Thursday 14 December 2023

How a fresh graduate got rejected just because he's a fresh graduate.

 This is a summary of how difficult a fresh graduate could face when finding a job these days, in my own experience.


Some background information

  • I'm a fresh graduate but started applying to various companies in March 2023 - when I finished my graduation thesis. Currently, I'm pursuing a Master's degree (since I've navigated my career to be in academia since my freshman year).
  • My CV has a few items, mostly academic awards, self-practiced projects, and MOOC certificates. I don't have working experience yet (since I'm a fresh graduate).
  • My applications are for ML/AI (NLP) fresher positions.

So, how is it going? 


My first two applications for an internship were turned down differently. The first application to an AI internship at a software testing company was rejected due to "not fit with the research interests of the organization". The next application was brighter, but I got to the testing phase and failed with a not-good-enough score (and that's totally my fault for not revising enough to pass).

However, since then most of my applications have been rejected due to being "inexperienced" or "not fit with research interests", which later I found out that those jobs on LinkedIn are mostly outdated. Moreover, there are job descriptions that describe only the qualifications in tech, working per week, ..etc. but not the experiences required. That's like a movie trap, trapping naive to jump in and waiting in hopelessly for a reply email.

Here's a quick summary of my applications in October:

My application history's insights on Oct 11 2023 (12 days after graduated and 72 days after my last job)

And the most bizarre thing that surprised me is how recruiters don't give a fuck on LinkedIn this time. They don't even look at CVs that are too long to read (more than 2 pages), some open job hiring, then leave it untouched and finally close it in silent without any notifications.

How are recruiters doing with my CV? Barely touch.

CV view and download, Oct 11 2023

Almost 80% of the recruiters don't even view my submitted CV on LinkedIn. That's some freaking insight to know, that my CV doesn't even have a place in the recruiter's trash bin. After a month, the situation seems to be not any better:

My application history's insights on Dec 6, 2023 (128 days after my last job)

Got accepted to the 2nd round by just 2 more companies, compared to a month ago. Wow. How about the CV view and download insight?

CV view and download, Dec 6, 2023

I got 3 on-site interviews, in which one of them responded to me with a thank you letter, one advanced me to the 3rd round, and one ghosted me with a "we need an extra week to decide" letter, and then no response back. 

Even worse, during this time I got rejected by a startup in the most sarcastic way: the HR called and asked me if I had any internship experience before, while I was applying for an internship role. Obviously, they don't feel I'm fit for that position, just don't have any more reasonable way to reject.

And, if you ask, how good are these companies? Do they pay well? then I would answer is not worth it. You will have a very heavy task for a fresher/intern with a below-average salary. Even if the job requirements require you to have 3+ years in ML/AI/magical performing, your salary range is still under average.


Note that companies will always have their own reasons for paying you below the average. During this time, they know that fresh graduates are thirsty for a stable position, therefore sometimes recruiters are willing to force you to have undesirable options. It's your own choice to take or pass, and I choose to pass in most cases. Why? Most of those options don't benefit me anything, from experience to skill enhancements (and to be more precise, I don't even reach that far lol).

So, what are the reasons?

  1. I'm not good enough for corporate expectations.
  2. Polishing yourself with certificates, projects, ..etc. doesn't help much (and at least it's true in Vietnam). Note that practical tasks are far different from what you've learnt in books. Moreover, during these times most companies don't want to train a fresh graduate, citing they will "train you and then you leave for nothing".
  3. The job market isn't ready for fresh graduates at this time, especially with this economic situation.
  4. The job platform you choose isn't a good place.
Also, I noticed that there were some companies first very active with my portfolio until they knew that I was enrolling in the Master's program. After that, they seemed to be less interested and later ghosted/responded to me with a thank you letter. It's understandable and acceptable that, paying for a Master's student with limited working hours (due to a Master's schedule) and lack of experience than fresh-but-jobless graduate undergrads is not suitable with the current economic situation, where every company has to adjust their budget for newcomers. 

And then, what can you do during this time?

With your learning:

  • Don't get frustrated, try learning new things (related to your target job) especially when you're a fresh graduate from a technical school. Technology evolves in seconds, don't be outdated.
  • Pursuing a Master's degree or postgrad right now might not be the right thing, especially when you're targeting your career in an engineering role. Some of my acquaintances have a Master's degree but had to hide them from their résume since having them would (mostly) result in their CV straight to the recruiter's trash bin.
With your future job applications (as a fresh graduate from college):
  • Applying to a different role isn't gonna help much unless you are already a guru in that field.
  • Some dumbass is trying to promote their CV writing service by saying "You should add more things to your CV, call XXX to get your CV fixed" and that's a total waste of money. Remember that a tech company won't need your "playing football" habit, so don't get scammed.
  • LinkedIn jobs are mostly outdated and scams. If you feel the job platform is the main issue, try searching on other platforms (including Facebook groups and yes, scammers are mostly there, too).
  • Don't try asking for an above-average salary, even if you are an intern or junior. Companies laid off a dozen staff, and now you expect them to hire you with the same salary range? No.
  • Finally, if the recruiters don't call you back 3 days after the interview, go apply for other jobs and wait for the thank you letter. If you're good, they will want you on their team at all costs.

Final words

Getting these statistics is not easy to swallow, especially when you just graduated from college after 4 years and dreamt about a very bright future. This is a hard time for all students around the world, not only me, but you need to actively seek a position to not be jobless (!). Therefore, just keep moving forward (and fthe orget shit that happened).

Thanks for reading, happy coding!

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