How to practice self-care during your job hunt

Annie Gainsborough

Annie Gainsborough is a Senior Consultant at Gradconsult. They support students and graduates to flourish as they move from education into the world of work, with a personal interest in equality and inclusion.

Applying for jobs can be a challenging task. We’ve got some suggestions to help you maintain your wellbeing while you find the right job for you.

Pressure from peers, along with worry about finance and your future, can make this a particularly stressful time. This can be made worse by the fact that there are many factors that you can’t control. But by focusing on those things you can control and adopting the right strategy for you, you can increase your chances of landing a job while also taking care of yourself.

Here are five tips to maintaining a focused approach to your job search while also prioritising self-care:

1. Quality not quantity

You might think that the more job applications you submit, the more likely you are to be successful. But this approach to job hunting does not always yield better results. In fact, both success rates and wellbeing decline when this approach is taken.

You might have heard stories of people sending their CV to 200 employers and not getting a single interview. This can easily make the job hunt feel like a hopeless task. But this generic, “copy-and-paste” approach to job applications is not conducive to success – either in terms of interviews and offers, or your own wellbeing.

Employers look for tailored, well-researched applications. It might help you to consider:

  • Making sure your application and CV covers the key points listed in the job advert.
  • Going beyond the organisation’s website in your research - checking out company blogs, social media accounts and sector news stories to demonstrate real interest.

These steps take time, and aren’t something you can achieve for hundreds of applications. But by focusing on a smaller number of well-researched applications, you can stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of success. You may also find it more satisfying to take time over a smaller number of applications and by targeting those jobs you want most, you are also more likely to find a role that is good for you in the long term.

2. Set realistic targets

Whether it is an application a month whilst you’re studying or an application a week after university, setting realistic targets that work for you and around your other responsibilities is one way to ensure the job hunt doesn’t get the better of you.

Don’t worry if you have to move the goalposts slightly as you go, but having goals helps you to maintain a focus on what you want to achieve.

Take some time to think about how your search may be affecting your mental health. It’s okay if you’re unhappy with what you find.

3. Maintain a routine

Securing a job is one goal, but your wellbeing is more important and vital to your success. Try to keep a focus on self-care during this time. Don’t let the job hunt overshadow your hobbies, relationships, and the other things that make up who you are.

Build a routine that leaves time for healthy meals, exercise and fresh air as well as a good night’s sleep. Getting dressed might help you feel more professional, and taking time away from the screen to do something that matters to you could help you come back refreshed and ready to ace the recruitment process.

Sometimes it feels like the peaks and troughs of the job search define us, but this isn’t the case. It is important to make time for the activities that keep us going. That said, you can’t do everything at once, so be flexible – you might need to move other commitments around to focus on a deadline or an interview.

Healthy habits can help your mental health

4. Roll with rejection

Even when following these tips, securing a graduate job isn’t easy. All of us will likely experience rejections at different points in the process. Please don’t be disheartened or put off by this eventuality. Just submitting an application is a really big step and if you make it to an interview that is a huge achievement in itself.

If you have been to an interview but are unsuccessful, remember to congratulate yourself for what you’ve done well. And while the experience is still fresh in your mind, seek feedback from the employer and reflect on any elements you think you could improve, either by yourself, with your careers service, a trusted friend or family member.

You may also want to take some time away from the job hunt to put things into perspective before you start applying again. Allowing time to process and learn from your job hunt experience. Applying for jobs, like all things in life, takes practice and the more you do it, and learn from it, the better you will get.

How to bounce back from failure when applying for jobs

5. Use support

Most universities offer support beyond graduation to help you build your job hunting skills and land a role that is right for you. Don’t feel that you have to master all of this alone. Check out what support your university offers and make use of it to help you search for posts, refine your applications and prepare for interviews. Job hunting can feel like a less arduous task if you feel supported

It is ok to feel worried or anxious while applying for jobs but you are absolutely not alone. There can be a lot of uncertainty after university, and the job hunt is something else that may add to this feeling. But talking about your concerns to others and maintaining a healthy approach to the recruitment process can help you feel grounded and in control, while helping you work towards your goals.

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