“Oh you’re not working yet?”
“How long has it been since you graduated?”
“Have you tried this?” Or this, or that, or some other thing that “totally worked for me”.
Job searching is tiring. It feels like you’re doing nothing, but you’re doing all you can at the same time. Furthermore, in the wake of the pandemic and all the economic uncertainty, how’s a graduate to get a job???
Qualifications don’t seem enough. Resumes don’t seem to work. Scrolling through social media doesn’t help when you see others getting jobs or doing cool things in life…
And yet here you are, just…lost.
The seemingly, endless job hunting road
When I graduated 5 years ago, I got a job but left it soon after.
(Long story short, I was a pharmacy student so our school guided us to get our postgraduate jobs. This was because the jobs were part of training for 9 months (back in 2017). Only after passing this full-time training + work, do we get our license and practice. But I didn’t pass it.)
So 10 months after graduation, I was job hunting. And it was overwhelming.
I applied for jobs that said I was ‘overqualified’.
Not all the applications got back to me, but one HR phone call to inquire about my bachelor degree was a clear indicator. “Why don’t you want to consider *insert job of higher position* instead?”, the caller said.
Well, I did. But I failed the training and could not find a way back into the system. Trust me, I tried. I even went back to my juniors’ postgraduate job recruitment fair to speak directly to the job recruiters. That’s a whole other story but in short, my applications ended there.
I applied for jobs unrelated to my degree.
“Just apply for admin jobs”, my relatives said, “Why not this one? And that one?”
I’m sure my relatives meant well, but it was truly disheartening. Have you experienced it too?
Because remember – every single application expects you to present yourself to them/write a cover letter/rearrange your resume to meet their requirements.By the end of it, I felt like quite a chameleon with too many different versions of my CV.
Finally, I applied for part-time/freelance/temporary jobs.
I’m grouping them together for simplicity but, hold up – I recognize that there are wonderful differences.
For me, these jobs were part of my journey to exploring, learning so much and finding my way to a lifestyle that I choose today. But regardless, there’s something more important to tell you.
You – who’s job hunting, tired and anxious.
For most of us, the end of the learning journey is scary. We’re expected to get jobs and be ‘functioning’ members of society. Getting a job means we’re adults and earning for ourselves. And for some of us, getting a job is non-negotiable, pressing need as a way to support our immediate family members.
But here’s another perspective that they don’t tell you at school. And often, society forgets to remind us…
Your worth is not dependent on your job or life status.
Your worth is inherent as a human being. You’re an individual with a unique mind, personality and character. Add to that – you’re a family member, a friend, a neighbour and member of society. Not forgetting, you’re a part of our beautiful environment and nature.
When people ask you, “What are you doing these days?” or “So what do you do?”, please don’t answer “I’m unemployed”, or “Nothing”.
Hey, you’re interacting with people right there! You’re helping somebody at any moment. You’re smiling and you’re not harming others. Today, you’re keeping healthy by eating, resting and exercising. Yesterday, you were excited over that new show or book. Tomorrow, you’ll be growing through job applications and self-reflection. Remember, you’re all these and more.
Read these paragraphs again whenever you need to. It’s true, you know
Tips to reaffirm and help you on the journey:
1. Do yourself a favour and go offline a bit more.
The online world and social media platforms are addictively, potentially damaging to your mental health. They could be wonderful at connecting people. But the constant viewing of other people’s lives and comparisons come at a cost. Your cost.
We constantly remember what we see and what we listen to. So check yourself. Do you feel better after long periods online or more frustrated/tired/anxious? Most devices come with a timer/app for you to track online usage. Try to work on reducing it over time.
2. Spend time on hobbies or helping others
So what’s a person to do without their devices? Experience things fully. Do the mundane purposefully. An easy way is to engage with things you enjoy doing or people who make you happy.
Making others happy is also a virtue. How many of us remember people for how they make us feel? For their good deeds, help and positive emotions? There’s your starting point.
3. Personal favourites: spending time in nature & writing
When we’re anxious, the world externally and internally is filled with noise. We can block it out temporarily with music and entertainment. That’s kinda choosing the external noise you want to listen to.
However, what I’ve really learnt to help in the long run is clearing that internal noise. That’s in nature spaces i.e. skies, trees, parks, beaches and more. Try going alone too. It’s really quite refreshing for self-reflection. It might seem that you’ve nothing to write either, but try it. It helps you see what you think internally. Also, you can write about anything at all.
While you continue to job search, remember..
You’re already doing so much by applying for jobs, striving persistently and consistently. So, here’s us hoping you’ll get the ones that enrich you and help you find your path! May you get the financial stability and wellbeing you deserve.
But as that job hunting process prolongs, it doesn’t have to be dreary. Most importantly, it doesn’t define your worth. That’s already yours.
How is your job searching journey? Does this resonate? I really hope this helps. Write to me your stories or the lessons you learnt along the way too!