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Rejected from all graduate applications, what do I do now?

After sending off 130 applications to mainly graduate roles in STEM, I received my 130th rejection. I am now involuntarily going down the field of a master's to help but fear that nothing will change. I graduated from a top 5 university with good grades in engineering, a placement year at Siemens in engineering and another internship at Siemens in the summer with extensive experience in all fields. At this point I am completely lost at what to do as it seems improving myself and my profile is just a waste and that it is all down to luck. I did get around 7 interviews, worked for them lots and on every occasion: "there were not enough spaces, but you performed really well". It seems useless to apply to these when the chances are less that 1% of getting in. I am looking at doing a masters in sustainable/renewable engineering or maybe in Artificial Intelligence, but I don't know how much this will actually boost my chances, or even if this could help me get a direct entry role. If not, what could I study or do to help this the most.

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Reply 1
What subject was your degree in? Do they offer an undergrad masters year?
Reply 2
Original post by ajj2000
What subject was your degree in? Do they offer an undergrad masters year?

I did engineering(mechanical) and completed bachelors before doing a placement year so I can only do an MSc now.
Reply 3
Original post by RobElliot
I did engineering(mechanical) and completed bachelors before doing a placement year so I can only do an MSc now.
Thats a great degree! How far through the application processes did you get? That might give a guide as to where you can improve.
Reply 4
Original post by ajj2000
Thats a great degree! How far through the application processes did you get? That might give a guide as to where you can improve.

I got a pre recorded interview with many, 7 interviews. In the psychometric tests on a couple of occasions I scored 99% and still didn’t get an interview. A few interviews were second stage interviews where I passed the first. Majority of feedback was just that I did great but they didn’t have enough spaces so they say. I don’t think there was anything else I could have done for the interviews that’s why I’m at a loss.
Reply 5
This is the job market now unfortunately mate.
Reply 6
Original post by RobElliot
I got a pre recorded interview with many, 7 interviews. In the psychometric tests on a couple of occasions I scored 99% and still didn’t get an interview. A few interviews were second stage interviews where I passed the first. Majority of feedback was just that I did great but they didn’t have enough spaces so they say. I don’t think there was anything else I could have done for the interviews that’s why I’m at a loss.

So - am I correct? You get through the tests most/ all of the time and through to recorded interviews a lot. Your issue was converting recorded interviews to second/ final stage, and then converting final stage to an offer.
Reply 7
Original post by ajj2000
So - am I correct? You get through the tests most/ all of the time and through to recorded interviews a lot. Your issue was converting recorded interviews to second/ final stage, and then converting final stage to an offer.

Yes I guess so but I have now done tons of interviews so I have detailed answers and confidence but just feels like it’s impossible. I could perform the best I can but at the end of the day I’m up against up to 1000 people. Maybe direct entry jobs are the way but I am not sure how I can get these - lots require experience.
Reply 8
Original post by kwame88
This is the job market now unfortunately mate.

Frustrating, a lot of wasted effort. If only someone told me this before university!
Original post by RobElliot
Yes I guess so but I have now done tons of interviews so I have detailed answers and confidence but just feels like it’s impossible. I could perform the best I can but at the end of the day I’m up against up to 1000 people. Maybe direct entry jobs are the way but I am not sure how I can get these - lots require experience.

I hire STEM students and graduates for a large corporation so could offer some advise if you need. I've also gone through the recruitment process as an engineering graduate myself when searching for internships and graduate roles, so I've been on both sides of the process.
ajj2000 has already pointed out that your point of failure within the recruitment process is getting invited into in-person interviews and then when you do - you don't get offers.
That means that whatever you have on your CV is a workable material and your skills technically fit into the jobs requirements, so that's not the problem and although adding a Masters degree to your portfolio could help, it will not eliminate the fact that you underperform during the interviews. You need to self reflect more and try to understand why that happens. You need to figure this out pronto.

Since you've mentioned that you've applied to 130 jobs, I can safely assume you have not researched the companies that you've applied for thoroughly, not that I'm blaming you for doing that, but I know that because it's not physically possible to do that for 130 jobs while trying to keep up with your Uni curriculum. I also know this because I did all I could back when I was on my final year and literally had not have a spare day for months and I was only able to properly apply for about 30-40 job openings. Why is that important? Well one of the first questions I ask on the interview after everyone introduced themselves is "What do you know about us and why do you want to work here". If the answer is vague or there is nothing at all then that's a red flag. I want to hire people who are genuinely interested int he field of our work, in the industry, simply because I want the intern/graduate to also enjoy their time and be motivated to work here; if you've not researched about the company then you either don't care, you are generally a lazy person (it literally takes less than half an hour to do that), or you are just looking for any job, neither of the options make you look like an attractive candidate for the position. It's not a deal breaker if you haven't researched about the company if you were outstanding on other questions though.

From my experience and from experience of people that I know and / or coached, the total conversion rate (job applications made -> job offers received) is around 5-10% at most. In my case, when applying for 30+ jobs, I only received interview invites to about 7-8 of these and was then given 3-5 job offers in the end. Rejection is inevitable but you should still get some progress considering the quantity of applications that you have made.

Not all is lost and there are still plenty of options, check out here - https://www.gradcracker.com/search/all-disciplines/engineering-graduate-jobs

I can only speculate what could be the reason for you failing the interviews, but just from my experience I can outline these factors that led me to reject a candidate:

Failed to demonstrate sufficient technical knowledge. Either the candidate fail to answer technical questions, or when asked about projects and experience failed to mention any technical details and their achievements. The most common (and most painful) facepalm moment for me when I see a promising candidate who talks only about how successfully they performed as a "project manager" for their team project at Uni. I'm getting too many self-proclaimed project managers and very few guys who show any technical abilities.

Not genuinely motivated to be an engineer long term. The fact that you are desperate for a job does not mean you enjoy engineering and I see quite a few of these too who's only motivation is pay grade and sometimes parent's influence. From time to time there is an odd candidate who say they've chosen engineering because they were good at maths and physics back in school, which only tells me that you've chosen the path of least resistance, which isn't a good trait to have as an engineer.

Not a deal breaker, but when you hide your personality behind the pre-learnt answers to the standard interview questions then it makes it harder for me to assess whether you are a suitable candidate for the role. This one is not that easy to describe, but try to avoid too much "corporate language" and cliche answers.

No career plans. Again, not a complete deal breaker, but you should at least tell me why you're interested in an engineering career, what is your ultimate career goal - position, responsibility level, industry, type of work, work environment, etc. and discuss the reasons for that.

Curiosity and continuous improvement mindset. I want to know that you want to continue to grow your technical and soft skills throughout your career.

Be confident, showcase your abilities (use STAR method) and demonstrate your interest in engineering.

Also, don't worry about thousands of other applicants. 90% of the applications are sub-par to say the least and are screened off during the first stages - the ATS checks and online assessments, so the hiring managers only get to see normally less than 10 applications per position, but not more than 30.

p.s. drop me a DM if you'd like a more detailed discussion about your situation, I'm more than happy to help.
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by RobElliot
After sending off 130 applications to mainly graduate roles in STEM, I received my 130th rejection. I am now involuntarily going down the field of a master's to help but fear that nothing will change. I graduated from a top 5 university with good grades in engineering, a placement year at Siemens in engineering and another internship at Siemens in the summer with extensive experience in all fields. At this point I am completely lost at what to do as it seems improving myself and my profile is just a waste and that it is all down to luck. I did get around 7 interviews, worked for them lots and on every occasion: "there were not enough spaces, but you performed really well". It seems useless to apply to these when the chances are less that 1% of getting in. I am looking at doing a masters in sustainable/renewable engineering or maybe in Artificial Intelligence, but I don't know how much this will actually boost my chances, or even if this could help me get a direct entry role. If not, what could I study or do to help this the most.

Did you only apply to grad jobs and schemes at large/well known companies?
Reply 11
Original post by Smack
Did you only apply to grad jobs and schemes at large/well known companies?

For the most part but there were plenty of medium or small companies in there. I found that most of the smaller ones offered direct entry, or were very specific roles, instead of grad schemes and I didn’t have a chance due to my self not specialising yet and requiring experience in that field. Grad schemes just made sense as they were generalised and allowed me to specialise later on. I find it difficult to apply to these roles; I have experience/knowledge in many engineering fields but there’s no argument for me to apply to something specific. They expect you to know exactly what career you want which is something I am very far from knowing.
Disclaimer: I haven’t applied for any graduate roles/proper jobs nor I do Engineering, but isn’t a part of the application process to make sure that you research each company that you apply for and that if asked to write a cover letter, that you tailor each cover letter for each job application?

That least that’s what I’m being taught and told by my careers service and my parent (do some research on each company, tailor your cover letter and heck possibly even CV to each role that you apply for etc).

But I’ve heard that the job market is rough nowadays.
Original post by RobElliot
For the most part but there were plenty of medium or small companies in there. I found that most of the smaller ones offered direct entry, or were very specific roles, instead of grad schemes and I didn’t have a chance due to my self not specialising yet and requiring experience in that field. Grad schemes just made sense as they were generalised and allowed me to specialise later on. I find it difficult to apply to these roles; I have experience/knowledge in many engineering fields but there’s no argument for me to apply to something specific. They expect you to know exactly what career you want which is something I am very far from knowing.


Were you applying to entry level jobs at the smaller companies?
Reply 14
Original post by Smack
Were you applying to entry level jobs at the smaller companies?

Yes, I found they advertised a lot on LinkedIn, but I would never even get past the CV stage. I think this is my reasoning behind doing a masters so I can become more niche for these kinds of roles if that makes sense.
Reply 15
Original post by Talkative Toad
Disclaimer: I haven’t applied for any graduate roles/proper jobs nor I do Engineering, but isn’t a part of the application process to make sure that you research each company that you apply for and that if asked to write a cover letter, that you tailor each cover letter for each job application?
That least that’s what I’m being taught and told by my careers service and my parent (do some research on each company, tailor your cover letter and heck possibly even CV to each role that you apply for etc).
But I’ve heard that the job market is rough nowadays.

Yes, many companies required a cover letter that I catered towards the role and company, I went through a lot of time doing this. This is the first stage, before endless psychometric tests, prerecorded interviews, assessment centers and technical interviews.
Original post by RobElliot
Yes, many companies required a cover letter that I catered towards the role and company, I went through a lot of time doing this. This is the first stage, before endless psychometric tests, prerecorded interviews, assessment centers and technical interviews.

In that case then I got nothing, have you looked that the advice that @ThatguyAl has given?
You could get someone to look over your CV for you.
Original post by RobElliot
Yes, many companies required a cover letter that I catered towards the role and company, I went through a lot of time doing this. This is the first stage, before endless psychometric tests, prerecorded interviews, assessment centers and technical interviews.

For entry level roles you don't need specifically relevant experience. Have some sort of engineering/technical experience helps when CVs are being filtered, but it doesn't need to be specialist or specifically relevant to the role. Of course, you also need to understand the role and tailor your CV specifically towards it.

If you don't have a masters then that may impede you when it comes to grad schemes. They are nearly always very competitive and many do ask for, or even explicitly require, a masters. So getting a masters may help.

Your first priority should be getting your foot in the door in a role you can stand that is at least tangentially relevant to where you see yourself in the next decade. It doesn't really matter in the long-run whether it's a grad scheme or entry-level job. Once you're in and have some experience it's easier to move about.
Perhaps, you could you consider focusing your search on graduate programmes (e.g., gradcracker). As you know, in such programmes there is less focus on experience and more on your natural aptitudes and strengths.

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