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How to Deal with the Stress of Job Searching During the Coronavirus Outbreak (for Recent Graduates)

This article was authored in partnership with wikiHow, the world’s largest “how to” site, and also featured here on the wikiHow website.

Graduation is an amazing accomplishment, and an exciting time filled with endless possibilities for the future. But in the midst of a pandemic, you may be feeling a little deflated and worried. Adding the search for a job on top of it all can understandably make you feel stressed out. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have options or opportunities. You just need to navigate the field a little bit differently. With the right approach and a healthy mindset, you can still land that dream job of yours.

Searching and Applying for Jobs

Make a functional resume to highlight your degrees and relevant skills. A functional resume is a resume format that lists your experiences according to your skills and is a useful structure if you lack direct work experience. Make a resume that includes your degrees as well as the skills you have that may be useful in the world of coronavirus such as video conferencing and the ability to work remotely.[1]

  • For instance, if you’re good at using real-time collaboration tools such as Google Docs, Dropbox Paper, or Zoho Writer, make sure you mention it.
  • List your skills and education first on your resume, and then any work experience that you have so your experience isn’t the main focus.

Create a detailed list of potential jobs to help you stay focused. Make a list of companies and employers that you’d like to work for to help target your search. Search their websites to see if they have any job openings, find out who hires new employees at those companies, and find their contact information. Put all of the information into a document or spreadsheet so you have a list to work from, which can help you focus and reduce your stress and anxiety.[2]

  • For example, look for the contact in the company’s hiring or human resources department listed on their website. You could also look for the hiring manager to contact them about available positions.
  • Searching for a job in any environment can be stressful, but navigating the field during a pandemic can be especially difficult. Keeping yourself organized as you search can help you gain a sense of control.
  • Consider using a spreadsheet so you can make notes and update information as you search.
  • Oftentimes, employers will list who to contact about open positions on their website.

Look up recruiters in your field to get connected with companies. Because COVID-19 has made finding new employees in person more difficult, many companies are relying more and more on recruiters. Search online for recruiters in the field you want to work in and send them an email with your resume and contact information. They may be able to connect you with a company trying to fill a position.[3]

  • For instance, if you have a degree in robotics or accounting, a recruiter can connect you with a specific firm or company trying to hire new employees.
  • Many industries and companies have recruiters who search for potential new hires for open positions.

Reach out to alumni and recent grads for job leads. Many universities have alumni who are more than happy to help you connect with potential employers, so reach out to your school’s alumni center to see if there are any in your field who can help. Additionally, recent graduates or people in your degree program who graduated before you may have some advice, tips, or job leads you can use to help on your search.[4]

  • Don’t be afraid or nervous to reach out to others for advice or help. Shoot that friend from class you connected with an email or a Facebook message to ask for tips.
  • An alumni may be able to directly connect you with a company in your field that’s hiring, so they can be a really valuable resource. Take advantage of it!

Network with people in your industry by sending them a message. One of the silver linings in the quest for a job during a pandemic is that pretty much everyone is stuck at home, which means you may have more of an opportunity to network with them. Lookup people in your field and try sending them an email or a message on social media. Ask them for advice or tips about getting a job right now, and if they know of any companies that are hiring.[5]

  • Everyone is learning how to deal with everything that’s going on, so many people may be willing to help you out.
  • Try using social media that’s more geared for professionals such as LinkedIn to find people in your industry. You can send them a message or look up the companies they work for to see if they’re hiring.

Be patient and diligent as you submit job applications. With many businesses working remotely or with a limited staff, it may take some time for them to get back to you or respond to your job application. Don’t give up hope. Keep sending out your applications and resumes, and be patient as you wait for a response.[6]

  • Cast a wide net and apply to any jobs that interest you. You don’t need to wait for that 1 company to get back to you.

Nailing Your Video Interviews

Record a few fake interviews to analyze yourself. Use your phone’s camera or a webcam and run through a few fake interviews with yourself. Answer questions about yourself, your experience, your skills, and why you’re a good candidate for the job. Then, watch your interview and analyze your posture, eye contact, tone of voice, sound, and lighting quality so you look as friendly, inviting, and professional as possible.[7]

  • Make adjustments between interviews to correct any mistakes that you notice.
  • Use the camera you plan to use for your interview so you can make sure it’s set up just the way you want it.
  • Have a friend or family member interview you and take a look at your practice interviews for additional input.

Dress as though you’re doing a face-to-face interview. Even though you’re not actually in the room with your interviewers, you still need to present yourself as professionally as possible. Wear a clean, collared shirt or blouse, fix your hair, and make sure your appearance is neat and tidy.[8]

  • Even if the position is going to always be remote, you should still present yourself professionally.
  • The way you present yourself says a lot about you to potential employers.
  • Make sure the room you’re doing your interview in isn’t messy as well.

Check your audio, video, and internet connection before your interview. Before you log in to your interview, double-check your video and audio to make sure it’s good to go. Make sure you’ve got a good internet connection as well so you don’t have any problems.[9]

  • Nothing is more annoying than having a video that’s constantly buffering or skipping, so a good internet connection is super important.
  • Test your video and audio a few minutes before you plan to log in to the interview to allow for any potential problems.

Adjust the lighting so the room is well-lit and you’re clearly visible. Check the lighting in your video to make sure your face is visible to your interviewers. Adjust the lighting by turning on overhead lights or moving lamps around so you’re not in a darkened room and there aren’t shadows across your face.[10]

  • Good lighting can make you look much more cheerful and professional. A darkened room can make you look tired and unhappy.
  • Avoid using backlighting, or having a light source directly behind you, which can make your face look dark and give you a creepy kind of vibe.

Maintain eye contact and be positive during your interview. Even though you’re not sitting in the same room as your interviewer, eye contact is still important and shows that you’re attentive and alert. Keep your eyes on the camera so you’re looking directly at your interviewer on their screen. Sit up straight and maintain good posture while you speak, smile, and talk about your strengths to keep a positive attitude. Nailing your interview can help you land the job.[11]

  • Practice smiling, maintaining eye contact, and being positive in your practice interviews as well.
  • Confidence and positivity can go a long way in a job interview.

Use a cheat sheet to help you answer questions and stay motivated. An advantage to a video conference is that your interviewers can’t actually see what’s around you. Use the opportunity to have information in front of you to help you answer questions or remember things that you want to say. As you do your interview, reference your cheat sheet whenever you need to.[12]

  • Keep your resume in front of you as well because your interviewers will likely reference it.
  • Take some time to write out responses to questions you think they may ask you. For example, they may ask you something like, “So why do you think we should hire you?” Having a prepared response can reduce your stress and help you give a solid response.
  • You could also have some motivational stuff around you. For instance, a sticky note with an inspirational quote or a tip from a friend or loved one can help calm your nerves during the interview.

Express any health concerns you have about coronavirus. If you’re nervous or anxious about COVID-19, tell your interviewers about your concerns, especially if you or someone you live with is more at risk. You could also tell them if you’ve been exposed to or tested for coronavirus so they understand that you’re worried about it and take it seriously. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it, that’s okay too.[13]

  • Don’t feel scared or worried to talk about your concerns. You aren’t alone in feeling stressed out about it.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Keep a positive attitude by focusing on your opportunities. While it may seem depressing searching for a job in an economic downturn caused by a pandemic, historically, college graduates have emerged from downturns in better positions than those without degrees. As you search for a job, keep in mind that you just earned your degree and you still have opportunities.[14]

  • Your degree will make you a more attractive candidate for jobs as well.
  • It may take some time for you to find a job as well, so try to be patient and don’t give up on your search.

Avoid news about unemployment to minimize your job search anxiety. Finding a job is stressful, and watching or reading news about the current unemployment rates isn’t going to help you deal with your stress. Take a break from all of the negative news while you’re searching for a job to help you stay focused and keep a positive attitude.[15]

  • Remember, even though there’s a pandemic going on, you just graduated! Finding a job is an exciting time and you shouldn’t let negative news and statistics ruin that for you.
  • Of course, you can stay current and up to date on everything going on, but while you’re actively searching, take a break from the news.

Stick to a regular daily routine to gain a sense of control. In the chaos of a pandemic, having an erratic daily schedule can add to your stress, especially if you’re actively trying to find a job. Come up with a daily routine and stick with it. Having a plan for each day can help you feel like you have more control over your life, which can help reduce your stress.[16]

  • Try to wake up at the same time each day and develop a routine for your morning. Plan out what you’re going to eat for lunch and dinner. Come up with a list of tasks for the week, such as groceries or doctor appointments, and add them to your calendar.
  • It can seem like time is unclear and the days just sort of blend together. Carving out a routine in the uncertainty can help establish a sense of order.

Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Add healthy sleep habits to your daily routine. Getting enough sleep is important for both your physical and mental health and can help you deal with the stress of job hunting and living in a pandemic. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night and try to go to bed at the same time each day to help develop a healthy routine.[17]

  • Avoid the impulse to stay up late and binge watch TV shows or go down rabbit holes on the internet. You’ll wake up groggy and unrested, which can make you feel more stressed out the next day.

Eat a well-balanced diet to keep your body and mind healthy. Taking care of your body is a key part of taking care of your mental health. Drink plenty of water and follow a well-balanced diet to give your body the nutrition it needs to stay healthy. Eat at least 3 meals a day, focus on healthy sources of protein and grains, and be sure to eat your vegetables.[18]

  • Feeling physically healthy can help you feel better mentally.
  • It’s also important that you stay healthy to help improve your chances of avoiding COVID-19.

Exercise at least 30 minutes a day to relieve stress. Regular exercise keeps your body healthy and releases endorphins that can improve your mood and reduce your stress levels. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise each day for the best benefits.[19]

  • Try out one of those at-home workouts you’ve been seeing or hearing about. If you can’t get to a gym, your living room or backyard can be a great substitute!
  • If you have some weights at home, look up some workouts you can do with them online.
  • Go for a jog or a walk outside to get some sunshine and exercise, but be sure to follow social distancing guidelines in your area.[20]

Try doing yoga to calm your mind and relax your body. Yoga is a great way to exercise and it can also improve your mood and reduce your stress. It’s also useful because it uses minimal equipment and you can do it at home in your living room or backyard. Take a break from your day and spend 30-60 minutes doing a good yoga workout.[21]

  • With many yoga studios closed during the pandemic, many instructors have gone online to conduct remote classes. Search online for live classes you can join.
  • There are tons of yoga videos you can purchase or watch for free online as well if you can’t get to a studio.

Avoid drinking alcohol to cope with your stress. If you’re stressed out, you may feel the impulse to drink more alcohol. But drinking too much can affect your physical and mental health, making you feel more stressed out and anxious. You could also end up building up a dependence or even developing an addiction to alcohol. If you do decide to drink, avoid having more than 2-3 drinks in a 12-hour period.[22]

  • Try setting up a virtual happy hour with some friends using a video conference app like Zoom, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts and keep your drinking limited to those social times.
  • If you do think you’re starting to show signs of alcohol dependency, consider reaching out for help. You can call a hotline or contact a mental health professional.

Reach out to a mental health professional if you’re struggling. Dealing with the stress of living in a pandemic and searching for a job after graduating can be really tough, and you shouldn’t feel nervous or embarrassed about reaching out for help if you need it. If you already have a counselor or psychiatrist, contact them and talk to them about your stress and anxiety. If you don’t have one, search online for mental health professionals in your area or ask your doctor for a recommendation. Reach out for help if you need it.[23]

  • Many psychiatrists and counselors are able to talk to you over a video call, so you can talk to them about your stress.
  • You could also try a therapy app, such as Talkspace, betterhelp, or ReGain, which allow you to talk to a counselor or therapist through the app.

Call a disaster distress helpline to talk about your COVID-19 anxieties. If you have specific anxieties and concerns about COVID-19, there are resources you can use to reach out for help and resources. Search online for national and local resources you can access for assistance to help you deal with your stress related to COVID-19.[24]

  • If you’re in the US, you can call the disaster distress hotline at 1-800-985-5990.
  • Many local governments have resources you can use to help cope with your stress.