Strategies for Graduates to Deal with the Pressure of Finding a Job
The life of a fresh graduate mainly involves a lot of mass graduate job applications. While LinkedIn Easy Apply is a go-to, it isn’t the most effective of strategies, despite its ease and the instant gratification felt after a spree of quick applications.
On the days when a graduate does actually take the trouble to complete an online application form, create an introductory video AND answer a series of psychometric tests; companies still have the audacity to respond back with a generic rejection email and no feedback.
How should a graduate cope with feelings of uncertainty while waiting to hear a response from employers?
Apart from applying for jobs, graduates tend to spend the remaining majority of their time awaiting responses from employers.
Psychologist and Family Therapist,Dr. Kalanit Ben-Ari comments, “In terms of finding ways of coping, after sending an application, knowing that you did your very best will help you to let go, without any regrets, whilst waiting on an outcome. Accept that you did your best, the rest is not in your control. You do not know who else applied, or if the company might even have changed the role because of other business reasons that you are not aware of.”
According to Dr. Ben-Ari, graduates must avoid doing nothing while waiting on responses, because aimless waiting can turn into an inlet for frustration to creep in.
She elaborates, “Whilst waiting to hear back, keep looking for other opportunities. Being active and using your initiative will not only offer a good distraction, but might result in more career opportunities. We often feel a sense of helplessness when we are focused on something that is beyond our control, or when we victimise ourselves. But rather than waiting passively, you can focus on what is within your control – strengthening your skills, doing something positive for your mental health and wellbeing, seeking other opportunities, and trying to make the most from the free time, which although is not of your choosing, can be a very rare opportunity in life.
If you feel the current situation is affecting your day-to-day functioning and wellbeing, speak with someone close to you about how you are feeling. It is OK not to feel alright at this time. You are not alone with these feelings. You might want to join a community for like minded graduates, to find inspiration and motivation, or reach out for further support such as therapy, to help you to process and make sense of your journey.”
How can you use all your time productively while you wait for employers to respond to your applications?
- Create a schedule around applying for a job, decide on how many applications you will put out a day and stick to it. Make sure to reward yourself with breaks so that the process of applying doesn’t get tiresome. Incorporating a sense of structure will help you to feel productive and minimise the pain of waiting.
- Build up your profile by brushing up on skills in demand in your industry through digital courses, for example. Graduation is not the end of your learning journey.
- Follow your dream companies on social media. Keep an eye out for talks and webinars by their employees, attend such events and make the effort to network with the speakers over LinkedIn. This will give you access to unique opportunities that don’t exist on job posting boards.
How do you cope when everyone from your class has landed a job, while you keep getting rejected?
The pressure of waiting for a job can get worse when your social feeds are saturated with updates of ex-classmates having acquired fancy, new roles. It is quite normal to feel jealous and upset – acknowledge that these feelings are valid, yet temporary and that waiting does not make you a failure.
Take another person’s success into your stride by asking them how they got to where they are and using this as feedback in your job application strategy. However, if the wins of your classmates overwhelm you too much, it is perfectly reasonable to temporarily mute their online profiles while you’re on the path to finding your job.
What can you do when social and internal pressure is weighing you down?
“After working hard to get their degree, the next expected step is to get a job. This expectation comes from all angles – from parents, society, university tutors and from the graduates themselves”, empathises Paediatrician, Dr. Aishah Iqbal.
Occupational Psychologist, Suzanne Guest, elaborates, “It is understandable that recent graduates feel pressure to find a job. They have dedicated 3 years of their life to a course and as a result have been unable to earn as much as they would have if they had worked full-time. There can also be perceived family pressure to find a job, particularly if they are the first in their family to go to university or if their family has provided financial support through university. Our work gives us a sense of identity and it can be difficult if you are not in the role that you feel you should be. Work gives us that chance to test ourselves and push ourselves out of our comfort zones, we often don’t do this away from work so it can be difficult for new graduates to feel like they are achieving if they don’t have a job in the field that they chose.
According to Suzanne, “It is worthwhile remembering that graduation is just the start of your career and often there will be a series of jobs before you get to a dream job. Accept that you may have to take on a survival job – one that pays the bills and is not in the industry that you want to work. Be open to stepping stone jobs – those that will help lead you to your dream job, it may be in the company you want to work or a more junior role than you want. It is worth remembering that survival jobs still demonstrate skills which can be used on your CV. It’s never wasted time.”
Avantika Vaishnav, Marketing Manager at Debut, has commented:
“While graduates wait to hear back about the status of their applications, it would be advisable to invest their free time in preparing ahead! Resources such as YouTube and the Debut blog can help graduates understand where their application could improve. Make a list of common interview questions and practice how you would answer them at an interview much beforehand. This will take the pressure off an interview.
If you get rejected, try asking for feedback. Think about how you can implement the takeaways to avoid repeating your mistakes. If a lack of experience is letting you down, work on developing the experience being sought for your dream role. If you got told that your passion for the company didn’t come through, do more research the next time and incorporate what you have found out as points of discussion in your interview.
Graduates who have been unable to avail job opportunities due to the pandemic are facing the pressure of a competitive job market as life is slowly on the path to normality. It’s important to set yourself up for success by differentiating yourself from your peers – work on your personal brand in order to really stand out to employers.”
Debut is the perfect place for you to seek out a graduate job because apart from listing out graduate schemes and internships all over the UK, there are guides and targeted insights on every section of the application process that will make your life easier.