The ups and downs of the unemployment roller coaster can be vicious at times. The ‘ups’ feel like the next job is just around the corner and the ‘downs’ devour all remnants of self-confidence and motivation. It’s a wild ride. Here, James McLeod, a 2010 grad from Ohio University, shares his story and 5 tips to survive your time as a frustrated job seeker.
Throughout college, I earned good grades, was involved in different organizations, and interned in Florida and even China – I was set up for success. I was ready to bring my unique experiences and personality to the proverbial “real world.” I was dead set on not just getting a job straight out of college but having multiple offers to pick from.
But then, graduation came and I was still unemployed.
In my mind, I had failed. I had done “everything” right and still “failed.” I sat on the sidelines as the majority of my friends moved to a new city, started their careers and entered that “real world” while I was stuck in some sort of in-between purgatory located conveniently in my parent’s basement.
“I was stuck in some sort of in-between purgatory located conveniently in my parent’s basement” But I kept going. Application after application, eyes glazed over when someone describes how bad the economy is, and I continued to put on a brave face when someone asked me how the job hunt was going. “It’s going fine,” I would respond, “Can’t complain. Things could be a lot worse.” Which is true but it has also become my standard reply to the standard question.
In fact, I’m a walking cliché. I’m an unemployed college grad living at home with my parents as I work odd jobs and attempt to build up a website. Real sexy.
But hey, it’s not all bad. Think about it – this may be the last chance I get to have extra free time before I dedicate the rest of my life to a full time job. Free time to enjoy the simple things like going for a run… or watching an entire HBO series (have you seen Game of Thrones?!).
My Quick Tips
So what keeps me sane through the ups and downs of the vicious unemployment roller coaster? Through my extensive experience in the realm of the unemployed, I have found this wild ride doesn’t have to be so extreme and here’s how I do it:
1. Get into a routine
Getting into and maintaining a routine allows you to create a productive framework for the day. I’m a night owl, so for me, it was simply about waking up when normal people wake up and going for a jog. For you, it could be going to a quiet place like the library or coffee shop every day and job searching for an hour. This helps avoid unorganized days that simply melt into one another and fade away with no major achievements to show for it.
2. Accomplish something every day
No matter how big or small, set out to accomplish something every day. It can be as simple as finding and applying to one job. Doing so, helps maintain a positive outlook of achievement. It also provides a daily benchmark of success that you can use to challenge yourself to improve upon. Remember, it’s all about the little daily accomplishments that build up to the big accomplishments.
3. Enjoy the little things
Try not to roll your eyes at this tip’s cheesiness, but don’t let this time slip by without remembering the simple joys of laughing with friends, the gentle drumbeat of raindrops hitting your window, or getting lost in a good book on a cold night. Enjoying these little everyday things may just help you survive your biggest struggles.
4. Grow Professionally
Take this time to develop a skill that is relevant to the job you want. Maybe it’s with your parents’ church group managing its finances, creating a blog to demonstrate expertise and passion for your field, or offering to create a social media marketing presence for a local company. Ultimately, continuing to learn will leave you well prepared to impress the interviewer that asks, “So, what have you done since graduation?”
5. “Just keep swimming”
When in doubt, take Dory’s advice from Finding Nemo and “just keep swimming.” The long path to employment is a draining experience filled with random obstacles and abrupt dead ends. Sometimes it feels as though it will drag on forever and these are the moments that need to be overcome by continuing to move forward one step at a time.
Remember, your time as a frustrated job seeker will eventually come to an end and that full-time job will arrive sooner if you bravely endure the lowest of lows the unemployment roller coaster has to offer.
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