Someone asked me to write a blog post about practicing self care in a job search. This might be especially useful for fresh graduates; as they might find it more stressful than experienced professionals. While I’m not experienced in this area, what I can do is perhaps just share some of what I’ve done personally in my life, as well as what I’ve learnt from some readings here and there.
Self care is, as the name goes, taking care of yourself. This includes your physical and mental health as well. Self care in a job search is important, considering how a job search can at times be a long and tiring process, extending up to a few months or a year or two. We’ve all heard and read stories about graduates being unemployed for 6+ months after graduating, for numerous reasons.
I have also been spending some time on LinkedIn over the past two years, and I can say that I’ve seen my fair share of “Please help me, I’ve been applying to hundreds of job opportunities but I am still unemployed. It’s been 6 months…” from graduates and experienced professionals alike.
Job searching is both time and energy consuming. Therefore, it is important to practice self care to ensure that you do not get burnt out from the job hunt.
Understanding what self care means to yourself.
Self care can mean different things to different people. For instance, my version of self care would be taking a day off to pamper myself. I’d treat myself to a good massage / spa session, or (re)watch my favorite movies / anime.
For other people, it may be going out for a walk or a jog. It may be hanging out with friends, enjoying good food. It may be spending a few hours playing games or sports with your buddies.
Self care is different for everyone, so it’s important to understand what it is for you. Don’t worry too much about it being different than other people. It is, after all, personal to you.
Set mini goals along the way.
Job hunting can be a super long process. Some people are lucky that they can easily secure a job. I know I’ve had friends who graduated with me (in May 2017), but have secured a full-time offer in October or November 2016 itself.
Other people may not be as lucky. It may take them a few months, sometimes even a year or so to secure a job offer. I personally started my first full-time job at Monash Malaysia about two months after my graduation, but my job hunt started months before that.
To make the whole process easier to manage, it’s best to set mini goals along the way. Set small goals throughout the job process so that you can better manage your time.
For instance, spend some time to work and improve on your resume/CV content and design. Plan to submit at least one job application per day. If you’re a shy and introverted person, challenge yourself to send cold emails / inMails on LinkedIn to at least one person per week. Attend career and networking fairs.
Schedule some personal time.
People say that you should treat your ‘unemployment’ phase as a full-time job. Which means, you pretend that you have a 9-5 job, so you go to bed early and wake up early. This would not only help keep your body ready and prepared for work, but also helps you to stay organized and be on top of things.
But don’t forget to schedule some downtime to take care of your physical and mental health. Include some personal, non-work related goals to achieve, such as learning a new skill or meeting up with old friends. Pursue your interests and hobbies and take this time to develop them. It’d help you to feel fresh and motivated.
Disconnect from the online world.
While it’s great that social media allows us to share our news and life with friends and family across the globe, it also creates a lot of unnecessary stress. People tend to compare their lives with others they see on social media, and they tend to get insecure when they see other people’s successes.
There’s also another reason why I’d suggest disconnecting from the online world, and this is one that I’ve done before (and currently doing as well). When you’re waiting to hear back from an important application, every little notification can set you off.
I remember when I was waiting to hear back from my Chevening application, I get so stressed with every single notification in my inbox. I keep on checking my phone every few minutes, as if the all-important email would be coming in.
So, I ended up muting all notifications on my phone, and scheduled the ‘Do Not Disturb’ setting so that I don’t get notifications during the night. Plus, my phone’s almost always on silent mode anyway, so I’d be less distracted by any notifications or beeps.
Stay motivated, stay inspired, stay positive.
People find inspiration in many different ways, so find out what works for you. Maybe try something new and explore some new places on your own. Work on that job application while hanging out at a new cafe, instead of typing out your cover letter from your bed. Go out for a run, or take a walk around your neighborhood.
Talk to different people and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most people are more than happy to help pass on the words to a colleague, or share possible opportunities with you. Surround yourself with people who will encourage and support you through the process, who can help you to stay motivated when things get hard.
Most importantly, stay positive. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and remember that you will get there one day. Just keep on trying, never give up, and persevere through it all.
You may also want to read this article on Medium: Stop putting yourself down: self-care during the job search.
Hope this post is helpful in one way or another. If you enjoyed it, do consider subscribing to my FREE bi-weekly newsletter, Say What?, where I share stories and lessons that I’ve learnt throughout graduate school and my job search.
Until next time, stay awesome and take care 🙂