You finally did it: You’ve graduated!
Whether it be high school or university, you’ve walked proudly across the stage with that piece of paper in your hands. You’ve stepped into the big wide real world. Your next step is to find your first professional job and launch your career. You’ve brewed yourself some tea and cosied up into an armchair, laptop before you. You’re already populating the SEEK search bar with key terms that relate to your dream job.
Now that you’ve successfully applied for job after job, you’re ready to start receiving a barrage of calls and emails inviting you to interview after interview. You’re preparing what you’ll say when you must turn down one offer over another.
But your inbox remains silent for a few weeks until you see the Gmail icon pop up on your phone. It’s an email from one of the jobs you applied to:
“Dear job applicant,
Thank you for your application for your dream job. Unfortunately, we received a high volume of applications for this role, and on this occasion, we have chosen to move forward with other applicants. We will keep your details on file should a more appropriate role become available.”
It’s your first rejection email. A few more weeks go by, and you begin to get more copy-paste rejection emails. The rejection email has blown all the wind from your sails. You really wanted that job!
Job rejection is a large part of the job searching experience, and while you may feel alone in this, you definitely aren’t. Every person, including myself, has been in the position of applying for their first job. Running the gauntlet of desperately searching every corner of every job listing website. Tailoring resumes and cover letters to fit each job position. Wanting to throw the laptop out the window every time an auto-populating job application fails to add information from an uploaded resume.
You really are not alone.
When I finally graduated from university and was ready to find my first job, I spent nine months searching and applying for roles that: A) were relevant to my degree and interests, and B) didn’t want me to have 30 years + of experience. I finally got there in the end, but it wasn’t without plenty of nights of losing sleep over wondering whether I would ever get a job.
So, if you’re job-seeking for the first time or the 30th, read on for advice on how you can remain hopeful through this time.
Dealing With Job Search Fatigue
Some advice that I was given when I was job searching for the first time was to “treat job searching as a full-time job.” While this sounds good in theory, job searching can be a tiring and overwhelming process. Spending all day job hunting is also not sustainable. Here are a few things that I found helped me manage job searching when I was struggling:
Set a reasonable Goal for Yourself. Your first goal might be to just do one application a day. One application is better than none, and you lose nothing by trying.
Another thing that helped me was creating a job application spreadsheet. I used a document to keep track of all the jobs I wanted to apply for as well as those job applications I was waiting to hear back from. On the Spreadsheet, I also listed jobs in the order of which ones I liked the most so I could prioritise tailoring my resume and cover letter for them.
Take Regular Breaks. I tried my best to not define myself by my job search. I took regular breaks from the screen, kept up with my hobbies, and made time to hang out with friends. Job searching takes time and energy, so don’t feel bad if there are days where you can’t engage with it and need to take a break. In fact, taking regular breaks and prioritising self-care is crucial to getting through the endless job hunting.
Engage In Self-Care
As I’ve mentioned before, applying for job upon job can be exhausting which is why it is so important to remember to engage in self-care. Self-care is an important tool no matter where you are in life, be it at school, working, or job searching. Self-care can be anything that helps you to relax or recenter. It could be as simple as sitting down to watch an episode of your favourite TV show or going to the gym.
When I was job searching for the first time, my main method of self-care was sitting down and playing video games. I found getting lost in a different world with a story for a few hours helped me to switch gears mentally. I also enjoy crafting and making things with my hands. This not only helped me take a break from the screen but also helped me slow down.
When it feels like all your energy is going into your job hunting, try doing something that you enjoy every day. It will help you to break away from that endless job hunting as well as keep you motivated and sane during your job searches.
As important as self-care is, it is only one of the many ways to keep up hope when you are struggling with applying for jobs. Often Job searching can become an isolating experience to go through so relying on the people around you is another tool to help get you through the hunt.
Leaning on Your Support Network
In times when job searching feels overwhelming, don’t be afraid to turn to your family and friends for support. Chances are that they have gone through the same thing, and likely have some advice of their own. I once had a family friend share their experience of trying to find a full-time job. They told me how they spent months doing temp work with an agency to build enough experience just to land an interview. I have also had close friends read through my resume and cover letters to help improve them. Sometimes, I just wanted someone to vent my frustrations to. Talking to the ones around you who have been in your shoes helps make the process of job searching feel less lonely.
One thing I wish that I did differently the first time I was job searching, though, was to ask people in my support network for help with the actual job searching. Someone may be aware of an organisation that is hiring, or they may hear about a job through their own contacts. You can even ask friends and family to have a look on SEEK or Indeed for jobs they think that you might like.
Having a strong support network while relying on your friends and family to assist you with the frustrations and endless climbing of job hunting will not only take away from that isolation you may be feeling, but also help you to remain positive.
While you have your support network around you to assist, in the end, it is you who must complete the process of applications, interviewing, and securing that job. It is important that you keep a positive mindset and hold firm that you will be successful in getting to that final point.
Keeping A Positive Mindset
This may sound strange, but something that helped get me through nine long months of job searching was imagining myself in a new job. There was something about picturing myself acing an interview, accepting a job offer, and going in for my first day at work that helped me to keep my chin up, especially when I hadn’t heard back from any of the jobs I’d applied for. This helped me to keep a positive mindset during the tough days and reassured me that I would eventually get a job.
Something else that I liked to do was write down answers to common interview questions. Doing this helped me feel more prepared and confident for when I was invited to an interview. It helped me preempt and prepare my answers to any questions that I might be asked. It bolstered my confidence even more to have a list of my goals and achievements in front of me to remind me that I was qualified for a job, I just needed to finally get my lucky break and be invited for an interview.
Keeping a positive mindset helped me to fight the feelings of hopelessness that came with the seemingly endless months of job searching. If you can find what helps you to keep a positive mindset, then you will be well equipped to deal with a job search of your own.
I repeat: you will get a job.
I still remember my first job search like it was yesterday, and I hope that by sharing my own experiences, I can help you through yours. If I had to sum up my main tips for keeping up hope during a job search, they would be to:
- Set attainable goals.
- Prioritise self-care.
- Lean on the people around you.
- Keep a positive mindset.
- Most importantly: Remember that this is a temporary phase, and the job search will not last forever. You will get your job.
So, guess what: You finally did it!
You’ve embarked on your next step and started your job search. Take a moment to appreciate what an important milestone this is and remember that you are not alone in the job hunt.
You will get a job. You just have to believe in yourself.