Looking for a job as a fresh graduate can be – let’s put it how it is – a pain in the bottom. Especially if seemingly all your classmates are already enjoying the “struggles” of a working life while you are rejected for the third time this week. And it’s only Monday.
You can easily start doubting yourself, your skills, your education and your personality. While constantly facing rejection can significantly undermine your motivation and self-confidence, it is important to remember that you are enough. Having acknowledged that, here are a few things you can do to keep yourself motivated while looking for your first serious job.
- Treat job hunting as work
Workdays can easily become blurry as you decide to watch 5 seasons of Modern Family in one evening justifying this by not having to go anywhere the next day. You wake up around noon the following day, click on this funny cat video somebody with a day job posted on Facebook, and three hours later you realize you’ve been watching lava flow on Youtube for the past half an hour. And it’s already dark outside. You promise yourself you will write some job applications tomorrow and go have a beer with friends because the day is over anyway.Don’t do that.Structure your working days. For example, every day, start searching for relevant job ads and writing job applications at 9 a.m. Have lunch at 12 a.m. Continue job search from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Sort administrative things 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. – call that doctor or help that one poor friend who is still struggling with their thesis. Evenings are yours to relax and enjoy leisure activities. You’ve hopefully done some good work or research over daytime, and now you deserve that. Isn’t that a great feeling?
- Get an accountability partner
This technique is commonly used to achieve goals that require will-power, for example, lose weight. Accounting partner helps you stay accountable for consistently moving towards your goal. It can be your friend or your family member – someone who knows you well and is not afraid to call you out on your bull**it.You should inform them what you are trying to achieve, by when and what actions you are promising to take in relation to that. Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound).Your accountability partner should promise to check in with you, for instance, every week, see how you are doing and help you steer the process. You can even agree to pay a fine of, for example, 100 kroner, every time you deviate from what you had committed to.For example, you may set a goal to have a job in four months in a certain industry and at a certain pay level. In order to achieve that, you promise your accounting partner that you will structure your week (see above), send 4 job applications per week and attend 2 relevant networking events per month (see below).
- Expand your network and knowledge
In an overheated job market, relevant contacts can get you ahead of your competition. Therefore, strive to attend a defined number of networking events of your preference per month. For example, if you are into the startup world, attend Fuckup Nights, CPHFTW or other relevant local gatherings. Use the mighty Internet to find what’s cooking in your job area. Additionally, invest in attending seminars related to your job field. Not only will you enrich your knowledge, you will likely meet relevant people who can open the doors to your dream job.However, professional networking may be a strain for some. Therefore, you may as well expand your network by connecting with others on a more personal level, for instance, over a hobby or experience. Scout local Meetup.com for interesting events – yes, go check out that beer tasting, I know you want it – and meet new people.The key to expanding your network is getting out of your little spider web of current contacts and striving to meet as many different people as possible. If something feels uncomfortable but seems at least a tiny bit interesting – just do it. Not only will your network grow, you will do as well.
- Develop yourself
Being unemployed has the benefit of a lot of free time. So go and give this time to yourself. Nurture your hobbies – go try those salsa classes you always wanted to try, go grab that guitar or start collecting dead butterflies, if that floats your boat. Read books that inspire you that you never had time for before. Attend jazz evenings. Re-connect with forgotten friends. Go for a walk in the forest.Most importantly, try to observe your environment and try to understand what is really important to you. What are your values? What drives you? What are you good at? What do you truly enjoy doing? Write a journal detailing your thoughts. This will help you better understand yourself, which will definitely show in a job interview. You might even discover that you do not want that cake everybody around you is having. Maybe you want to start a dolphin-saving NGO instead of putting countless hours into an excel sheet. Who knows. Go explore yourself. Only you know.
I hope this has inspired you to make some changes or maybe validated your current ways. I am sure you have already invented your own ways to keep your motivation while looking for a job. Please share them below so that we could all get motivated together.
Written by Jura Paulauskaite, Sales Excellence Coordinator and M.Sc. from Copenhagen Business School.
International Sales Excellence Coordinator & Analyst at Scandinavian Tobacco Group
M.Sc. Brand and Communications Management from Copenhagen Business School
Connect with Jura on LinkedIn
Best career advice Jura ever received:
“Try to find and understand yourself instead of doing what everyone around you is doing. Be successful on your own terms.”