Recently I seen some research that showed Ireland is in the top 5 for most job satisfaction. The reason for this is because there are so few jobs that getting one is fantastic. To give some perspective on this, in January 2016, there was 17,000 applicants for 600 post in the Garda Síochána (Irish Police). That equates to 28 people per posting. For other positions, that figure is relatively similar. For many of the positions I have applied for, the number of applicants can be anywhere from 20 to 250, many of whom have a Masters or more experience than me. From my conversations with recruiters from job agencies, the market is still very tough. A lot of people who were made redundant have notched up their CV’s with supporting qualifications, making it harder for people like myself to even get their foot in the door for even an entry-level position.

After months of job hunting, writing millions of customized CV’s and cover letters, I have finally found a job. I couldn’t have been more over the moon about it all. Looking through the job market is a truly miserable experience. At first I had an enthusiastic drive that made me feel that I could take on the world. After a few months, this was exchanged with boredom and depression. It isn’t easy to spend time researching a company, writing a full length CV and a quirky cover letter that best exemplifies why you are the Messiah they have been waiting for to lead their company to the next generation of human resources. What really ate at me was receiving the same generic copied-and-pasted rejection email that reads more like a horoscope than it does a genuine reason they do not want to hire you.

Although your application for the position of (BLANK) has been carefully considered, we will not be proceeding further on this occasion.

It would be nice if the good people in HR and recruiting could just writing “You didn’t get the job” in the subject bar, rather than having me feel some hope that I could be considered for an interview. The rest of the email is usually a copied-and-pasted response with the we ‘usually don’t have the time to give feedback to every applicant’ and ‘we wish the best of luck to you for the future’. I understand that writing a tailored email to an applicant is time consuming, especially when there is more than a dozen, but I would rather have a one liner saying “Sorry, you didn’t get the job” than a long drawn out message to offer me a fake condolence that nobody cares about. So, once I got offered a job, I was delighted. But not for the reason you might be thinking. I want to earn enough money to leave Ireland by the end of the next 6 months.

The situation in Ireland isn’t getting any better for someone like me. There is a myriad of graduate programs that pop up every year, but let’s face it, with hundreds of applicants for a handful of positions, it is a long-shot at best. Education is a good route, but a Master’s will force me to take out a loan, which is something I am very wary of doing. I’ve seen what happened to people who took massive loans out during the Celtic Tiger, and the misery it brought them later. I am frightened of the idea of taking out a mortgage, renting seems the only safe option I can image, but the topic of rent in Ireland is a for a whole article by itself.

My last two options are education abroad and emigrating. I am planning to return to Asia to study Journalism. I have a 1.1 BA in Chinese and International Business and spent a year in Beijing. Returning to Asia to study again would be fantastic and the price would be the exact same as studying a Masters in Ireland. I am waiting to hear word back if I am going to be awarded a scholarship to fund myself, otherwise, it will have to be a loan. I guess I can stomach a loan better if I am abroad. At least I can try and run from my problems that way. My second option is to earn enough money to emigrate. It’s not a bad choice, in fact I think it will be a good experience to live abroad and maybe set up my life outside of Ireland. Entire generations have done it before me and Lord knows life elsewhere in the world is better than Ireland. Personally, I dislike reading articles in the Irish Times about young Irish emigrants abroad who earn a lot, have a great lifestyle and can have a family, but complain that it isn’t Ireland.

In some sense, I am lucky to say the least that I have a plan of some kind. I will know in the coming months which direction I will take and move forward, but for a lot of people in Ireland, their future is worryingly unclear. People from Generation Y like me now live in a far more competitive market where the minimum requirement for many jobs is a Bachelor’s of Arts and down the line, we could see that requirement changing to a Master’s. Like many other graduates I want a job to gain experience, but I need experience to get the job. It is a wonder how anyone is hired. Right now, I have finished a job application for a ‘Digital Content Writer’ position, just for the hell of it, I know the recruiter will read my witty cover letter and sigh because I’m so ‘only meeting the requirements’ and nothing else. I have made my application through LinkedIn and I can see the number of applicants. After 4 days, it is 50 applicants, some of which have a Masters and some seniority.

So, ask yourself, if you were in the situation where you were competing with over-qualified people for a single job that brings in dozens of applicants that have a Master’s and experience, why wouldn’t you be the happiest person in the world? Hell, we might have good employers and labour laws, but we sure as hell don’t have great wages. The cost of rent is increasing, but our wages aren’t. It was the former taoiseach, Charles Haughey, who addressed the nation with “We are living beyond our means”. We as a nation had to take the hit and through fiscal policies that reduced government spending and a reduction in our wages, we could come out the other end. Since the recession hit Ireland in 2008, we have to yet to come out the other end and current growth statistics in Ireland don’t seem to exude the reality for most people in the county. Instead, a lot of people today like Haughey are lining their pockets and telling others to cut costs.

When I studied in Dublin Institute of Technology, across the road from the main entrance of the Aungier Street campus was the social welfare office. Every morning people would line up to go inside. The line was extremely long and for many people it was mortifying to be seen like this. I couldn’t blame them either.

I told myself no matter what I would find something to do. I feel now that if I don’t make the leap abroad this might be all that is left for me to do. I could get lucky and get a dream position in Ireland, but that just feelings like a dream.

 In the next few months I will know if I am returning to Asia, studying my Master’s in Ireland or emigrating abroad to work. They are great choices and I know many doors will be opening for me. The bottom line is, even if I stay and study a Master’s, chances are, I will be leaving Ireland for better opportunities abroad. I am fortunate that I have a choice to return to Ireland in the future, many generations before me made the trip to live in the New World on coffin ships. For me, it is an 18–20 hours flight home and better prospects to do what I want in life. It is just a pity I don’t feel that is possible in Ireland.