‘Looking for work could not happen at a worse time than at the height of a global pandemic and economic recession’, these are the type of statements that the majority of tabloids and news articles declared in bold writing in July 2020.
This is the exact tentative context in which I began to look for work after graduating with a 2:1 in Modern European Studies (BA) from the University of Nottingham. It was a tough yet formative time in my life that has taught me some valuable lessons when looking for work, and figuring out the next steps after graduation.
2) Transition from studying
A lot of people warn you that life after graduation is one about real hustle as the so-called ‘party’ is over and you have to face the inevitable looming transition to adulthood. I was not fearful of this transition, but instead I wanted to face it head-on. During my final two years of university I had started to explore some areas in which I could potentially direct my career towards; marketing, PR and copywriting. I had completed some extracurricular activities and participated in some internships, so I felt somewhat equipped to take the first initial steps in looking for work. However, nothing had prepared me against the wave of uncertainty that the pandemic unleashed with vast companies letting go of their employees or closing applications. Undoubtedly the pandemic has shown that despite us all going through this time of uncertainty together, the journey has proved to be immensely different for everyone.
By far the biggest hurdle when looking for work is overcoming rejection. This was a hard yet a very crucial lesson that continues to play a role in shaping my journey in exploring career paths. Yes, rejection hurts but it will help you cultivate a firmer understanding of your career path.
3) Overcoming rejection: adapting a new approach
I stand in solidarity with everyone who has continuously devoted their time to hundreds, even in cases thousands of applications, and have not secured an interview. Take that time to pause, reflect and reset your action plan. If sending out 100 applications has not worked for you, tackle 3-5 maximum. Making a simple change by taking a day out or even 2 from looking at the computer or phone, taking the time to get some advice and see what is it that could help to change your fortune, applying the changes and then applying for less roles, has led to them being much more positive and many in new employment. By stepping away and breaking this chain will make you feel much more optimistic, and you will see more success from the new approach.
At the height of feeling anxious from receiving those rejections, it’s crucial not to be consumed by comparison. Instead direct yourselves on the values and attributes you can offer a company or job role. This leads onto the next point: do not lower your expectations. When I received my first few rejections, such as Tesco, I thought, ‘this is it. I will never find a job in this current climate.’ Gradually, I began to lower my expectations. This is a fatal trap and a very slippery slope, instead continue persevering by reminding yourself of what you can offer and what you’ve achieved thus far. Remember as much as you are being interviewed, make sure to also interview the company on its values and work culture.
4) Helpful resources:
Keep a note of the jobs you’ve applied to: notebook or through excel pivot tables.
Save the Student: helpful articles and advice https://www.savethestudent.org/student-jobs/finding-a-graduate-job.html
Brush up on Skills: LinkedIn Learning and Google courses like: Google Garage and Google analytics- highly recommend!