Three Reasons Why Applying for Jobs Is 10x Harder Than Applying to College

Jan 31, 2024


Working with so many college students and recent grads, we’re often asked if the experience of applying for jobs and internships is similar to applying to college. Both require candidates to do some self reflection, focus on targets aligned with their interests and capabilities, and market themselves in competitive processes fraught with rejection. However, here are three distinct differences between college admissions and company hiring processes that can make the job search process 10 times tougher for students and grads to navigate:

 1. Rolling Admissions All of the Time

In the world of college admissions, most schools offer a clear application timeline with well communicated deadlines for submissions and notifications. Not so in the job search world. The job market is a swift moving stream of opportunities. Companies post new roles any time of year, and most jobs are filled on a “rolling admissions” basis within a few weeks. Candidates don’t often know when the position opened or when it will close, and the sooner you can apply the better. This time-sensitive job market world without cutoff dates can be extra challenging for procrastinators or any of us who need a deadline to motivate. 

2. No Benchmarks, Even Lower Acceptance Rates

Students applying to colleges can review reams of information on applicant qualifications and school acceptance rates to assess their chances of admission at various schools. Prepared with a list of Likely, Target, and Reach schools, a high school senior may submit ten to twenty college apps in hopes of securing one or more acceptances to an incoming class. Young job seekers face a different set of circumstances. Most job posters are seeking a singular hire and may get hundreds or even thousands of applicants for that one position. Student job seekers can’t plug their qualifications into a company’s Naviance scattergram to plot their hiring odds before deciding whether to apply. Faced with these job market uncertainties and challenging hiring odds (often in the single digits or less!), students submit significantly more than twenty job or internship applications, which means having an organized personal job application tracking system is key. Enter the next challenge …

3. No Common App for Job Applicants

While college applicants can leverage candidate-friendly platforms like the Common App to help streamline their submissions to multiple schools, job seekers don’t have access to a similar “job search common app” tool to present their personal information to multiple prospective employers seamlessly. Any job applicant today will encounter online application submission platforms. However, these are almost always company-friendly applicant tracking systems (ATS) to help businesses evaluate a high number of candidates efficiently. In fact, the siloed world of company-specific ATS can make it more labor-intensive for applicants. For example, even though Company A and Company B both use the same ATS platform, and you’ve already invested 45 minutes building your candidate profile in it to apply to a role with Company A, you will likely start from the beginning with a blank new application for a position at Company B. What's more, you’ll also need to remember separate URLs and logins to check on the status of your applications with each employer.


If you thought applying to college was challenging, you’re likely to find your job search process significantly more difficult to plan and execute without help. A private career advisor can help you strategize, organize and mobilize a successful search.

HireEdge is the premier service helping college students and recent graduates launch their careers in business. Our top MBA coaches and proven process will help you plan a career launch strategy and lead an effective first full-time job or internship search. Whether you are a current college student, recent graduate, or parent, you can schedule a free, no obligation consultation to learn more about what we do here.