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Taking Pit Stops During Your Job Hunt
The secret to a positive job search experience is... to not spend all your time searching for jobs! Taking breaks is an important part of job-hunting, too.
The hunt for a graduate job can sometimes drag on longer than expected.
It’s not uncommon for you to send out numerous applications and speculative letters with little response, and it’s even more common that it may take you some time before you can land the job offer that you’ve been dreaming of.
This can sometimes be quite a downer, and not to mention really stressful – particularly if what you thought was a one-month search slowly lapses into a second, third, or fourth month.
If left unchecked, all this stress can get extremely demoralising, and can cause even the most motivated job-seeker to slide into a depressive loop.
The secret to maintaining a productive, positive graduate job hunt is to pace yourself during this period of time.
Here are some suggestions to help you refuel and recharge as you trundle towards your dream job!
Break your job search up into manageable bits
Fresh graduates often get intimidated searching for work because of how unfamiliar the process is, and because of the tendency to view it as some titanic task leading to some mystical goal of getting employed.
The seeming enormity of it all can make it difficult to focus or to keep your spirits up.
To alleviate this, break down the concept of “getting hired” into a series of manageable tasks, and keep track of those individually.
Set small deadlines and workable daily goals – for instance, getting your résumé finalised on a set date, then applying for five different jobs before the next week is up, etc.
Not only does this make things easier to complete, it also lets you track your progress.
Each milestone you achieve will boost your morale, and will also help you establish a rhythm to your work – which is very important if your job search does indeed become a long one!
Reward yourself whenever you hit a goal
Who doesn’t like being rewarded? Make it a point to indulge in something you like after accomplishing a daily goal that you’ve set. This doesn’t have to be anything big – a few hours on the Playstation, time out with friends, or some awesome dessert, perhaps.
Maintaining a series of small rewards is a great way to maintain your confidence and general mood, which will be reflected in the way you present yourself to potential employers.
Just be careful not to overindulge to the point that you lose track of your workflow!
Get out of the house!
Staying in a place and doing similar things for an extended period of time is a surefire way to lose your motivation! Head over to the mall for a grocery run, go running or cycling, or maybe spend time people-watching in a cozy café.
Take this opportunity to meet up and reconnect with old friends, too. Arrange meet-up sessions and get-togethers when you can, and use these to discuss your problems and maybe even network along the way!
Some people may be guilt-tripped into thinking that this is a waste of time (“There’s so much to be done, and I’m doing nothing out here!”).
Remember, taking a short breather isn’t the same as slacking! Slacking is all about avoiding work, while planned breaks actually help productivity.
Go work up a sweat
Make it point to dedicate some time to exercise as well. A good workout releases stress-relieving hormones, which will make you feel much more positive.
If you prefer something less strenuous, take a walk in the park, do some light jogging, or go on a leisurely cycling trip. If you’re more adventurous, why not use this as an excuse to try out new things like zumba, kickboxing, or rock-climbing?
Commit yourself to a good cause
Consider doing some volunteer work with organisations that cater to your interests. Not only does this get you out and about, it will also give you more talking points for your cover letters, résumés, and job applications!
An even better idea is to find a way to tie your volunteer stint in with your degree or intended area of work.
For example, if you plan on being an auditor, why not be a volunteer book-keeper for an NGO whose cause you believe in? This will help you gain experience in applying your knowledge on the job, which you can draw upon for anecdotes at interviews.
Take some classes to gain new skills
“More classes?!” you say?
Yep! Think about picking up some new skills to fill up your spare time, such as learning a new language, building apps, or playing a musical instrument.
These classes will serve as a good distraction from your job hunt, keeping you occupied and engaged amidst a challenging time. Besides, if you don’t take the opportunity to pick up skills you’ve always wanted to have when you’re not bound to a 9-to-5 job yet, then when will you?
Learn how to meditate
Meditation may be a good alternative break option that can help bring your mind to a relaxed state, if properly practiced. You don’t need to curl up into a lotus position (which is, frankly, quite uncomfortable!).
The primary purpose is to put yourself in a place that brings you happiness, thus helping you to let go of the stress and pressure that you’re dealing with.
One simple form of meditation is something called “guided imagery”. This just involves clearing your mind and imagining yourself in a safe place – this can be either real or made-up – that is pleasant to all your five senses.
Just stay in this state for 10 to 15 minutes at a time… but not so long that you end up falling asleep!
Keep a job search journal
One last option is to keep a job search journal, where you chronicle all the applications that you’ve made so far.
This is particularly useful for situations where you feel like things are spiraling out of control.
Seeing visual proof of the accomplishments that you’ve achieved so far (e.g. Day 1: 3 applications sent out”, etc.), helps serves as a reminder that you are, in fact, getting somewhere.
In other words, it puts you back in the locus of control.
Some people may also find the action of jotting and scribbling to be meditative and soothing, and it becomes especially satisfying when you are able to finally pen in successful applications as a sign of victory.