Career Confidence: 5 Ways Recent Grads Can Survive an Extended Job Search

career confidenceFor recent grads, the job search may be a mid to long-term proposition. Over time, your career confidence may be challenged.

By keeping these five ideas in mind, however, you can make progress… without getting worn down.

1. Focus On What You Can Control

You can’t control the unemployment rate, or how many people apply for the job you want. You can’t control people who offer to help you and then never follow through. No one can completely control the outcome of any conversation or action. In the end, you can only control what you put into it.

You CAN control the action steps you take each week to find the job you want. You can also control your attitude, approach, and preparation. The ONLY thing you can control is you. Focus on that.

2. Practice + Practice + Practice =  Career Confidence

Arthur Ashe said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”

Have you ever given and speech and bombed it? Or have you ever given one and succeeded? What made the difference? Most likely it came from how prepared you felt as you approached the task. Often your insecurity comes from being ill-prepared.

Do you feel like your job search is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Well, it is! A job search is about as far removed from the academic environment as you can get. A great GPA will not make you a whiz in the job hunt. This is a new skill and action set that you need to learn how to do well. So, that means you need to prepare, do the research, and practice. Interviews, small talk, networking conversations – all of these you can practice.

The more you practice, the more “muscle memory” you’ll create. And the less likely you’ll lose career confidence in a live situation when some oddball question does come up.

3. Celebrate Small Wins

Recent research shows the average job search takes over 21 weeks. That is a long haul. Pace yourself by getting and celebrating small wins along the way. This will keep fuel in your tank and keep you motivated to continue.

Track your progress on the goals you set each week, and make it visual. Then you will see that your work is helping you make progress on the job search trail. All the action you take is supporting your goal. Give yourself credit for the action, and the small wins.

4. Stop Using This Three-Letter Word

Sometimes I talk to recent grads and, because they don’t have a lot of life experience, they trash talk the skills and experience they DO have. They’ll say things like:

  • “Well I did this big project but it was just with other students. No big deal.”
  • “Sure I had an eBay store, but it’s not like I worked for anybody else or anything.”
  • “Well yeah I was student athlete but that’s not really work experience.”

When you hear yourself saying “but” after such a statement, freeze and rethink. Then, state the facts and own them. Instead of minimizing, focus on how your work translates to the skills an employer values.

Focus on the value, results, and outcomes of what you did so you can articulate that clearly and confidently. No buts allowed!

5. Make It a Group Project

I know … you dreaded these in school. However, conducting your job search on your own can be an overwhelming and lonely process.

  • Connecting with a job search group can keep you motivated and accountable.
  • If you have to report your results each week, you’re more likely to stay on plan.
  • When you feel like you can’t go on, others will encourage and support you.
  • You’ll also win by helping others support their progress, and consoling them when things don’t go so well.

So, find a job seeker group in your local community, through an alumni organization or within a young professional network. Also, try Craigslist, LinkedIn, or Meetup. If you can’t find one, however, you can always start your own.

Since your job search may be a long-term project, a community of support may not be a bad idea. Even if you begin to lose your career confidence, others will have confidence in you. That’s priceless.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friend, Lea McLeod.




Lea McLeodAbout The Author: Lea McLeod is author of the Resume Coloring Book. Check it out if you are struggling with writing your resume in today’s job market. She’s also founder of the Job Success Lab so that you can GO PRO in any job! Follow her on Twitter and her blog:



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