Things to Do while Job Searching
Looking and applying for jobs can be a tough, stressful and overwhelming process (and that’s without a pandemic on top of it all). Whether you’re a student, graduate or someone who’s recently found themselves unemployed; it’s just as confusing for everyone, really. It can be hard to know where to start, when to start or what you’re actually meant to be doing.
So, here are some things to keep in mind during your job-hunt. Disclaimer: these aren’t things that’ll help you get your dream job; it isn’t a checklist or guide for writing CVs, cover letters or application forms. Sorry. But, they’re things to help you look after yourself and prevent you burning yourself out. And sure, isn’t that more important? Hint: The answer is yes.
Take time to think about what you want to do
Before launching straight into job searching, opening up every recruitment website you can think of and changing your profile picture on LinkedIn; stop. Put the phone away. Take some time, whether it’s five minutes or a full day, to figure out what it is that you actually want to look and apply for.
It might seem like a good idea to be “open-minded” and “see what all’s out there”, until you end up with 18,732 search results ranging from vet to electrician. You know the feeling when you go on ASOS to “have a browse”, get overwhelmed and close it down after seeing there’s 700 more pages to scroll through even though you’ve already seen 200 items? It’s a bit like that.
So, think about what you’re good at, what you want to do, and what you’re willing to do. Make a list or go all out and do a spider diagram. Coming up with a game plan will take some time at the start, but will save you loads in the long-run. You might end up with less search results, but you’ll end up with more relevant ones.
Set realistic goals
It’s all well and good to say, “I want to apply for three jobs today”. But, this isn’t necessarily a helpful or realistic target. What if there aren’t three jobs you want to apply for? What if there aren’t three jobs you’re interested in, qualified for and would like to get? Setting number-based goals doesn’t take into account how much the job market changes every day. Some days, there might be five jobs you could apply for; others, there might be one; and some, there won’t be any.
Don’t focus on numbers; you’ll end up applying for jobs purely for the sake of feeling like you were productive. What’s better: applying for five jobs you’re not that keen on, or applying for one or two that you really want and have a chance of getting? Hint: it’s the second one.
Take your Time
Another problem with trying to apply for as many jobs as possible is that it doesn’t take into account how much time, energy and mental effort it requires to tailor your CV and cover letter for every single application. Maybe it’ll take you half an hour and you’ll get it done in one sitting, or maybe you’ll dip in and out of it throughout the day; it doesn’t matter. Work at your own pace. Unless there’s a deadline, then you should probably work at the employer’s pace.
Don’t compare yourself to your friends, siblings, people online or previous years. It’s pointless and a waste of time. It doesn’t matter how long it took other people to find a job, how many interviews they got or how many they’ve applied for. This is your journey and your experience, no one else is the same as you so no one else’s will be the same. You’re probably going to be working for the next 40 years anyway, so in the grand scheme of things, taking six months or a year longer to start doesn’t make much of a difference, does it? What an uplifting thought, I know.
Job searching can be so frustrating, draining and a bit disheartening at times. But, keeping all of your stress and emotions built up is not a good idea. So, let out all out. Vent, my friend. Whether it’s your family, friends, cat or private Snapchat story, share how you’re feeling.
Remember, you’re not the only one going through this and facing these obstacles. It’s likely someone else you know is too, or has been through it before. Maybe they can offer you support, advice, or even just listen and acknowledge your feelings. Talking about your frustrations is important because gives you a release and lets you move on to other things, instead of just going over and over it in your head. You know the way you tend to get together with your other single friends and share dating experiences? Do the same with your fellow job-seekers.
If you’re not particularly keen on sharing your feelings and emotions with people, or if you don’t have anyone you feel you can talk to about your job-search frustrations, write them down instead. Keeping a diary or journal (if you want to sound fancy) is a really good way to get all of your thoughts out without judgement, interruption or competing of who has it worse. It’s also a nice way to document your journey, so you can look back and see what progress you’ve made (mentally and/or professionally).
If you can’t be bothered to write anything, you could always type, record a voicenote or a video instead. Maybe you want to keep them, post them in a blog or on social media, or maybe you just want to get it all out there and then delete it once you’ve said your piece; whatever helps you the most.
Relax (Take it Easy)
If you didn’t sing that in the tune to Mika’s song, I’m disappointed.
During this process, make sure you give yourself some breaks. Go make a cup of tea, watch something on Netflix or go for a walk. You can’t spend all day every day looking or applying for jobs. Not that you’d really want to, anyway. There’s no point burning yourself out. You’ll end up over-doing it and then not being able to face a job website for the next three weeks. Not a great idea.
You could set a goal like, “Once I apply for this job, I’ll take a break” or “I’ll check one more recruitment website and then I’ll rewatch Gossip Girl again”. Or, you could set aside a set day or time for your search. Whatever you do, make sure to give yourself some “me time”. Rest, relax and restart with a fresh perspective and an even fresher cup of tea. Awk go on, have a biscuit, too.
When you’re searching for jobs, it can be too easy to think of yourself as no more than your CV. But, you are more than a bullet point list of your achievements and exam results. So, make sure you keep it that way. Look after the person behind the CV. Give them a face mask. Let them nap. Let them listen to Eiffel 65 on loop if they want to. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself at your best. Sure, that’s what employers want anyway, right?
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