If you’ve been feeling butterflies in your stomach as you go through the graduate job search process, then rest assured you’re not alone! Searching for your first job (or internship) is a big life change in and of itself, and can still scare even the most well-prepared of us during the best of times.
You may be worried about your odds of landing your dream job, wondering how you match up to other jobseekers, or worried that you don’t have what it takes to catch employers’ eyes. These feelings are perfectly valid and normal. You just need to know how to handle them in a more productive manner instead.
How can you deal with all this job search anxiety?
Don’t compare yourself to your peers
You may have friends who have already landed positions before graduation, or seem to have no problems getting interviews lined up. Or maybe your parents keep talking about how so-and-so’s son or daughter just got a nice, cushy job with their dream employer.
But here’s the thing: that has nothing to do with you.
The job search process is not a race, and positions aren’t going to “run out”. Everyone has their own unique circumstances, and will find success at different times. Keep your anxiety at bay by actively reminding yourself of this. Focus instead on what you can do.
Talk to other professionals
Job descriptions are crucial, but they only give you a glimpse into what careers are like. So talk to people who are already in the workforce — try connecting with your seniors from university, talk to relatives, or friends of friends. Even if they’re not in the field you want to enter, you can still learn a thing or two. Ask them about their day-to-day tasks and the challenges they face, or talk to them about your anxiety in finding a job and see what advice they have to offer. Remember to reflect on what you’ve learned from them too.
Hearing from others who have gone ahead of you will help you realise just how temporary your fears really are. It may also help you reach a new understanding about what you want out of your career, which will help you in your applications and interviews too.
Have a few practise interviews
Approach your campus career services, seniors, or some friends to help you simulate an interview. This will help you find any blind spots you may have and refine your answers. Interviewing and talking to people in professional settings are learned skills, so seek coaching for it if you can.
After a few rounds of practice, you’ll be a lot more prepared and it could give you a leg up against any competition. Don’t forget to practice for video interviews as well! You need ample time to familiarise yourself with both.
Look after yourself
Make time to take care of yourself, so get some exercise. The endorphins your body will produce will keep your spirits buoyed and your anxiety at bay.
Also, remember to keep the voice in your head to something more positive. Examples include: “This may be hard, but I’ll eventually get a job I want!” or “I have done what I can do, and I have no regrets!” You can also consider meditation to remain focused and well-rested while keeping dark thoughts at bay. If you don’t have an idea how to start meditating, app stores have a plethora of these apps, so simply pick one that suits you the best.
Learn to enjoy the journey
You may find yourself going through all kinds of highs and lows during your jobseeking days. You’ll even build skills like resilience and discover things about yourself that you never knew before.
But above all, remember that this is a journey. You will emerge from it having learned and grown from all the experiences you had along the way. So learn to take a step back every once in a while, enjoy the ride and trust that everything will be alright so long as you keep your eye on the prize.