I decided to write this blog post in September because I realize that this can be a hard month for all of you recent college graduates. You’re not going back to school, and you might not know what your next steps are yet. It can be really scary dealing with your job applying anxiety.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You feel like you should be sending out ten applications a day, but every time you sit down to start, you get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing.
Then you berate yourself for being a procrastinator and wasting time. You feel like you’re failing at life already and it hasn’t even started. Every job posting makes you feel under qualified, and you start to question if your degree is worth anything.
These are all real feelings. The job applying process is daunting and your anxiety about it is warranted. I know because I’ve had all these thoughts and more. So I decided to put together a list of all the things that helped me get through this process.
Hopefully they’ll help you overcome your job applying anxiety.
1. Focus on one thing a day and you will overcome your anxiety
One of the reasons why applying to jobs can seem daunting at first is because it can feel like there’s so much to do. You either feel like you have to do it all at once or you don’t know where to start.
You get overwhelmed and it gets harder and harder to start because now you’re paralyzed by the thought of everything you need to get done.
It’s easy to look at the job application process as one giant mountain you have to climb to get your much desired prize. But if you look at it as a bunch of smaller hurdles you need to jump over, it becomes less intimidating.
So what if you focused on just one of those hurdles a day? You’d probably be more likely to start.
Instead of looking at your giant to do list of resumes you need to update and companies you need to apply to, focus on just one of those things today. One thing that you think you can do without getting overwhelmed.
And after you complete that one thing each day, congratulate yourself for getting it done. Don’t berate yourself for not doing more because you still got closer to your goal today. You took a step in overcoming your job applying anxiety.
2. The small steps matter just as much as the big ones
More often than not, we can compare ourselves to other people during this season, especially if you just graduated and this is your first time applying to jobs in your field.
It also might be the first time you and your peers will be moving at a different pace or taking different paths. Before this everyone went through the school system together, each stage was the same.
Sometimes it can feel like your peers are taking bigger steps than you, and that you’re not doing enough. It’s important to remember that everyone’s journey is different, and that the small steps matter just as much as the big ones.
Creating a LinkedIn profile matters just as much as filling out a job application. Updating your resume is just as important as doing interview prep. All of these are steps to the same goal. You might end up taking a different path there than your friend, but that’s okay.
Job applying isn’t as black and white as it used to be. There are many different ways to get your foot in the door now. Don’t minimize your progress because you’re not taking “big steps” at the same time as your friend.
3. Open your applications, but don’t start them
This is a tip I used all throughout university to get my homework done. And I believe it will also help in overcoming your job applying anxiety. I would open an assignment, read the questions, and then leave it.
I needed time to overcome my anxiety about getting the questions wrong, and the feeling that I didn’t know enough. So I’d read the questions the first day, mull them over in the back of my mind for the next 24 hours, and then start.
In the same way, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by application questions. You’re scared you’re going to say the wrong thing, and that’s the reason you won’t get the job.
Stepping back, processing the questions, and giving yourself time to organize your thoughts can help calm you down.
It also gives you a chance to remind yourself of everything you’ve done and why you are qualified for the job. Remember that one bad application isn’t the end of your career.
4. Get on LinkedIn
If you’re like me and you hate networking because it “feels fake”, you’re probably already turned off by LinkedIn.
But consider this, LinkedIn is a platform designed for people to connect on a professional level. Everyone is on there for the same reason, to make connections.
It’s like how everyone on a dating app knows why you’re there. You’re not shocked when you get asked on a date. Just like no one is shocked on LinkedIn when you ask about a job.
So don’t worry about reaching out to someone on LinkedIn. The worst they can do is not reply or say no. And even then you got some practice for reaching out to the next person.
But just so you know most people are really nice and willing to help, whether that’s giving your resume to a manager or offering career advice.
You’re just starting out and you probably have no idea what you’re doing. It’s great to have some guidance during this transition from someone who’s had to navigate it before you.
5. Job applying is a two way street
Job applying can feel like you’re constantly trying to get someone to take a chance on you. We fall into a mindset of desperation where we need them more than they need us.
And don’t get me wrong, you definitely need that job, but in the same way there is a company that needs you.
Think about it. The company puts out the job posting, looking for someone with a specific skill set because they need a person to fill that role for them. They need help just like you need a job. That’s why they’re called help wanted ads.
The company you are applying to or manager you’re interviewing with wants you to be the one, just as much as you’re hoping to get the job. So they can finally get the help they need, and stop going through endless applications and interviews.
Remember that as you go through this process. It’s not you versus them. You are both hoping this goes well.
6. You are not under qualified for every job
Whether you’re job applying for the first time after graduating or just for the first time in a while, it’s easy to read every job posting and only see the skills you don’t have. Because of this there are probably way more jobs you don’t apply to than jobs you do.
And I’m not saying you should apply to be a CEO when you just graduated yesterday. Obviously, you’d need a lot more experience to do that job.
I’m talking about the job postings where you check all the boxes except for one or two, and because of that you don’t apply.
You don’t need to check every box to be qualified enough to apply. For all you know that was just a standard posting that HR sent out.
The manager looking to fill that position might appreciate your experiences that don’t necessarily check those standard boxes. There is a lot that goes into choosing the right applicant for a position.
The manager understands that at the end of the day they’re hiring a person that will need to work with other people. Not just a robot that can meet all the job requirements.
Yes, people hire based on skill set, but they also hire based on likeability and team compatibility. Remember that and just apply. The worst that can happen is that you don’t hear back and you move on.
7. You are not alone when it comes to job applying anxiety
I saved this one for last because if you get anything from this blog post, I want it to be this. You are not alone in the job applying process.
There are many people in the same position as you. You can choose to think of them as competition or as friends going through the same difficult time you are, and commiserate.
There are also people that want to help you, whether that’s friends, old colleagues, or people on LinkedIn. It’s okay to ask for help, and sometimes it’s necessary.
Don’t feel like you have to do this on your own. That mindset doesn’t help you in the long run. Getting a job usually means joining a team to accomplish goals with other people. That lone wolf way of thinking ends up being detrimental to your personal growth.
Finally, I know it’s easy to look at all your peers getting jobs before you, and feel like you’re not good enough. But you are, and you will get that job. It might take longer than you expected, but that isn’t a reflection of your value as a person.
This is only a season in your life and it too shall pass.
If you enjoyed this article, check out my other posts like this one under the category adventures in adulting. And subscribe below for new posts, recipes, and more!