessors looking through hundreds of resumes may take only seconds to reject someone on the basis of a silly email address, a font that’s hard to read, or any number of personal likes or dislikes.

What do these differences mean?

So, why is it so hard to get a job? It’s because graduates are from Mars and employers are from Venus.

Any boss born in the 80s or before probably grew up in a culture where they had to figure things out, make things work, and maintain things themselves. The current crop of graduates have not had to earn things in the same way that previous generations did, and it sometimes comes across in their attitude. Most bosses don’t have the time, inclination or energy to understand the reasons for that.

It’s understandable that graduates will be confused by the employment system. And it is understandable that employers will be frustrated by graduates who don’t meet their expectations.

For the moment, there’s no reason for employers to change their ways. The solution is that graduates need to learn how to speak employer’s language.

Way back in 1854 Louis Pasteur (as cited by RM Pearce in 1912) said that…

chance favours only the mind which is prepared.

Translated for my purposes, that means that when graduates learn to present themselves in a way that employers can easily understand them, then serendipity is more likely to happen.

See also: Can’t find a job after college?