Being unemployed may become one of the most challenging and potentially isolating experiences you have come across so far. Its particularly hard for those just starting out in their working lives such as school-leavers and graduates so I have recorded my survival tips which I have discovered from experience of being unemployed for many months.
Value yourself and your achievements
It may sound quite gushy but its very important that you keep positive and keep in mind that you do have a high level of aptitude and demonstrable achievement. I am certain that you demonstrate communication, IT, organisational and teamwork skills continuously in everyday situations.
Understand that you are not alone and you are not to blame for unemployment
Youth/Graduate unemployment is not just a national problem it is a global problem that has been caused by a worldwide financial crisis. Consequently employers have become more hesitant in hiring and training people resulting in a very high number of young unemployed people.
Plan your day, making time for job-related and enjoyable activities When you first start job-hunting you may be tempted to spend all of your available hours hunting and applying but its likely that you will quickly become exasperated with this. Try to keep involved with a range of activities that you enjoy, ideally these will involve socialising with others which will keep you grounded, or physical exercise which is proven to reduce stress and stabilise the mood. You may also find it helpful to plan out your day to give yourself structure which you will be used to from previous education and/or employment.
Try to know what job/career you want
More often than not, people leave school/college/university without knowing what kind of job or job area they would like to go into, which naturally will make job hunting and writing and updating a CV which is relevant to a job advert more difficult. You could try to find direction by identifying what jobs you definitely would NOT want to do and by looking at your hobbies and interests outside of education and employment.
Another thing that may help you is to analyse what you value, do you want a job/career that is:
- Money based? (Would you work for low wages to potentially get a high income in the long term?)
- Prestige/power based? (Would you want to manage a small/large team of people? Does owning your own business appeal to you?)
- People based? (If so, which groups of people?)
- Education/technology based? (Do you want to research an interest in close detail and perhaps share your knowledge?)
Consider gaining relevant experience from volunteering, work-place shadowing and/or internships
Additional experience can help you to gain valuable confidence, skills and knowledge in your chosen field which can help you to stand out. You may also make new friends, contacts or “networks” who may inform you of potential job opportunities or provide you with a reference.
Be understanding of those around you
Being out of work can cause you to become frustrated and hyper-sensitive to perceived criticism which can result in pushing those closest to you away, when you probably need their support the most. Its always best to remain understanding that those close to you will also be finding your situation difficult to deal with too, if this understanding is reciprocal then there should be no arguments or confrontations!
Complete tasks on a daily basis where results are highly visible
Often you will apply for many jobs and not hear anything back from any of them, sometimes not even confirmation that the company has received your CV. This has a serious de-motivational effect so by completing tasks such as gardening, cooking, cleaning, hill-walking etc where the results of your actions are highly visible and useful you can counter this effect by demonstrating that your actions have an effect on those around you and your environment – you will stay strong, confident and motivated.
Alex Wall is a York Science graduate and blogger of UK-based energy policies and technologies.