Has your job hunt stalled? Are you losing motivation and confidence?
Job hunting isn’t just a practical battle – it’s a psychological fight too. As your quest to find work continues, it’s normal to find your motivation flagging. The trick is to notice when you’re in a slump – and start taking steps to bring yourself back up to a point where you can be productive again. The sooner you take action, the better – but however long you’ve been ‘down’ for, you can always bring yourself back up.
Here are Graduate Fog’s ten top tips for rediscovering your job-hunting mojo:
1) Get selfish. Remember, you don’t need to find jobs for everybody in your year. Focus – your task is to find one job, just for yourself. One little corner of the job market with your name on it. (Don’t know what you’re looking for? See How to Choose your Career)
2) Believe your task is possible. You can’t succeed at something you don’t think is possible. It might not be easy peasy to find a job but it is possible. (Read How to Fight the Recession)
3) Remind yourself that the job market is moving – not static. When you’re job-hunting, it can feel like there is no movement at all. Everyone has their jobs and they’re not budging. But it’s not so. Remember, life doesn’t stop in a recession. People continue to be promoted, get pregnant, move abroad… When they move, that creates gaps. If the person below them gets promoted into their role, that leaves a gap for you… (See “If there are ‘no graduate vacancies’, why can’t I fill mine?”)
4) Keep reviewing your job-hunt tactics. Different strategies work for different industries. If something isn’t working for you, don’t keep doing it. For example, if you’re trying to get a job in media, don’t keep applying to jobs in the Guardian Media section, if you aren’t seeing any results. Instead, try going to media events and working the room (go on, you can do it!). Ask your parents, cousins and friends if they know anybody who could use your help. Then reassess – what’s working and what isn’t? Do more of what’s working and ditch whatever isn’t – it’s wasting your time. (Check out How to Find Vacancies).
5) Consider contract work. I know you want a permanent job (and never to have to job-hunt ever again!) But remember that many companies (particularly small companies) are reluctant to commit to taking on permanent, full-time staff right now – so asking for a permanent job is a giant turn-off for them. When you contact them, mention that you’d be open to temporary or contract work (eg. a three month stint – on a project, or while someone is away). This is usually far more appealing. If they give you a short contract, you’re in a good position if they decide to make the role permanent. If it doesn’t turn into a permanent thing, you’ve got three months’ good experience you didn’t have before.
6) Start sleuthing. If you’re getting nowhere applying to advertised vacancies, try putting put your applications on ‘pause’ and instead spend that time researching ‘hidden’ jobs. It’s a myth that all jobs are advertised – some people reckon the real figure is closer to 20% (20%!!). So sit down and ask yourself “How can I find out about the jobs that aren’t advertised?” You’re a smart person – do some detective work. What companies are doing well right now? Who has just won a big new client? Who is opening new branches? Contact them directly, tailoring your letter to them, including what’s led you to think they might be looking for extra help. Remember that for small companies, advertising vacancies is expensive. Interviewing is expensive too – as it uses up the time of paid employees. There are all sorts of reasons why companies would prefer fantastic candidates to contact them directly. You’re not begging – you’re offering to make their lives better. I’ve heard of lots of people who run smaller companies who say they’re really struggling to find good quality young graduates. Which makes me wonder… Are you all applying to same jobs, at the same big companies? If so, why?! Broaden your search and you’ll find the competition really thins out.
7) Think like a recruiter. Recruiters aren’t the devil – they’re just being squeezed by their boss, who is being squeezed by their boss. They may have less money than they did a couple of years ago, but there’s still lots of work to be done. How can you make their lives better? Remember, they aren’t going to give you a job because you need experience. They’ll give you a job if you can prove to them that you can help them. What value do you bring? (See How to Understand Recruiters)
8. If you’re not working, for God’s sake do something with your time – even if it’s just part-time voluntary work. Recruiters says a gap on your CV is the biggest no-no of all. Remember, recruiters are human – they know things are tough out there for graduates like you right now, so they’ll forgive you if you haven’t been doing a hot-shot job all this time, or earning a fabulous salary. But sitting on your bum just looks bad. In contrast, doing something constructive is always a good look – it shows you can motivate yourself and that you haven’t just been festering on your mum and dad’s sofa since you graduated. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’ll take time away from your job hunt. It’ll make you far more motivated and efficient with the time you do spend job-hunting, plus you’ll be picking up skills and experience as you go – which all sounds good in interviews. (See How to Stay Motivated)
9) Don’t be scared of the competition. Recruiters say they’re being inundated with applications – but that very few are of a very high standard. Grads often ask how they can make their application ‘stand out’? To which I always say, “Er, make it good?” Always take time over each application – never use a ‘scattergun’ approach to fire off less-than-perfect applications to lots of recruiters all at once. If spelling and grammar aren’t your strong suit, always ask a wordsmith friend to check your applications before you send them. This stuff really does count.
10) Keep going! Remember there will be good days and bad days. (See How to Handle Rejection) Ups and downs are just part of the deal. My book has loads more info on this – but try different ways of working (eg at the library, rather than just from home). Get into a routine (going for coffee and a newspaper before you sit down to job-hunt). Meet other job-hunters and share tactics. Do some exercise to clear your head. With every application you do, you learn something new. Even if it’s just learning not to do it that way again!
*Are you struggling to stay motivated?
Or do you have any other tips to help your fellow Foggers? Please share them below!