3 Steps to Snap Your Job Seekers Out of Their Cabin Fever

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We’re getting to that time of year when cabin fever strikes — and it strikes hard. Winter has yet to let up and being stuck inside is frustrating your job seekers. When this happens, one of two things often occurs. Young job seekers either bury themselves in their search, sending out application after application. Or they get distracted spending most of their free time on their couch binge watching reruns. Neither is a great long-term job search strategy.

As a career services professional, you need to step in and guide them. Balance is hard for students, especially when they can’t go outside to get a break from their studies and job search.

While we wait for spring to come, here are some things career services professionals can do to keep their job seekers on track without overwhelming them:

1. Encourage them to go on Spring Break

Sometimes, it’s good to get away and your students deserve a chance to get off campus and relax. Even if your school’s Spring Break is still a ways away, planning a trip will help take students’ minds off their job search.

It’s unlikely your students will bring up their Spring Break plans when you meet with them, so take the time to ask. Let them know it’s not only okay, but a great idea to take a vacation. Help them set boundaries about what they will or won’t do in regards to their search. Have a discussion about:

  • How often they will check their email: If the student doesn’t want to be in their inbox the entire trip, they should set up an automatic vacation response.
  • If there is an opportunity to improve their resume: Many students volunteer during their Spring Break. Others travel to different cities and have a chance to meet and network. While this shouldn’t take up the whole trip, meeting someone for coffee one afternoon won’t hurt.
  • What they’ll post on social media: Remind your students to keep their social media profiles professional. Even though your job seekers are on vacation, employers and recruiters are not, and they’re still looking at social media to find young talent.

2. Tie goals to upcoming events

When job seekers have cabin fever, it helps to have something to look forward to. Maybe there are no opportunities for them right now, but upcoming job fairs or networking events give them something to work toward.

As your students work on tasks like updating their resume or practicing interview responses, tie those activities to actual events. It gives direct meaning to their efforts and keeps things from getting tedious.

For example, say there’s a university job fair in a month. Have job seekers work out a preparation plan. They can identify what companies they’re interested in and start researching what those workplaces are like.

Then they can see who in the alumni network currently works or has worked with the company in the past. Contacting these people before the job fair will arm your students with the information they need to catch target organizations’ eyes.

3. Have them check out a different field

A bit of variety can do wonders for a young job seeker’s search. There’s a lot of overlap between industries and the skills companies are looking for. It’s possible that your students have been focused on one field when the perfect opportunity is actually in another.

Job seekers might not understand the purpose of such an exercise so you might have to walk them through it. Give them a list of different fields you think might be a good fit and see what speaks to them. It’s completely acceptable to go on gut instinct. If they’ve been focused on healthcare companies but entertainment jumps out of your list, encourage them to start researching.

Then, find some contacts in the new field and set up informational interviews. If things go well, your students can start exploring new entry-level positions. If they decide the new industry isn’t for them, at least they have better peace of mind about their career choices.

Want more career services tips for your students? Pass along our blog piece about using your alumni network effectively!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta, Managing Director of CareerShift, co-founded the company in 2005 to help individuals bridge the gap between education and employment.  As a recognized expert in the field, Val is a frequent speaker on career management, networking, and job hunting strategies.  You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.