Whether you’re a graduate on the lookout for your first job or an experienced professional looking for a change, job-hunting is difficult. It can be a long and draining process, filled with moments of gloom before the eventual thrill of getting an offer. If you don’t meet with initial success and time starts to trickle by, it can be hard to maintain a positive attitude and approach.
If you start feeling hopeless about the process, it can have on knock-on effect of decreasing your motivation and the quality of your applications. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 5 top tips to help you survive the job-hunt and stave off the blues.
A structured approach to your job-hunt will help you persevere. It’s often said that job-searching should be treated as a job in itself, and certainly you have to commit a great deal of time to it. If you’re unemployed, try treating your job-hunt as a nine-to-five. Even if you can’t put in this much time, try and stick to a defined schedule each day. This might mean putting in four hours at home each morning before heading to a library or café for a change of scenery, or that you take a 5-minute dance break every hour. Find out what works for you and helps you maintain your productivity.
You need to work hard during the time you’ve committed to job-hunting, but it’s equally important to make sure your routine allows for time off. If your days are spent doing applications, make sure you take evenings and weekends off. And if you have to fit job-hunting around your current job, don’t let it consume your every spare moment. You might have to work late into the night if an opportunity pops up with a very short turn-around, but make it the exception, not the rule.
Allowing yourself time to relax and enjoy yourself is key to maintaining your well-being. Whether it’s reading a book, catching up on your favourite TV show, or going for a run, doing an activity you love should lift your mood. And – unlike when you procrastinate – if you include time-off in your schedule, you’ll be able to enjoy it guilt-free.
On that note, having other commitments alongside your job hunt can help boost your mood. Putting in a few hours volunteering or working a part-time job can help you structure your week, as well as reminding you that there is life beyond the four walls of your room. Doing something productive that gets you out of the house is emotionally rewarding, not to mention that you might gain skills that will bolster your CV! Having a gap on your resume can put off employers, so having evidence that you’ve been industrious will count in your favour.
Staying social is also a great way to fill your time away from your applications. Isolation can be a direct path to unhappiness, so don’t lock yourself away. A couple of hours out of the house having coffee with a friend will do wonders for your mood.
Ultimately, you need to strike a balance. Take on too many other commitments and you could be shooting yourself in the foot because you won’t have time to do any applications. But if you do nothing all week but hunt for jobs, the blues can overwhelm you.
On the one hand, being able to speak to your family and friends about your job-hunt can allow you to blow off steam and get you some great advice. On the other hand, being asked how it’s going every five minutes can leave you feeling more stressed than loved. Taking time to rest from your job-hunt should mean you’re allowed to not even think about it for a while, so make sure those around you understand that too. Rather than waiting until your temper boils over, try setting parameters with your family – such as ‘no job talk at mealtimes’.
One reason it’s easy to get bogged down during the job hunt is the feeling that you’re not getting anywhere. If your only measure of achievement is the number of job applications you hear good news back from, life can feel pretty bleak for a time. To try and avoid this, set yourself targets and congratulate yourself when you meet them.
Try and have weekly goals, like sending out at least 3 tailored applications per week. And every day before you start, write yourself a to-do list. Keep this realistic – hoping to conquer the world in a day will leave you feeling frustrated. Break up each application into stages on your to-do list; researching, drafting, and finalising an application all takes time and this will help you recognise how much you’re actually getting done.
Listing what you plan to achieve will both give your day structure and reward you with a sense of accomplishment every time you tick something off the list. You could even try a more tangible rewards based system – having a cup of tea and a biscuit every time you send off an application, or planning an evening doing something special after a big deadline.
Unfortunately, it’s fairly inevitable that a lot of applications you send off will meet with rejections. In fact, one study conducted in 2012 showed that 69% of job applications receive no response at all. It’s important to not take it too personally or let a rejection shake your sense of self-worth. Remember, not getting one job doesn’t mean you’ll never get a job at all.
You should allow yourself to be disappointed – after all, you put time and effort into that application and may have really wanted it – but don’t let that feeling stand in your way. Instead of despairing over a rejection, try and use it as motivation to brush up your CV or try something different in your cover letter style. Look to the next opportunity rather than dwelling on the one you missed.
Claire Kilroy is a content writer for leading UK graduate recruitment firm Inspiring Interns. Why not visit their website if you’re on the hunt for internships and graduate jobs in London and Manchester, or check out their blog for more graduate careers advice.
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