You Need Help: You Want the Job, But Don’t Feel Qualified

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Welcome to You Need Help! Where you’ve got a problem and yo, we solve it. Or we at least try.


Q: I’ve been on the job hunt for about a month and a half now, looking for research positions in biology. I’ve applied to about 13 jobs — was immediately turned down for three, another eight are basically still being processed, was interviewed for one and never heard back and now I have another interview scheduled for tomorrow. I’ve been stressing over my current unemployment (mainly about money, which does not, oddly enough, grow on trees). Friends and family tell me that if I’m worried about finances I should just, you know, get a job — but those don’t grow on trees, either, and I’ve applied for every new position I’m qualified for within a two-county radius.

I got a call yesterday scheduling me for another interview for a job I applied for but wasn’t entirely qualified for. I meet the basic requirements of the position but do not have the preferred experience in that particular branch of cancer medicine. I’ve been reading over the company, the research team, their publications, etc. to do my pre-interview homework, but am not entirely familiar with all of the topics covered by their research. How do I keep my confidence and do well on this interview if I’m wondering why they even picked me as a candidate? How do I play to my strengths while also being honest about aspects of the research that I don’t know? Any advice on how to win the interviewer over in spite of my nerves? And how do I stop endlessly stressing over whether or not my Bachelor’s of Science isn’t, well… just a bunch of useless BS?

(edited for length)

A: I have a bachelor’s in English writing arts and women’s studies, so basically poetry and feminism. I feel like you’ve got me beat in terms of degrees that seem vaguely useful. Here’s something you should know: your Bachelor’s degree actually doesn’t matter all that much. I know CEOs with journalism degrees, marketing managers with philosophy degrees, and government leaders with theatre degrees. Just the fact that you have a Bachelor’s degree is good enough, so try not to worry about whether your degree is perfectly fine, especially since you’re applying for jobs in your field!

Interviewing can be extremely stressful. These days, interviews are often drawn out into two, three, or more interviews, with performance samples and skills tests and all sorts of hoops to jump through. It can be discouraging to put in all that effort and still get the “You’re great, but no thanks,” letter. Or, worse, not hearing back at all. Taking it personally doesn’t help, because it’s not personal. The job market is saturated and it is genuinely hard out there, as you know. Most 20- and 30-somethings today graduated into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Additionally, I hate when people are like, “Just get a job!” like it’s the easiest thing to do. Like you can walk into the Job Store and pick one off the shelf. Especially for queer folks who often face discrimination in hiring. It’s hard to prove, but it happens all the time, especially for folks who appear gender non-conforming in any way. My partner went to an interview for a minimum wage retail position once, got a discerning up-and-down look from the hiring manager, was told to wait in the hall and, thirty minutes later, was dismissed with a, “The job has been filled.” Had it? Seems fishy to me, but discrimination is hard to prove. You can’t win a discrimination suit on “He looked at me funny” as your only evidence.

When I first graduated from undergrad, I was on top of my game. I was a student leader with great grades and lots of connections. Unfortunately, there were just no jobs in my field in the small, mostly rural area I lived. I ended up working at a local McDonald’s, who only hired me because I’d been a McDonald’s manager at another store during college and needed minimal training. They were openly concerned I would leave if I found a better job. (Minimum wage employers don’t really want to train staff they feel are overqualified because they’re afraid they’ll bail. “Just get a job!” though!) I saw former classmates and teachers in the drive-thru who asked, confused, if I had graduated. “Yup! Would you like fries with that?” I replied. There is absolutely nothing wrong with working in food service. It just wasn’t what I went to school for or what I wanted to do and, honestly, minimum wage is criminal. As a single 22-year-old without kids or dependents and minimal bills and a middle-class upbringing and a college degree, I had to apply for government heat assistance and was eligible for food stamps on my full-time minimum wage income.

I kept applying and applying to so many jobs. Jobs I thought I was overqualified for rejected me. I was one of two applicants for an Americorp position with a $10k annual stipend and I didn’t get the position. I had a 50% chance and I didn’t get it! Finally, through luck and determination, I was offered two jobs in the very same week, one full-time at $9/hour at a local shelter and the other making about $200/week as a part-time community organizer for Planned Parenthood (an hour drive from where I lived). I accepted both, worked hard at both, sometimes pulling 80-hour weeks, and eventually went on to have a really satisfying career in nonprofit advocacy, the field I love.

Getting your first job is hard. There’s no getting around that. Once you get your foot in the door, it does typically get a bit easier. Entry level jobs often ask for 1-2 years experience, which is impossible to get without getting an entry level job! My advice? Apply anyway. With that in mind, let’s get back to your main question, though, which is about not feeling adequately prepared, feeling like the job is a little above your current experience.

A lot of us have this thing called imposter syndrome. It’s a real term, coined by two clinical psychologists in 1978. According to Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes, imposter syndrome is when high-achieving individuals are unable to fully internalize their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud, believing others are more intelligent and competent than they believe to be themselves. In other words…

Does this sound familiar to you? You will probably not be surprised to learn this affects women more than men. Race, gender, sexual orientation, and class can impact how likely someone is to have imposter syndrome, as can being in a transitional life stage or how you were raised to think about success. It’s not something wrong with you. It’s a reaction to the outside pressures and identities that make you call into question whether you deserve something like a job or a good partner or anything you see as a marker of success.

I’ve been on both sides of the hiring table. I’ve been the one applying for a job and the one interviewing job applicants. Here’s what I’ve learned, and it has changed how I approach applying for jobs.

Always apply for your dream job or a job you’d really like. Most job postings include a bunch of qualifications applicants should have, but you don’t actually have to have 10/10 of the qualifications. Do you have 8/10? 6/10? You are actually ahead of a large stack of the resumes that will be sifted through. An employer is thrilled to find someone who is a perfect match, but you will often get an interview even if you’re a partial match, especially if you wrote a solid cover letter and seem genuinely enthusiastic about the position.

This obviously worked for you because you have an interview! When it comes to the interview, don’t focus on the things that you don’t feel you know. Focus on the things you do know. If an area where you lack experience comes up, be honest about it, but not self-deprecating. Talk about how quickly you adapt to new tasks, how you have done a similar or related work task well in the past, your confidence that you can learn and excel in the new thing. That imposter syndrome will be creeping up in the back of your mind, but you don’t have to let it steer you.

Don’t use words like “simply” or “only” or “merely” to describe your prior experience. Even if your experience is mostly from college, that doesn’t make it less authentic. Don’t lie and don’t play spin doctor. The interviewer will see right through that. Be honest, but show confidence in your ability to learn and contribute to the team. Talk about your enthusiasm for learning and growing with the research you aren’t as familiar with, how excited you are to engage with something new.

Fake it ’til you make it. Put on a confident face, even if you know you’re going to be feeling all jelly-bellied inside. You’ll feel more confident if you over-prepare. Do a practice interview with a friend or roommate to prepare for answering on-the-spot questions. Research common interview questions and rehearse or write out your answers, just to get your thoughts out. Think about the questions you fear the most and how you would answer them before you go in. If I am feeling particularly imposter-y about an interview or opportunity I’m about to embark on, I write out a list of all the reasons I’d be bad-ass and awesome at the job/position/opportunity. It always makes me feel better.

It sounds like you’ve done deep research on the company, the research team members, their publications and work, etc. That’s fantastic! Find ways to bring it up in the interview. Everyone loves to be complimented and knowing that you went the extra mile to learn about the organization’s work may just put you over the finish line for the job. Do a little independent research on the areas you don’t know much about and, if appropriate based on who you’re interviewing with, ask questions about topics or research you find particularly interesting. Asking questions makes you look prepared and like you are genuinely interested in the work of the company.

In my opinion, it sounds like you are really well prepared already and the biggest issue is letting those feelings of self-doubt creep in. They selected you for an interview because they believe you have potential! You just have to believe it, too! Honestly, I wouldn’t enjoy a job where I wasn’t learning and growing a bit. GOOD LUCK, friend! We’ll be rooting for you! You’ve got this!


Send your questions to youneedhelp [at] autostraddle [dot] com or submit a question via the ASK link on autostraddle.tumblr.com. Please keep your questions to around, at most, 100 words. Due to the high volume of questions and feelings, not every question or feeling will be answered or published on Autostraddle. We hope you know that we love you regardless.


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KaeLyn is a 35-year-old (femme)nist activist, word nerd, and queer mama. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, over-caffeinating herself, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, eating carbs, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit. You can preorder her debut book, Girls Resist! A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution today if you want to, if you feel like it, if that's a thing that interests you or whatever.

KaeLyn has written 172 articles for us.

46 Comments

  1. Oh hi anonymous ! I’ve been there !
    I got out of my PhD and then started applying for post-doc positions and I felt sooo not qualified for anything because I didn’t really get to publish anything yet or teach a lot ! Impostor syndrome is real even after the PhD !

    It usually takes a few tries. Getting rejected (either before or after the interview process) doesn’t mean you’re not qualified, but it’s a matching process: sometimes it’s just that there was someone else who had the one thing they were looking for. I got my current job because I actually used this semi-obscure theory during my PhD which was central to the post-doc…

    I also got called for an interview where : 1) you had to be fluent in German (I used to speak it very well but I’m super rusty) and 2) need a PhD in Sociology (mine was Management / Organisation Sciences). I went in there confident, I knew I could tell them “give me a month working on my German 2 hours / night and I’ll be fluent again” and “actually I think you really want someone in management for this job because everyone in your lab is in Sociology and I will bring a fresh perspective”

    Well the interviewer dismissed it completely saying “no I don’t think so, I think only people who have a PhD in Sociology are qualified” . Umh dude why did you make me pay a 160 euro train ticket for the interview if you thought for the get go I had the “wrong” PhD ? -which only a French academic would be bothered about clearly-.

    I also know that it’s super hard to “just get a job” when you’re in research / academia. You can’t really go work at McDonalds until you find a job because you’re usually supposed to be publishing like crazy on your own dime.. Which means when I was unemployed I was writing all day + looking for jobs + applying for them + still participating in scientific/academic groups every week to stay connected. And the months go by and you feel more and more guilty.

    Good luck ! You’ll nail it I’m sure.

  2. Recently I’ve been lucky enough to interview for some jobs I really wasn’t qualified for–and the interviewers knew it. Instead, they liked my potential, and this gave me a new way to think about Imposter Syndrome:

    I try not to think of the ideal candidate as someone who is a top expert in the field who knows everything, because there are very few of those, and they probably wouldn’t be interviewing for this entry- or mid-level position. Instead, I think of the ideal candidate as a smart person with some background in the field, a lot of enthusiasm, and the ability to learn. Therefore, I am not an imposter of the ideal candidate–I *am* the ideal candidate!

    • Okay, the universe is definitely telling me to take a breath and relax – I quite literally just applied for a job I think I’m woefully underqualified for. All of the other comments were helpful but gosh dangit, you hit the nail on the head with this last paragraph, THANK YOU.

    • Seconded. I think the single most important thing in most interview situations is that you demonstrate that you are able to accomplish tasks and solve problems.

      Many jobs have very specific tasks and problems, and you probably won’t know the intricate ins and outs of those going in — but neither would many other applicants.

    • I just now got the response from the first of the interviews I mentioned. I got offered a position in a field I have literally one week of experience in (though to be fair, I have lots of experience in a related field). Throughout the whole long interview process, I just kept thinking, “They asked me to be here, they must like me as I am, I’m just going to be myself,” and I was very relaxed and self-confident even though I didn’t know some of the technical questions. Obviously I was very lucky, but I’m here to report that it can work!

  3. Hey buddy! You didn’t get assigned a cute name so I’ll call you buddy, I hope that’s okay. My experience tells me that the advice Kaelyn gives is spot-on, but I’m going to say it again in different words. Maybe it will be useful?

    I was applying for so many Research Assistant jobs after my master’s, and some of them required master’s degrees but some of them only required bachelor’s, and I also applied for a couple of intern positions that paid stipends, again that only required bachelor’s, and I was still out of work for a few months. It didn’t seem to matter whether I could tick off every single bullet point in their ad or not, I just wasn’t getting these positions.

    The one RA job I got close to (short-list of two candidates, again maybe I’m just telling Kaelyn’s story again), the interview felt more like a chat, and we got on really well even though I’m normally a super nervous interviewee. Like, sweaty palms, stammering, blank on my own dissertation topic kind of nervous. This one wasn’t like that at all, and that felt great. I felt like I was getting closer.

    Then I interviewed for a PhD, which I never really intended to do, and I got the job! (I’m in the Netherlands, where a PhD is a salaried university employee). It was a super interesting project in a cool department and even though I hadn’t been planning to do a PhD, I was enthusiastic about this PhD.

    I got along well with the interviewers and I really felt a click with the whole department. I enjoyed chatting to everyone here and I didn’t want to leave at the end of the interview. That’s what felt different for me, and I imagine it’s what made the difference for the panel, too.

    This taught me two things: one, being a “good fit” really is important, and it’s what makes me love my job now; two, try not to limit yourself to what you apply for, really just follow your nose and if it sounds fun, apply. They’ll see it in you. (Also, sometimes thinking you won’t get it and just going for the experience makes you relax enough for them to see your true cool-cat self, and you get the job anyway!)

    I hope you find something soon, and that you eventually have the luxury of a job that really is the right fit. Good luck in your interview 🙂

  4. I don’t know if I’ve just been incredibly lucky but I find it’s helpful for nerves to approach the job interview believing that you’re there to interview them for the opportunity of having you on their staff. It can be total bullshit really, I mean who doesn’t actually need a job, but just try and fool yourself into thinking it. It always helps me calm down.

  5. I’m in the biology research field — a ‘good’ way (depending on your finances) to get into a paid position is to find a lab that you like that also has undergrad research assistants, and basically volunteer to do research there. I started out as a dishwasher in a lab that also trained me to do lab werk. That job experience ended up being good enough to get me into a PhD program.

    If you can make that work, you’ll be the smart and reliable person they think of first for finding out about, and getting hired for, unadvertised research jobs that pay in that dept.

  6. There’s a really awful catch-22 in hiring processes where managers won’t hire you if they think you’re underqualified, but they also won’t hire you if they think you’re overqualified. (I do kind of get the latter, because it’s really expensive to hire and train someone, but also, like, why can’t you just trust that person’s decision in applying for the job in the first place?!) I don’t have any advice about that to add to what’s here already. It sucks and I’m sorry you’re caught in that loop.

    The one thing I do have to add is that I found out in the last few years that *who* applies to jobs they think they’re unqualified for varies. Men are much more likely to apply for jobs where they don’t fit all of the qualifications, whereas women often won’t apply unless they hit all the bullet points. When I learned that, I was like “fuck that, if underqualified men can apply for these jobs, I can too.” It gave me a little bit of a morality boost and I started applying to different kinds of jobs. It sounds like you’re applying to a lot of jobs in your field, so this may not apply to you, but I’m hoping it’ll help someone. I wish you the best of luck.

  7. A job is a little bit like a love story.
    And the interview a bit like a date.
    They have to like your profile and you theirs, for example, to invite you over.
    There might be certain conditions and requirements,but those might be partially negotiable if it just “clicks” on your “first date”.
    Also, you can’t really know what they’re looking for, although you usually try to think you do.
    So, you pimp your social profiles(do this, whatever you apply for!Start with googling yourself)set some unfavorable stuff on FB as invisible, share a bunch of nerdy articles, publicly, get that nice outfit you think they’d like,and just go in and see what they’ve got.
    If an option, try for a second date, offer to come in for a day or two (a hospitation is what’s it called in my field) so they can get to know you and you them.
    Most of all, though, give it the time it needs.
    You’re not looking for someone to scratch an itch, though it’s perfectly fine if you do flip burgers (or sit at a cash register at a supermarket,sigh) to pay the bills, but you’re looking for something more long term, and that position that is right for you might not even be on the market right now.
    Sometimes looking for a while helps you figure out what you really want and the lengths you’re willing to go for it (moving away, working overtime, getting extra qualifications,etc.).
    There’s a bit of fate or luck or serendipity or whatever you want to call it involved, too, so don’t stress yourself unduly, especially not after a mere six weeks.
    Good luck!

  8. Yes, everything that’s been said. I’m speaking as someone who has literally just been offered a job that I thought I was in no way qualified for. I applied anyway, because I had nothing to lose, and I really really dislike my current job. When I saw an email pop up from them, I thought ‘ah, here’s the email telling me I haven’t got an interview’, and was astounded when I saw they DID want to interview me.

    So throughout my preparation, and the interview itself, I just had to keep reminding myself that they thought I was good enough that I was worth interviewing. I also found it really helpful to research the person currently in the role a little – I was thinking that, really, the job was suited for someone much older and more experienced than me. But I found out that the person currently in the role isn’t much older than me, and actually, we had a remarkable amount in common, so that gave me a bit more confidence.

    For the bits of the role that I knew I had no experience in (the job requires line managing 4 people and I have never managed anyone before), I was just honest, but positive. I brought in experience from other areas where I have supported people and help them progress. When they called me to offer me the job, they even commented on that, saying how I’d demonstrated ability/experience in other ways.

    The biggest thing, I think, is to just have some confidence in yourself. It’s true that women are much worse at feeling like they’re not qualified for a job than me. I read an article that said that women will apply for a job if they feel they meet 100% of the criteria, men will apply if they think they meet 60%. So well done for even applying. I knew, going into my interview that, actually, I’m incredibly good at learning things. In fact, I do better at jobs where I have to learn new stuff, because I thrive on being challenged and pushed. I also know that I’ve had a couple of previous jobs where I went in with no experience in the field, and within a few months, I was up to speed, and the world hadn’t crashed and burned when they realised I didn’t know everything. So I went in knowing that I could learn whatever I needed to. Believe in yourself, and you’ll have a much easier time convincing other people to believe in you.

  9. POWER POSES. I feel like a shill for this concept for how often I espouse it, but seriously they work (here’s a Ted Talk on them- https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en). The basic concept is go do a power pose in private before the interview and you will trick yourself into being more confident.

    Also I like the person who compared finding a job to dating, because I feel like that’s a really apt metaphor. You keep looking and searching and putting yourself out there and it keeps not happening until it does, and when it does it’s wonderful. It’s also surprisingly emotionally draining, but worth it in the end.

    Good luck!

    • When I heard about power poses for the first time, I was like, “That’s just how I stand normally,” and then it all kind of made sense. I had mastered the performance of confidence as a survival strategy…and I do believe it really works!

      People always think I’m way more confident and extroverted than I really am deep down inside, to the point where they don’t realize that I can actually get my feelings hurt.

      SO anyway, yes, I second your endorsement of power poses!

  10. I’ve read a lot about impostor syndrome, but I haven’t read much about where people think it comes from. I have a hypothesis that impostor syndrome effects more women and minorities because women and minorities are never really judged on the same scale as white men. No matter how hard she works, or how well she does she can always be dismissed as “pretty good for a girl”. In that environment she’ll never have any reliable frame of reference for her skills or progress. This was how I felt in grad school for science, even in the most supportive queer, and female dominated lab.

    • This is such a good point.
      They’ve actually done studies quantifying this effect — a resume with a female name has to be three times as accomplished as that with a male name in order to be considered equally qualified for the job. I wish I had the link, but it was a well-designed study i.m.o.

  11. I’d just like to share a story of a time when I was in a dark place, but had just graduated and was expected to be starting my highflying career.

    I applied to some jobs, when I got enough courage and momentum to actually write a paragraph about why I am good. (Don’t get me wrong, I am fucking awesome, I was just having a hard time seeing it.) Unfortunately this resulted in me getting an interview, requiring dressing up profesh, travelling three hours on a train and doing a presentation. So I tried my best, prepared the presentation, got the train, stayed in a youth hostel the night before, woke up nice and early, got dressed in my (mum’s) clothes and went to the bus stop.
    However, instead of getting on the bus, I emailed the employers telling them I had just heard that my church had received funding for me to do missionary work in Tanzania and I wouldn’t be needing a job at all. In fact I won’t be in the country for the next two years!

    Just to confirm, I have never been to Tanzania, I’m not even part of a church. I went to the library that day and read books until it was time to get my train home and then pretended to everyone that it had gone alright, but not to hope too much.

    Also, if my family are reading this, this totally didn’t happen. (It did.)

    • This is beautiful. I mean, I’m sorry you were in a dark place and missed out on that opportunity, but it is a beautiful beacon of comfort to everyone who’s ever done something like that that they’re mortified about — I’m not alone!

      In return, my own When I Failed At Adulthood story: when my smoke detector’s batteries were dying, causing the smoke detector to emit a piercing chirp every 30 seconds or so, I lived with that chirp for like three months because I couldn’t reach the smoke detector myself and I didn’t want to ask my landlord to fix it because then the maintenance person would come into my apartment and see how messy it was and I kept putting off tidying up. I lived in a studio, so I couldn’t even go into a different room to get away from the chirping. It was so loud I swear it echoed. I spent three months wearing earplugs to bed every night.

  12. I haven’t done as many job searches as many people, and I have had some unbelievable luck, so I don’t know that I’m qualified to give advice but – a tale of my experiences and feelings, in case others feel similarly:

    When I graduated from undergrad, I continued working my during-school customer service job for the next eight months or so, wallowing in the realization that I didn’t want to go to grad school, I had no money to move out of my parents’, and my degree didn’t qualify me for much automatically…..

    I was afraid to apply for things I wasn’t fully qualified for (didn’t meet all the bullet points), and I ended up applying for jobs I didn’t really want (like as a bank teller) because I thought it would help most with the income problem. I was embarrassed to have been at the top of my game, like KaeLyn, and then discover upon graduation that the degree everyone had talked about like a golden ticket, didn’t get me shit, much less a visit to Wonka. (I had degrees in English and Psych.)

    But pretty soon I decided to stop trying to think so hard about what everyone would think, and go with my gut. I took a food service job solely because I loved the owners and knew they’d be good to work for. It wasn’t a forever job, but I was surprising happy, because unlike many restaurants it was a very positive environment, and mopping floors early in the morning calmed me down in a way I hadn’t expected at all. And just making money felt good. Not sitting at home felt good. It motivated me to really get my ass going. I got another job, freelancing, in addition to the two jobs I had, and then….

    I emailed every “real adult” human I knew… from every program I’d ever done, my parents’ friends, people from my church growing up (I’m so not religious lol), and just told them I was looking for a job, some generic skills I had and things I was interested in.

    Quite a few of them pinged me back with new networking opportunities, some of them interesting and most of them scary… Turns out experienced people LOVE when inexperienced people ask them for help!

    And one of those networking opportunities turned into the perfect job with a small publishing company here. It’s literally the perfect match for me. Full time with benefits, not making a fortune, but making enough to live. They’re chill to the max, queer friendly, and family oriented. I’ve grown, I’ve learned, I’ve added real value to the company (while critiquing capitalism in my spare time). It’s been two years and they just gave me new responsibilities (that I wanted) and a raise. I’m not doing *everything* I want to do with my life, but I’m doing stuff I like well enough, and I’m using my time outside of my full time job to build my resume in fields I want to get into later. It has taken me a while to even figure out what those fields are!

    SO all I guess I want to say is… KaeLyn’s advice is on point. Be confident. And also, be patient with yourself. If you’re swimming around not knowing what to do next, just try something. If you’re really struggling, and you’ve got an offer… go ahead and try to relax even into a job that isn’t exactly what you want, if only for figuring out what you do want.

    • Oh this made me tear up a bit. It’s wonderful and I’m so happy for you.
      That emailing everyone thing ? It’s so very fucking brave ! It was a very smart thing to do but honestly it’s SUPER hard to ask people for help. BRAVO !

  13. Anonymous, I feel you. I’m with you in the job hunt right now. WE GOT THIS.

    As someone who went straight from a Ph.D. program to owning my own business and is now actually corporate job hunting (because benefits are nice!), I’m strangely both under and over qualified for a substantial number of positions. Have applied for 70+ jobs at this point, because I was one of those people Kaelyn talked about who graduated during the height of the recession and am having wicked flashbacks to what it was like to apply to almost 200 jobs right out of college and get one offer. So I’m like, 130 more applications to go before I start to feel mildly safe. 200 job applications is my Fictional Safe Number but it makes me feel warm inside, so. (I’m also crossing my fingers like crazy that I won’t actually get to 200 this time.)

    Everyone who has commented: thank you. They’re for our Anonymous friend, but they’re also for everyone reading this who is job hunting and who has commented that they are and everyone who won’t comment but who reads and tears up anyway. The community & support is important. Cause job hunting is, perhaps more than anything else, just really, really emotionally exhausting.

    • I’ve also been through the 200-applications phase. And I actually got none of them! The babysitting gig I did end up getting was by posting a little 3×5 notecard in the grocery store noticeboard. Not even kidding.

      I hope you don’t have to reach 200 again too!

    • The comments have been the best part of the the post, I think. I enjoyed reading everyone’s experience and I hope it makes everyone on the job hunt right now feel more supported and less alone.

      It sure ain’t easy and the longer a job search goes on, the more you start to feel worthless and depressed, which makes it even harder!

  14. Oh mannnn, I am so feeling this right now. I’m currently knee-deep in the after undergrad job hunting struggle, I’ve applied for loads of positions both within my field and outside of it and I’ve been trying to remain positive but sometimes it’s hard. I’ve gotten lots of interviews but no genuine offers — I was even offered a job that turned out to be a total scam, the job hunt can be so ridiculous sometimes. This advice really helps me out, I feel confident that I’ll land something soon, thank you!

  15. So guys I got the job.

    Seriously this was my question!!! I read this headline on Autostraddle this morning and thought, “Oh, wow, I need to comment on this and help this person! I applied for a job I didn’t think I was qualified for, and I got that job, and it’s my dream job!”

    So I was about to just scroll down and give myself advice, apparently, when I saw the first line “research biology positions…” and I thought damn, what a coincidence!

    Then I realized I asked this question.

    Thank you all for the great advice and well-wishes. I applied for the job, went on two interviews for it, and was hired within the week. It’s now been almost three months and I’ve already learned so much and worked on a ton of projects. I’m working in a cancer research center in their proteomics core facility, and I am learning sooo much and loving every second of it. I’m also out to my coworkers and work in a friendly, open, diverse, accepting, and supportive environment.

    SO YEAH. Anyone else in this situation–believe in yourself! Apply for the job!

    tl;dr—I GOT THE JOB. 😀

  16. I also have a huge interview tomorrow and am feeling a bit impostery because the pay grade is higher than I have ever had/maybe I think I deserve. So thanks for this article right now! Let’s go team!

    • You can do it!

      I went from one of those jobs where they can decide at any point not to schedule you anymore to a full-time salaried position with all the benefits I’ve ever heard of. I make like 3x more per year now. It happens 🙂 If they’re smart, they’ll judge you for you, not for your previous salary.

      You’re worth the value you’ll bring to them, which is probably a lot because I bet you’re great!

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