My First Job-Hunt: A Survival Guide For The New Grad!
You’ve sent out your first batch of enthusiastic cover letters and CVs, only to be met with zero responses. That’s okay; it’s early days. The second month of applying for jobs and still no success? You’ll get through it. The third and fourth? This is when it gets painful.
You’re losing faith in yourself, questioning your self-worth, resenting your employed friends and wishing that the real world would show you some goddamn respect. While it may feel like the end of the world when you get another generic “we’re sorry that you have not been successful on this occasion” email, it’s important to keep trying.
But how can you stay motivated in what feels like the most soul-destroying process in the world?
Widen your net
At first, grads seem to rely on LinkedIn and the odd job board to try and find their dream job. Newsflash: changing your LinkedIn header to “Recent graduate seeking opportunities” will not have the life-changing impact you hoped.
Yes, utilise the LinkedIn job searches and use the job boards – but do not limit yourself to this. Check out Twitter and company websites. Even Gumtree have some excellent opportunities on the odd occasion! There are also recruitment agencies, who, more often than not, really do want to help you get employed. Signing up to a few is recommended.
It may sound cliché, but to-do lists really do provide light at the end of the gloomy tunnel of unemployment. It doesn’t have to be a list of all job-related things you need to do. It can even say “buy milk” or “go for jog”. It’s just nice to have something to work towards in your day – and the little achievements can go a long way in making you feel better.
Constructing your day around this list means you can be productive. After all, there are only so many daytime ITV shows you can watch before you start to hate yourself.
Switch up your routine
It’s ineffective to spend every waking hour on cover letters. Try breaking up your day instead, ensuring you allow your mind to focus on things other than your unemployment.
Maybe spend the morning finding jobs you want to apply to, then go to the gym, or make some lunch, and then get back to writing applications after this break. Perhaps, on a Sunday night, you’ll find all the applications you want to make, and set yourself a target of applying for two a day in the following week. Maybe you’ll have one intense day of applying and then take the next day to see friends and then watch a film at home.
Find a routine that works for you and stick to it. Still, it’s unhelpful to punish yourself and it’s important to breathe. You don’t want to burn out, and you certainly don’t want to feel rubbish about yourself!
Ask for feedback
Okay, so a lot of rejections tend to include the “we cannot give any feedback” line. But generally, if you’ve had a face-to-face interview, you are more than entitled to feedback. So, once you’ve got over the initial twang of pain from the rejection email, phone up to ask for some specifics on why you didn’t get the job, or how you could interview better in future. It could help you to rectify those mistakes for future interviews!
Ask for help
Your siblings, your parents, your friends, your old careers advisor from university – ask anybody you can for help. And I don’t just mean about applications.
If you are feeling down, helpless or angry, it can certainly help to talk to somebody. Once you let it out, you may find yourself feeling a lot better. If you feel like you can’t talk to anybody, maybe try writing it down in a journal, or failing that a Word Doc on your laptop.
Enjoy this time
Soon you’ll be joining the buzz of angry commuters and settling down in to your 9-5 routine, and you’ll be sure to miss the sweet taste of freedom that you once had as an unemployed graduate. Don’t just use this time to work on your applications; work on yourself too! Enjoy the freedom that unemployment can bring, as opposed to just focusing on the stress.
You’ve probably heard this line just as much as your rejections, but: persistence is key! Don’t feel bad about having a slump, but remember to work hard to get out of it. It will certainly pay off – in time!