After countless applications, emails and interviews, it may seem like the universe is against you in your never-ending search for a job. Instead of feeling down and depressed, keep your hopes up and stay motivated! Whether you’re a recent graduate looking for a full-time job or an undergraduate in need of some extra cash, the only way to land your dream job is to keep on applying. Here are a few tricks to relax and de-stress just in time for your next interview!
1. Create a vision board
Sometimes it can be difficult to concentrate on your future without a firm grasp of what you really want. Looking at specific photos and images can help you visualize your future, making it easier to focus.
To build a vision board, gather a bunch of pictures, magazine cutouts or inspirational quotes and put them together in one big collage. These can include photos of short- or long-term goals, but the key is to get really specific! For example, if you want to be a lawyer, you’ll want to find photos of courtrooms, law books and lawyers who inspire you. Your vision board can incorporate the amount of money you want to earn, the location you want to work in or even the people you want to work with—it’s totally up to you! After purchasing a poster board from any craft store, take a look at websites such as Pinterest, where you can find images that cater to your interests.
Haley Jo Lewis, a junior at Seattle University, says focusing on specific criteria gives her a confidence boost when job searching. “You spend so much time at work, so putting a lot of time into thinking about what you want your job to look like is important,” she says. “By narrowing my search based on specifics like hours, qualities in coworkers, distance from my house and pay rate, searching for a job becomes much easier.”
Once you’ve finished your masterpiece, top it off with tons of glitter and be sure to hang it on a wall you see every day for constant motivation!
2. Set aside specific times for job searching
Instead of constantly worrying about job applications, set aside some time to work on them and don’t worry about them the rest of the time. This is an effective way to help your mind relax so you can do your best work during those allotted time slots. “I spend about two hours a day focusing on my job search, and then I close my computer and forget about it,” says Lauryn Higgins, a senior at Mars Hill University. “Focusing on it and stressing on it all day has only led to extreme fatigue and unnecessary stress.”
You might want to apply to jobs for an hour or so each day, or maybe you’d prefer to work on them for a few hours Monday through Wednesday and keep the rest of the week free.
Another option is to set an application quota for yourself. Send out two or three per day, as long as you stick to your schedule and take breaks often. Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology, recommends taking breaks and getting out of the house (and out of your sweatpants!) at least once a day to keep you cleaned up and presentable. “Breaks are like a rest for your psyche,” she says. “They allow you to re-render your mindset and bring a fresh and more hopeful perspective.”
3. Talk to a mentor
Talking to someone with experience in your field is a great way to get inspired. A mentor can be anyone you look up to—someone with whom you’ve worked in the past, a professor or even a family member.
Talking to your mentor can help you in so many ways. He or she can offer you tips and advice and really boost your confidence. Your mentor might also be able to offer personal anecdotes about his or her job-searching experience to help you prepare for yours. If you’re having trouble with a particular aspect of the job-searching process (maybe you get nervous during interviews or aren’t sure when to follow up afterwards), it’s a good idea to have a list of questions to ask your mentor about it.
Taylor Zepeda, a junior at the University of California, San Diego, says she found her mentor through the career services center at her school. They meet at her office and discuss the areas that Taylor would like to work on professionally. Taylor’s mentor gives her advice on dressing for interviews and even helps to edit her resume. “She always has such high spirits and her enthusiasm and passion for her students helps to keep me positive and excited about finding jobs!” Taylor says.
4. Take advantage of career services at your school
The career services department at your school offers tons of resources that you probably didn’t even know existed, such as workshops, job fairs and mock interviews. You should definitely attend as many events as you can, because your school’s career advisers really know what they’re talking about—and the more knowledge you gain, the more confident you’ll be!
Career services advisers can also help you write cover letters and build or spice up your resume. If your interviewing skills need polishing, a mock interview is the perfect way to calm your nerves. Practice makes perfect!
Amanda Corrado, a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, says, “This semester I’ve done mock interviews with our career department and have had my resume looked over several times, so all of the preparations like these really keep me thinking I can land the job!”
5. Watch motivational videos
Sometimes a pep talk or motivational lecture is just the thing you need. Luckily, YouTube has motivational videos on demand whenever you’re in need of a pick-me-up. You can also check out TED, a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas, which features inspirational “TED Talks.” Upworthy posts inspirational videos of everyday people and their real-life experiences.
Another must-see video is “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch (also available in book form), who was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. After being diagnosed with cancer, Randy recorded his last lecture, where he shared his personal stories of overcoming obstacles and moving on.
6. Pursue something else you love
While looking for a job, it’s important to also take time for other things you love. Maybe you like to write poetry, make music or direct short films—whatever it is, pour your heart into it.
Dr. Ramani says that if you take time to do something else you love, “you will maintain your sense of purpose, have something to do and feel a sense of accomplishment.” So while the job search may be bringing your spirits down, doing fun things you love will definitely give you a boost. Engaging in an activity you enjoy will not only make you happier, but may even attract new opportunities and ease the challenge of not finding a job. Your hobbies, interests or volunteer work could make you a more interesting job candidate!
While the job search may seem like it’s never going to end, it’s important to relax and stay motivated. Remember that positive energy is key when preparing for interviews! Good luck, collegiettes!