Feeling lost in the search for a job? Life after graduation can be an uncertain yet exciting time, and it comes with a lot of changes, too. In between college and working, there’s a period of time where you’re still trying to find a job. There’s no structure. No schedules or meetings you need to make. No easy way to keep yourself in check, which is why it’s so important to keep up habits that help you stay motivated during this time. To keep you on track, here are six ways to stay productive while job searching.
- Be on top of what you’re applying for
Applying for jobs is a job in and of itself. If you can commit to applying to a certain number of jobs each day or each week, you’ll increase your chances of being hired more quickly. It’s important to keep in mind where you applied, who you contacted, and what the job is. Remember to keep track of the dates to follow up, a list of pros and cons you have about the position and company, the people you contact and their information, thank you emails, and the outcome. Organizing the process has helped me reduce stress, especially when I hear back and have to prepare for interviews.
Since I’m not the biggest fan of using excel spreadsheets, I prefer to use note-taking apps on my iPad like GoodNotes to create lists and organize my job search information. I find that making the process more free and creative makes it more fun. Another app called Notion is also a great one to use to keep everything in check from calendar notifications to weather forecasts to playing your Spotify playlist.
- Continue to research and study to get interviews
With interviews, be sure to learn about everything and anything to do with the company you’ve applied to, and know who you’re talking to. Just reading about a company and its team members can give you a good understanding of the company’s environment and help you determine if it’s the right fit for you. Expanding your knowledge of a company can help you be more confident in your interviews, too. Going on LinkedIn and connecting with alumni from your school in companies that you’re interested in working in can help you learn more about their experiences and what the company culture is like.
Graduating with a degree in journalism, one tip I have when interviewing for a role in the media and news industry is to go on Twitter and see what kinds of stories are being shared by people at the company you’re interviewing for. Being able to mention and acknowledge the work done by the company shows how interested you are, and that you’ve put in the effort.
- Build a routine you’ll stick with
You don’t necessarily need to follow a strict schedule, but creating a system with healthy habits that you can practice daily can help reduce stress. It’s common to feel burnt out from applying to jobs and feel frustrated by the process.
This hectic time in your life can take a toll on your overall mental and physical health, which is why having good self-care habits is important because it can relieve any negative emotions and give you more energy to help you stay positive.
The way I practice self-care is to work out at the same time every Wednesday and go on a hike once a week to keep myself accountable with exercise and keep my physical wellness in check. I also make sure to journal a couple of times a week when I’m feeling overwhelmed and practice self-care. Having a set activity or time to yourself incorporated into your daily life gives you something to look forward to and keeps you excited. Remember to also not limit yourself when it comes to taking care of yourself because it can also take shape in many forms and can have such a positive impact on your wellness.
- Learn a new skill
Whether it be cooking a new recipe, getting your driver’s license, or studying something new, there are always little ways to get you feeling good about yourself and the accomplishments you have made. It’s always a good idea to put yourself out there and try something new because you never know if you’ll love it or not — and spending time working on a new skill can help you cope with the uncertainty of the job search.
One of my friends who graduated with a journalism degree is taking a graduate certificate course in digital marketing to help find more roles in the industry. You can find more certifications on Coursera, edX, Alison, and more at specific institutions. Having more skills and experiences on your resume can help you stand out more as a candidate, so it is definitely worth the extra time and effort.
- Don’t forget to breathe and take time off
With all the work and grind, it’s good to have time to hang out with your friends, go on a hike outdoors, and keep your mental health in a positive place. The whole post-grad life can be frustrating and uncertain, and it can be difficult to learn how to adapt to a new lifestyle.
After graduating, I moved from my little college town and into a city with my dog. I’m not going to lie, there’s been an adjustment period where I needed time to figure out my day-to-day life. From smaller parking garages to an abundance of take-out food options, I was dealing with a whole new life that seemed far from my suburban campus life. After a couple of months, I’d say my dog and I have found a good balance and have started exploring the outdoors together. We go on walks to the dog park and hikes on trails. With summer just around the corner, the weather has been perfect and it’s been super fun to go outside and breathe some fresh air (of course socially distanced and with a mask).
- Believe in yourself
It’s super important to value your own self-worth and do your best to stay optimistic. Check-in with yourself whenever you need to and reach out if you ever need help. There are so many other recent graduates going through this same difficult process, and sharing the experience with others can be comforting because you are not alone.
However, you’ll inevitably see other people who are successfully getting jobs and doing well in their careers, and you’ll start comparing yourself to them. Remember to be kind to yourself because everyone is on their own path to success and that the day will come as long as you stay true to yourself and continue to work on what you want.
Many recent graduates have told me that life is difficult right now. I know for me there is no clear direction yet, but the path I am on is still going to take me somewhere. We all have to be patient and keep doing what we’re doing. At the end of the day, we know ourselves the best, and having faith that we can succeed will help us find a way through the job search process.
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