Career Q&A - How should I secure my first job especially in a time of pandemic?
I am feeling very anxious about my job search since I graduated. My friends have secured jobs but not me and I am getting worried. The pandemic is not helping too! ~ Jack, Recent Graduate
Graduation marks the start of a new chapter of your life. It is a step of adulthood, taking over of financial responsibilities and planning for your own future plans. It is also arguably the fruition of all the pain and stresses of education and studying you had endured.
Alot seems to hinge on graduation and it is no surprise that pressures and anxieties do arise from stress, worries and peer comparisons. The pandemic did not make things easier. News reports have already shown that graduates are facing a tougher time with their job search and having to adjust their expectations.
At AVODAH People Solutions, we hear of struggles of fresh graduates when planning for their job search. Many of their struggles revolve around these areas:
Unclear about suitable job roles
Many fresh graduates are armed with their certificates but are unsure of what jobs they want to do. The situation becomes unclear if they do not want to work in the domain or role which they had been trained for. Many may also lack self awareness of what skills and work activities they would be good at doing.
Worried about making the wrong first job decision
The first job decision carries alot of expectations for many fresh graduates who want to make a good start and not fail with their first job. The decision making is based on fear and failure avoidance and aimed at maximising long term returns. With so much at stake, fresh graduates find it hard to make decisions between different job opportunities.
Fighting anxiety and negative thoughts
Prolonged unemployment creates negative, anxious and worried thoughts in people. For fresh graduates, seeing peers move into jobs faster than them creates these anxieties and negativitives alot more, given the perceived equal starting point.
Stress from pressures from student loans and family concerns
The practical financial worries kick in as soon as graduation happens. With student loans to pay and family members who may be relying on additional financial contributions, fresh graduates may feel it hard to deal with the sudden financial load. Pressures may also come from family members who may mean well but come across as critical and overly concerned when asking about the job search progress.
So as a fresh graduate reading this, how should you view your first job search in a time like this?
It will be well, eventually.
Looking too far into the future and asking too many what-ifs would only add more uncertainty and create more worries and stress for ourselves. With the future being a mystery to all of us, choose to focus on the immediate term and make the best of what's given and available to you.
Seek collaboration, not competition with peers
Learn to see your peers as collaboration partners, not competition. You are not longer competing for school rankings. In life, everyone can be a winner if we learn to collaborate. Start by looking at your peers who managed to secure a job and find out how they did it. You may even find an opportunity through them in future!
Making new professional connections
LinkedIn is the world's largest professional networking platform and you deserve a place in the network too. As a fresh graduate, you have much to offer and LinkedIn is your platform to tell and share with the world what you can do and what you want to do. Make it a point to engage and learn from professionals in the fields that you are interested in. The more information you learn from them, the more informed you are going to be about your job decisions.
Be meaningfully engaged, learn a skill, do projects
Instead of letting unemployment overly worry you, use the time the be meaningfully engaged. Explore volunteer work especially at a time like this where many segments of people are affected. Engage in skills learning, especially with a plethora of online learning options available. Try doing some freelance or exploratory projects as they could become part of your portfolio to showcase to future employers. You could also explore government help resources (eg. SkillsFuture traineeships) to help you get started. All these activities would come in handy to explain to employers about how you spent your time while managing a prolonged job search.
Speak to someone for career guidance or counselling
When the going gets really tough or if you feel like like you need a listening ear to get unstuck, speak to someone trained and experienced in career guidance. You can approach the government career guidance services from e2i and Careers Connect or engage a private career service provider like us at AVODAH People Solutions.
Your graduation presents the start of new dreams. Don't let it become a nightmare. Be hopeful, positive and know that all will be well eventually.
At AVODAH People Solutions, we provide career guidance services to people who are considering career changes, making a job change or currently in a transition to find a job. Share your career situation with us so that we can support you.