Managing your morale

Staying positive when you have so much to strive for can be heavy going, so in this post we have decided to share with you some stories from people going through the same, and tapping into their tips on how to deal with every hurdle...

Martin described his experience of finding a job as a game of emotional snakes and ladders. He phoned up a recruiter and got a meeting and he moved up a ladder slightly. He then got an interview and went right to the top of the board. He was rejected and slid right down a long snake back to the start and wanted to walk right off the board. The roller-coaster that many people experience finding a new role can be tough. There are a number of actions that can help you to manage your anxiety, keep yourself motivated and to get you back on track after disappointment.

Get out of the house and speak to people. One of the biggest changes after leaving university can be the lack of contact with friends and classmates. Spending too much time alone in the house can lead to you feeling isolated and provide too much time to dwell on your situation.

Arrange to meet up with friends, ex-colleagues or other graduates in your area, on a regular basis. Share your own knowledge and experiences and gain some positive advice, information and support.

Develop and use your network. Developing your network not only helps you to find opportunities but has the added benefit of having company. (This does mean your social network too! Tap into the job info on Twitter and Facebook, via friends and friends of friends...)

Build structure into your week. A lack of routine for some can be liberating after the last few years of lectures and essay writing! However, it can be disorientating to wake up in the morning and not know what you are going to do that day. While there could be a number of tasks you could do at home, these can feel like distractions taking you away from your job search.

Set yourself a plan each week for how you are going to spend your time and stick to it. Some days you might think you have done nothing.

Set yourself weekly goals to achieve so you can measure progress.

Develop a secondary goal. John announced that he was going to run the marathon. Every time he went training he had another achievement under his belt. His plan was deliberate and creative and his attitude was remarkably positive. He took personal responsibility for managing his morale and he found a role quickly.

Do it now. Rather than putting off calling the recruiter or following up on that job lead, pick up the phone and just do it. You will feel that you have achieved something and be more positive as a result.

Allow yourself time off. If you were working, you would have the weekends and holidays. In order to be effective in your job search, you also need to take time off to stay healthy mentally and physically.

Don't feel guilty doing this, it is essential not a luxury.

Set time limits for internet searching. While the internet is a source of vacancies it is only one source. People often describe surfing job sites for hours at a time as draining and frustrating. Jobs may not be actual live vacancies and finding the jobs that fit with what you are looking for can be time consuming. Plan a set amount of time in your routine. Look on the internet but be strict with yourself on a time limit. Importantly, make sure you action all the realistic vacancies you have found and take extra time to use the web for more than just searching, it's a great resource tool especially with access to great website and social communities which can all be valid.

Develop a secondary goal. John announced that he was going to run the marathon. Every time he went training he had another achievement under his belt. His plan was deliberate and creative and his attitude was remarkably positive. He took personal responsibility for managing his morale and he found a role quickly.

Put the crystal ball away. We have a tendency to predict the future when we really have no idea how it will turn out. It is common to imagine the worst possible outcome when in fact a change can turn out better than expected.

Establish the facts. Pete had lived on a student budget for years, but now all he could worry about was afforidng the rent as he wanted to stay in his university town as opposed to going back home to live with his parents... When challenged to perceive his situation more realistically, he recognised that continuing his part-time job (he had taken whilst at Uni) as a stop-gap would enable him to maintain his modest lifestyle, and still allow plenty of time to look for jobs. But, for many people finances are a real concern and worry.

No matter what your situation, establish the reality of what can be managed - you'll find this helps.

Create a budget and work out what you can manage. This gives you a realistic sense of your financial position.

Take control, speak to others for advice and don’t sit in silence worrying.

Listen out for and challenge faulty generalisations. “What if I never get a job?” “Nobody will want to reply to speculative emails I send.” These are very common fears that people often express. Yet there are no facts or information to base this on. This type of faulty thinking contains words such as 'everyone, always, never, nobody'. It is highly unlikely that you will be unemployed for the rest of your life, unless you choose to. A more helpful thought could be “it may take me some time to get the job I want and longer than I would prefer. However I will get a job.” Turn that negative thinking on it's head!

Use positive self talk. “I made such a mess of that interview, if only I had...” Beating yourself up will only lower your confidence and inhibit your progress. You are the only person that can change this self talk and can choose what you want to say to yourself. Looking for a job is challenging enough without you giving yourself a hard time as well. Imagine what a good friend would say to you instead...

Focus on solutions rather than problems. When we spend time focusing purely on problems we can get de-motivated. For example, “there doesn’t seem to be jobs that are suitable for me on the internet.” While this might be your experience, dwelling on and feeling like a victim of the problem is not helpful. Think about, “what is one thing I can do about this situation?” Even if that one thing isn’t that significant, there’s usually always one thing you can do to improve your situation. In this case it could also be trying other avenues to find opportunities such as networking.

A trouble shared is a trouble halved. While many people suffer a lack of confidence whilst unemployed and go through a range of emotions, they can move forward positively. Some people whether they chose to leave their organisation or not may have had a very traumatic lead up to their departure which has been completely overwhelming. Exhaustion, stress and ill-health can be the result. Jenn had been badly bullied in a previous part-time role. Without acknowledging to someone else what had happened, she found she was unable to focus. Once she did share what had happened and the impact this had on her, she received counselling and took time off from job hunting to help her recovery. She is now confidently job searching and securing interviews. If you are feeling this way, do talk to someone who can help you re-gain your confidence, after all, you did just graduate!

Why not keep up to date with all that is current on Twitter, by going to or contact us for a FREE copy of the GradGuide2011, full of useful tips and advice from developing a a great CV to getting through those first few weeks in a new job...

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