Joanne writes about her experience of searching for graduate jobs, and the effect it can have on your mental health.
- Joanne Sarginson
It’s often said that Generation Y millennials view themselves as special – valiant heroes of this difficult world. Maybe this is true, because I, like many heroes, have a sidekick. My sidekick possesses several qualities displayed by good sidekicks. He is persistent and loyal like Robin. Like Chewbacca, he is almost always by my side. Like John Watson, he makes me think about how I can perform better. But he also makes me doubt my abilities. He makes me sad. His vision of my future differs from mine. My sidekick’s name is rejection.
Mine and rejection’s relationship is like that of Shrek and Donkey’s - it has a knack of leaving me stranded in a swamp of person specifications and application forms. But rejection will never break through my ‘onion’ layers and worm its way into my heart. If anything, hanging out with rejection is building up those layers. Thanks to rejection, I’m developing an increasingly thick skin.
Everywhere you look, there are graduates working their way towards promotion by developing client-tailored marketing strategies and perfecting the exact milk: water: sugar ratio of their manager’s ideal cup of tea. But when you’re yet to establish yourself on the career ladder, this can be a difficult concept to get your head round. So I’ve developed three ways to protect my self-esteem after rejection makes its unwelcome appearance.
1. Try Not To Personalise Rejection
In the current graduate job market, receiving a rejection is not because you’re incapable, but more due to lots of other equally capable applicants and, ultimately, one person who is slightly more capable than the rest. Just because you’ve not been successful doesn’t mean you’re not valuable. Learn from the experience and take it forward with you - soon you’ll be that stand-out candidate.
2. Look at Failure In Terms of Success
Whilst getting rejected at the interview stage might initially seem like a failure, it’s not. If this was one of your first interviews on your job hunt, remember that walking into an unfamiliar and intimidating situation takes bravery and doing so is a personal success in itself. If this is the next in a long line of rejections, consider how resilient you’ve been to continue applying. Rework your thought processes so that you don’t see rejection as a result of things that went wrong - think instead about things that went well. Consider where you could have improved; even email your interviewer to ask for feedback.
3. Realise That You Are So Much More Than ‘An Unemployed Graduate’
In the Social Media age, we’re constantly exposed to the successes of others, which can have the effect of belittling our own achievements. A CV is essentially a list of accomplishments and receiving a rejection can sometimes feel like an ignorance of these achievements. When writing a CV, we filter our achievements, including only those important to the employer. Try writing a personal CV of achievements that are important to you - include things as big as gaining a degree or seemingly small as carrying a spider outside. Take time to reflect on your list and realise how strong you’ve been to overcome the challenges you’ve faced.
4. And finally, always remember: your value as a person doesn’t revolve around your status on the career ladder.
Joanne also includes some great tips and advice on coping positively with postgraduate life on her own personal blog.