I graduated a year ago in 2013. It might be the worst time in our generation to graduate from a journalism school, and almost 12 months later, I still don’t have a job. There have been days where, admittedly, I’d call my boyfriend and cry about not finding work, days where I’ve felt a combination of dumb/useless/not worthy of a career in my field. I’d get panic attacks and worry, constantly if I was going to find something meaningful.
Staying positive isn’t easy. While friends and family can go on and tell you, “Stay positive sweetie, something will click!” To be honest, sometimes it doesn’t. At least, not for a long time. I’m not going to lie and say that with a positive attitude you WILL find a job immediately, but what a positive attitude WILL do is help you from self-sabotaging your career, relationships and health. Here are some tips on staying positive, and embracing the change that comes from transitioning from school life to real life (or, watching daytime TV life, while you become a professional cover letter writer).
1. Don’t be hard on yourself
I know this one all too well. I used to spend a lot of time analyzing job postings and worrying whether I was good enough to apply to it. With so many layoffs of professionals, why would they care about a recent grad? Get this thinking out of your head immediately. If you possess â…” of the skills necessary for the job, apply. Statistics show that if a woman isn’t qualified for a job, she won’t apply, whereas a man would. Don’t be a statistic. Use your resume to highlight other points, and your cover letter to cover your bases. Show that you want to learn and grow, and those inDesign skills might matter less.
Also, don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t have a job right away. You might be sitting on the couch watching Judge Judy while your schoolmates are working, but remember, they’re working! Which brings me to another point…
2. Don’t watch TV all day
While it’s easy to enjoy the benefits of an unemployed, post-grad lifestyle, try not to fall into the TV-watching sweatpant-wearing rut. It will destroy your work ethic and eat into your drive. Try to start your day before 11 a.m., get up, get dressed and do something. Even if it’s cleaning out your closet or running errands, those distractions will give you purpose and will prevent your brain from losing brain cells.
3. Don’t make applying to jobs your job
In the age of computers and online resume submitting, it’s easy to spend hours, day after day applying to jobs, only to never have any progress or a single call back or interview. You may craft an excellent cover letter and have a killer CV, but after no success and all that effort, it’s easy to get discouraged when you never hear back. Don’t make applying to jobs your part-time job, after little success, it will be even more discouraging and hopeless. Instead, get out there and network. Find the editors and employers you send resumes to at events or on LinkedIn. It’s a lot more likely to get through the thousands of applicants when they know a face, (or you possess their personal email address) than getting through a computer program that scans for keywords in a resume.
4. Find a hobby
Whether it’s yodeling, dancing, hiking or taking pictures of your cat, find something that entertains, distracts and fulfills you. If travelling is in your budget, take the time off to explore new places and get inspired. Travelling is great experience and will widen your perspective, so get that part-time job at the mall to make it work. If you end up taking a gap year after graduating, turn that hobby into your full time job. Volunteering for charities is another great way to fill a resume gap after graduating, and might open the door to a career in the non-profit sector. Be open to new things, and you might end up falling in love, or considering the possibility of a diverging path than your intended career.
Keep in touch with the people that support you. While it’s great to have cheerleaders who want you to snag that job or rock that interview, sometimes you need a friend, parent or lover who will simply support YOU. After job searching and networking, you don’t need to be reminded incessantly about how great and worthy you are of a job, because in fact, that job should be worthy for YOU. Surround yourself with people that love you and won’t prod you with my favourite question, “So what are you up to now?”