Looking for a job can be overwhelming and stressful. Every day can feel the same as you look through the vacancies and check your inbox looking for replies from your applications. Prioritising your mental health and wellbeing can take a backseat, but to make your job-seeking as effective as it can be, it’s important that it doesn’t.
"Procrastination will often hold you at the same place. While baby steps can take you miles." Abhishek Somani
I know we’ve heard words to this effect a lot over the last few months, but take one day at a time. Protect your future self, who might not want to be as active, by helping yourself today.
Reflect being kind to yourself in your job seeking. It’s tempting to hedge your bets and mass apply for whatever jobs that are available, especially in the current climate, but it doesn’t work and the more rejections you face, the more detrimental it could be on your wellbeing. Apply with care, write a thoughtful and considered cover letter and expect potential employers to respond positively to your effort.
Steph from our Careers Development Team helps to get Northcoders graduates from different backgrounds into their first software development role.
"A poor CV pretty much guarantees you’re not getting an interview. Yet a great CV is a fast lane to meeting a hiring manager. So it’s crucial that you get it right.
Your CV is one of your first chances to market yourself and make a good impression, so make it count.
Telling a unique story is crucial. Why did you want to learn to code? Why did you choose to come to Northcoders? How are your life experiences different from other people’s? Why are you different? What are your values (and do they match the organisation’s?) Tell your story – your unique, personal story – and aim to be memorable.”
What better way could there be to show a future employer what you’re technically capable of than your own coding portfolio? It’s a fantastic way to boost your personal brand, it provides sharable content for you and people in your community and it can work as a great creative outlet for if you need a mini-project to work on. We’ve seen some beautiful portfolios from recent bootcamp graduates and our community has really loved seeing them, it’s a great way to add flair to your work and make yourself stand out.
The practical things are effective. Try to maintain a working schedule, stick to the hours you’re used to working, break where appropriate and take days off. This all helps to make the transition between not being in work and starting a new job a lot easier.
Commit to doing something small but consistent every day. Northcoders graduate Katie talked to us about how much she gained from engaging daily with the developer community on Twitter –
“I initially started doing to #100daysofcode challenge, it was great, I’d recommend it to anyone. It really helped me to develop coding as a daily habit, but I also got to network and connect with loads of other developers and just learn things as I was reading the feed, other people’s posts and technical content. I got a lot of value out of that.”
This piece from freeCodeCamp gives some excellent advice on how small steps can help you achieve your learning goals and keep you motivated.
Find what self-care is to you.
“Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. Just let it happen.” - Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks
Self-care shouldn’t be about trying to change or better yourself. Rather allowing yourself to nourish your wellbeing by actively pursuing something that makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be an indulgent exercise, it can be something small that just boosts your mood, like fresh coffee or a three-minute meditation.
It doesn’t even have to be something that is typically portrayed as self-care. Often viewed as face masks, nail painting and typically feminised activities, but one size doesn’t fit all. Self-care is a completely personal individual experience.
You’re probably here reading this blog because you want to learn to code, or you love coding. If you want to nurture and grow this passion, why not pursue coding as self-care? It might be odd to see something that helps to further your software development career as an act of indulgence, but the creative elements and project growth satisfaction could be as rewarding as a facial and a bubble bath. SuperHi graduate Ana Wang wrote about how she utilises coding as self-care, from buying the course as a Christmas present to herself (“I still remember the feeling: this is it, I’m finally doing this for myself”) to finding the balance between coding for creativity and coding as an obsession.
If you’re exploring which acts of self-care are right for you, our mental health tips are well worth having a look through for inspiration.
It’s OK to do nothing
“Being busy is our norm, but if that becomes your habit, or your everyday routine, we end up doing something just to do it, even when we have the chance to be still. Stillness allows the mind to rest. Today, find 5 minutes to just... be.” – Andy Puddicombe, Headspace.
We know this contradicts advice to stay motivated and keep busy. Talking to people about not just taking a break but actively doing nothing while job-seeking might be counter-intuitive. But creating a balance could help to prevent burn-out.
One way to prevent this is to take time from your day to deliberately do nothing. This can be scheduled or when it’s necessary, and it can be used to collate your thoughts or do a quick breathing exercise.
Remember, the time spent looking for a job you’ll love doesn’t last forever. Although it seems hard now, you’ll get through this!
Looking for more tips on finding work? We spoke to Northcoders graduates about what helped them to get their first software developer role. Watch the full video on our YouTube.