We all live in our little worlds where we tend to compare our lives with others around us. This applies to job search as well.
New graduates tend to think their only competition is their classmates first, their alumni next and graduates of other local schools last.
In reality for any open position this is who you compete with:
2) Other students of your school and other schools in area
3) Graduates of last 6+ months of your school and other local schools
4) Students and recent graduates of online colleges
5) Students and recent graduates of technical/specialized schools and programs
6) Students and graduates of every other university in US
7) People who are unemployed
8) People who are underemployed (as of May 2016, the U.S. underemployment rate was13.7%)
9) People who are employed but not happy with their job
10) Internal candidates
11) People who interned in the company
12) People who are contractors in the company
13) Referrals of current employees
14) H1B holders from all over US
15) H1B holders from other countries
16) H4-EAD holders
17) Applicants from all over the world who may or may not have work permit
18) Mothers/fathers who took a break from work to raise kids that want to get back to the workforce
As you can see the list is quite long and looking at new graduate numbers alone will give you a better sense:
According to the government’s National Center for Education Statistics: “During the 2013–14 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award 943,000 associate’s degrees; 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees; 778,000 master’s degrees; and 177,000 doctor’s degrees.”
So it is extremely important that you understand that your classmates are not the only ones applying to every job.
If you have an OPT, you have limited time to find a job and you have no other option but find a job. You cannot win a marathon assuming everyone is at your speed or noone else will show up to the race. Remember most of the time best students get offers before they graduate. If you were unable to get an offer during your studies you will be in the jobseeker pool with millions of others.
We recommend taking jobsearch very seriously. It is not a hobby, it is not something you can do on the side. It is serious business and especially if you have limited time it requires your 100% attention. As OPTs you cannot work at Starbucks to pay back student loans, so you need to be extremely proactive and diligent. Before you start sending your career-center formatted stock Resume to every job in US stop and think, make a plan, review your skills and polish your strengths, perfect your Resume and have a job search strategy. Keep track of your applications and talk to people. Do not miss an opportunity to go out there and meet recruiters, hiring managers and even other job seekers. Attend all job fairs and make job search your full time job.
Getting the first break is a challenge for everyone, you are not alone, but things will get better and easier once you start working.