For most 2009 college and university graduates, finding their first job after graduation has been a challenge.
During May and June, when many students were capping off years of focus and dedication, they were also being slammed by news reports stating the country was in a terrible recession and jobs were scarce.
According to Statistics Canada, the national unemployment rate for September 2009 was 8.4%, which is an improvement from the start of the downturn in fall of 2008, but still much higher than in previous years.
Furthermore, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international economic organization, the Canadian youth unemployment rate is around 16.3%.
In light of these daunting statistics, it can be hard to stay positive and motivated. Not only is there insecurity about job prospects, but also many new graduates are readjusting to life at home, struggling with financial challenges such as student debt, fighting feelings of depression and lack of direction.
Fortunately, there are some ways to deal with these feelings and to stay positive while looking for your first job.
Many new graduates spend all of their time doing two things: searching for jobs and loafing around. While you are looking for a job, don’t forget to make time for other projects and activities that will give you a sense of accomplishment and add some variety to your routine.
If this means adopting a new exercise regimen or meeting friends regularly for lunch, make sure that you spend time actively doing something other than applying for a job. Keeping busy allows you to be more focused and more positive while you’re slogging through job postings and applications.
Consider taking on a part-time job
Closely related to looking for ways to stay busy, a part-time job is a great way to pass the time and make some money. Although it might not be ideal to return to working in a mall after you worked so hard on a degree to get the job of your dreams, a part-time job can certainly help chip away at your student debt and give you some extra cash.
Furthermore, showing the initiative to find another job outside your field and making the best use of unemployed time looks great to recruiters and hiring managers.
Work on re-integrating smoothly into your family
Since moving home, there might be some increased friction between you and your parents. Often, it is just as difficult for your parents to adjust to your return as it is for you to move home – you’re not a kid anymore and, let’s face it, they probably got used to having one fewer person in the house.
Talking openly about reasonable concerns, expectations, and rules is key to a smooth transition back into family life. Be prepared to compromise with your parents and adjust your role in the household by taking on additional responsibilities, such as cooking a couple nights a week, a greater share of the chores, or chipping in on the grocery bill.
In order to find a job, you have to keep looking for one
According to Richard Bolles, author of the best-selling career manual What Color is Your Parachute?, many people take a long time to find a job simply because they give up; they are not prepared to persistently and intelligently hunt for months to find a job. They don’t follow the right techniques for job hunting and become easily discouraged when, after sending out 100 applications, they fail to hear back from anyone.
No matter what, keep putting energy into smart and focused job hunting. Buy or borrow career guides to assist in targeting and applying for jobs, check postings every day, and put consistent energy and effort into each application. It is impossible to find a job without looking for one!
Surround yourself with a good support group
Talk with your friends and family. Form a support group with your friends who are also looking for a job, to exchange ideas and postings, and to vent. Keep your parents and close family members in the loop about how your search is going – they can be a great resource and support system.
Even without a recession, job hunting is never easy, or particularly fun. However, it’s an essential part of life and the next step for many new graduates. Know that you’re not alone!