So, you’re done school and it’s time to enter the workforce – except, you can’t. It’s not as easy as it sounded. You’re customizing cover letter after cover letter and embarking on a never-ending job hunt only to constantly turn up empty.
When you’re putting tons of work into your applications and not even getting responses, it feels like you may never be unemployed in your dream industry. But, keep in mind that you haven’t had this much free time during the course of your schooling – you can put it to good use to get yourself hired.
Learning doesn’t have to end now that school has. There are plenty of courses you can take online to expand your knowledge as well as plenty that offer certifications. And, as someone who may not have a lot of money at the moment, don’t feel as though you have to spend money to make money. There are a lot of free courses out there that you can put to use – just to name a few, HubSpot, LinkedIn and Google Analytics all offer free courses that look amazing on a resume.
Some jobs even specifically seek out people who are dedicated to increasing their knowledge through online certifications and ask for specific ones – even if that’s not the case, showing a willingness to expand your knowledge is always a great look.
Add to your Skills
Spend your free time teaching yourself new skills that are in high demand in your desired industry. Take note of job postings that you don’t feel qualified for and see the skills you’re missing that you can practice in your spare time.
For instance, if you want to work in the media industry and you notice video editing is in demand but not something you’re capable of, there’s a number of free editing software platforms like iMovie and DaVinci Resolve to tinker with, and YouTube videos going over the mechanics of them to help you learn.
This is true for a number of hard skills, such as data analysis, foreign languages, graphic design, and so much more – so don’t be afraid to dive headfirst into them – you may just find a new passion of yours this way!
Embrace a Side Hustle
This is how I’ve been filling my time – and resume – while hunting for a full-time job. Think of a skill that you possess or simply something that you love to do and scour the Internet to find where your skills are wanted, even if it’s not full-time. Piling up freelance positions or selling your work can offer you some extra money in between positions, as well as the opportunity to brush up on your skills for future long-term careers.
For instance, consistent freelance writing for numerous publications will show a company looking for a salaried writer that multiple organizations find you reputable. You could even try monetizing hobbies of yours that you partake in in your spare time – like selling clothes that you’ve designed on Depop or your artwork on Etsy. Owning your own small business is also certainly something that could go on your resume, and something that’ll allow you to develop skills like digital marketing, communication and customer service.
Mental Health Matters
In the midst of this, always remember to make sure that you’re keeping yourself healthy. It’s a privileged viewpoint to assume you can just take a break completely from a job hunt, as finding a source of income is a necessity in this world, but it’s important for your mental wellbeing to take little breaks where you can, no matter how small. After all, if you’re burnt out from doing nothing but writing a million unique cover letters every day, how much will you really want to work once you’ve got the job locked down?
Block out a chunk of time in your day away from resume rewriting and job boards and use it to relax, call a friend or otherwise do an activity that’ll cheer you up or calm you down – whatever you may need at that moment. Whatever you do with your time, make sure your career woes are completely peripheral to it for the time being.
Rejections and ignored applications are always going to hurt, but don’t let that affect your self-esteem and ability to succeed in your desired industry. Use the time that you have all to yourself to your benefit and find new ways to stand out on your next application! And, most importantly, remember that you’re not the first person to be in this position and you’re not the last – the right job will come along eventually if you give it your all.
Are you starting to wonder if your resume and cover letter may be the problem? We can help! Style Nine to Five’s founder, Christie Lohr, offers a Resume and Cover Letter Refresh specifically for new grads who are taking the next steps into finding their dream job.
Emily Morrison is a freelance writer and media professional with passions for film and storytelling.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock