College graduation leads to a bevy of complex emotions. It is a milestone to celebrate as you look forward to starting the next phase of your life, but it also means saying goodbye to your friends and finding your first job with that new degree.
Delving into your first job search can be a daunting task. Between the resumes, cover letters and the seemingly endless job boards, this first step in your career could easily cause some stress. The anxiety that comes with your first job search may feel paralyzing, but with a bit of self-care and the right attitude you can overcome it and find your perfect starting point.
Here are 5 ways to conquer the anxiety of your first job search:
1. Visit your career center
Many undergraduate students don’t know just how many resources may be at their fingertips because of their school’s career center. From alumni connections to a database of employers who specifically want to hire recent graduates, your career center probably has many tools to help you with every step of your job search.
2. Utilize your alumni base
Building your professional network is important at any stage in your career. At the beginning of your first job search, reaching out to alumni who are currently in your field of interest can give you some insight on the best methods for entering the industry. Listening to those who have gone through the same journey that you are going through now will help you gain some perspective (and peace of mind) that everything will be okay.
You may even find a mentor if you make a particularly helpful connection or if you form a relationship with somebody at the company you ultimately work for. A mentor can help guide you through the various stages in your career through networking, resource referral, and plenty of advice from personal experience.
(If you’re still not sold on the idea, check out this article on how and why finding a mentor is so valuable)
3. Set goals
There are many components to your job search, from making connections and preparing your materials to following up on applications. Keep in mind that nobody completes all of these tasks in a day or two. As career and internship expert Lauren Berger writes in her book Welcome to the Real World, “set goals, decide how to reach those goals, track your progress, and continue to set higher goals. However, don’t set yourself up to fail. Set realistic goals.” Ensuring that your goals are reasonable can help you make daily progress without feeling constantly overwhelmed.
Berger also insists that, “On top of tracking your goals, you must hold yourself responsible for accomplishing them, constantly coming up with new strategies and having a set of consequences for yourself.” Whether you partner up with a friend and hold each other accountable for your goals or you set up a reward system for yourself, knowing how to set and reach daily (or weekly) goals is a valuable skill that will carry over from your job search into your long-term career.
4. Remember the big picture
It may be tempting to compare yourself to other recent graduates that you know—but try to avoid falling into that trap. Stay focused on your own career goals and remember that success looks different for everybody. In the long run, you want this first job to act as a stepping-stone to better things, so focus on this journey as one of learning and self-betterment. Even if you don’t land your dream job straight out of college, you can still gain valuable skills and experience.
5. Take some time for yourself
Job searching may feel the same as full-time employment at times, meaning that it can also lead to burnout. In fact, JobVite’s 2016 Job Seeker Study found that an increasing percentage of job seekers are using their phones to search for jobs. This means that more people are taking their job search into the office, into restaurants, and onto public transit, with 52% of these job seekers even looking for jobs while laying in bed!
As your phone allows you to constantly pursue your job search “anywhere, anytime,” you may find your motivation starting to decline because you are not taking the time to recharge. Getting a full night’s sleep, spending time with your friends, and doing things that you enjoy are all important aspects of self-care. So sign up for that cooking class you’ve always wanted to try or take an hour to go to that yoga class—then you can return to your job search with fresh eyes and a clear mind.
Job searching is not an easy task at any point in your career; it takes positivity, persistence, and a long-term vision to guide you in the right direction. If you find yourself struggling with this process, recognize that it is totally normal. Utilize those resources that are available to you, take care of yourself along the way, and keep going! This is just the first step on your way towards your dream career.
Disclosure: This is a guest post.
Photo Credit: Bigstock