December has been and gone and the cold, hard reality of January is now upon us all. It is rarely an easy time of year, but throw in the added pressures of a graduate job hunt and it can be particularly hard to get motivated, to stay motivated and to remain positive.
Of course, everyone’s situation is going to be a little different – some of you be dealing with the results of pre-Christmas applications that you made, others may be starting to think seriously about applying for jobs for the first time – but your optimism may well be challenged. What, therefore, can you be doing to ensure that you remain upbeat through the months ahead?
Formulate a plan (and stick to it!)
Before anything else, take the time to work out the steps you need to take and plan them. Goals are much easier to achieve if you have a methodical way of working towards them and ticking items off the plan will help you feel that you are making progress. A Careers Consultant can help you identify your next steps and put together a plan if you are unsure how to get started.
If you have experienced disappointment with your first few applications, don’t just throw yourself into making more without taking a step back and trying to identify what may need to change. If you have been lucky enough to receive employer feedback from your applications then use it. If you are struggling to work out where you are going wrong, book an appointment with a Careers Consultant to help you find out. If you are beginning your job hunt, start by gathering the information you need. Have you found out about the types of roles and companies you’d like to apply for? Do you know how and where they recruit (e.g. LinkedIn / job websites / the company’s own website)? Have you had your CV checked? Again, get a plan written and start ticking things off.
Accept what is normal
For many, graduate job hunting is the first time that resilience is truly tested. Getting rejections is tough, but they really are part of the process that we all go through (often over and over again) before we get the result we want. How able you are to pick yourself up and try again is often what brings happier outcomes. Whilst you might hear stories of the graduate who aced his/her first ever interview and is now the youngest partner in the firm etc etc (yawn) – this is not the reality for most. With some companies reporting nearly 200 applications for every vacancy, expect the competition is going to be high and accept that it may take you a while to perfect your approach. They key is to stay focused, keep building on your skills and experience, and not to give up.
Learn from each other
This is something that, on the whole, we tend not to be very good at doing and yet our best resources are so often the people around us. Remember, you are not going to be the only one in this boat so use information and knowledge from your friends, fellow students, and family members, to help you on your way to success. Think back to that question of ‘what needs to change?’ Can you find out what approaches have worked well for them? What is it they started doing differently that made positive changes? Perhaps they can share some useful resources with you? Leaning on other people for help is not cheating, it is making the most of opportunities and this is where good networking begins. Be aware that they too may still be struggling with their own job hunt and that you can become a useful source of mutual support during these tricky times.
Negativity aside, remember that this is a time full of opportunities and perhaps the beginning of an exciting future so embrace the challenges it throws your way. Don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t go right 100% of the time. Instead, channel your frustration into making positive changes. Don’t dwell on what has or hasn’t happened to date, think about how you can turn it around and get working on that plan!