Unemployment can seem like one endless ocean of time. It seems to stretch on forever, and yet no matter how far you travel across it you always seem to be in the same place. Partly, this is because being unemployed for a long time tends to invite some less-than-healthy habits, that not only aren’t great for helping you find those graduate jobs you so badly need, but also because, quite frankly, they make you miserable.
To help you out, here’s a guide to a day in the life of a jobseeker, or to be more precise, two jobseekers, just to demonstrate how your habits can affect your chances, and your mood.
8:00am- Jobseeker One
You open your eyes, look out the window and see it’s light out. You lie awake for a few moments, wondering if you should get up. After trying and failing to think of anything you could possibly need to do at 8 o’clock in the morning, you roll over and go back to sleep. Unemployment has precious few advantages, and you decide that you’re going to take advantage of every one you can get.
8:00am- Jobseeker Two
You open your eyes, and with a groan realise it’s 8 o’clock in the morning. You heave yourself out of bed. There’s only so many hours of daylight a day, and if you’re honest, the novelty of being able to lie in bed longer than most people wears off really quickly. You shower, get dressed, and make a strong cup of morning coffee.
Then it’s time to check your emails and the various job sites you’re signed up to.
11:00am- Jobseeker One
You’ve finally crawled out of bed, made yourself a cup of coffee, and sat down with your laptop in front of whichever American sitcom rerun E4 is showing at the moment. You’re still in your dressing gown and pyjamas, because really, who are you going to see today? You go through the usual job websites, switching between that and facebook, and eventually you have six or seven other tabs open in your browser as well. It’s okay, as long as that one jobs site tab is still open, you’re still technically job hunting.
11:00am- Jobseeker Two
It took maybe twenty minutes to see if any positions had come up overnight that match your criteria- and anyway, you’ll get an email alert if anything comes up during the day. After you’ve checked the vacancies that are already open you fire off a couple of emails to small businesses in our field. Each letter was written personally to the relevant person in that company, laying out your strengths, your experience, and why you want to work with that business. Having ticked a few things off your To Do list, you feel justified sitting down to watch an episode of whatever American sitcom rerun E4 is running at the moment.
12:00pm- Jobseeker One
When did it suddenly become noon? Where did all that time go? Filled with renewed purpose, and only a bit of panic, you shut all those extra tabs and return to the job site. This isn’t filling you with hope, you saw the few positions that would possibly fit you early on, and now it feels like your scraping the barrel, looking at jobs that you’re either hugely under-qualified for, or jobs that would just make you flat out miserable.
12:00pm- Jobseeker Two
You’ve decided to get out of the house and go into town. You meet another unemployed friend somewhere that does cheap cups of tea- in the current job climate it’s not that hard to find unemployed people, and it’s good not to spend all your time by yourself. Equally, the pair of you are often able to help each other out. You and your friend both want different kinds of work, but that means you’re often able to suggest jobs to each other that you otherwise might have missed.
As you head into town, you’re sure to check the windows of the various recruitment offices along the way in case there’s anything you didn’t catch on the Internet.
2:00pm- Jobseeker One
Staring at the job hunting websites was just getting depressing, so you decide you’ve earned a break. Two hours later, you’re still playing on the X Box.
2:00pm- Jobseeker Two
You cut short your tea break with a friend because you’re due at a charity shop to volunteer for the afternoon. Working at the charity shop makes a nice break from being stuck at home and gives you a chance to talk to people. What’s more, when you get a job interview a little way down the line and they ask you about the gap in your CV, it’ll help to be able to tell them you were doing something productive.
6:00pm- Jobseeker One
You make yourself some dinner and sit down to see what’s on TV tonight. Your friends are going to the pub, but right now that’s just a bit too far out of your price range. You don’t really enjoy anything on TV, because of the constant, nagging guilt that really you ought to still be looking for work, despite the full day of it you put in today.
6:00pm- Jobseeker Two
After you finish at the charity shop, you head home, check your emails one last time, then get the flat ready. You’ve invited your friends over for a movie night, and told them to bring beer. After all, you’ve got a fair bit done today. You’ve earned it.
Both of our Jobseekers had a long day, and at the end of it, neither of them had found a job. After all, at the moment the market is tough. But by giving themselves small, manageable tasks, a creating a bit of variety and structure in their day, jobseeker two was able to feel like they achieved a lot more.
In reality, none of us are able to be Jobseeker Two all the time. But by using some of their tricks, you can maybe stop a lengthy period of unemployment from getting you too down.