Tuesday 23 June 2020

COVID-19: top tips to protect your wellbeing in a new graduate job market

Daisy shares her tips on how to look after your wellbeing and practise self-care for graduates entering the new post coronavirus job market.
- Daisy

Job hunting can be stressful at the best of times, and this year’s graduates will find themselves entering the brave new world of the post-coronavirus job market. The transition from university into the world of work was an especially rocky one for me. I remember the sense of accomplishment coloured with emptiness as I handed in my freshly bound dissertation. Leaving university for me came with a sense of loss; of relationships, of my lifestyle, my financial stability and the city where I’d grown up. As with all things, it does get better, but the current pandemic only adds to this sense of loss and uncertainty as to what the future holds. 

Even for graduates currently in jobs such as myself, coronavirus has forced us to change how we work. Zoom meetings and static text messages have replaced the conversations and ad hoc events I used to love attending. Working alone has been pretty lonely at times. This sense of isolation can be amplified for students in limbo between university and work: if you’re currently thinking about the next steps after university, it’s so important that you look after your wellbeing. It’s important to always practise self-care, but here are some tips tailored towards managing your wellbeing in the new job market. 

  1. Reward yourself for the hard work you’ve done to graduate: Social distancing means that graduation ceremonies are largely delayed or online and you probably won’t be able to get the sense of closure with celebrations in the traditional way. Take a breath and time to reflect and do something to be kind to yourself. Get dressed up in your garden to take graduation photos, make a special meal for those in your house, or arrange a Zoom party with some friends.
  2. Take a break from social media: This has a twofold function: constantly refreshing your newsfeed for updates on the coronavirus can be more anxiety inducing, and I find that it stops me from focusing on tasks or relaxing. I find that it helps to check it once a day and at a set time. I find that it’s also great to just put your phone down and take a break - it’s easy to get caught up on your gorgeous friend from school who’s just posted about their dream job. Social media is not real and this can give me a serious case of career ‘FOMO’. Everyone progresses at different rates and strengths, and that’s okay!
  3. Treat job hunting like a job: Allocate yourself set hours where you intend to search for jobs or update your CV. Try and do this in a separate space from your bed if you can and make time to unwind. It’s better to work on some job applications you care about rather than reel off a bunch of copy and pasted applications at 2am. I’ve been guilty of scrolling applications all night, and for me a regular sleep pattern makes so much difference to my energy levels in the day. 
  4. Start smallStarting the job hunt can feel like a mammoth task, and there can be pressure (as with all things in life) to find THE ONE. You could make a mindmap of skills you’ve gained, update your LinkedIn profile, or list things you achieved at uni. If possible, make use of the career services your uni offers. It is also completely fine to not have a clue what you want to do, but I found that focusing on my skills and talking with the career services helped me consider options I didn’t even know existed. 
  5. Remember that rejection is a normal part of the job hunting process: It is not a reflection of you or your ability to achieve what you want. Having graduated a couple of years ago, I’ve been rejected from numerous job applications and I know how crushing and personal a rejection can be. It’s completely normal to feel upset if you apply for something and don’t get the job. The current situation may add even more pressure to be successful since some businesses have frozen or reduced the positions they were recruiting for. When I’m upset I find that phoning a friend or family member really helps and this is especially important as you may not be as able to meet with people in person to confide. 

Know your worth and protect your wellbeing

Regardless of experience or where we are in our careers, the coronavirus pandemic has been unspeakably challenging for us all. Remember, you have done amazingly well to graduate, and the current situation may mean it takes longer to get a job or that your current plans change. That is perfectly okay and the best thing you can do is take care of your wellbeing regardless. 

Hi, I’m Daisy. I work in higher education and I want to use my experiences to help other students to make the most out of their time at university. My particular interest is the importance of best practise for student wellbeing and support for mental health. 

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