Being unemployed sucks. It’s disastrous to self-esteem and let’s not even mention bank balances. Since we were children we’ve been instilled with the sense that life is fair – if you work hard at your GCSEs you’ll be able to take good A-levels; if you work hard at your A-levels you’ll be able to take a good degree; if you work hard at your degree you’ll be able to get a good job.
So when you’ve done all the hard work and the good job doesn’t come you can’t help feeling that somewhere along the line something has gone very very wrong…
You are not alone. Remember you are not alone! There are over 1 million young unemployed people in the UK and that’s not counting all those with doctorates in theoretical physics stacking shelves at their parents’ local Tesco. On this point I would strongly suggest you read the very good How To Be Jobless blog for some entertaining solidarity.
Other people are exaggerating. Chances are out of your friends who’ve secured those excellent roles at least half will be overstating how fantastic they are – getting up at 6 o’clock in the morning to be pressed up against sweaty strangers for an hour to eventually go and make coffee for the day while being paid no money, probably doesn’t feel that much better than being unemployed. Be particularly suspicious of those who say they are working ‘freelance’.
Rejection is part of life. Unfortunately rejection is something we all have to get used to, there will be missed promotions, failed loan application, dismissals, horrible break-ups, bad investments and many more in between. The quicker we learn to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves down and start all over again, the better time we’ll have.
You have time. Buckets of time! Just because you haven’t started on the road to your dream job in your early 20s does not mean that your life is over. You have another 45 odd years in the working world, so even if you don’t sort yourself out for another 10 years, that still leaves you 35 years to get where you’d like to be in your career when you retire. More than enough wouldn’t you say? It might feel like a successful life (career-wise) is slipping through your fingers, but it’s not!
“Be not afraid of moving slowly be only afraid of standing still”
The key to not losing your mind as well as small pieces of your soul while job hunting is to keep yourself busy. To be happy we need more than daytime TV, endless ignored job application and the occasional pint down the pub when the change pot reaches £3.60.
Here are a few ideas of things you can do to keep you sane, and as an excellent by-product boost your CV at the same time.
Take a free online course. From learning a new language, to graphic design, to full on coding. These days you can learn almost anything for free with just some hard work and an internet connection. Have a look at these sites: Coursera Codecademy Busuu.
Write a blog. Start a blog about something you care about, and all the better for your CV if it’s related to your industry. Here’s a good article on how to get started on wordpress. Graduate bloggers are in demand at the moment so use guest blogging as a way to boost your traffic and recognition, you can write on this very blog, or contact any of the many graduate sites who except guest blogs.
Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to get out and about, network and increase your transferable skills, visit Do-it to find volunteering opportunities around you. If you’re worried about how any benefits you receive might be affected read here.
Start your own project. My favorite depression busting, CV boosting tip is to start your own fund/awareness raising project. This could be for an established cause, a local project or something entirely new. Most charities will be happy to listen to new fundraising ideas and help you with promotional materials etc. If you have an idea for a community project check out vinspired’s cashpoint to apply for £500 funding.