Emily, a MSc International Development with Economics students, shares hers and students past and present's perspectives on how to stay motivated during the job hunting process. The Careers Service thanks Emily for this excellent blog
It’s cold, rainy and you’ve just received yet another rejection email. All those hours spent crafting a tailored application for nothing…or so it seems. Wrong. Every cover letter, every psychometric test, every interview is another learning experience that will take you one step closer to finding a graduate role or placement.
So here we present our 6 top tips for staying motivated, a compilation of wisdom from students past and present…
- Write it down
No, not (yet!) another application. Take some time to write down how you’re feeling and make a list of your goals, whether that’s landing a role at a top graduate employer or finding a placement close to home. Putting pen to paper can make your thoughts a whole lot clearer and might even give you the motivation you need to start working on your next application.
- Focus on what you can control, rather than what you can’t
It’s been a tough year, and it can be easy to let our minds drift to the negative. But, whilst the blow of “thank you, but…” can be difficult to bounce back from, don’t let it control how you act or feel in days or weeks to come. Instead, try to think about the things you can control, particularly those that will keep your mind sharp for your next application or interview. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep, remembering to include lots of fruit and vegetables in your meals and getting in some movement every day can transform your mindset and inspire action.
- Turn rejection into development opportunities
Alumni Greg (Politics) and Chris (Natural Sciences) advise tackling rejection by asking for feedback and acting on it. Whilst not all employers provide feedback in the earlier stages of recruitment, there’s nothing to be lost by asking. As Greg said, “a few constructive comments can make all the difference”. If feedback is consistently highlighting the same area for improvement, take the time to address it. Chris’ feedback for one assessment centre highlighted the need for more energy and clarity of presentation, things which most students can improve through some practice with friends or family members. However, if you need additional support, an appointment with a Careers Advisor may be the missing link.
- Ask for help
The Careers Service and faculty placements teams have a wealth of resources waiting to be tapped into. Third year BBA student Caitlin found her placement this summer with the help of her placement team who set up practice interviews for her. Online assessment centres and interviews have quickly become the norm, but for students used to face-to-face interaction, or those for whom this round of applications are their first, the extra practice can help to build confidence before the real thing.
- Use your support system
Having a strong social support system is essential for maintaining good mental health, and particularly important when it comes to hurdles like job rejections. Whether its friends, family or co-workers, these people are the ones who will be there to comfort you when you’re feeling worn down and can help motivate you to get going again. It’s important to tell them when you need someone to lean on, especially if you’re living away from home. For Spanish and Politics student Keji, keeping in touch with their family helped them through times when they felt like quitting. Though it can be hard to admit when you need some extra support, know that you are not alone – rejection is a part of building resilience.
- Take time for yourself
Finding a graduate job or placement can be a full-time job in itself, so remember to take a break. Spend an evening playing board games or go out for coffee. It’s completely normal to experience ‘application fatigue’, but be kind to yourself, focus on quality over quantity and try to maintain a healthy balance between work and leisure.
Chris (Natural Sciences)
Keji (Spanish and Politics)