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What the struggle of job searching taught me
Searching and applying for employment can be stressful, especially if you’ve just graduated and are looking for your first job.
The whole process of searching, filling out applications, waiting to hear back, interviewing, and waiting to hear back again can take its toll on our mental health. And, if our mental health is compromised during this time, it has a compounding effect, making each application harder than the last.
I graduated two years ago now; I’ve been through this challenging process numerous times and I’ve experienced these difficulties. But I have been able to develop productive ways to protect my mental health, which put me in the right frame of mind when working through job applications.
Let’s take a look at 5 ways to protect our mental health when trying to get the job we want.
1. Find Out Why
If you’re getting constant rejections, or even not hearing back from the employer, take a step back and reflect on why that is. I contacted those employers separately to find out why I wasn’t being considered.
Sometimes they asked if I wanted feedback (which I always said yes to), and other times they didn’t even reply. It didn’t matter — I always contacted them to get feedback.
The comments I received have helped me learn, adapt, and reach my target.
Taking steps to find out why is such a great way to protect your mental health when job hunting. There is nothing worse than the pain of not getting a job — and not knowing why either.
To me, I thought I was ticking the boxes, but to the employer, I wasn’t. Uncovering the reasons why I wasn’t successful put my mind at ease and highlighted what I needed to change to in future applications.
2. Don’t Forget To Relax
Constantly applying or searching for jobs can be mentally draining. If you face regular rejections, it can lead to complete avoidance (something that happened to me).
Something that helped me during my low points was to keep engaging with things that I loved, and that helped me relax. I love fitness. Whether it’s in the gym, playing football, or swimming, it helps take my mind off things, and has excellent mental health benefits.
Doing something that helps you relax also provides a much needed timeout.
This timeout period from looking for jobs, crafting different job statements, having mock interviews, and so on will improve your productivity and ability to perform better when it comes to job hunting. Whether it’s exercising, reading a book, playing an instrument, listening to music, seeing your friends, or whatever else it is that keeps you relaxed, don’t let go of it. Make time to start or continue with that activity.
Doing something that helps you relax also provides a much-needed timeout.
3. Set yourself target
For me, this was a must.
The whole process of job hunting can be difficult. It’s essential to find a way to achieve something every time you apply for a job.
Setting yourself targets for the day or week is so vital to your mental health. Not only will it boost your mood, but achieving these aims is an even better feeling.
Also, make a note of how you’re going to achieve that target, where and when you’re going to achieve it too. These are known as ‘implementation intentions.’ Research has shown that setting yourself goals and having these implementation intentions can create positive effects, such as improving your motivation to achieve these targets.
Setting myself these small targets gave me that sense of accomplishment, rather than feeling like I’m not making any progress.
I set myself a target for the week of how many jobs I should have applied for. I also set myself the aim of ensuring that I was making every single application specific to the employer, rather than rushing through it.
Try making a note at the start of the week, what your target is for job hunting, and state how you’re going to achieve it.
4. Speak To Someone
This is something that I didn’t do at the start — but in hindsight I now see that it would have helped massively.
When I was going through one of the toughest periods of rejection after rejection after rejection, I naturally became reticent and closed off with people. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it.
One of the best decisions I made was to finally open up to my friends and family about it. It felt like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders.
It can be hard to speak to someone about the struggles of job hunting. You don’t want people to see that you’re not making any progress. But talking about it allowed me to get my thoughts out and helped me view these rejections differently. I obtained some great advice from people too, which all helped.
If you’re experiencing difficulties with job hunting, I encourage you to speak to a friend, family member, or partner. This can go a long way in protecting your mental health when experiencing these challenges.
5. Embrace The Low Points
You have to embrace the low points that you’re going to go through.
You don’t get that joy, excitement, or enthusiasm until you go through these difficult moments. These difficulties will happen — but when they come, know that it’s that moment that will push you and make you excel and make you feel that excitement when you reach that target.
On one occasion, I had a call to obtain some feedback on an application, and I got completely shut down — literally. I got told I’m not going to get the job that I was applying for because all my experience before was not relevant.
I could’ve easily got very upset about this and shied away from the jobs I was applying to, but I didn’t. I used that feedback as motivation and a driving force. I embraced that low moment. Two months later, I got the exact job I wanted!
Rather than thinking it’s personal or that you’re not good enough, it reframes your thinking. It changes the way you view the situation.
Look at these low moments and use them as your driving force.
Searching for jobs can be a brutal process that can have a detrimental impact on our mental health. These 5 tips above have all helped me as I experienced multiple rejections from jobs or getting to the final stage and then not securing the job position. They have put me in a better frame of mind and have enabled me to keep pushing when experiencing the challenges associated with job hunting.
You need to have these protective factors in place.
Making sure you’re having a relaxation period or talking to someone about what you’re going through will improve your productivity and your ability to land the job. Implement these strategies to ensure you’re protecting your mental health while job searching.
Written by Saarim Aslam