In an ideal world, no new grad would have to deal with unemployment (that’s what AfterCollege is all about, BTW), but let’s get real for a second. We know that sometimes, despite your best intentions, things just don’t work out and you find yourself jobless. (Hey, even people who have jobs don’t have a ton of stability—layoffs and restructuring are part of pretty much everyone’s work landscape these days.)
So instead of pretending like it never happens, we’d like to take a moment to offer a few tips for dealing with unemployment. Guest blogger Alex Cherin shares the strategies that got him through a summer of joblessness after graduation—and eventually landed him several paid gigs.
The transition from college to the real world is tough. Doing it alone with no money or job is just short of traumatizing. The key to survival is learning how to cope. The anxiety I felt all summer long drove me crazy. Yet it also changed my life. Here are the lessons and techniques I learned.
1. Step back and breathe.
Patience is king. When you’re sending résumés left and right, you’ll be biting your fingers off anticipating their response. Truth is you may never get one—so stop nibbling those nails. I realized I needed to calm down. Close my eyes. Breathe. Think about nothing. Listen to the sounds of life going on—despite the chaos I felt in my heart and head. The phrase “this too shall pass” kept me cool. Sure enough, employers started responding!
2. Find your song.
The right song can help you escape. The last place you need to be 24/7 is in your head. As The Eagles say in their song “Take It Easy,” “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.” My song was MJ’s “Rock With You.” Something about it uplifted me and made me forget the dejection I felt when employer after employer passed on me.
3. Dance often.
Or exercise. Aside from the obvious physical and mental health benefits, it’s free. Need I say more? When I finally caught a job—it was a canvassing gig—I danced. Even though I couldn’t pay my rent yet, things were looking up.
4. Think about now. Like right now.
Tomorrow will not always bring good news. So for the moment, if you still have ten fingers and ten toes, relish in it. Because right now, everything is golden. Worrying about the future is as futile as attacking Russia in the winter. When I stopped worrying about paying rent, I was able to see an opportunity and take it. That summer I wasn’t evicted.
5. Talk yourself up.
When your anxiety gets you down, it’s because your thoughts are too loud. So talk over them. Talk about how awesome you are. Talk about how good you’ll feel when you get an opportunity. Talk about the positives and soon you’ll be thinking and feeling positive. That summer I somehow ended up with four part-time jobs. Talk about good fortune!
6. Keep on… keeping on.
The truth is your anxiety will fluctuate no matter what. Today you’re king, tomorrow you’re down and out—it’s all in your head. Just keep it cool, apply your coping strategy, and be ready for whatever life has in store for you. By the next summer, I got hired!
Remember—keep your head in the game. You’re not alone out there and soon enough something good will come your way. Best of luck!
Homework time! Which of these strategies could you apply right now? Take a minute to breathe deeply, crank up your favorite music, or whichever piece of advice seems like it’d help you the most. Remember, too, that a lot of the job search is about personal connections, so spend a little time looking for alumni on LinkedIn, asking people to meet you for informational interviews, or finding networking events going on in your area.
Alex Cherin is a writer in Portland, Oregon. He’s available for freelance projects. Find him and more of his work at alexcherin.com.