Keeping well while looking for a job

Keeping well while looking for a job

Have you just finished a degree? are you looking to change your job? Completing a degree and seeking job opportunities develop our knowledge and skills to progress in our careers. For most people, applying for a job can be a motivating opportunity to build knowledge and skills in your chosen field. However, the changes in the workplace due to the pandemic can cause some apprehension.

Managing the transition phase – when ending something and starting something new – requires trusting our capacity to deal with change and the uncertainty of new situations. We also need to prepare to meet new people and establish new relationships. Whenever going through change, it is essential to develop new routines to manage our time and support our health and wellbeing (Bridges, 2004).

Many jobs will likely blend with working in an office and having some flexibility to work from home. Therefore, managing uncertainty and having a flexible attitude will be essential to adjust to changes in the workplace.

You may already be applying for jobs, or you may be taking time to consider your options. It is normal to hope that as you prepare your applications for jobs, there will be a positive outcome. However, not getting a response does not mean that employers are not interested in you.

It is most likely to be due to a range of factors that can influence the process. For example, there could be high interest for some jobs, or others have additional skills that employers value—for example, working well in teams and working independently. So, to increase the potential for a positive response, focus on developing your knowledge and skills to be prepared.

Managing the transition to a new job

Acknowledge feelings: It is normal to have mixed feelings as you move on from your university life or the job you have just been doing. It means saying goodbye to what is familiar while preparing for a new environment and a different way of working.

It is a time of anticipation, wondering about how things will unfold and perhaps feeling a bit uneasy as you move into unfamiliar territory. As human beings, we do not like change as it brings uncertainty, and many would like to have some idea of what to expect to plan and prevent failure. To deal with setbacks, reflect on your experiences and give space to your thoughts and feelings. So, when feeling unsure, we can keep this in mind to remind us that what we are feeling is part of the transition process.

Keep an open mind:  Imagine the road ahead that goes around a curve, like a path through a garden. We are not sure where the road will take us at the starting point, but we have a general sense of direction.

We can start walking, trusting our ability to manage the obstacles and new situations we encounter on our way along the path. Then, as we get around the corner, we will be able to see beyond. We can gather new information from our observations and look at the different possibilities that may become available.

Identify what motivates you: Reflect and make notes of things that matter to you. For example, “What kind of work would be motivating for you? What are the things that you find of interest? What kind of things inspire you to put the effort in for the long term?

Reflect on your experience: What has helped in the past? What could you apply now, and what could you do differently? Who could you ask for information? Maybe you worked during your degree or did volunteering, or perhaps there are aspects of your current job that you would like to develop further. Reflect on the transferable skills that you could apply in different settings or jobs.

The workplace is changing, and jobs are no longer for life. From now on, most of us will likely have several jobs, so we need to be prepared to learn new things and be ready to deal with changes. Our best resource is our willingness to be lifelong learners. In most jobs today and going into the future, it is necessary to learn new skills, and as technology develops further, we will need to be prepared to adapt to ongoing changes.

Create a structure to your day: As your day-to-day pattern changes from what you were familiar with to create a way of being in a new situation, it may feel a bit unsettling because of the uncertainty during the application process.

It is essential to create a structure for the day to manage our energy level and have a sense of purpose. For example, dedicate time to write job applications, take an online course to learn new skills and take a break to restore energy. Once you identify what you want to do, you can develop a plan and have some goals that will help to focus your mind and efforts.

Avoid comparisons: Everyone is on a different path, have other preferences and different circumstances. Maintain your focus on what you are learning and what you can do next to make progress. 

It is essential to redefine the word success and focus instead on what matters to you. You can think about it as “I’m learning something, I’m achieving something. I’m moving forward and making progress. I’m going in the direction of the things that are interesting matter most to me.”

Learn from setbacks: The job application process can be challenging, particularly when receiving rejection letters or no responses. It is understandable to feel disappointed, frustrated or concerned about the chances of having a positive response soon. 

Acknowledging our disappointment and frustration helps to reduce tension. To deal with setbacks, reframe the situation and keep in mind that it does not mean that you do not have an opportunity if nothing is coming up yet.

Often, it is because there are many applying for similar jobs. Ensure that you refer closely to the job description and mention your knowledge and skills related to what the organisation has outlined in it. Persevere with your efforts and maintain hope that the opportunities will appear as you learn from each experience.

Look after yourself: We need time to restore energy and create mental space to think. Take time away from screens and spend time reflecting on what matters to you.

When feeling disappointed by the challenges of looking for a job, be kind to yourself as you would be to your best friend. For example, imagine what you would say to your friend if they had received disappointing news? How would you support them?
Developing self-compassion is a skill that benefits us all. It helps us to deal with challenges and enables us to regulate our emotions, tap into our personal resources and improves our resilience (Neff, 2011).

Self-care is essential for our wellbeing, maintain healthy habits to restore our energy as it is vital to be well, be creative and problem-solve effectively.

Seek support: Get more information to expand your resources, as well as discuss ideas and options. Whenever possible, contact the organisations to get feedback to learn what you can do differently next time. 

Perhaps you have access to the Careers services at your university, or you may contact those in your network to discuss ideas and get a different perspective. Also, spend time with people you trust and provide support to manage this stage in your journey to the workplace. 


Bridges, W. (2004) Transitions. Making sense of life´s changes. Massachusetts: Da Capo Press.

Neff, K. (2011) Self-Compassion. Stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind. New York: HarperCollins Publisher.

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