Searching for work when struggling with low energy-levels.

Looking for a job is stressful for a lot of people, and trying to do this alongside studying while struggling with very low energy seem overwhelming. Below are some suggestions to help make this process more manageable, while appreciating that everyone’s situation is unique.

The ideas below are based on taking time to think and reflect regularly, so ideally you’ll need to find time to do this in a way that works for you. It may also be worth speaking to a careers professional at your university for help at any stage.

1) Clarify your career direction

If you have a limited amount of energy, it makes sense to know where to focus it – but at the same time you may worry about limiting your potential options too much.

To find a balance, consider what skills that you’d like to use in a job and search for these opportunities rather than focusing exclusively on job titles. Research shows that one of the key factors in having a high level of satisfaction in your work is being able to do something you’re good at.

Next, what company values are important to you (those are often on company websites), as this has shown to make a difference to job satisfaction.

Finally, identify what sectors would you like to in so that your job search isn’t too broad.

There may also of course be other considerations personal to you, so make a list of these too.

2) Understand where you are now in the job searching process

When thinking about finding work, you may feel daunted or paralysed, or at least something similar. It can help to move past these emotions and start to take action by identifying exactly where you are in the job searching ‘process’ and then focusing on specific small steps related to this – for example, it may be that you’re not sure what job to go for, or how to find a job, or how to write a good application etc. Maybe you don’t even feel ready to find work yet, but hope to start looking in the future.

It can also be helpful to review any unhelpful thoughts you have, e.g. if you see other people in their final year securing graduate schemes at big international companies, you may feel down on yourself and feel you’ll never achieve much. In this instance, it may be helpful to remember these schemes only account for a small percentage of actual jobs graduates get, and that it’s perfectly fine to start looking for work after graduation if that’s all you can manage as many people don’t find the right job until then anyway.

3) Identify resources available to you

Think about where you are now with finding a job, and make a list of the people, organisations and information sources that could help you ‘move forward’ to the next stage (e.g. applying and not getting interviews to getting interviews). For example –

  • offer opportunities that interest you
  • work in roles/companies that interest you
  • can provide emotional support or share ideas
  • help you with applications, interviews etc.
  • have experienced similar challenges and been able to find work

4) Interact with Resources – don’t try do everything on your own

You may have heard the statistics that most jobs are found through people that you know, so try build a job searching plan around speaking to people. To make it more manageable, this can be done via social media and email rather than set times in person or on the phone.

Even if you are applying for jobs that require online applications, it’s still beneficial to speak with people for support along the way.

If possible, try to organise a small, basic routine that you can try manage on a weekly basis. Small regular actions will help you feel a sense of achievement and help you move forward quicker rather than a big effort followed by doing nothing for a long time.

For example, if you know you can only manage a few minutes job searching, make a goal 2 -3 times a week you will contact someone on LinkedIn or Twitter who either is in a job role you are interested in or the job above that role – and simply reach out and ask for their advice and insight (asking the person above is useful as often they will be involved in recruiting for that position). This is called informational interviewing, a well-established way of gaining extra insight and support in finding work – including potentially finding out about new opportunities while being less awkward/scary then asking strangers about directly job opportunities. For more information about doing this, speak to your university careers service, or see Steve Dalton’s book The 2-Hour Job Search.

You can change your routine and goals according to what is coming up; for example if there is a job you really want that requires a long application which you will find draining, try to split it up into smaller chunks over a period of time, try to speak to people who can offer you support to help make things easier (e.g. careers service to assist with application, friends who you can talk to when ready about how you’re feeling) and don’t worry about doing other job searching activities . While you can’t fully predict when your energy-levels may be lower than usual, you may be able to anticipate some situations that will affect you and therefore plan accordingly.

5) Recognise what you do

It’s very easy to measure success by external measures such as if you get a job or not. However, while obviously celebrating getting a new job is a great thing, it’s often useful to recognise every effort you do, i.e. the things that are in your control – even if you don’t feel you’ve achieved much (or anything), simply recognising that you tried your best on the day should be seen as an achievement. Job searching success often comes through lots of little actions over a period of time.


One thought on “Searching for work when struggling with low energy-levels.

  1. Great blog, Christian. At EmployAbility we offer free tailored support and advice to students/ graduates with a disability loooking for employment. We also run many free skills workshops throughout the year on how to write a good CV/ application, succeed at interviews and assessment centres; as well as specific advice on disability adjustments for the recruitment process and workplace – something that we know many people worry about is if, when and how to ask for such adjustments. We provide the guidance to enable an informed choice. We also work with very many disability inclusive employers on internship and graduate programmes that students/ graduates can apply for through our website, enabling us to support them in their applications.

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