It isn’t easy neither is it fun being the person who STILL hasn’t got a career off the ground more than six months after graduation. On one hand, this time shouldn’t be a bad reflection on your skills but on the other, all graduates will understand when I say there is definitely an underlying element of job hunting competition.
Understandably you want to do well and put your degree to good use but what happens when you feel yourself running out of steam? Surrounded by rejection emails and not much to show for hours of endless applications, your confidence is bound to hit a low.
Having been in this place myself, I know that the graduate blues do actually exist and only you can get rid of them through determination and will power.
So after being turned down for yet another graduate job, I finally thought it was time that I share some positive tips that keep me going when I see the words: “Sorry, your application has not been successful.”
1. Try not to let rejections affect your confidence and self-belief
This is a tip that I’m actually still learning from myself, it takes time and experience to build up a tough skin against rejections. I still have to remind myself now that my skills aren’t any less valuable just because one job application wasn’t successful.
There could be several reasons why you haven’t been chosen for a job but the important thing to remember is they aren’t always negatively based on you. All companies/employers are unique and require individuals that differ from role to role. One place could think you’re perfect and another could think you’re skills are just not right for their type of work.
The one thing that keeps me going is to remember that there are plenty more jobs out there and eventually, I’ll find the perfect one. In the meanwhile, I learn so much from just applying and putting myself out there, it certainly makes me feel better that I still keep trying rather than giving up.
2. Don’t linger over one particular application and be patient
So you have just finished and sent off an application that you are really proud of, you love the look of the company and the job sounds perfect. GREAT! However, the important thing to remember is NOT to linger and think about one application/job that you really liked the look of.
If you do this, you are almost certainly setting yourself up for disappointment, my advice (not to sound blunt or rude) is to partially forget about it! I’m not saying never let it cross your mind or check up on the status of your application in the following weeks but don’t let yourself think about it too much.
There have been a few roles that I have done exactly this with and I really regretted getting my hopes up when I wasn’t chosen for interviews. While you’re applying, keep a copy of the applications/letters you wrote just in case but let them all go to the back of your head for the time being. You see, in the weeks following a mass of applications, I tend to find that I am either majorly busy or really quite bored which opens up the opportunity to over-think things and become impatient.
In my experience, I have received replies (both good and bad) from companies more than three weeks after applying to them! If I had not put them to the back of my head at the start then I would have driven myself mad by that point (even more mad than I already am may I add!)
3. Keep learning from your skills and portfolio
Just because you’re a graduate does not mean that you automatically stop learning from the things you do when looking for a job. Don’t ever assume that just because you have a degree, whether it be a first or third, that you know everything there is to know already. I have learned so many simple things about my first impression just from changing my CV five times and it has 100% worked in my favour. If, like me, you are looking for work in the media or publishing industries, you can learn a whole host of things from just having a website or social media account.
If you have the determination, you could build yourself a professional online or printed portfolio which can showcase skills that you never even learnt at university. Teaching yourself simple online or program skills could mean the difference between an interview or rejection, it doesn’t exactly have to be expert level but it still shows an employer that you are willing to learn.
Plus, being a fresh graduate in this day and age can work really easily in your favour! You know those Instagram, Twitter and Youtube accounts that you love so much? You could easily use those or set up new ones to show an employer your efforts to keep up with the latest social media/online technology.
Keeping yourself busy by putting together a portfolio is a great way to build your self-confidence and I, for one, know that it helps you to concentrate on the things you HAVE done rather than things you haven’t.
4. Remember to talk about the highs AND the lows
One thing that us graduates may forget during all this job hunting is to talk to one another and remember that we are all in the same boat. Even if one of your friends has got a fabulous job, it doesn’t mean that they don’t know how you feel when you reach a low point. Talking to my friends has been one of the best things I’ve done during my down points because it stops me from bottling it all up and thinking negatively about future job applications.
When I look back, I think of all my experiences as one huge learning curve and just talking about it makes each rejection actually easier to just shrug off. In the beginning, I naively thought that I would be embarrassed about telling people I didn’t get a job but there isn’t anything to be embarrassed about. This tip is ultra important as it has helped me a lot in the last year and applying for jobs needs as much of a good CV as it does a positive frame of mind.
5. If it all gets too much, give yourself a short break
This is not an excuse just to be lazy and stop whenever you like! Giving yourself a short break from applying is a healthy and positive thing to do; it gives you some time to evaluate things and it stops you from driving yourself mad.
Whenever I have felt low or like I can’t concentrate when job hunting, I tend to just stop and try again later. Some may say this is giving in too quickly but I believe that you need to be in your best frame of mind when trying to sell yourself to employers. For me, short breaks have actually worked and I have come back feeling so much better that I didn’t try and write an application when I was tired, stressed etc.
I have found that I tend to word applications better if I give myself half the chance to think about what I am going to say beforehand. It is also vital that you get out of the house especially if you are unemployed; I know from experience that there is nothing worse than developing cabin fever from your own abode!
I tend to find that doing rewarding things is another way to keep your motivation high and when you feel you have had a positive day of applying, treat yourself! Now I don’t mean to say that spending £100 all in one day is what you deserve for applying to one job, just get little things that serve as inner-confidence boosters.
But what happens when the short break is over? This is where your motivation and determination need to be strong, it isn’t easy getting back into it but once you get applying again, you will feel 100% refreshed! I wrote a post about this process called: “Back to the application board” (have a read of that too!) which I wrote after an extremely long break from job hunting due to lack of confidence.
I knew in my gut that I had to put myself back out there again and once I began writing, changing my CV and rewriting cover letters, I clicked right back into it and haven’t taken such a long break since!
Lastly, I’m not saying that my tips will work for everybody but I hope they can at least help to boost any graduate or job seeker’s confidence. I’ve got through to interviews and second stages of applications, even completed tests to try and get my dream job but as of yet, I haven’t succeeded.
However I wouldn’t know as much as I do if I had just been given a job on a plate straight from university. Remember that each high or low you go through with job hunting is a life lesson and gets you to a better, more experienced place as an individual.
If you have any tips or advice that you would love to add, please feel free to comment!