Feeling anxious about not achieving enough? How to cope with the pressures of job hunting
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s excited yet nervous thinking about how time’s flying by… graduation is just around the corner and I have yet to find a job. I should have secured a good job by July! (I’d feel like a failure if I don’t). Undoubtedly, there are a ton of people like me in their late 20’s, or older, trying to make a career change and find that “dream” job. Finding a job in this time of uncertainty is the cherry on top of an already challenging task.
It’s hard not to compare myself to others, especially when I hear from those who have already received job offers, months before graduation. Borrowing the words of Erma Bombeck, “worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”. It should be comforting to know that if you’re putting in the hard work and consistency in looking for the job you want, you’ll eventually find it—easier said than done.
“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”. – Erma Bombeck
Arguably, it can come down to luck, but I’d like to share my two cents on what I’ve learned so far on my own journey:
Be clear on what you want
It’s good to start with reflection and being honest with what you want to happen, whether it be a full-time employment opportunity or starting your own business. Arriving at a clear sense of purpose can take a lot of time, research, and conversations with other people. Don’t think you have to do this task alone. I’ve felt lost a couple of times, even on this journey of completing my MBA program. What helped a lot was speaking to someone who would ask me the right questions so that I could figure out what I want on my own. Consider speaking to a coach or a mentor perhaps. These people are there to act without bias and guide you by asking you the key questions that help you figure out the answer for yourself. Sometimes, all you need is a little push when you can’t figure out what you want on your own. If speaking to someone doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then writing your thoughts down and weighing pros and cons in your own brainstorming session can help.
Take advantage of the careers team
What helped me land an internship opportunity a few months ago was to make the most out of the tips and tools the career services team would recommend, like VMock or Handshake for example. Vmock, for those who aren’t familiar, is a site where you upload your CV and it evaluates the quality. The goal is to achieve the highest score possible with the help of handy tips that prompt you on how to improve your CV. Likewise, Handshake is an app and a website that helps you find internship and job opportunities.
Appreciate that the team is there to help you with your career journey. Take advantage of mock interviews and their two cents on your CV as the team acts as a fresh pair of eyes you might need to optimize your chances at finding and creating career opportunities.
Allot time for both work and play
Confession: I’m hard on myself and I feel guilty most of the time for just sitting down and enjoying a film even though I know I’ve done my individual assignment and/or my part for the group project. Do you ever feel this way too?
It’s a strange thing to feel guilty for taking a break when I could be cracking on with whatever individual assignment or group project deadlines are coming up. I’m aware it’s being a bit unkind to myself, so I’ve been reminding myself that rest is a good thing. University, job hunting, social life, alone time—it’s hard to juggle everything given the tight deadlines but what seems to work for some people is to follow a self-imposed schedule. If highly structured schedules don’t really do the trick for you, promising yourself some number of hours in a day or a certain time limit to strictly tend to your obligations will remove the guilt from having fun.
Keep building on your strengths
The more you hone your skills at something you enjoy or something you’re good at, the more you’ll be appreciated for it. Using your top skills and talents to add value to others contributes to your own success. Whether it be painting, cooking, practicing photography, writing, or presenting, continue to master what you’re strong at as this not only boosts your confidence, but it can also lead you to point #1: knowing what you want (to do). For me, I enjoy practicing my photography.
No matter where you are on your journey, the key takeaway here is to give yourself enough credit on how far you’ve come and to not compare your journey to others. If you’ve been rejected 200 times already, it’s okay to cry a little or be upset for a while but, in retrospect, it will all make sense when you land where you’re meant to be after all the hard work you’ve been doing.