Posted by: Lina | August 23, 2011

Looking for jobs: Do not despair!

Does your e-mail sent folder look like ‘[insert vacancy] application” and all of your e-mails start with Dear Sir/Ma’am? Do you stare at your computer screen in despair and constantly refresh your e-mail to see if you got a reply from anyone?

Let’s face it, being unemployed is hard. Although it is a little easier to get away with it after you have graduated from university, there is still a certain amount of discrimination, and jealousy, too. Your employed friends complain about their job, and the lucky ones even picture your unemployment as something to be jealous of, like it’s a holiday. Although you might be getting up at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the fact that you are earning little money can be soul-crashing, especially with newly acquired students debts.

So what do you do? You send e-mails, and cross your fingers, and get your boyfriend and your mam and your dog to read and reread your CV, and keep sending it. You fill in annoying and lengthy applications for a part-time shop assistant vacancy that is forty minutes away. If you have my luck, you will spot a job you think you are perfect for, and then, when you click on it, it will say ‘vacancy expired’. It’s very tiring, really. Here is some advice which will make it, maybe, a little easier for you when you feel like giving up and think that hiding under the couch, snuggling with your cat is a totally sensible idea.

1. Underemployment is not always better than unemployment: Congratulations on your doctorate in advanced astrophysics! Sorry you can’t get a job. Maybe you went into that path because you want to be in academia. I don’t know, but what I do know is that there is nothing more demoralizing than spending 7+ years in upper education and getting the same job you had when you graduated from school. It is a job, and it does have it’s advantages, but if you feel like your degree is getting wasted and that you have given up a lifelong vocation, then maybe it’s time to think of something else: perhaps, setting up your own business or building your web precense with a science blog would be ideal. Think outside the box!

2. Underemployment is not always worse than unemployment: Everybody needs money, it is a fact. Underemployment will still mean having to cut back, but perhaps you will still be able to afford your car payments, or whatever it is you spend your money in. Additionally, underemployment comes with the benefit of great experiences (say, if you dealt with customers in a grocer’s or were bar staff, you can always speak to your potential employers about your great communication skills and ability to deal with customers in all degrees of stress), and it gives you the added benefit of making friends and new connections and mantaining your mental health

Are you actually unemployed?

This sounds like a really stupid question, but before you walk away from your computer indignantly hear me out: yeah, you might not be getting paid, but if you are volunteering or maybe writing a blog, you are not strictly unemployed – think of it as not earning money off things yet! These give you experience and make you so much more likely to be hired. Additionally, it doesn’t come with the stigma of being unemployed – although saying you are a blogger might earn you a bit of scorn!

Take a break 

Yes, you are working hard. Your job search should be your full-time job at the moment, but it can be very frustrating and annoying. You don’t have to do anything expensive, you can go camping, or just take a walk around the park. Read a good job. Play some games. Go for a jog. Do whatever. It doesn’t need to be expensive, you just need to take a little time and remember – your life isn’t so bad, and it will soon be better. So chin up!

If you have any other tips, please leave a comment!


  1. This is a great post, especially because most of us have been in this situation. Keeping motivated during a job search is always difficult, however it can be easy to slip into the position where you are putting in the effort to apply, but simply sending out the same information for every job. Your CV and application content should be reviewed regularly.

    If you have applied for 20 jobs with the same CV without interview, chances are it is the CV that’s the problem. Here are some useful tips that should help you to get your foot in the door –

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