When I graduated from university, my future was full of uncertainty and I felt a lot of anxiety as a recent graduate. As many of my peers started their new jobs, I moved back in with my parents and often felt anxious during the five months I spent searching for my first full time role.
In the UK, graduates who completed university in 2018 face particular challenges. According to a recent survey of the top 100 recruiting firms, private companies reduced their recruitment of recent graduates by around 10% between 2016 and 2017. Worries about Brexit now threaten to drive the recruitment of recent graduates even lower.
With so much ambient anxiety floating around, keeping a positive outlook is a very real challenge.
However, job hunting only goes on for so long, and most graduates will find their first job before too long. In my experience, the 3 best ways to combat the anxiety of job searching as a recent grad are:
- Assemble a team of supporters to cheer you on
- Practice talking about your strengths
- Develop a few go-to questions for job interviewers
Recent grads can use this article to combat anxiety and find reasons to feel optimistic about their future in digital marketing.
Find Your Biggest Fans
The worst part of anxiety is that it can feel like you are all alone while everyone else leads a carefree life. It can be hard to remember that this is just a cruel trick your mind is playing on you.
In reality, although it is perceived as a coping strategy, isolation is actually a common symptom of anxiety.
Even if you’re feeling worried about the future, gently push yourself to open up to trusted family, friends, or mentors about your feelings. Not only will this relieve feelings of loneliness, it will help you gain perspective on your situation, learn healthy coping strategies, and feel encouraged by stories of times when your loved ones have had similar experiences.
When you find your biggest fans, you’ll also have a network of people who can help you practice for interviews, proofread your resume and cover letters, and help you stay calm while waiting to hear back from potential employers.
On top of these benefits, research shows that acquaintances can also help. Weak social ties (or relatively shallow relationships with a wide number of acquaintances) can be very powerful when job hunting.
It makes sense: The more people who know that you’re looking for work, the most likely someone will let you know about an opportunity that’s right for you.
By drawing strength from your biggest fans and maintaining a network of acquaintances who know your goals, you’re more likely to land a job and feel calm while doing so.
Practice Describing Your Experiences, Even If You Aren’t an Expert
Digital marketing jobs often involve jargon that you will learn on the job. Concepts like SEO, link building, email marketing, and content marketing make much more sense after you’ve gotten some hands-on experience.
But, chances are high that you have already collected relevant experiences that would impress potential employers.
The key is learning how to identify and describe transferable skills in a way that will help your interviewers draw connections between what you already know and what you could bring to their company.
The best place to start is making a list of the top skills you developed in college. For example, any research projects, volunteer opportunities with clubs or charities, or a time when you succeeded in managing a group project.
These skills are relevant to future jobs, although they might go by different names. Employers value critical thinking skills, such as problem solving and adaptability, over digital or technical skills.
Also keep in mind that you don’t have to be an expert to have relevant experience. Here are a few examples of phrases you can use to demonstrate curiosity and insight even if your depth of experience is limited:
- “I had the opportunity to write a press release when my club hit a major fundraising goal, and I really enjoyed the process. I would be very interested in becoming proficient in my role.”
- “I kept a travel blog on Tumblr during my gap year and found that it was a great way to learn more about the places I visited.”
- “I helped my roommate brainstorm Instagram posts for her personal brand. It was so much fun to think through how she could express her love for healthy eating, and I would be excited by the challenge of creating social media content in this role.”
After brainstorming these experiences, take a look at the digital marketing job listings you’re interested in and identify areas of overlap.
Even if you feel a bit silly, practice saying confidently describing how your university experiences apply to any jobs that contact you for an interview. You’ll find it much easier to talk about your experiences in interviews later.
Ask Questions During Interviews to Build Knowledge of the Latest Trends
At the end of most interviews, you’ll be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer.
This can provoke anxiety. After all, your question will be evaluated as part of the interview, so you will want to ask something meaningful.
My favorite question to ask an interview is, “Are there any digital marketing trends you find exciting right now?”
In addition to being easy to remember, this question is strong for three key reasons.
First, it demonstrates curiosity. By asking about the interviewer’s professional interests, you’ll show that you care about others’ thoughts and are interested in learning more about the field.
Second, it uncovers useful insight you can use to prepare for future interviews. For example, if a digital marketing manager expresses interest in adopting new social media practices, you can research these before a second interview and think about how you could apply them to the company’s overall strategy.
Finally, it reminds you that everyone is learning. As a recent grad, most people you encounter will have more experience and insight into digital marketing. However, digital marketing changes practically every day as new technology emerges, leveling the playing field even for professionals with years of experience.
Best of all, having a go-to question will eliminate the anxiety of trying to come up with a smart question on the spot.
Take a Deep Breath
For many, adjusting to life after university is a stressful experience – but there are ways to reduce anxiety so that it doesn’t become overwhelming.
Recent graduates should assemble a team of close supporters and loose acquaintances who can cheer them on as they look for work and help them discover relevant job opportunities along the way.
To calm your nerves before a job interview, you should make a list of your biggest strengths, practice talking about them, and select a go-to question you can ask all of your interviewers.
With these tips in mind, recent grads can combat anxiety, boost their confidence, and even land their first job.