The cap has been thrown, celebrations have run their course and the inevitable questioning from everyone around you begins; “So what’s the next step? Where are you applying? Do you have anything secured down now that Uni has finished?” If the answer to all these questions can be spelled out in two letters and generally has negative connotations then NO you are not alone and I feel your pain, in fact I’m living your pain as we speak!
The job hunt that follows graduation has to be one of the most difficult challenging tasks of a young persons life. There’s uncertainty, excessive amounts of rejection, loss of hope and just plain boredom. It’s not fun and resembles coming down from a high as that security blanket of three responsibility free years gets ripped from under our feet and we’re left high and dry to mostly fend for ourselves. If you are not experiencing any of these emotions then wow you are one lucky person and I hope you don’t take that for granted, but for the majority of graduates that are, here are a few tips to banish the overwhelming job hunt blues (after all it’s January you know, new year, new me, 2019 and all that) and push on.
Set a Schedule
Just because you are now unemployed doesn’t mean you can carry on with the Uni way of waking up whenever and rotating your day around Tesco meal deals and Netflix binging. Oh no, we are attempting adulting and apparently our lives now start before the sun comes up. If this suddenly brings a nauseating feeling to your stomach as it did mine when I first realised what my new fate entailed, then make it a bit easier for your self by having somewhere to go first thing. In my case, living at home, I wake up with my sister at 7 am and go on the school run so I can get a lift to the gym. Weekdays should now be operating on a 9-5 basis as they would in a job situation. You need to practice for the real thing and it gives your days a routine to combat that feeling of having no purpose. Don’t forget to give yourself an hour lunch break though – we all need to eat and I’m not about to take away from you the best part of the working day!
Get Outside and Offscreen
While it is so tempting to spend all day firing off emails on job recruitment sites, networking outside of the laptop is so important. Whether it’s attending industry meet ups, meeting with recruitment agencies or contacting people to meet for coffee to share advice and tips, most of the time jobs are got via connections. We all know what they say, “it’s not about what you know, but rather about WHO you know”, so get ready to make some new friends and schmooze your way into that office with some good old fashioned face time. If nothing else, it’s a nice break from sitting at home and you can treat yourself to a coffee afterwards.
Yes, you may have the CV of dreams with reams of experience but sometimes it takes being in the actual building to get them to notice you and the best way to do that is offer your services for free. Trust me, this one doesn’t make me happy either and I can in no way afford to complete a six month unpaid internship whereby I make coffee and sit on social media BUT a week or two of work experience wouldn’t hurt if it got me in front of the main guys. Take everything as an opportunity to sell yourself to a company and you never know, after a week of outshining the office regulars you could find yourself employed!
Make Weekly Achievable Goals
This one is so important if you’re like me and need to see your progress on paper. Make lists of achievable, small things you want to accomplish in the week, be it applying for a set number of jobs, setting up some meetings or creating a portfolio website. If you can tick things off from a list and see that progress is being made, it’ll lift your spirits and encourage you to carry on. Never forget to celebrate the little victories either and every so often take a step back to acknowledge how far you’ve come.
Don’t Dwell On It
Move on quickly from application to application and don’t get hung up on one single job. Leave it two – three weeks to follow up with the employer and then leave it in the past and carry on looking else where. If you linger on one position it will hinder your progress and ultimately damage your determination if the response is negative.
Focus On What You Can Control
Wasting time worrying on things that are out of your hands is regressive and whilst it’s definitely easier said than done, it’s vital to maintaining your positive outlook during job hunting. Work on bettering your CV and nailing cover letters rather than attempting to psychoanalyse words in an email and guess how your application is getting on. If you find yourself unable to switch off the worry then try and distract yourself by thinking up a new creative way to grab the attention of the employer such as digital portfolios or video CVs.
Job hunting is monotonous, boring and as we’ve discussed earlier somewhat soul destroying so make sure you have some other outlet to focus your productive energy on at the end of the day to shut off your brain from CVs and filling out electronic data forms. Start that blog you’ve always wanted to have or work on setting up that business you’ve been cooking up in the back of your head – literally anything that is still productive to give your brain a boost of positive energy to finish your day on. Your passion project should be what really gets you going and makes you happy so whilst you’re shattered after scrolling through LinkedIn, make time for it and who knows, it could all pay off in ways you never expected!
You’re Not Alone
Finally, remember you are not alone in this! In times when it all piles up, you’re watching your friends get jobs left, right and centre and you’re feeling like it’s never going to happen for you, take a step back and remind yourself that there’s another you sitting at a computer feeling exactly the same way somewhere else. Life after graduation is different for everyone and a big believer in everything happens for a reason, I’m learning to live my journey instead of trying to keep up with everyone else’s. Be careful of social media scrolling here, as it’s easy to get sucked into the Instagram mirage that everyone is having more success and fun than you. It’s a highlight reel that leaves out a significant amount and you should never compare life to little squares on the internet! If this is really something that’s getting you down, try joining groups with people in the same situation as you and don’t allow yourself to get too isolated during this time. Job hunting is about stretching your comfort zone and challenging your boundaries so why not extend that into your social scene as well?
*I wish you all the best and promise you that it will happen eventually … and if IT doesn’t happen then something more suited to you will, just wait and see!