How to fight the post-grad unemployment blues

Seven tips to stay proactive after you graduate

Congratulations! You have just completed one of the biggest challenges of your life and are the proud owner of a college degree. Next comes an equally challenging moment: getting a job and making all that time and effort worth your while.

But what do you do when the job search doesn’t go the way you expected and you realize, “I might have to move back in with my parents?”

Fear not, there is hope!

Here are seven tips to help you prepare for the possibility of being temporarily unemployed after graduation.

Tip 1: Every job is temporary.

Just as you may have changed or thought about changing your major a few times, you will change jobs and even careers throughout your lifetime.

How you navigate those transition times between jobs and careers is what counts. In other words, don’t wait until graduation day is here. Plan now for your immediate future after graduation and discuss those plans with your family. You may have to pick up a part-time job in the meantime, but you will eventually find a job you love.

Tip 2: Make sound financial decisions.

You will always have bills to pay, regardless of your income.

When it comes to repaying your debts, research all available options and think hard about what is best for you now and in the future. There are several programs available to help you make lower monthly student loan payments now, but that will likely cost you more in the long run.

Tip 3: Be strategic as you prepare for interviews.

Do you need to buy new professional outfits? Is your car ready to make long trips? Some, but not all, companies will offer compensation for interview expenses, usually including paying for your lodging and meals, and either gas OR mileage (but not both).

If you cannot afford to travel, request phone and Skype interviews or even use Google Hangouts if you can. Be realistic, and try not to go further into debt just to visit the company you love if you’re not very confident about your chances of landing the job at the interview.

Tip 4: Set SMART goals for yourself.

These goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

In order:

  1. Identify what you want to achieve.
  2. Determine how you’ll know you achieved the goal.
  3. Gather the physical, financial, and other resources needed to attain it.
  4. Assume the attitude of being willing and able to achieve the goal.
  5. Set a deadline for achieving the goal.

Use SMART goals for things like submitting job applications (e.g., submit 10 applications per week) and find a partner who will help hold you accountable for your success.

Tip 5: Stay positive!

It’s easy to let negative emotions build up over time during your job search. Anxiety, stress, depression, loss of appetite, changes in your mood—these and more can all happen during the job search.

To counter against this, try the following:

  • Find things to be thankful for
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat well and drink plenty of fluids
  • Get enough sleep and rest
  • Call a friend
  • And do what makes you happy!

Those last five words are more important than you might think, but keeping a positive attitude through the job search is one of your biggest assets.

Because networking is one of your best strategies for finding and getting a job today, it’s very important that you don’t shrink your network by leaving a bad impression with someone.

If you fumbled an interview question or simply did not get along with the staff somewhere, it is best to share your disappointment privately rather than broadcast it on social media. Remember that once it is on the Internet, it is there to stay. Monitor your actions in real life and online closely, and make sure that you brand yourself positively and professionally.

Tip 7: Keep moving and don't waste time.

There are so many things you can do to improve your chances of finding work that there’s no reason to not be active when you’re not editing your resume and cover letter. Here are some ways to stay active:

Get a part-time job

Retail, fast food, and temporary employment companies are always hiring! BUT be fair to yourself and the employer—don’t take a job that you may leave in 60 days or less.

Look for internships, fellowships, and volunteering opportunities

There are many local organizations that will gladly take an extra pair of hands.

Ask about graduate assistantships

If you’re interested in pursuing more school, ask about graduate assistantships that may come with stipends and/or tuition remission. Keep in mind that graduate and professional degree programs are NOT something to do while unemployed. You should pursue these options if you know an advanced degree is required to achieve your future career goals. Speak with a career advisor for more information on this topic.

Attend career fairs and events

Keep an eye out for career fairs and events hosted at nearby universities and networking events sponsored by your local chamber of commerce. In Bloomington, there is HYPE (Helping Young Professionals Excel). LinkedIn and your local news media can also be valuable sources of information on local and regional networking events.

Join a professional association

If you have the funds available, join a professional association related to your field. They often share information on job postings, networking opportunities, and conferences.

Pursue professional development

Use your down time for self-improvement! Many websites can help you learn new skills or develop those you already have. Here are some great sites to check out:

  •—has video tutorials on many computer topics
  • Khan Academy—use it to broaden your knowledge base
  • Code Academy—a great way to learn programming languages
  •—a free way to learn different spoken languages
  •—platform of online cognitive development games and exercises

Public libraries often sponsor events where you can pick up new hobbies, crafts, and skills too.

Don’t forget about your alma mater! Indiana University has many terrific resources, including IUware and the Alumni Association, which are available to all IU graduates.