You've just graduated and have started looking for your first job.
However, things are looking bleak from the get-go: hiring is down, and you send application after application with no results. Your contacts have no useful information to offer, and you begin to lose your drive and hope. Soon, you begin to have depressive thoughts like "Why should I bother?" and "I'm just going to be left hanging again anyway".
Watch out! This can spiral into something even worse. Long-term jobseekers often report depression, anxiety and a lack of self-care as they lose hold of their motivation and drive.
So, how to survive the job hunt with your mental health intact? Remember to check these boxes:
1. Protect your Identity with Other Activities
Remember: you are not your work. You have an identity outside of your job.
Here in Singapore, people tend to become entangled with their jobs, to the extent that the job defines who they are. The constant well-intentioned nagging from relatives and updates from friends about their new wonderful position probably won't help your self-esteem.
To combat this, remind yourself of who you are with external activities. We recommend doing something similar to your dream job in an unpaid capacity. This could be volunteering, or doing an internship. You can also try signing up for a traineeship to gain essential skills – and you may be retained in a permanent position if you do well!
2. Don't "burst apply"
A common mistake of first-time jobseekers is to apply to hundreds of jobs in a day, then get depressed for weeks when no one replies.
Remember that job searching is a marathon and not a sprint – a carefully selected, well-written cover letter accompanying a well-tailored resume is far more likely to get a callback than dozens of cut-and-paste applications.
Take the time and effort to make each and every application count. Read up about the job scope and the company, and include interesting points about yourself and its mission and values in your cover letter. You're much more likely to score that way!
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3. Seek Support and Community
You're not the only jobseeker out there. So, go and meet with those like you! Connect with your peers, form a Whatsapp group or Telegram channel, and meet up with those in the same situation. You're all searching for your first job, after all!
These people will not only become a source of encouragement and strength, but may provide vital contacts and info too. They may have "lobang" in the sector you're aiming for, or job search advice that everyone could use. Get together and make it work.
4. Have a Job Search Routine
"You need some organisational strategies so you don't take a day off every day," suggested Dawn Norris, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and author of "Job Loss, Identity, and Mental Health".
"I would suggest regularly scheduling a time for the job search. For example, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. 'I will search and apply for at least one job.' When you're done, you take those breaks. The other really nice thing about that is that when you schedule it that way it feels like you're going to work and this helps maintain your worker identity."
She also suggested dressing for the job search as though you were going to the office. Not only will this reinforce the routine, you will feel more confident and productive dressed the way you were at the peak of your employee performance.
Ready to go for the long-haul in job searching? Start by applying on BrightMinds!