“Dear Michael…I just graduated from university last February. It’s been four months. I’ve had a few interviews with companies I was interested in, but didn’t get the job. All my friend have found jobs so far, but I have not. I feel bad. What can I do?”
This is a very stressful situation. I remember feeling this myself when I graduated. I actually had two friends that had jobs lined up a few months before they graduated. I didn’t understand. And I felt terrible.
To help answer this question, I asked several HR professionals here in Korea for some advice. As we talked, we came up with the following tips to answer the question: What do you do if everyone has a job except you?
The first thing to do, and this is very VERY important, is to RELAX! Try and avoid Panic. Panic can be a destructive emotion. It can cause us to make poor choices. When I graduated, I was tempted to take any job just so I could be like my friends. Luckily I did not. My HR friends say that what usually happens when people do this, is that they take a job and only end up working at it for a short time, because it’s not what they really want to do. The person gets the job, hates the job, performs poorly, makes the company and themselves miserable, and then quits. When this happens, your resume is affected. A lot of short term employment on a resume is a danger signal to potential employers. So, do yourself a favour, and relax.
To help you relax, GET SOME PERSPECTIVE. Realize that life is long. Realize that the economy is changing, and getting stronger. You will get a job eventually. You will get a good job eventually. Keep trying. Don’t give up. You are young, and you have many years ahead of you. Remind yourself of this. You are 24, and you have many years ahead.
Remind yourself also, of how much you’ve accomplished. Don’t beat yourself up. This temporary stress and position will pass. “This too shall pass” is a great quote to remember. All stress and pain is temporary. It’s a learning opportunity for you, to develop patience. Perhaps not easy to hear, but it’s true. Keep good perspective, be happy anyhow.
As I said, KEEP SEARCHING. Don’t stop looking just because your perfect job hasn’t happened yet. Don’t give up. Really use the time you have…free time, to search your soul. Get to know yourself. Self-knowledge is a key to long term happiness. Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Take the time to examine yourself. Do you really want the job you think you want? Maybe it’s time to be open to other opportunities. We don’t want to get into a job that is really NOT US! Socrates also said, “Know thyself”. Important concept.
No matter what, realize that this process of searching IS making you stronger. It’s not happening to you, it’s happening for you. For your development of character. I truly believe that.
Also, KEEP AN OPEN MIND. So often we say, I must have THIS exact job. If not, I’ll die. Well…that’s good. Ambition is good. But, sometimes we can’t get exactly what we want right away. The rolling stones sing a great song with the chorus: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.” Life is strange, and if we are open to other opportunities, we can sometimes a) find a backdoor into the career we dream of, or b) find a new more delicious career that we hadn’t ever thought of. My friend Pil soo is a perfect example. Started an engineer, found himself in sales. Hated it at first. Decided to put his heart into it, and learn all he can. The result….he developed himself into a country manager of a pharmaceutical company.
Follow your gut. If a job opportunity comes that doesn’t quite match our dream, but our stomach says…”cool”…take a chance. Try it. Give it your all. Don’t worry about “What if…” What if I miss my opportunity. What if can destroy a great adventure. Feel it. If an opportunity feels right, try it out for two years. Two years is a good time for a resume. After the time, you can come back to your original plan. That, or you might find other doors open that you never expected. Being open, as opposed to being rigid, is a GREAT SKILL!!!!
Remember: “If life gives you lemons…make lemonade, baby!”
ENJOY THE UNCERTAINTY. You are young and free. Enjoy it. You will soon get a job, and will soon be working all the time for the next fourty years. Take this time and enjoy the freedom, the wandering, the not-knowing. It will not last forever. Try to relax no matter what the stress is. Parents, friends….try to ignore it and enjoy.
COMPARE YOURSELF WITH YOURSELF ONLY, NOT WITH OTHERS. Comparison with others makes me crazy. It can do the same to others. The only person you should compare yourself with is you. This is your life and your journey. It is unique and different. And that’s okay. Because even though it’s different, it isn’t totally different. If you must compare….there are lots of people who are in the same situation as you. And they will be okay too. So will you. I promise.
USE THE TIME. When you are not busy writing cover letters, practicing interview techniques, etc. Get busy using the time. You will be asked about the gap in your time between university and the job. So, have a story of the way you utilized your time. Take a course. Learn about new technology. Get an unpaid internship. Go to the gym. Lose weight, get muscles. (I realized this past weekend, that my story about losing 20kgs is powerfully interesting to HR people). Join a communication club like Toastmasters. Improve yourself during your time off. Don’t mope. Do something active and fun. It’ll help your employability, and it’ll help keep your spirits up.
Finally, BE HAPPY NO MATTER WHAT! Get rid of the voices that say “you should be doing this…you should be doing that…” Get rid of the voices that say, “I’ll be happy when I have my job…I’ll be happy if I get this job…” It’s not true. The only time we have to be happy….is right now. We have breathe in our lungs, an education in our pocket, a powerful mind in our skull…and we have youth. Youth and energy and power. We will be successful. Because we already are! So keep happy. You’re young and awesome. Remember that!
All for today. I hope this answers your question, Son. Best of luck, and hang in there!
Michael Jay, out!