Job-hunting is inherently stressful.
Even if you’ve aced your qualifications and have some work experience, while you’re looking for a job, you’re in a limbo space - and that uncertainty is not fun, either financially or emotionally.
Still, there are lots of things you can do to combat your stress. We’ve made a list to get you started, based on our experience with young jobseekers ✌️
Do your research
The best way to make the unknown less scary is to make it less unknown. So do your research!
To begin with, work out what kind of job you’re looking for. Are you interested in a particular sector or role? Do you want to work in a particular city? How much do things like salary, perks and work culture matter? Get online and read plenty of different job descriptions, make sure you understand what different job titles mean and create a list of roles you’re actively going to look for before you start searching.
Of course, we recommend beginning your job search with TalentPool, which specialises in roles at start-ups and SMEs. If you sign up with us, our matching engine will find jobs suited to your skills, personality and interests without you lifting a finger! But for a comprehensive job search, and particularly if you’re looking for a grad scheme, a job at a big corporate or a position outside of London, you should also look for roles on job boards. We recommend looking at major players LinkedIn Jobs and Indeed, and the graduate job boards Milkround and Graduate Recruitment Bureau.
As well as familiarising yourself with the job market, make sure you research each and every role and company you apply for and tailor your application appropriately. Your research will really show, especially in your cover letter, and will hopefully impress a prospective employer.
Quantity, quantity, quantity
Another key way to reduce anxiety about not finding a job is simply to open yourself up to more opportunities - that is, by applying for lots.
Of course, you must find a balance between writing a few outstanding applications and churning out 60 mediocre applications in a month. But in our experience, finding a job is partly a numbers game. Realistically, if you apply for 10 roles, you might hear back from 4, of which you might make 1 second-round interview. But if you apply for 25, you might hear back from 11 and make 3-4 second-round interviews. More applications, provided they’re still high-quality, means a greater chance of interview: use this to your advantage!
One major area that causes stress during the job hunt is keeping track of everything. After all, you could be writing applications, attending interviews and researching other roles all in the same couple of weeks.
We recommend tracking your applications in a spreadsheet, with colour-coded columns for upcoming deadlines, interview dates and notes. Here’s an example:
Talk to others
Job-hunting can be extremely isolating, especially if everyone around you is working or studying.
It can feel like everyone else has it much more together than you. But remember, everybody has to go through the stress of job-hunting at some point. We recommend speaking to your parents, teachers or other trusted adults. They’ve all been exactly where you are before and can offer advice and reassurance. Just having a good vent to a close friend can also offer relief.
You should also visit your careers centre, where advisors console and help stressed job-seekers on a daily basis. If you’re feeling seriously stressed, you could also consider seeing a counsellor, who would be able to help you develop some coping techniques for anxiety.
At some point during your job hunt, you’re guaranteed to hit a dry patch: a week with no interviews, or a fortnight in which nobody is getting back to you. In our experience, this is no cause for concern. There’s a period like that in everyone’s job hunt, no matter how qualified they are - and it will improve.
Adopting a positive attitude is particularly important at this point. Focus on what you have achieved so far and what you will do in the next week, rather than indulging your current feelings of hopelessness. Instead of thinking ‘I didn’t get any second-round interviews this week’ or ‘I didn’t get that dream job’, think ‘I networked today’ or ‘I made four phone interviews last week and that’s a big achievement in itself’.
Above all, remember that every failure is actually a learning experience. With every application, you’re getting better at writing applications; with every interview, you’re getting more familiar with the interview setting. All this experience will be useful in the end, even if your feel downtrodden right now. Promise.
Take time out
Finally, if you’re feeling really overwhelmed, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time out.
It’s good for your mental health to take a break from what’s causing you stress - so put job-hunting out of your mind and go for that walk, listen to your favourite song, meditate, eat some chocolate or hit the movies with a friend. The best thing about the job market is that it’s continually changing - and there will be new opportunities when you get back.