Coping with Job Search Anxiety
If you’ve been feeling butterflies in your stomach as you go through the graduate job search process, then rest assured you’re not alone! Searching for your first job (or internship) is a big life change in and of itself, and can still scare even the most well-prepared of us during the best of times.
With all the uncertainty in the market right now, perhaps you’re feeling that anxiety more than ever. You may be worried about your odds of landing your dream job during a recession, wondering how you match up to other jobseekers, or worried that you don’t have what it takes to catch employers’ eyes. These feelings are perfectly valid and normal. You just need to know how to handle them in a more productive manner instead!
How can you deal with all this job search anxiety? Read on to find out!
Don’t compare yourself to your peers
You may have friends who have already landed positions before graduation, or seem to have no problems getting interviews lined up. Or maybe your parents keep talking about how so-and-so’s son or daughter just got a nice, cushy job with their dream employer.
But here’s the thing: that has nothing to do with you! So don’t compare yourself with others.
The job search process is not a race, and positions aren’t going to “run out”. Everyone has their own unique circumstances, and will find success at different times. Keep your anxiety at bay by actively reminding yourself of this.
Just focus on what you can do, instead of comparing yourself to someone else. Your time in the spotlight will come eventually, and it will not be any less sweet when it does!
Talk to other professionals
Job descriptions are crucial, but they only give you a glimpse into what careers are like. So instead of scratching your head trying to fill in the blanks, get out there and talk to people who are already in the workforce instead of just browsing for jobs all day!
You don’t necessarily have to look far. Try connecting with your seniors from university, talk to relatives, or friends of friends. Even if they’re not in the field you want to enter, you can still learn a thing or two! Ask them about their day-to-day tasks, get to know the challenges they face, or talk to them about your anxiety in finding a job and see what advice they have to offer. Make sure to sit back and reflect on what you’ve learned from them as well.
Hearing from others who have gone ahead of you will help you realise just how temporary your fears really are. Not only that, but you may reach a new understanding about what you really want out of your career, which will help you with expressing yourself in applications and interviews too.
Have a few practise interviews
If your anxiety stems from the idea of sitting down for an interview, approach your campus career services, seniors, or some friends to help you simulate an interview. This will not only help you find any blind spots you may have and refine your answers, but also help you realise that interviews are really not as stressful as you think!
There’s no shame in seeking help here. Interviewing and talking to people in professional settings are learned skills. So seek coaching for it if you can.
After a few rounds of practise interviews, you’ll be a lot more prepared, and this can also give you a leg up against any competition you’ll be coming up against!
Don’t forget to practice for video interviews as well! Both online and in-person interviews have their own unique quirks, so you just need ample time to familiarise yourself with both.
Look after yourself
Make time to take care of yourself, so get yourself on your feet and exercise. If jogging with a mask on gives you the chills, settle for a brisk walk. If you don’t want to go out, work out in the comfort of your living room instead. The endorphins your body will produce will keep your spirits buoyed and your anxiety at bay.
Also keep in mind that it’s easy to tell yourself something like, “I’ve graduated in the middle of a recession and I’ll never find a job”. But on top of being fantastically inaccurate, that statement you’re repeating to yourself is only adding to your anxiety. Instead, keep the voice in your head to something more positive. Examples include: “This may be hard, but I’ll eventually get a job I want!” or “I have done what I can do, and I have no regrets!”
If you find that staying upbeat gets tiring after a while, consider meditation to remain focused and well-rested while keeping dark thoughts at bay. There’s no need to worry if you don’t have an idea how to start meditating, though! App stores have a plethora of these apps, so simply pick one that suits you the best.
Learn to enjoy the journey
You may find yourself going through all kinds of highs and lows during your graduate job seeking days, whether it’s finally landing your dream job or getting lost – figuratively and literally – on the day of your interview. You’ll even build skills like resilience and discover things about yourself that you never knew before.
But above all, remember that this is a journey, not a race. You will emerge from it having learned and grown from all the experiences you had along the way, one way or another. So learn to take a step back every once in a while, enjoy the ride, and trust that everything will be alright in the end so long as you keep your eye on the prize.