Knowing that you’re in control of your life is the key to managing stress
Take charge of your thoughts, plans & how you deal with problems
New Life Skills
…It’s OK that you don’t know certain things
Job search, financial matters and sorting accommodation all involve life skills and processes you haven’t been taught at school/college. Doing something we don’t feel skilled at can be uncomfortable, even stressful. Don’t be scared to seek advice – talk to people you trust; you will find that people are generally pleased to be asked and happy to help.
See the relevant sections on this website for plenty of tips and guidance:
Make a start, don’t procrastinate
Be proactive – Taking charge of your life is in itself empowering, whereas the feeling of loss of control can cause stress and lack of wellbeing.
Source: Professor Sir Cary Cooper – world leading expert on wellbeing & Professor of Organisational Psychology & Health at Manchester Business School
Have a plan & stick to it
Job searching is a confusing and time-consuming activity. Take control by creating some sort of framework for your life – a routine that includes relaxation and enjoyment.
Having a plan helps to avoid stress, because you know what you will be doing during the day e.g. job search for a couple of hours, then gym, lunch, see friends etc.
Even if you’re feeling down because you’re getting rejections, resist the temptation to let it go – stick to your planned routine. Enjoyable elements will improve your frame of mind, a just reward for the hard graft of job applications.
Manage others’ expectations
Work out how to respond to the endless, well-intentioned enquiries from family and friends e.g. “I’ve applied for several jobs, I’m waiting for responses, but in the meantime I’m learning Spanish…”
Let go of things you can’t control
Don’t fret over things you can’t change, like youth unemployment, or whether you are selected for an interview. Focus instead on what you can control, like improving your CV, or getting an application in on time.
A Sense of Achievement
A job gives you more than financial reward, such as purpose, fulfilment, challenge, social contact and routine.
But you can include those important benefits in your life, even while you’re not working:
Do something for someone else
You could get involved in regular volunteer work a couple of times a week, or just help someone out, such as family or neighbours. Helping others makes us feel good. It also provides routine, purpose and responsibility.
Find out how to volunteer in your area
The time between leaving university and starting work can feel quite stagnant,
so set yourself realistic goals and challenges, and reward your achievements.
Consider a physical/sporting challenge, improve foreign language skills, learn a musical instrument or computer coding, take up photography, experiment with cookery, read a difficult book – whatever suits your interests.
Constructive activities like volunteering, personal challenges and learning new skills give a sense of achievement and build confidence and emotional resilience. (C. Cooper)
They also help validate you, to yourself and other people, enabling you to deal with others’ expectations.
And importantly, they always look good on your CV, demonstrating that you made use of your time in a positive way.
Networking – on Your Terms
A lot of jobs are gained through networking. After all your hard work at university, you probably won’t want to feel you have just been handed something; however, you shouldn’t feel guilty about accepting help – remember that whilst networking can open doors, it is solely down to you and how you present yourself, whether you get and keep a job.
So appreciate any offers of help, and accept links and contacts on your terms. In most cases it’s just about having a chat – find out about the business and understand where some of your skills might fit in. You should never feel pressurised into taking something that doesn’t feel right for you, but if you’re unsure about what you really want to do, there’s no harm in accepting an opportunity; experience will enhance your job applications and open other doors.
Living Back in the Family Home
Many graduates move back into the family home, at least for a while.
Whilst this can have many advantages, the situation needs to be managed carefully, to avoid friction and frustration on both sides:
You are clearly not the same person who left home to go to uni. You will want your freedom, but you can’t treat home as a hotel, so it’s important to communicate early on.
Understand what’s important to both you and your parents. Talk about how you can reach a compromise e.g. daily routine, helping about the house, bringing friends home.
Don’t see it as a retrograde step, but as progress towards a big leap forward – a stride into adulthood and towards independence.
Use the opportunity to learn to manage your own finances; it will allow you to save up, and at the same time contribute to rent and buy your own things.